The English Championship is the most competitive division in English football and this season looks one of the toughest to call ever, with bookmakers betting odds of around 7.00 the field and eight teams trading at under the 21.00 mark.
Queens Park Rangers is the universal English Championship favourite. Super Hoops manager Harry Redknapp has won the division before and doubtless he will be able to spend even more money should his side be in contention at the half-way stage. But let’s not get carried away with the Harry hype. Queens Park Rangers won only four English Premier League games last term and its form did not improve out of sight after Redknapp walked into Loftus Road. The Super Hoops finished the season at the foot of the six-match table, accruing one point from their last half a dozen games.
Bookmakers always place former English Premier League teams near the top of English Championship betting markets but should they? Only seven of the last 30 relegated sides have bounced back immediately and just two of them – Sunderland in 2007 and West Bromwich in 2010 – have returned to the top flight as a result of winning the second tier. Whichever way one looks at it, the odds available about Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Wigan are not all that attractive.
Reading has landed itself a superb manager in Nigel Adkins but it was not much better than Queens Park Rangers last term and the Royals are unlikely to spend as big as, say, the Super Hoops midway through the season. Wigan has the distraction of UEFA Europa League and a new boss in Owen Coyle, whose managerial record is hit and miss. The Latics were frustratingly inconsistent under Roberto Martinez and that is not a characteristic that one wants in an English Championship title or promotion bet. Let’s look elsewhere.
Bolton finished the last English Championship campaign in excellent form and Wanderers manager Dougie Freedman is a boss with a growing reputation. Bolton has recruited well, adding the likes of Alex Baptiste, Jermaine Beckford and Marc Tierney to its roster. Wanderers will be in the hunt, of that there seems little doubt, but they are the general third favourites, trading three points longer than the team that was just one win away from going up last season.
Watford is the pick of the English Championship bets, best priced with 188Bet at 13.00 to win the title and odds of around 5.00 with 888Sport to return to the English Premier League for the first time since 2007. One may not like the fact that the Hornets are owned by the same family that oversees Granada in Spain and Udinese in Italy but such is life and, even though the English Football League has tightened up its rules, Watford manager Gianfranco Zola has been able to import some serious talents from the continent, including Italy international Diego Fabbrini, who made his debut versus England in 2012.
Clearly the Pozzos have their hearts set on Watford getting into the English Premier League, something that the Hornets would have accomplished last term had they got off to a decent start. Watford lost four of its opening six English Championship matches and did not really hit its straps until after Christmas. In spite of their patchy early season form, the Hornets ended the campaign with the equal best goal difference and only two points adrift of runner-up Hull.
Turning one’s attention to the battle to stay in the English Championship and bookmakers think that Yeovil, not all that long ago a non-league side famous for its English FA Cup exploits, will struggle to stay up. That seems like a fair assessment but another of the promoted teams stands out as a better relegation bet and that is Paul Dickov’s Doncaster.
Most English League One fans think that Doncaster was very lucky to gain promotion last term, winning the title on the last day in the most incredible circumstances. Rovers had a caretaker manager in Brian Flynn for half of last season and he did a terrific job. Flynn has moved upstairs to make way for Dickov, who must be thinking how on Earth did he get this gig based on unimpressive stint as Oldham boss. Sure, the Latics went on a wonderful English FA Cup run but their English League One form was terrible and they were heading for the fourth tier when Dickov was given his marching orders. Doncaster is trading at odds of around 3.25 to finish in the English Championship bottom three, with a handful of bookmakers offering only 2.25. Take advantage of the difference of opinions and back Rovers to go down with BetVictor.