FOOTBALL BETTING: Middlesbrough, with the capture of Kris Boyd, look well equipped to gain promotion to the Premier League, but along with who? Chris Hutcheon previews the Championship.
Basing his squad around a host of former Scottish Premier League players, including prolific ex-Rangers frontman Kris Boyd, Gordon Strachan is being tipped to guide Middlesbrough back to the Premiership during this, their second season in the Championship.
Boro have been backed into 6/1 by Ladbrokes, from an early quote of 10/1, to clinch the title; punters recognising the capture of Boyd, who is the same firm’s 8/1 favourite to be top scorer in the division, as a sign of Middlesbrough’s ambition. Strachan’s troops certainly have the firepower to top the pile but in a wide open division, it may be more prudent to back them at 9/4 with Stan James to gain promotion.
Nottingham Forest follow in the betting at 8/1 (Betfred) and they too have attracted cash on the back of some impressive displays last season, particularly at the City Ground. Billy Davies’ side were beaten in the play-offs in May and 888Sport make them 11/4 to improve on that this time to reach the Premiership.
Of the teams that dropped down from the top flight, Burnley are arguably the best equipped, although Brian Laws at the helm is not a popular figure at Turf Moor. Totesport post 11/1 against the Clarets bouncing back up as champions and Stan James make them 4/1 simply to make an immediate return to the top flight. The teams to follow each-way however, could be Reading (12/1, Jaxx.com) who ended last season like a steam train and QPR (11/1, Victor Chandler), under the canny guidance of Neil Warnock.
At the bottom, the loss of strike duo Gary Hooper and Paul Hayes will hit Scunthorpe hard, especially as the pair’s goals last term offset the fact that the Iron possessed the leakiest defence. Nigel Adkins’ side therefore look a banker at 5/4 (William Hill) to go down and they could be joined in League One by promoted Leeds and relegated Portsmouth. The former, at a massive 7/1 with William Hill haven’t replaced the spine of the team that helped them up while the latter’s financial troubles have decimated their squad and they’re a steal at 2/1 with the same firm to plunge down another level.