Picking the winner in the Championship is notoriously difficult as last season’s title success for a Reading side that started poorly and the runners up spot for promoted Southampton demonstrate and ahead of the forthcoming campaign the division looks just as open. Subsequently, the jollies, relegated Bolton, are priced at as high as 7/1 by bet365 while as many as seven teams are available at 12/1 or shorter.
Leicester are hot on the Trotters’ heels in the betting at 8/1 (Ladbrokes), followed by Wolves, who are 9/1 via Paddy Power to surge straight back in the Premier League as title winners. Cardiff meanwhile, are a 12/1 shot at BetVictor and Coral post identical odds against the third of the teams to drop down from the top flight, Blackburn.
Of that pack however, it’s relegated Bolton that look well equipped to mount a challenge. Owen Coyle has strengthened well over the summer and West Ham showed last season by finishing third that relegation doesn’t necessarily mean struggling again in the following season.
Blackburn too, with their summer manoeuvres, have shown that they are intent on regaining their Premier League status immediately and their ambition makes them tempting but unpopularity of manager Steve Kean and the pressure that will be upon him from day one, strip away some of their appeal and the uncertainty at the helm means that they should be respected but treated cautiously.
At the other end, Barnsley are bet365’s 13/8 relegation favourites and the Tykes certainly look set for a season of struggle but as far as value goes, Bristol City look far too big at 10/3 (BetVictor) for the drop, especially as they’re a more realistic 9/4 in places.
The Robins finished just two places outside of the bottom three last term and the going could be a touch tougher in the bottom half this time around, with no obvious candidates to get cut adrift. This leaves Derek McInnes’ men looking very vulnerable indeed.