Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton believes League One is wide open this year.
Sunderland are fancied by many for an immediate return to the Championship but Barton believes the Black Cats may find it hard to turn around their losing form of the past couple of seasons.
Town go into today’s home game against AFC Wimbledon after seven wins from as many pre-season games but the manager isn’t getting ahead of himself.
He said: “Let’s not get too carried away, we saw a manager (Frank de Boer) sacked after four games last season so I’m not going to sit here and pontificate about what we are going to do and how we are going to achieve it.
“The key focus for us is Wimbledon on Saturday.
“It will not be doom and gloom if we do not get what we want out of Saturday because it is a 46-game season.
“But on the flip side of that, it is a game of momentum and I think this season League One is wide open.
“I spoke when I first came in about some of the clubs, the capacity of their stadiums are bigger than Fleetwood as a town.”
That team, of course, was Sunderland and Barton believes the funding they still receive after Premier League relegation could still be a key factor.
He said: “I don’t want to talk about their business strategy but don’t forget Sunderland are two years out of the Premier League.
“They will still be getting massive amounts of parachute payments and certainly that will give them an edge in the market place.
“We are seeing figures bandied about for a striker they are looking to take so you would expect Sunderland.
“It is a fantastic football club with incredible support so you would think that if we are looking at a big club in the division then they are the standout club.
“Sunderland have their own challenges, they have faced two years of getting beaten virtually every week.
“To then expect a similar body of players to go in or the psyche of a football club to change overnight and win every game or have a winning profile is very difficult.”
And despite entering the opening game on the back of seven wins from seven in pre-season Barton is keeping his feet on the ground.
He said: “It is pre-season and everything is about progressing, you don’t have the pressure of the results which eventually catches up with managers over the course of a season.
“For me I’m incredibly optimistic as a human being, everything has gone above and better than we thought it would because I do have a healthy amount of scepticism and I do plan for what if the worst case scenario happens.
“If you factor out and build out from your psychology that way everything that happens positively tends to contribute in a really forward momentum for us.
“At this moment in time I just cannot wait to get to the Wimbledon game, the lads are at that stage; we are all ready for a real test and that comes when three points are at stake on Saturday afternoon.”