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League One Preview - Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton, Bristol Rovers

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With less than a week to go before the big npower Football League kickoff, here's the first part of my League One preview, documenting each of our opponents this season, how they've fared in the transfer market this summer and how I expect them to get on.

Bournemouth
Stadium: Fitness First Stadium (12,060)
Manager: Eddie Howe (since December 2008)

Transfers In: Rhoys Wiggins (Norwich) - free, Michael Symes (Accrington Stanley) - free, Marc Pugh (Hereford) - free, Steve Lovell (Partick Thistle) - free, Stephen Purches (Leyton Orient) - free, Mitchell Nelson (Tooting & Mitcham) - free, Harry Arter (Woking) - free
Transfers Out: Jeff Goulding (Cheltenham) - free, Alan Connell (Grimsby Town) - free

To Win League One: 100/1
To Be Promoted: 27/1
To Be Relegated: 3/1

Were it not for Roy Hodgson's miracle-working to guide Fulham to the Europa League final last season, it's quite possible that the LMA Manager of the Year award could have been heading Eddie Howe's way after he steered the Cherries to a second-place finish despite the smallest squad in the league, a non-existent budget and a transfer embargo which wouldn't even allow loan players without special dispensation from the Football League.

So stretched were the resources in Boscombe, twice-retired assistant manager Jason Tindall was forced to take his place among the substitutes, and they were often only able to name two or three players on the bench, including a 16-year-old who required permission from his school to play midweek games.

Fortunately, Howe was blessed with the goalscoring ability of Brett Pitman, whose 26 league goals were only bettered by Notts County's Lee Hughes in League Two last season, who at times singlehandedly dragged his often-injury-carrying team-mates through games, and it is no surprise that he has been heavily linked with a move away from Dean Court this summer. If they can keep hold of him, they'll have a decent focal point, although the lack of a budget - it's years since the Cherries were afforded the luxury of actually paying a transfer fee - will ensure they are likely to still be at the wrong end of the table despite the respective heroics of Pitman and Howe.

Momentum will be with them in the early weeks of the season, but the true test will be over the winter months when injuries and suspensions kick in. It's all well and good grinding out results against the likes of Grimsby and Macclesfield with a depleted team, it's quite another matter doing so against Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday.

Last Season: 2nd in League Two
Prediction: 21st (relegated, just)

Brentford
Stadium: Griffin Park (12,763)
Manager: Andy Scott (since December 2007)

Transfers In: Richard Lee (Watford) - free, Simon Royce (Gillingham) - free, Nicky Forster (Brighton) - free, Craig Woodman (Wycombe Wanderers) - undisclosed, David McCracken (MK Dons) - undisclosed, Toumani Diagouraga (Peterborough) - undisclosed
Transfers Out: Alan Bennett (Wycombe Wanderers) - free, Steve Kabba (Barnet) - free, Nikki Bull (Wycombe Wanderers) - free, Ryan Dickson (Southampton) - 125,000, Danny Foster (Wycombe Wanderers) - free, Ben Strevens (Wycombe Wanderers) - free, Cleveland Taylor (St Johnstone) - free

To Win League One: 40/1
To Be Promoted: 14/1
To Be Relegated: 13/2

Brentford were expected to struggle last season but began the season with a six-game unbeaten run and ended comfortably in mid-table, largely thanks to a particularly good record against the top sides in the division. However, a lot of the credit - and Scrabble points - went to the on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, whose performances caught the eye of many. In his place, Andy Scott has brought in two permanent options between the sticks. Richard Lee will be known to Saints fans after he saved two penalties in the space of 20 minutes against us while playing for Watford, and Simon Royce has joined in a player-coach role from Gillingham.

Nicky Forster appears to be an astute signing given his experience and pedigree, and he'll be heavily relied on for goals alongside last season's top scorer Charlie MacDonald, who has scored 31 times in the league since joining the Bees from Southend two years ago. Defensively, they'll miss Ryan Dickson who of course is now at St Mary's, but they should still have enough about them to remain clear of trouble.

Last Season: 9th
Prediction: 16th

Brighton & Hove Albion
Stadium: Withdean Stadium (8,850)
Manager: Gus Poyet (since November 2009)

Transfers In: Michael Poke (Southampton) - free, Gordon Greer (Swindon Town) - undisclosed, Ashley Barnes (Plymouth Argyle) - undisclosed
Transfers Out: Dean Cox (Leyton Orient) - free, Nicky Forster (Brentford) - free, Jake Wright (Oxford United) - free, Liam Dickinson (Barnsley) - 150,000, Craig Davies (Chesterfield) - free, James Tunnicliffe (Bristol Rovers) - loan

To Win League One: 14/1
To Be Promoted: 5/1
To Be Relegated: 18/1

Brighton were the model of inconsistency last season, taking plenty of points from the bigger teams but then slipping up against the lesser sides, and that will be the main thing Gus Poyet will be looking to improve on this season. He's been given money to spend to bring in the likes of Gordon Greer, who was Swindon's captain last season, and Ashley Barnes, a young striker from Plymouth who impressed while on loan at the Withdean last season.

The Seagulls will be further buoyed by the fact that this season will finally be the last at the absolute hole that is the Withdean Stadium. For a club with a relatively large support base for this level, it's a "stadium" that's held them back for years, with a capacity limited to less than 9,000 proving nowhere near enough to help them remain in the Championship a few years ago. Happier times appear to be on the horizon, though, with the move to the long-awaited new stadium at Falmer, predominantly funded from the deep pockets of owner Tony Bloom.

That said, while the bookmakers fancy them for a promotion push, I still think they're a little bit short of having quality throughout the side that will enable them to be consistent this season. An outside bet for the playoffs at best, I reckon.

Last Season: 13th
Prediction: 9th

Bristol Rovers
Stadium: Memorial Ground (12,011)
Manager: Paul Trollope (since September 2005)

Transfers In: Will Hoskins (Watford) - free, Gary Sawyer (Plymouth Argyle) - free, Luke Daniels (West Bromwich Albion) - loan, James Tunnicliffe (Brighton & Hove Albion) - loan
Transfers Out: Rhys Evans (Southend United) - free

To Win League One: 33/1
To Be Promoted: 11/1
To Be Relegated: 8/1

Rovers go into this season in the rare situation of not selling their top scorer and appearing to take a step forward followed by two steps backward. Paul Trollope appears to have done some decent business in the transfer market - Will Hoskins was prolific for Rotherham before an ill-fated move to Watford, so he'll have a point to prove, and Gary Sawyer has plenty of experience from his time at Plymouth Argyle, and intriguingly had a spell on loan at Rovers' local rivals Bristol City last season.

Two departures from the Memorial Ground over the summer, one on the pitch in the shape of Rhys Evans, the experienced goalkeeper, who has joined the freebie parade at Southend, and one in the boardroom with Lennie Lawrence parting company with the club after four years as Director of Football - this move is seen as the one that finally gives Trollope full hands-on control of the club, as Lawrence had originally been appointed to help the then-rookie through his early years in management. Trollope has earned the right to go it alone now, and they look strong enough to at least maintain the top half position they achieved last season, although they will be hoping to avoid the sort of winless run that they suffered after winning at St Mary's in October last year.

Last Season: 11th
Prediction: 10th

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