With League’s Two and One done, the final preview before the season starts on Friday is the Championship. The odds have been massively affected by the fact that Newcastle are the shortest priced favourites ever to win the league itself, so the rest are priced fairly far out.
Apart from them, you have the likes of Brighton, Sheff Wednesday, Villa, Norwich and a few others that look value to go up, it’s a case of picking the best bets from the available markets!
Winner – Newcastle @ 7/4
As a fan, I’m pessimistic after what happened last season, even spending £80m they still went down.
The big change this season is Benitez – a world class manager given free reign of the club, and he is doing very well. Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie are class signings, and will prosper at this level. Then you have the likes of Diame, who scored the winner for Hull in the playoff final. Then they have also signed Isaac Hayden who has looked decent in pre-season, Ciaran Clark, Grant Hanley, Jesus Gamez and Matz Sels.
Add to the likes of Jamaal Lascelles, who looks set to be given the captaincy at a very young age, Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Alexander Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba and Daryl Janmaat – they have a real team to be reckoned with. A winger and striker are to follow – so they will only get stronger. Youngsters Adam Armstrong, Jamie Sterry and Rolando Aarons will get their chance – with the first and third of those very highly rated.
At 7/4, and given the team and manager – I can’t see anything but a title winning season for them!
Promotion – Brighton @ 4/1
Naturally the bookies have made the three premiership drop outs favourites, Newcastle I think will do well. Aston Villa and Norwich I fear are probably based on last season are where they belong in the championship and I struggle to see immediate redemption happening. I think they require a few seasons of re building before they are realistically going to get promotion and avoid a yearly yo-yo. Brighton look set for the title for so much of last season and they were brutally unlucky to end up in the lottery option ultimately missing out. They have kept the same squad they had last year fending off bids for Knockheart and seem to have secured the signature of Tottenham’s promising wide man Alex Pritchard pending personal terms, though Norwich might have snatched him away.
The team will have learnt a lot from the disappointment of last year and I’m certain they will come back stronger. Another couple of signings and I think they are a strong contender for 2nd.
Top 6 – Brighton @ 6/4
As above really – can’t see anything other than a top 2/3 finish for the Seagulls – with the likes of Knockaert, Lewis Dunk, Tomer Hemed and a 24 year old Czech star by the name of Jiri Skalak, who has bagged 2 in 8 games but impressed me greatly. Solly March is back from injury, he missed a lot of last season with a serious knee injury. Dunk is the rock for me – should be playing for a Premier League club, and they are asking PL money! With the squad staying together, fine tuning is all they need. Top 6 @ 6/4 is amazing value!
Relegation – Rotherham @ 9/4
I backed this last season, and they survived, just in 21st. Basically it was thanks to how awful Bolton and Charlton were. This time around, I don’t see them getting so lucky. No real quality in the squad, some decent youngsters – but I severely doubt they can sustain any decent form for a long period of time to stay up. Potential cannon-fodder, like people are expecting Burton to be – 23rd or 24th for me.