The Great British Kick Off 2022-3


By Pete H

Is that the time? No sooner do you arrive in the queue for the boat at Dover and a new season is about to get its groove on. The boredom that comes with the close season (Wimbledon? Yeah, no ta) doesn’t really last that long. For a good few weeks now, Boro’ have been going through their pre-season paces. Not that we want to get carried away by friendly results, you understand. But wins over Derby County and West Brom can’t be ignored entirely.

Of course, they count for nothing in the grand scheme of things. We’ll only get a better picture of our current state under Steve Evans once this weekend is out of the way. It’s Tranmere away to get our League Two campaign underway. Oooh, Mr Fixture Computer – you’re really spoiling us.

The big question that everyone wants to know the answer to is: where will everyone finish at the end of this brand-new season? If you do things like us, perhaps you’re no stranger to checking the Wikipedia page of a film you’re watching to ‘read ahead’. But you can’t do that in football. Just let the drama unfold, innit? That’s fine by us – except when it feels like you’re watching yet another terminal relegation fight. Hopefully, of course, the boss and his summer recruitment will put paid to that; bringing a cautious sense of optimism to the Lamex as we prep for day one of term.

So, where will the new season take us? Don’t look at us. We’re just another armchair fan blurting out unfounded predictions. It’s just that some of those folks on Twitter inexplicably get paid for it.

(Do consider a small donation to the BoroGuide running costs, by the way…)

The new season – where will Boro’ finish?

By the time the great and the good in the football press get as far down as League Two, they lose sight of what’s going on. The informed, analytical decisions that’ll shape their predictions for the Premier League title give way to donkeys having tails pinned on ’em as print deadlines approach. So, you have this smorgasbord of writers who have Boro’ down to come anywhere… in the bottom five or something.

Now, we gave our verdict to FourFourTwo as usual and – admittedly – played it safe with a guess that we’ll finish somewhere progressive like 14th. FFT, however, have gone with 20th. We’re guilty of getting giddy under Alex Revell’s tenure, to be fair. Our strong finish to the 2020-1 season had us thinking we might be eyeing up the top half. So, we’ve learned our lesson there. But we won’t look at our pre-season campaign and think we’re in for a relegation battle.

What do you think? FFT’s verdict is that our strikers don’t score enough. Well, you got us on that one for the past few years. Still, it doesn’t stack up to us. And it’s reassuring to see the foremost betting aggregator site (not naming them because they ain’t paying us) have us well clear of the favourites for the drop at the moment. It’s equally fair enough that we aren’t in the frame for an unexpected promotion. Mind you, there be long odds on that front if you’re interested.

Who are the leading candidates to go up?

“If not us, then who,” we hear you yell in weird anticipation. Who are those favoured few for the promotion spots? New to League Two for 2022 are Stockport County, who finally escaped a long sentence in the National League last season. It’s not unusual for sides to come up with that real sense of momentum behind them. But could they go straight through and out the other side?

Our day one oppo Tranmere Rovers did it not so long ago. Hey, even we did it once upon a time.

Other sides in the frame, based on current betting trends, seem to be Bradford City, Salford City, and Mansfield City Town. We’re sure the Bantams will do their usual thing of starting the season looking every inch the promotion certs. And we’re sure the wedge spent by the Ammies will give them the air of title challengers. But these are two teams we’ve seen it all before from.

Will this year finally be their year? Well, does anyone care any more?

The Stags, on the other hand, are someone who we’re prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to. They almost made it last season, so why not again this time around?

The teams who’ll be staring at the abyss?

At the other end, our lack of presence in the relegation dogfight (bullish much?) means we have a spare place up for grabs. The market currently has a few names in the frame. And we’re no doubt missing something for Rochdale‘s name to be in there. Sure, 18th wasn’t amazing last season, but is it grounds to suspect they’re in for a worse time of it this time around?

Dale’s poor campaign ensures that Barrow and Hartlepool United are in the mix. And you can see that being the case. We wouldn’t be surprised, nor shed a tear, if the side from Cumbria hopped it back to the National League. As for the Pools, we reckon there will be two sides worse than them.

Now, let’s talk about Harrogate Town. Started the season like a rocket last season, but soon badly fell away. Two campaigns since coming up to the Football League, will the bubble burst? Or will it be another case of there being at least two sides worse than them to spare their blushes. Hmmm. We’re going to wait and see how their 2022-3 run gets started. A bad start and it might be curtains for them.

Lastly, Colchester United are on the fringes of the relegation betting. We don’t see it, but stranger things have happened at sea. One thing is certain – we’ve got a while to find out what’s what.

Ready for the Great British Kick-Off?

So, then, lots to be decided and lots of time for it to be decided in. The good news is that all the pre-season faffing and nonsense chat is about to be put to bed – and the action can be let loose on the pitch. Of course, we call it the Great British Kick-Off when the Scottish leagues are already up and running. But if a league kicks off and no-one is there to watch it, does that really happen? It’s all about League Two, it’s all about League Two baby.

And we’re strangely looking forward to it.

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