Where will we finish? Who will be Player of the Year? Who will prove to be our best signing? Our podcast panel make some speculative remarks in our 2019/20 season prediction special.
Where will Scunthorpe finish?
Brad Mell: Given last season I’d say that anything in the top 10 could, and probably should, be considered a successful season. However, due to some key new additions, what we’ve seen in pre-season and the way in which Hurst has gone about instilling new values to the squad I believe that the playoffs are a very realistic target; and where we will ultimately end up this season.
As much as I’d love to see us reach the top three, I think at this stage, we are still a few players short of being able to achieve this. Can we return to League one at the first time of asking? It would certainly be a huge accomplishment, but either way I’m feeling very optimistic about this season.
Matt Ellis: I imagine we’ll finish 4th this year or close to it. We haven’t had the amount of squad turnover required to really challenge for a spot in the automatic promotion places. However, with a couple of quality signings including some central midfield cover, as well as a bit of luck with injuries, we might have enough to go back up at the first time of asking. Without the right signings, I’ll stick with 4th.
James Murray: I think the Iron will finish in the playoffs this year and, to be honest, I’d take that after what we served up last season. I would like to say higher, but the squad just hasn’t seen enough additions for me to be convinced that we are capable of reaching the automatic spots. I like the optimism of some, but I don’t believe the squad has enough strength in depth and is lacking quality in a couple of areas.
I think Hurst will certainly tighten us up at the back – that area of the pitch doesn’t really concern me. The problem is up top. I’m just not sure where the goals are really going to come from – Novak will probably reach double figures, but who else? Maybe we will bring in another forward in the coming weeks, but until then, the playoffs is where we will end up.
Matt Blanchard: It’s hard to envisage a season where we won’t be in the mix for the play offs, particularly when you think back to our brief foray into the division in 2013/14 campaign and compare the two squads.
Hurst seems to have improved things massively in a short space of time and whilst I did have reservations prior to his arrival, his signings have been impressive and he is certainly beginning to win me over. Anything less than the play offs would be really disappointing, but I think we may still be one or two players away from claiming one of the automatic spots.
Player of the year
Brad Mell: This is a tricky one because on an individual level we have a number of players that could find themselves deserving of player of the year. Butler has come back, and we all know what he will bring to the team. Players like Matt Lund will most likely have more of a role this year and I can see him being vital. We’ve already seen the talent that Adam Hammill has and in League two he should really shine. Of course, a lot of this depends on fitness and injuries, but in an ideal world if the entire squad could remain fit for the duration of the season then I believe Ryan Colclough would likely end up player of the year.
Before his unfortunate injury last year, we got a glimpse of the player we have and I think we all agree, if fully fit, he will make a real difference for us. From the little we saw we can already see how attack minded he is. He’s strong both on and off the ball and brings some much-needed width to the team. If we could see this in League one then I’m sure League two will bring out the very best in him. Hopefully he’ll chip in with a goal or five as well. Though as I said, this all depends on fitness and it would be such a shame if injuries prevent us from using Colclough as often as possible.
Matt Ellis: Andy Butler. If we’re to challenge Butler will have to be at his best to knit the defence together into an effective unit, after last season’s comedy roadshow. If Butler has a good season, delivers the leadership on the pitch that we so badly lacked last season, we’ll have a good season.
Matt Blanchard: It’s obviously brilliant to see Butler back and he should make a massive difference, but putting the obvious suspects like Butler and Lund to one side, I really like what I’ve seen from Kgosi Ntlhe. I think the fans are going to really buy into his work rate and athleticism and he could be a really shrewd signing. It’s no secret that we have really struggled to replace Conor Townsend and with Lewis Butroid now looking at a spell on the sidelines through injury, Ntlhe can make the position his own. He’s certainly one I’m looking forward to watching.
James Murray: I’m going to take a risk here and go with Matt Lund. I just really hope he stays fit. If the box-to-box midfielder can manage to make it through the season unscathed, then I can see him becoming a real fans’ favourite.
Lund should be a great player in League Two, as he likes to tear across the pitch, putting his body on the line and getting stuck in. Alongside that, he can score goals, too. In attacking sense, he reminds me a little bit of Dave Syers – and we all know how important he was in League Two for us. I just have a feeling about Lund this year, so here’s hoping he can have a big season.
Pick of new signings
Brad Mell: This one is ridiculously easy. Andy Butler. But there are several reasons as to why. Firstly, he is without doubt a fan favourite and announcing him as the first signing gave some much needed positivity around the club. On the field he is exactly what we need. He is the answer to the lack of leadership that was so often talked about last season and he will no doubt steady the defence.
From the pre-season games we have seen him partner both McArdle and McGahey and truthfully I’d be confident with either of them alongside Butler for the new season. Where the defence was our biggest weakness last year I firmly believe, in no short part because of the addition of Butler, it is now one of the strongest areas of the team.
Matt Ellis: I like the look of Songo’o, he’s the bite and fight we missed in the middle of the park last season and will give Lund and Slater licence to roam forward. This will be really important, if Hurst sticks with the one up front, we really need the midfielders to chip in with goals and assists in a substantial fashion. I also really like the look of young Slater; I think he’ll provide the spark we need to break teams down in this league.
James Murray: Although I’m not sure there has been enough transfer activity in and out of the club just yet, I have been pleased with all of the additions. They all possess different qualities and should add something to the squad.
However, selecting the pick of the new signings is easy. It’s got to be Andy Butler. I think the new captain is exactly what we needed and I’m sure he won’t let us down. The experienced centre-half will take charge of the defence and ensure that the Iron don’t concede too many goals. He will also make sure that each and every player out there, in training and on match days, is giving their absolute all for the club that he loves. Butler will stand tall and lead his team this season.
Matt Blanchard: Ntlhe has really impressed me, but I think Songo’o is going to be crucial in League Two. He’s a real destroyer in the middle of the park and from what I’ve seen, can play a bit too. He should give the defence the protection it so badly lacked last year, whilst giving the more creative players such as Lund and Slater freedom to get forward. I’d like to see the young striker McAtee given a go as well as he has looked really lively and seems to know where the net is.
Who is going to be least effective?
Brad Mell: I think there are a couple of players that won’t live up to expectations this year. I think were we could struggle this year is up front. Lack of goals is something that concerns me at the minute without the addition of a further striker. From the pre-season games it seems as though Hurst favours a formation with a lone striker, this might be fine for Novak but I fear Wootton will struggle in this formation. For me he’s not the sort of player that will flourish on his own, and in a season where goals could be a concern, we need someone that we can rely on to be scoring regularly.
I think Dales is another one that could struggle this year. When he first arrived he seemed to have something about him – though was quickly loaned to Dundee. Last season I would have said he would have done quite well for us in League two, however, with competition from the likes of Colclough, Hammill and now Gilliead as well I can’t see Dales being in the starting line up that often and if he does start I’m yet to see anything that convinces me that he is equal to, or better than, the previously mentioned players.
Matt Ellis: Where do I start? Since a fair chunk of the players who relegated us last season are still on the books, the choices are almost endless. If McArdle gets near the first tem expect to see the odd calamity and periods of the game where his mind goes for a walk. I’m not convinced Watson is anywhere near ready for first team football either, so we might see a few more shaky performances if he starts as number one. In the interests of brevity I’ll stop there.
James Murray: My immediate thought was James Perch, but that’s just after the dismal displays we saw from him last season. He has actually looked sharper in pre-season, so I’m going to let him off on this one.
Instead, I am going to go for Kyle Wootton. I think he could struggle operating as a lone-striker in Hurst’s system when Novak isn’t around. It really asks a lot of strikers and I don’t believe he currently has the skill set – or experience – to produce the goods. I’m not sure it would even help to have Novak alongside him, because we saw how poor the pair were together last season.
There is something in Wootton, we saw it very briefly at the turn of the year. However, there is going to be a lot of pressure on the forwards this season and I think he could struggle. The Iron must add some more firepower up top.
Matt Blanchard: I think we will see everybody up their game as Hurst and Doig simply won’t stand for a lack of effort and work rate. Kevin van Veen’s exclusion from the first team squad will serve as a reminder to others that they will follow the Dutchman into the U23s if they do not produce to the level the management duo are demanding of them.
I’m still a little concerned with McArdle but with Butler alongside him and Songo’o patrolling the area infront of the back four that teams so often exploited last season, he should be seen in a better light.
The rest of the first eleven is pretty strong, but if we pick up a few injuries the thought of Horsefield, Lewis and El-Mhanni coming into the team is a little worrying and incredibly underwhelming.