Backing Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers to win the National League should bank a tidy profit
Cheltenham Town were the worthy winners of the National League last season, with Gary Johnson’s side breaking the 100-point barrier although there was one team who stayed the course with them for the most part.
Forest Green Rovers enjoyed a flying start to their campaign and weathered a few storms along the way before falling short, with Adrian Pennock sacked as it became clear that the team were bound for the play-offs.
FGR fell agonisingly short at Wembley when losing to Grimsby Town although they now have Mark Cooper in charge and have to be backed to win this season’s National League title.
Cooper is a former Rovers player who arrives after impressive tenures at Swindon and Notts County. He’s recruited well this summer, most notably in attracting Rhys Murphy and Matt Tubbs to The New Lawn.
This strike pairing should be able to fill their boots at this level, with owner Dale Vince continuing to plunge money into his beloved club to ensure they become a Football League club in the quickest time possible.
Vince said of Cooper: “I think he’s a great manager, I think we’re very fortunate to have him with us.
“I think we’ve moved on a couple of steps from last season in all respects if you look at the strength of our squad, our management team and that kind of stuff.
“I think it would be fair to say we’d be confident of having a good season and our aim is absolutely to in the league, but either way we’ll get promoted.
“It’s reasonable to be confident. We had three years where we went from 10th to fifth to second.
“You can see the improvement in the manager, his squad, his team. We’re going to push on from second aren’t we?”
The only team potentially capable of pushing FGR close is Tranmere Rovers, a club who spent last season acclimatising to life in the National League under Gary Brabin.
The Merseyside club were also licking their wounds after successive relegations although there were signs of life under Brabin and Rovers lost just three games away from home all term.
Indeed, they were strong against the other top teams and the recruitment of Dale Jennings and Andy Cook should ensure that Tranmere improve their “goals for” column this term, especially as they were previously so reliant on the injury-prone James Norwood.
Brabin has this season to get things tight and we think they could push FGR close, with Eastleigh unlikely to show enough improvement to get over the line next season.
Dagenham and York City were the relegated clubs last season although this league is hardly a pushover and neither look particularly well-equipped to make an immediate return to the division.
Wrexham and Barrow have lost key personnel and we think the bookies have things right with their rapidly-shrinking odds about FGR.