The Ashes are still in progress at the time of writing, but it seems like England are trying to get the series done and dusted before the football season starts! 2015-16 sees South London with a team in each division of the professional leagues and here we look at their prospects.
Wimbledon – League 2
The Dons finished in comfortable mid-table last season and manager Neal Ardley has been busy in the transfer market over the summer to strengthen his squad, bringing in five players, including experienced ex-Millwall defender Paul Robinson, as well as persuading forward Adebayo Akinfenwa to sign a new contract. Steady progress then for the Dons, who should push into the top half, but may not have quite enough for a play-off spot this time round. The ground situation rumbles on in the background, but I think its only a matter of time before Wimbledon return to Plough Lane, albeit the SW17 end as opposed to SW19. When this happens, increased match day income will mean the Dons can confidently expect to move upwards. Our prediction – Top 10
Millwall – League 1
Appointing a former player as manager is usually popular with the fans though not a guarantee of success on the field. However, Neil Harris came close to saving the Lions from relegation last season, having been initially brought in on a temporary basis with ten games to go, and confidence is high in the camp for a quick return. Market activity has seen the return of forward Steve Morison, along with loan signing Shane Ferguson from Newcastle United. There are, however, some pretty decent sides in this league such as Bradford City, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield United so the promotion battle is sure to be tough. Our prediction – Play-offs
Charlton Athletic – Championship
This league is gloriously unpredictable – anything can happen, and it usually does! However, when I saw Skybet had the Addicks down as 2nd favourite for relegation I though the bookies were having a funny turn. Manager Guy Luzon came in back in January and, despite fans’ scepticism, actually did pretty well, finishing in 12th position. Although losing star man Joe Gomez to Liverpool in the summer, his £3.5m transfer fee has enabled Luzon to bring in some decent players, including defender Patrick Bauer from Maritimo in Portugal and 6ft 7in Simon Makienok from Palermo. Our prediction – another mid-table finish
Crystal Palace – Premier League
Last year I described the recent Palace story as a soap opera, such were the improbable plot lines. Maybe I should change that to fairy tale – quite how new manager Alan Pardew led the team from bottom three to a top-half finish with half the season gone I don’t know, but it’s obvious the Eagles are now looking up instead of down. Record profits and new TV money have enabled them to do some serious spending this summer with the stand-out buy France midfielder Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint Germain. Can Palace improve on 10th? It’s a brutally competitive league so it will be really tough to move up even one place, but there is serious strength in depth now and they should be quite secure in mid-table. Our prediction 10th-12th
Whichever club you support, enjoy the new season!