After a disastrous start to the 2013/14 campaign that saw them take just five points from their opening eleven matches, Sheffield United turned things around dramatically, hauling themselves away from danger and even giving themselves an outside chance of making the play-offs at one stage after a run of just two league defeats in 19 matches.
The Blades also plotted a path to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final and given the way they performed over the second half of the season, it’s in no way surprising that bookies expect Nigel Clough’s men to kick-on this term to land the League One title.
Stan James have installed United as 5/1 jollies to clinch top spot and even though they have a significant gap to fill at the back following Harry Maguire’s switch to Hull, the Bramall Lane outfit look like the team to beat. At the very least they look a safe bet at 7/4 (betway) to gain promotion to the Championship but there’s every chance they can carry last year’s momentum into the forthcoming season and mount a real challenge for first place.
Another side that enjoyed a revival last time around are Bristol City and they too have attracted money to secure top spot, an outcome bet365 price at 8/1. Identically-priced, this time at Skybet, are Preston and Peterborough, who should also be there or thereabouts, are an 11/1 shot at Coral.
Having only missed out on automatic promotion by one place however, Leyton Orient might represent better value, especially as bwin chalk them up at 14/1 – odds hefty enough to warrant an each-way interest.
Relegated pair Barnsley and Doncaster have the potential to threaten the play-offs but the other team we’re keeping our eye on is Coventry City.
The Sky Blues will again be playing their fixtures at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium but they’ll start in a much more positive frame of mind without the ten-point deduction that made last season more about survival than promotion.
Indeed, with those points Steven Pressley’s charges would’ve ended up in ninth but that’s without taking into account the psychological impact such a deficit has on a squad and kicking-off on level terms will be a real boost.
The club finally looks a touch more stable to boot and with efforts being made to take City matches back to the Ricoh Arena where they belong, the Sky Blues could emerge as something of surprise package. BetVictor make them 9/1 to go up.
Sheffield United to win League One – 5/1 (Stan James)
Leyton Orient (e/w) to win League One – 14/1 (bwin)
Coventry to be promoted – 9/1 (BetVictor)
Colchester to be relegated – 7/4 (Ladbrokes)