Championship 2016/2017 Betting Preview
This season’s Championship will be one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory with English (and European) heavyweights Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest all taking part. Granted, these clubs are not the powerhouses they once were, but they will undoubtedly add a touch of class to this years offerings.
Newcastle United enter the race as firm favourites, and it is easy to see why they will have plenty of backers, but in an ultra competitive division such as the Championship, the 7/4 on offer is way too short and easy to leave alone. It is open to debate if the Magpies have bought in the kind of players needed to compete in the Championship, and whilst Rafa Benitez is undoubtedly a top class manager, a common criticism is that the Spaniard is too stubborn and often lacks a plan B. Over a long 46 game season, Newcastle will not have it all their own way and Benitez will be facing a very different kind of test to those he has been accustomed to over the last 10 years. When the chips are down, this could be Newcastle’s undoing.
In contrast to the Toon, Norwich look overpriced in the outright market. Their new ‘bird poo’ third kit may have divided opinion in the footballing world, but the Canaries undoubtably have a squad loaded with experience and skill. If the rumours are to be believed and they manage to snare Championship hit-man Ross McCormack from Fulham, which is looking increasingly likely, he will be adding to an already experienced forward line of Steve Naismith, Cameron Jerome and Kyle Lafferty. McCormack has spent the last eight seasons in this division and after bagging 42 in his past two years with Fulham, is regarded as being amongst the best the Championship has to offer. When it comes down to it, this kind of experience and know-how could add another 20 points onto Norwich’s points haul this year.
Another side who catch the eye are Brentford. The Bees weren’t too far off a play-off place last year despite a disastrous start, and they look like a club that is going places. The price on them finishing in the top six seems a little skinny (between 3/1 and 7/2) but they look an interesting proposition in the handicap market. Under incoming boss Dean Smith, the West London club finished last season very strongly and it will be very interesting to see how much of an impact the ‘moneyball’ data analysis will have on Brentford’s future. Bees owner Matthew Benham also owns pilot ‘moneyball’ side FC Midtjylland who shocked the footballing world by beating Manchester United 2-1 in last season’s Europa League, and after appointing their Chairman as Director of Football at Griffin Park, similarities should certainly be expected. If there is one thing FC Midtjylland are about, then it’s using analytical methods to overcome financial disadvantages and upset the apple cart – something the Bees will be looking to emulate in spades this term.
Back Norwich to win the league at 10/1 with Coral
Back Ross McCormack to be top scorer at 14/1 with Betfred
Back Brentford in the handicap betting (+22) at 18/1 with Bet365
If Ross McCormack does swap Craven Cottage for Carrow Road (or anywhere else for that matter), then it’s worth noting that Fulham will have lost nearly a third of their goals from the 15/16 campaign. This problem for the Cottagers becomes more compounded when you consider new signing Sone Aluko’s meagre goal tally of 3 in 31 for Hull last year. Other attacking options do little to get the pulse racing, netting just 10 goals in 64 games between them last season, so if the inevitable happens and McMormack does leave Fulham in this transfer window, the price on offer for them to drop a tier could look very generous.
Another team worth looking at in the relegation market has to be Nottingham Forest. The last 18 months have been marred by off field problems, and despite games being won and lost on the pitch, you have to wonder how much off field problems have an impact – especially when some of the more persistent rumours are related to the late payments of players. On top of this is, owner Al Hasawi seems to have a constant need to swap managers – since the takeover of the club a little over four years ago, Forest have seen six managers in the hot seat which hardly seems a recipe for success. This, however, may not even be Forest’s biggest problem with Evangelos Marinakis looking set to take over. Greek businessman Marinakis comes complete with a long list of controversy linked to sport, worryingly being implicated in a match fixing scandal in Greece along with the bombing of an uncooperative referee. Regardless of who owns Forest next season, off field controversy looks set to linger and with a lack of talent on the pitch (no team scored less than Forest last term and survived), tough times could be ahead.
Back Fulham to be relegated at 12/1 William Hill
Back Nottingham Forest to be relegated at 10/1 with William Hill