The One to watch
League One sides have been hogging the headlines lately, and Chris Kamara reviews the season so far.
Last Updated: 09/01/08 2:58pm
Last week I praised the Championship for being such an exciting division, but League One has been just as unpredictable this season.
A supposedly mid-table club like Oldham went to Elland Road on New Year's Day and gave Leeds a battering - and then went to Everton and won in the FA Cup. Huddersfield, Luton and Bristol Rovers also got good results against top-flight teams and that just goes to show that there are no mugs in that division.
You can go from Swansea at the top right down to the likes of Crewe, who we will be seeing on Monday Night Live this week, and they'll all think that they've got a chance of going up.
I'd say it's as exciting as the Championship - even though it doesn't get as much coverage.
The best footballing side in League One is Swansea, who I've seen a few times this season. I saw them win away at Leyton Orient earlier in the campaign and they were quite special and they were outstanding again when they beat Leeds recently. They score goals from all over the pitch and it's tremendous to watch.
I'd say they are the most attractive side in the division, but I'm not sure whether that will be enough to win them the title. However, Roberto Martinez is certainly not going to change his style and he won't be settling for anything less than the play-offs from their current position.
Swansea are the benchmark at the moment, but there are plenty of other good teams just behind them. You've obviously got to mention Leeds, who have been very impressive and would be top of the table if they were given their 15 points back
Nottingham Forest will obviously expect to be there or there about and I suspect they will be in the mix for the promotion places at the end of the season. Colin Calderwood knows the play-offs are a minimum requirement this season because he has been in charge for three years now.
Carlisle are the surprise packages at the moment. John Ward has done an excellent job there so far and will now be looking at a play-off spot, even though nobody expected that at the start of the season. Martin Ling is exceeding all expectations at Leyton Orient, who are also having a surprisingly good season.
I would expect the bigger teams with money to spend to sustain their promotion challenge, but the great thing about this league is that there are always surprise teams coming up on the rails.
Looking at the other end of the table, Luton shouldn't be down there because they had 10 points deducted through that silly rule about going into administration. Kevin Blackwell's side drew with Liverpool in the FA Cup last weekend and the manner in which they achieved that result was very impressive. They are clearly not a bad team.
It will certainly be hard to call who will go down this season. Port Vale have not had a great run under Lee Sinnott, but he'll expect that to improve at some stage.
Cheltenham have the potential to get out of it under Keith Downing and Bournemouth are also down there at the moment, but Kevin Bond has the backing of his chairman and probably doesn't expect to be in trouble for too long.
The likes of Gillingham are also just off the pace, but Mark Stimson has worked wonders since he arrived there because they were at the bottom not too long ago. Crewe are also surprising me with their lowly position because I thought they would be doing a lot better.
Player of the season
Crewe are facing Leeds live on Sky on Monday and the obvious player of the season in that division is the Whites striker Jermaine Beckford. I wouldn't be surprised him to see him end up in the Premier League - and he's certainly good enough for the Championship.
He's not the finished article, but he's improving all the time. He played League One football at Scunthorpe last season, but performing in front of the Elland Road fans has lifted him to a different level. He's got to keep his feet on the ground and keep improving, but he could have a big future.
There is also a very interesting race for the manager of the season award because there have been plenty of great performances.
Martin Ling has been keeping Leyton Orient up there for a long time, John Ward has only lost a couple of matches since he took over at Carlisle, Roberto Martinez has been terrific and Dennis Wise has had an unbelievable season with Leeds.
I like the job Richard Money has done at Walsall and John Sheridan proved last weekend against Everton how well he is doing with Oldham. I took a Championship team to Goodison when I was at Bradford and we beat Joe Royle's Everton in the FA Cup, so I know what the feeling is like. To do that with a League One side is probably one of his best ever moments as a manager.
Overall though, both ends of the table are very hard to call because anybody in that division can beat anybody else.Do you agree with Kammy? Let us know what you think by using the feedback form below and continue to email him your questions here
Kammy answers your e-mail...
Hi Kammy, I am a Southampton fan and I was wondering where you think we are going wrong this season? What do we have to do to find some consistency? At the moment Saints look just an average Championship team. With some of our defenders coming back from injury in recent weeks, our form still isn't improving. I think with the injury of Claus Lundekvam we really lack a leader on the pitch. For me, promotion seems unlikely this season. Do you think George Burley has taken the team as far as he can? I look forward to your reply. Matt from Bournemouth
KAMMY SAYS: Hi Matt. The problem that George Burley has is that all their best players left the club in the summer. The parachute payments stopped following their Premier League relegation and the fall-out of that has been massive. George wasn't really able to organise the team and buy the right men during pre-season and to make matters worse, important players were still leaving as late as August. For example, Kenwyne Jones downed tools and said he wanted a move before the transfer window closed. George didn't need that sort of disruption in the first few weeks of the season and although they got £6million, he wasn't able to spend any of that money. His job has been made a lot harder and he might need to survive this season and then he can re-organise things next summer.
Hi Kammy, Blackpool fan here. Just wondering how you reckon we're doing this season. We were favourites to go down at the start of the season, and what the manager Simon Grayson has done is magnificent. He has worked on a miniscule budget, and spent as much money as a League Two club might, and yet we are winning games, playing teams off the park and sitting comfortably in mid-table. Times are good at the moment, what with the derby wins recently and our climbing up the table, and yet we always seem to be overlooked whenever we do anything remarkable. Thanks, Paddy in Preston.
KAMMY SAYS: When the new owners came in, a lot of people thought there would be funds available for Simon Grayson, especially after their promotion last season. That's certainly not the way it has turned out and, as you say Paddy, Simon has hardly had any money to spend. Now it looks like he's going to have to sell his best players in the January transfer window - people like Keigan Parker and Wes Hoolahan - and life has been made difficult for Simon. But he isn't complaining and he's doing a brilliant job. They are not struggling at all and are competing with the big boys on merit. Simon is clearly developing into a very good manager.
I don't think you like Barnsley, Chris. The progress made by this club in the last six months has been nothing short of miraculous. It is only work in progress but for the team universally expected to be the bottom team, 13th at half way has to be worthy of comment. Can we push on, why not? In recent weeks we have had a few close games against the high fliers or local derbies which could easily have gone our way. We drew with Palace, Stoke and Southampton at home, lost to Sheff Wed, Sheff Utd, and Bristol City all by one goal and all could easily have been reversed. I believe that is our bad patch. We have some good strikers who have got no goals to speak of and no confidence. Macken was just coming good when Derby recalled him. Once we have the strikers scoring or new strikers in place just watch out. Best wishes, Roger Mulrooney.
KAMMY SAYS: Simon Davey has done a wonderful job there and he has brought in some exceptional players. The goalkeeper Heinz Muller has looked very good and players such as Dennis Souza have proved that Barnsley's scouting system is second to none because they don't have much money to spend. He deserves a lot of credit.
I'm not sure why you think I don't like Barnsley though Roger. I worked there as a coach and I was offered the chance to be the manager by John Dennis during his time there, but I turned it down because I was enjoying my work with Sky Sports. It is difficult for me to mention every team every week, but I believe Barnsley is a very good football club and I'm very impressed with what they are doing at the moment.