As the beginning of the new Championship season draws ever closer, it seems to be about the right time to have a look at the main contenders to win not only the league title but also a coveted place in one of the best leagues in the world, the English Premier League. Notoriously one of the hardest leagues to predict, any of up to 16 teams could make a case for promotion.
Foxes in the Mix?
Could this be Leicester City‘s year to get promoted from the Championship? After an extremely disappointing campaign last year where their myriad of big money signings never reached expectations, the foxes will be looking to put the record straight. This year Nigel Pearson has changed the club’s strategy in the transfer market, gone are the big name signings that were synonymous with the Sven Goran Eriksson era. In are Pearson’s young and hungry signings. Jamie Vardy is an unknown quantity in league football but has an outstanding record in the lower leagues whilst France u21 international Anthony Knockaert gives Foxes’ fans the winger they were crying out for towards the end of last season. Ladbrokes offer best odds at 8/1 for Leicester to win the Championship and return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
Birmingham to be Strong Contenders
Birmingham bowed out in the play-offs last year but could go one better this time and win the league. Whilst they have lost Chris Hughton over the summer, they replaced him with the talented Lee Clark who has already made some good signings to add to his already talented squad. Darren Ambrose arrives from Crystal Palace to add some quality to the midfield, whilst Peter Lovenkrands adds experience to the front line after joining from Newcastle. They also have one of the hottest young properties in English football, Jack Butland ready to step into the first team. At seemingly large odds of 20/1 with Sportingbet, Birmingham could well be a brilliant outside bet.
Bolton to Bounce Back?
Bolton could be set for a return to the top flight after relegation last year. They haven’t lost many of the players from last years squad, although the inspirational Fabrice Muamba has unfortunately had to retire from the game. They have also added Keith Andrews to the squad, as well as Matt Mills who will be looking forward to putting his disappointing spell at Leicester behind him. Bolton have the best chance of going straight back up and 7/1 with Bet365 looks to be a good price.
The Promoted teams: In with a chance?
Huddersfield could be long shots to win the league but there are worse bets to make than them getting in the top 6. Over the last few seasons we have seen teams like Norwich and Southampton who were promoted from League 1 go straight up again. Huddersfield have one of the most sought after players outside of the Premier League in Jordan Rhodes still and if he stays a play off place could be a possibility. They also have made good signings since being promoted and Simon Grayson has done well since he has taken over. Sean Scannell from Crystal Palace can be a handful on anyday and Anthony Gerrard is a solid signing. They are 40/1 to win the league or 13/2 to get a top 6 finish with Stan James.
The Best of the Rest
Nottingham Forest‘s recent takeover could make them strong in the transfer market. With a couple of strong moves they could be in with a chance. You can get 12/1 with Bet365 for them to win title. Neil Warnock‘s Leeds could also have an improved season. His knack of getting out of this division previously is well documented and they have a good squad despite the loss of star man Robert Snodgrass. They are 14/1 with Bet365.
So there we have it, a quick preview of the Championship. This season could prove to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable for years and for three teams the glory of the Premier League awaits.