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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dr Lakes' Season Review: League One

We've sent all of the Football League clubs to have a physical with Soccer AM/MW's very own Doctor Lakes.

He's prodded and poked - often in appropriate areas - in order to determine whether they're in good shape or not.

Did they pass, has he referred them to a specialist, or did he only have bad news to deliver?

Here are his findings from this season's League One teams.

Brentford (9th)

A solid mid-table finish for the Bees, who a few people had tipped to struggle. Although it wasn't a perfect season, their fans will be very happy how they acquitted themselves.

No danger of getting relegated and no chance of getting promoted. It may not have been an exciting season, but they'll be more than happy to find themselves in League One still.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "All Clear: I can't really speak on behalf of this patient considering I only saw him during the end of year check-up.

"I'm presuming he's fine and dandy, but I can't be too certain. I doubt he's dead... I'm a little concerned now. I best call him just to be sure."

Brighton & Hove Albion (13th)

It comes as no surprise to see Brighton's home record is worse than their away record.

The club is gagging for a move away from their current stadium and will be delighted with the strength shown this season.

With Gus Poyet at the helm, the Seagulls found themselves nine points clear of the relegation zone at the end of play.

A strong mid-table finish will please the pessimistic fans who still question whether they have the strength to stay in the league.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Fully Fit: This one keeps telling me he's moving soon, but it never happens. Not that I'm bothered, he's a nice patient.

"Seems to have a good time of it recently and is looking very strong. Had spine problems a few years ago, but that seems to have recovered well.

"Seems to be preoccupied with moving house though, so I kind of hope he gets it sorted sooner rather than later."

Bristol Rovers (11th)

The Pirates had a supremely eventless season. Proof of this is that during their last six games they picked up a solitary point.

They'd done their job for the job and the players were already planning which club rep they would be trying it on with. A solid season for the Westcountry club.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "All Clear: The guys makes a cracking patient and brews a cracking cider. He's a bit slow, but that's fine.

"His immune system seemed to have shut down over the last couple of weeks, but that's to be expected when you drink five litres of home brew.

"He was fine all year so I reckon this is probably just a side effect to his end of year blow-out. He'll be fine next term."

Carlisle United (14th)

A trip to Wembley will have hidden the fact that it was a disappointing season for the Cumbrians.

The cup run would have affected their league form and, when you consider they were never in danger of getting relegated, most fans would have chosen the JPT Final rather than finish a few places higher.

Still room for improvement.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Healthy: I have to say, it's a nightmare when I have to visit this patient at home. He lives in the middle of nowhere. It's unbelievable.

"And the only reason he has called me out is to ask what type of chicken soup he should be eating to cure his cold. Ridiculous.

"I told him to have a Cuppa-Soup but I think he went for the simple Heinz option instead. He's fine though, nothing wrong with him at all."

Charlton Athletic (4th)

The Addicks will be very disappointed to have missed out on promotion.

Bouncing back at the first attempt was a must for Charlton but they will have settle for playing League One football for another season.

They were always around the top six and looked like they finish in the top two for a while, but they just missed out in the end.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Healthy/Diarrhoea: A tough diagnosis to make. He looked fit and strong at times, but then he'd come down with a mild case of diarrhoea and panic would set in.

"It's not been a perfect year health-wise, but at least he's made it through to the end. Maybe he needs to start eating more fruit to help push him over the edge into health nirvana."

Colchester United (8th)

Winning 7-1 away from home on the opening day should have been the start of a beautiful season.

Unfortunately, Norwich swiped Paul Lambert from Colchester and, for a while, it looked like it wasn't going to be for the Essex club.

However, once the ship had been steadied, results started to pick up and they nearly got into the play-offs.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis:
"All Clear: I saw him right at the start of the year and he was buzzing. I thought he was on drugs or something

"I was probably right because he then went into a bit of a slump and looked like he was on a real downer. Once he checked into rehab, he started to pick up again and now he's out and clean.

"For how long? Who knows. It was disappointing to see his carer leave, but these things happen."

Exeter City (18th)

Promoted last season, stayed up for this year. A successful season for the Devon club was ensured on the final day of the season.

At the start of the year, their aim was to stay up and they did just that. Next year, progress needs to made, else they might not be so lucky.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "All Clear: Looking very good when you consider the young lad is battling it out in a man's world. I feared for him in the beginning, but he should his strength and proved me wrong.

"I'll be bringing him in for some tests over the summer because I'm concerned about his long-term problems, but he should be proud of what he has accomplished this term."

Gillingham (21st)

"Holy smokes Batman, is is true that Gillingham didn't a win a single away game all season?"

"Yes it is Robin, and it's why they'll be playing in League Two next year."

Ah, Batman you're so wise even if you do seem to be a bit of a d***. Despite an impressive home record, you're always to struggle if you only pick up six points away from home all season.

It's shameful really and Gillingham need to buck up their ideas.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Swine Flu: Typical case of agoraphobia. When sitting in his own home, the patient is fine and well. If anything, he's healthier than you and me.

"However, as soon as he leaves his home, he suddenly develops into a blubbering wreck who is completely incapable of doing even the simplest tasks. Psychotherapy is needed, but I'm not sure it'll do the trick."

Hartlepool United (20th)

The Monkey Hangers managed to hang on their League One status, although it will have been too close for some people. Going into the final week, Pools were safe.

Then they got a points deduction when the FA discovered they had fielded an ineligible player. Idiots. Fortunately, it didn't come back to haunt them as they stayed up on the final day.

Disappointing season for the North East club and will definitely want more next term.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis:
"Diarrhoea: You're bound to get the squirts if you go to a zoo, jump in the monkey enclosure and start tossing faeces around with the animals.

"That's what this gent decided to do. He had been fine all year and then, a week before he was due to go on holiday, a trip to Brighton brought out the worst in him. Moron."

Huddersfield Town (6th)

Another year gone and another season where Huddersfield have missed out on promotion.

They won't be too disappointed considering the teams they were coming up against, but they will be upset they made it to the play-offs only to lose to Millwall.

Patience is the key if the Terriers want to gain promotion.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Healthy: It's been a solid year, but I noticed his health dropped a little towards the end. Nothing massive, just a little sniffle.

"He's been feeling sorry for himself and is convinced that he's dying, but I assured him that he's been strong recently and should easily overcome this health blip. Gave him a placebo to calm him down."

Leeds United (2nd)

The Elland Road club nearly bottled it. They led for a large portion of the season but started to let it slip and, when they dropped into the play-off places, many feared it would be another end of season adventure in them.

Fortunately for Leeds fans, Simon Grayson managed to turn it around and they eventually finished in second. Promotion achieved.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "All Clear: Didn't see him before Christmas, so I was very concerned when he came in in the spring. He looked a little run down so I prescribed him to rest for a few weeks.

"It looks like it worked a treat because I've not seen him since. I'm still worried over how he deals with stress, but I think he should cope."

Leyton Orient (17th)

Avoiding relegation is certainly an achievement for the O's. Not a very good achievement, but an achievement nonetheless.

They'd like to be a bit higher up the table, but when you consider all the factors, 17th isn't that bad for a club of their stature.

Lay the foundations and the walls will follow. Make of that what you will.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis:
"Healthy: People believe that the building blocks of life can be found on other planets. They're certainly present in this chap, although they appear to have stopped and refuse to evolve.

"It's fine for now because he's your run-of-the-mill bloke but, in a couple of years time, if there's still no progress then I'd start to panic if I were him."

Millwall (3rd)

Their fans may be thugs, but the team gets results. Having the joint-best defence in the league is bound to get you riding high.

They had a chance to steal the automatic promotion spot but had to settle for the play-offs instead. Not that it mattered, because they eventually went on to beat Swindon in the final and return to the Championship after four years in exile.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "All Clear: I'm not surprised by how this patient has responded with his treatment. He is determined, and it's clearly working for him. It's been a solid year and he has to be happy.

"He learned from the mistakes of last year and he understands that you can't go out boozing while you're on the road to recovery. Although the patient has recovered since last year's heartbreak, I was disappointed to see him make the same mistakes again.

"In truth, he's looked healthy all year but again he finds himself in the situation of trying to cope with being dumped. I'm not a psychiatrist, but he needs to let go of his emotions."

Milton Keynes Dons (12th)

Everyone's least favourite franchise had a disappointing year, no doubt about it. Paul Ince came back with plans to get the Dons promoted but it failed.

Now he has left and the Franchise is left to re-evaluate their plans. In reality, it would be harsh on a club who had been recently promoted to mount a promotion push, but MK are no ordinary club.

They had been having a decent season but then they just drifted away towards the end.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Diarrhoea: I know I'm not meant to take pleasure in the misery of a patient, but when this tosspot turned up, I was delighted.

"Turns out he'd eaten some undercooked chicken and when he told he'd spent the last five hours sat on a toilet with a bucket in his hands, I had to stop myself from laughing.

"It'll clear up but I was even happier when I found out his wife had left him because he'd crapped himself at church. Good times."

Norwich City (1st)

After being thumped 7-1 on the opening day at home to Colchester, not many can say they expected Norwich to bounce back so dramatically.

They acted quickly and sacked Bryan Gunn to bring in Paul Lambert. With Grant Holt scoring 20 goals by Boxing Day, they eventually ran away with the league.

Most expected them to get promoted at the first time of asking, but few predicted them to do it in such style.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Fully Fit: At the start of this year, the young lad came into my office complaining of a high fever, aching limbs, and a throbbing headache.

"He looked like death and I later found out he only had weeks to live. So you'll understand my surprise when I saw him running outside only a couple of weeks ago. A truly remarkable turn around in health."

Oldham Athletic (16th)

Not a great season for the Latics. Six points from their first seven games got them off to a disappointing start and it never really picked up from there.

A complete lack of goals saw them always languishing towards the bottom of the table and, although they will safe going into the final day, their fans will be wanting more from next season.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Diarrhoea: All over my shoes! What a terrible day to wear flip-flops. It was horrible. I was just talking to him about his plans for the future and when he turned to leave, he let loose.

"Straight through the trousers. Oh the horror... the horror!"

Southampton (7th)

Having been docked ten points at the start of the year, few people expected Southampton to battle for promotion - and they didn't.

A slow start to the season ruined what little chance they had of making the play-offs, but they season was very impressive nonetheless.

Using a simple logic, Southampton would have made the play-offs if they had not been deducted ten points. They went on to win the JPT and, with a strong squad and strong manager, promotion should be sealed next term.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Fully Fit: This saintly figure was bed-ridden at the start of the year. A real sense of doom and gloom surrounded him, and I started to question whether he had the mental strength to battle through.

"Fortunately, the lad came out of his funk and started hitting the town in style. He had a nice trip to a fancy hospital in Wembley and it looks to have done him a world of good."

Southend United (23rd)

Terrible season. Absolutely dreadful. Southend getting relegated was not what many people expected. I'm sure Colchester fans hoped it would happen, but didn't see it coming.

It was just a bad season all round. They never got going and always looked like they could have been sucked into the danger zone. League Two awaits and I can't see them bouncing back straight away.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Leprosy: I've referred Mr South to a specialist because I'm extremely worried about his current state. He appears to have shut down and, no matter what we do, his body doesn't appear to want to fight.

"The long-term ramifications are dangerous and I'm not 100 per cent sure whether he can recover. Hopefully the specialist will know more."

Stockport County (24th)

Stockport have caused a bit of a footballing shock this season. They finished where most people expected them to - bottom.

But that doesn't mean it has been a disastrous season. It's been a difficult, but expected, year.

From start to finish they have struggled but they do have the strength to learn from their time in League One and they could bounce back pretty quickly.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Swine Flu: The poor lad has been in a state of despair ever since the start of the year. However, it's been a bit strange.

"He has always been ill and at no point has he ever looked like recovering. But at the same time, he never looked like getting worse.

"It's like he has been stuck in some type of constant sickness all year. It really is quite baffling."

Swindon Town (5th)

It's been an incredible season for the Robins - despite losing to Millwall in the play-off fginal.

They had an outside shot of going up automatically and Danny Wilson proved he has an eye for real talent when he signed Charlie Austin from Poole Town.

They'll be disappointed to lose at Wembley, but they looked in a good position to mount another promotion push next term. After struggling last term, the fans know they have a quality manager leading an exciting team forwards.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Fully Fit: Truly remarkable. After seeing him come so close to death last term, I thought it was going to be a long year for this laid back chap.

"I'd expected him to slowly recover over the course of the year - but look at him now! He is a picture of health and I'm amazed to see him doing so well.

"He hasn't been taking any special medicine, it's just as if he started to believe in himself again. Well done old boy."

Tranmere Rovers (19th)

This club should be in his position. Ten points from their first 17 games paints a sorry picture and a lot of blame will be placed at the feet of John Barnes - who was manager for 11 of those games.

However, blame must also go to the people who saw fit to appoint a man with Barnes's managerial record as their new gaffer. At least he's gone now.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis:
"Diarrhoea: I remember meeting John Barnes at a lifeguards course. He was telling everybody about how he saved this pathetic excuse of a child from a swimming pool at Center Parcs.

"He was a hero to one and all on that course. However, it now turns out that he secretly injected that kid with Irn-Heroin, and he has since become an addict. Shame really.

"Back to the matter at hand - this patient is a wreck. Needs serious help."

Walsall (10th)

An extremely inconsistent season for the Saddlers. They beat Leeds at Elland Road but could only manage to take a point off of Southend.

In truth, it was a solid season for the West Midlands club. There isn't really a lot to say.

I'm sure some fans will be slightly upset they didn't achieve more but when you consider the strength of the league, a mid-table finish is more than respectable for a club of Walsall's stature.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Healthy: The guy is a hypochondriac. He keeps coming in to see me even though nothing is wrong with him. Low blood pressure, low cholesterol - what more can you want at that age?

"I think he takes satisfcation in the knowledge that every time he comes in I have to handle his twig and berries and ask him to cough. What he doesn't know I don't actually have to do that. A perk of the job."

Wycombe Wanderers (22nd)

The Chairboys aren't one of the most well-liked clubs at Soccer AM/MW towers. Blame Ian Murray Baker for that.

When their relegation was confirmed we didn't shed a tear and we weren't surprised too much. Many felt they could avoid the drop, but no-one was shocked to see them go.

They gave it a good effort, but they will be very disappointed that they got relegated - especially considering they were up against a team who had John Barnes as manager.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis: "Swine Flu: Hang on a second, I've misplaced his chart. Here we are. He appears to have a fever and can't stop shaking. Strange symptoms and deeply worrying on the face of it.

"However, we put him on an experimental drug treatment so I expected some side effects to show up. He feel a little bad now, but he should be fine in a few months time.

Yeovil Town (15th)

GLOVERS... ASSEMBLE! That's what the team should come out to in the future. I don't know what their 'enterance music' is, but my idea is better.

Back to football. Yeovil had another season flirting with relegation and had another season avoiding it. Job done really.

Dr Lakes' Diagnosis:
"Healthy: Job done indeed. I gave him his medicine to clear up his... erm... condition, and it worked a treat.

"Seven days later and he's bouncing around as good as new. He just needs to be careful with where he puts it next time."

And Dr Lakes will have his review of League Two soon.

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