Season of spice: Leading men in the Endsleigh play the prediction game

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First Division

Peter Reid

Sunderland manager Promotion candidates Every club is in it, it's a very strong league this year. Our first three matches are against Leicester, Norwich and Wolves and they're just three of the obvious names. Also, watch Birmingham, they'll do well, and Barnsley, Danny Wilson has done a great job there. Relegation candidates It's all very tight, from top to bottom. But I'm not committing myself here, I'll only be under the cosh as a result of it. Players to watch Andy Booth of Huddersfield - he scores goals for fun and our own boy Michael Gray, he's got a great engine and is very positive running at defences. Also watch Millwall, they have good kids every year. Best close-season business There's only really been Barry [Fry] doing anything, it's been quiet everywhere else. John Rudge at Port Vale has done well, though, getting the striker Lee Mills from Derby. Entertainment value We'll be attractive, so will Norwich and Tranmere, and Birmingham will just go for attack. There'll be a lot of good stuff around. Dave Bassett Sheffield United manager Promotion candidates Port Vale, Huddersfield, Southend, Luton. But it's a stronger division this year; everyone is capable of winning games. Players to watch Craig Russell of Sunderland, a quick goal-scorer who could come through this year. Also Ben Thatcher, the young Millwall defender who is progressing very quickly. Best close-season business Crystal Palace have bought in bundles, they've done well, bringing in players like Andy Roberts from Millwall. They've lost a few players, but they've still got a lot left in the kitty. Entertainment value After Sheffield United, Wolves with their atmosphere and that beautiful stadium is always a good day out. John Aldridge Tranmere Rovers striker Promotion candidates I tell you what - I haven't got a clue this time round. The teams who came down will be strong and you can be certain that Wolves won't be far away. I've got to include ourselves, obviously, but I've got a feeling for Ipswich too. Relegation candidates I'm not risking predictions on this one. If I did, imagine the amount of stick I'd get when we played away at the team in question. Players to watch Gary Bennett, who we have just bought from Wrexham. He got 40-odd for them last season and will score a lot this time round too. Best close-season business Birmingham City have certainly spent well over the last year. Entertainment value Other than Prenton Park, I'd go to Wolves. They score a lot and they leak a lot too, so you'll always have a good occasion there. Second Division Liam Brady Brighton manager Promotion candidates It's so open: there's no team as strong as Birmingham were last year. You've got to ask how the relegated clubs will react and I think Burnley are most likely to pull back. Also Brentford missed out last year and have kept their side together. Relegation candidates Again, it could be anyone. In our division, you work off limited resources and if you have a spate of injuries, you could be in big trouble. Players to watch Two goalscorers: Nick Forster of Brentford and Marcus Stewart of Bristol Rovers. Forster is lightning quick, but Stewart is probably the better footballer and could be soon snapped up. Best close-season business Bradford City - they sold Dean Richards to Wolves and spent the return on Nicky Mohan and Ian Ormondroyd from Leicester. Not many other clubs have spent much. Entertainment value I'd like to think that we entertain. Alternatively, Brentford - they scored a lot last year - or Wycombe, a very good footballing side. Dario Gradi Crewe Alexandra manager Promotion candidates The relegated teams will be tough, Notts County and Swindon in particular, just because they have bigger spending facilities than the rest of us. Though there are no outstanding teams, Stockport will be having a go and both Bristols will be worth watchin g. Relegation candidates The strugglers are hard to spot this year. Chesterfield, who have come up, I think will find it hard. Players to watch Dean Windass of Hull - definitely the best player we saw last season. He's very dangerous and we were very pleased when they had a spate of injuries and moved him to midfield. Best close-season business I don't really follow the transfer market in case it depresses me. Entertainment value Try Bradford. They completely outplayed us last season and Lennie Lawrence's teams always like to play good football. Ray Clemence Barnet manager Promotion candidates Preston and Plymouth will be the favourites; they've both invested in players and have the money behind them to strengthen the squad if needed. At least another eight to ten sides could be up there too. Relegation candidates Any clubs with financial problems will have trouble. Exeter felt the pinch last year and may well do again. Players to watch I'll go for one of our own men - Dougie Freedman. He came from QPR on a free transfer and scored 28 goals last season. Best close-season business Mansfield Town have made a number of good-looking purchases. They sold a couple of players and have been busy spending ever since. Entertainment value Mansfield - Andy King's sides tend to be attack-conscious, likewise Plymouth and ourselves. We don't know how to play any other way.