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BBC Sport's guide to the new Football League season

Goal of the Season - 2009/10

Some of the best goals from the 2009/10 Football League season

Steve Claridge
Steve Claridge
BBC Sport football expert

We are a football-crazy country, with passionate fans who follow their team no matter what.

Anyone who plays in the Football League is extremely lucky to play in front of people who care about their team so much.

However, a lot of clubs are in financial difficulty and I think that is down to unrealistic expectations and the pressure put on people to succeed.

There is different pressure at every club. Some pressure on managers is deserved because they have had an opportunity and wasted it, whereas other managers can set the bar too high and leave themselves with nowhere to go other than down.

Fans need to have understanding of the size and scope of their club, but primarily they need to understand the budget.

In the lower leagues we do not know the budgets that a lot of the clubs are working with. It would be nice if budgets were more transparent so fans knew where their club should be finishing and then adjust their expectations accordingly.

Here's my take on the new season in each of the three divisions.

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway
Ian Holloway took Blackpool up via the Championship play-offs

The Championship is as open as it has ever been, there aren't many sides who will think they have no chance of going up.

From the sides that came down from the Premier League, Portsmouth have the transfer embargo, Hull are battling to stave off administration and Burnley have questions marks over whether the manager and players are good enough.

I think it's easy to predict that Nottingham Forest will do well and it will be interesting to see how Ipswich and Leicester get on this year.

Middlesbrough might have pulled off the signing of the decade in Kris Boyd and Bristol City could be a dark horse under Steve Coppell.

After losing their top-scorer Gary Hooper, Scunthorpe may be up against it, while it looks like Watford may again have to rely on kids.

BBC Sport's club-by-club guide to the Championship season:

Norwich City celebrate
Norwich returned to the Championship by taking the League One title

At this stage, it's hard to look past Southampton. They have a nice blend of experience and youth but expectations will be much different this season. Some players may not be able to handle that pressure.

Of the other challengers, it's difficult to predict how Sheffield Wednesday will do, but Alan Irvine will be desperate to erase the memory of relegation from the Championship.

Huddersfield went close last year and have made good signings over the summer and Peterborough should do well under Gary Johnson.

Brighton could also be a good outside bet for promotion, they are spending good money and Gus Poyet has made a good start at the Withdean.

BBC Sport's club-by-club guide to the League One season:

Steve Cotterill
Steve Cotterill took Notts County to promotion from League Two

Stevenage have joined the Football League for the first time and will work hard for Graham Westley. They will be tough to beat.

Oxford were also promoted and will be one of the bigger clubs in the division. They have a great fan base and there is no reason why they can't do well.

You've got to put Shrewsbury into the promotion equation because they have a big squad, a big budget and a manager who knows exactly what he's doing. They should have done better last season and will expect to be knocking on the door this time.

Bradford are arguably the biggest club in the division, they finished well last season and you would expect them to make at least the play-offs this time.

BBC Sport's club-by-club guide to the League Two season:

Steve Claridge was talking to Stephan Shemilt.

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see also
Football League on the BBC
02 Aug 10 |  Football
Football League Ten to Tackle
05 Aug 10 |  Football
English club-by-club fixtures
16 Jun 08 |  Football
Steve Claridge's magnificent seven
06 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: Barnsley - Crystal Palace
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: Derby - Leicester
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: Middlesbrough - Preston
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: QPR - Watford
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
League One: Bournemouth - Charlton
03 Aug 10 |  League One
League One: Colchester - Leyton Orient
03 Aug 10 |  League One
League One: MK Dons - Rochdale
03 Aug 10 |  League One
League One: Sheffield Wedneday - Yeovil
03 Aug 10 |  League One
League Two: Accrington Stanley - Bury
03 Aug 10 |  League Two
League Two: Cheltenham - Lincoln
03 Aug 10 |  League Two
League Two: Macclesfield - Rotherham
03 Aug 10 |  League Two
League Two: Shrewsbury - Wycombe
03 Aug 10 |  League Two
Ask Steve Claridge
05 Jun 10 |  Football

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