"It's the hope that kills you."
A statement bound to be echoed around football articles for the next few weeks as the season begins to kick off in earnest. Championship teams are only looking up the table and towards the promised land of promotion, and trying their very best to avoid the looming backdoor of relegation, and the drop down to League One.
Today, we are taking a look at the teams in the league this season, and where they look be shaping up for the coming season, along with how the market has portrayed them over summer.
Within each team, we will take a look at their odds, and a quick summary by team. Along with a position, points and GD prediction bound to come back and bite me in May).
Below is my final predicted table (Feel free to rinse me in the comments for this...!)
Odds: Winner - 15/8 Promotion - 4/6 Relegation - 200/1
In order to win the league, which will be seen as the expectation, Newcastle are going to need to win a minimum of 25 games, and score at least 80 goals. This squad is more than capable of that under Benitez, and they have made some cracking Championship experienced additions to an already strong squad.
Points Tally: 98
Odds: Winner - 10/1 Promotion - 11/4 Relegation - 33/1
Having bought in Di Matteo over summer, and making some strong additions to their squad, including Tshibola and Elphick from Bournemouth over summer (and looking likely to sign McCormack) with a good start, Villa could look to kick back on and try and claim that second promotion spot, having not lost any "Premier League" (Although that one could be argued) players, they do boast one of the stronger squads in the division, with multiple internationals.
Points Tally: 85
Odds: Winner 12/1 Promotion - 4/1 Relegation - 50/1
Having managed to bottle promotion last season, and miss the playoffs entirely the year before, Derby have bought in Nigel Pearson to try and solidify the squad mentality. They have not made any major changes to this squad, and if Pearson can sort the reputation of the late season Derby collapse, Derby will be there or there about this season.
Points Tally: 84
Odds: Winner - 10/1 Promotion - 11/4 Relegation - 70/1
Norwich will be pushing Newcastle hard, and will be fully expected to be one of the main challengers under Alex Neil to bounce straight back. They have made a number of signings this summer, however ultimately I feel they will fall just short, and end up in a rough ride having to play out the end of the season in the playoffs.
Points Tally: 80
Odds: Winner - 18/1 Promotion - 11/2 Relegation - 35/1
Last seasons beaten playoff finalists will be looking to go one better this year and gain promotion. However, the quality which has dropped into the league may see Wednesday have to settle for a playoff spot. However, the addition of Steven Fletcher may be a big addition for them, adding to the signing of Gary Hooper made last season.
Points Tally: 75
Odds: Winner 33/1 Promotion 11/1 Relegation 9/1
Brentford, having suffered a slight blip at the start of last season, improved hugely under Dean Smith after having bought him in from Walsall. They have had a few outgoings this summer, losing both Bidwell, and Button to London rivals QPR and Fulham respectively. However, they have bought in a highly rated keeper in David Bentley from Southend, and under a full preseason with Smith, they should look to have a strong season this year, and will be around the playoffs come the end of the season.
Points Tally: 71
Odds: Winner 40/1 Promotion 14/1 Relegation 9/1
Leeds have managed to make a very astute manager signing in Garry Monk, who has made some strong signings throughout summer, Kemar Roofe from Oxford being the major signing, and if Monk can get him firing in the Championship, then Leeds may be a bit of a handful in the Championship this season - their major departure has been Lewis Cook who has joined Bournemouth. They will be keen to hang onto their young star Luke Murphy if they are to have a good season.
Points Tally: 71
Brighton & Hove Albion
Odds: Winner 16/1 Promotion 4/1 Relegation 50/1
Brighton managed to have an excellent first half of the season last year, however they fell away from the top of the league towards the end of the season - and I cannot see them maintaining the momentum that they had at the start of the last season - they have bought in Glenn Murray to play up front, and signed Sidwell as a permanent transfer, however, they have not made major transfers as of yet to improve their first XI hugely.
Points Tally: 68
Odds: Winner 70/1 Promotion 16/1 Relegation 6/1
Gary Rowett has improved Birmingham from lower mid table cannon fodder, to upper mid table cannon fodder, however, Birmingham are currently at their peak. Without finding some money to actively improve their first XI - Birmingham are set to maintain a steady mid table cruise under Gary Rowett this season.
Points Tally: 64
Odds: Winner 40/1 Promotion 11/1 Relegation 9/1
WIth the longest serving manager in the Championship, Ipswich have found a steady hand under Mick McCarthy, however calls of under investment over summer, and more cheap signings will see Ipwich ultimately fall just short of the playoffs again, with McCarthy struggling to keep up on their impressive season last year where they ended 7th.
Points Tally: 62
Odds: Winner 40/1 Promotion 11/1 Relegation 14/1
Under the first full pre season with Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink, QPR are set for a season of mid table. Hasslebaink has not managed a season with a side that has not been expected to be challenging towards the top of the table for a full season, and he may struggle to last the season if QPR do only manage to maintain a mid table position this season.
Points Tally: 62
Odds: Winner 50/1 Promotion 12/1 Relegation 8/1
Bristol City had a good first season back in the Championship, surviving with ease, they have bought in one of the stars of Euro 2016, Magnussson from Iceland. Having also added Brownhill from Preston, and Lee Tomlin to play up front, they have improved their first XI this year. This should see them, along with their gained experience from last season, move to the middle of the pack.
Points tally: 62
Odds: Winner 33/1 Promotion 12/1 Relegation 11/1
Cardiff have had another upheaval this summer, having replaced Russell Slade as manager, bringing in Paul Trollope, moving up from assistant boss. Their summer signings indicate that there has been a shift in the thoughts at CCS, and there has not been much money spent at Cardiff at all this summer. Trollope will do will to improve on the 8th place finish that Cardiff managed last season, with the increased competition the league has this year, however they have more than enough quality to maintain midtable.
Points Tally: 60
Odds: Winner 16/1 Promotion 5/1 Relegation 16/1
Wolves have had a major shakeup this summer with Jez Moxley out the door, having been bought out by a Chinese consortium. The major incomings have been from Jorge Mendes representatives - with Silvio, and Heider Costa having been bought in so far. However, it may take them a while for them to actually come to fruition and gel as a squad, if they are to keep adding to the squad.
Points Tally: 57
Preston North End
Odds: Winner 100/1 Promotion 22/1 Relegation 11/2
With one of the meanest defences in the Championship last season, only conceding 45 goals, Preston had a good first season back in the second tier. However, they will need to score more goals if they are to improve on last seasons top half finish. However, their main addition has been Eoin Doyle, who did struggle with Cardiff last season. Preston will ultimately be safe this season, but not score enough to challenge for the playoffs.
Points Tally: 56
Odds: Winner 45/1 Promotion 14/1 Relegation 8/1
Wigan produced good football last season as they went onto win League One comfortably, after chasing down Burton following a poor start. They haven't added huge amounts to their ranks, however they should have enough quality about them to be able to compete in the Championship this season and avoid relegation.
Points Tally: 56
Odds: Winner 50/1 Promotion 14/1 Relegation 9/1
Nottingham Forest have struggled in the past few years, and their main goal scorer, Assombalonga has only managed to get three goals so far since his return from injury. With Fawaz still interfering with the club on a regular basis, it may be that Forest are set for another season of turmoil, and may be involved in a relegation battle.
Points Tally: 55
Odds: Winner - 45/1 Promotion - 14/1 Relegation - 8/1
Huddersfield have seen a lot of turnover during summer, having bought in 11 players so far, and lost a couple of key players in Joel Lynch and James Vaughan. Settling in the new players, who are mainly youngsters, is going to be key for David Wagner, with 2 of their first 3 games being against Newcastle and Aston Villa, they may run into issues early if confidence drops.
Points Tally: 54
Odds: Winner 110/1 Promotion 28/1 Relegation 3/1
Barnsley have had an incredible run during 2016, making their way from bottom of league one in November 2015, to managing to beat Millwall in the playoff final in May. Their main addition has been Tom Bradshaw - along with managing to keep Adam Hammill, and with the gap between league one and the Championship is smaller than it was a few years ago, Barnsley with a strong start should be able to maintain the momentum and stay up this season.
Points Tally: 53
Odds: Winner - 40/1 Promotion - 12/1 Relegation - 10/1
Reading are in the pack alongside a number of teams who people cannot place a finger on currently in pre-season. With a 3rd manager in Jaap Stam in the course of the last year, Reading remain in a constant state of transition, and this will lead ultimately to another season of struggle, with the same issues of creativity and clinical finishing curtailing them to a relegation fight.
Points Tally: 52
Odds: Winner 40/1 Promotion 11/1 Relegation 10/1
Having lost the two top goal scorers from last season, Fulham will likely struggle to score enough goals. Despite a very solid pre season at the back, this can’t be relied for the whole season if the goals dry up going forwards, Fulham will be dragged towards the trap door, with it coming down to the last day.
Points Tally: 48
Odds: Winner - 100/1 Promotion - 25/1 Relegation - 5/1
Blackburn having finally sold off Jordan Rhodes in January have tried to bring in reinforcements in Danny Graham and Anthony Stokes this summer to replace his goals, however having also lost Grant Hanley, they are needing reinforcements at the back also. A struggle to replace these key losses with the same quality will see Blackburn ultimately just lose out on a relegation fight due to the lack of quality at the back.
Points Tally: 48
Odds: Winner - 200/1 Promotion - 50/1 Relegation - 5/2
Rotherham managed a mini miracle staying up last season with a fantastic end of season run under Neil Warnock, however, with him now having left the club again, they are going through another set of transition. Having lost their top scorer Matt Derbyshire on a free, they are looking set to potentially struggle for goals.
Points Tally: 44
Odds: Winner - 300/1 Promotion - 150/1 Relegation - Evs
Burton are set to play their first season in the 2nd tier this year. However, the lack of strength in depth inside the squad at the Pirelli stadium must worry Brewers fans. Despite their strong defensive organisation, with 22 clean sheets last season, they will surely struggle without an improvement going forwards, not scoring in almost 30% of their league matches last season.
Points Tally: 34
Overall, the league looks set to be very close this season, with a lot of clubs odds being in the region of 8/1 – 12/1 to be relegated. Not one team is fully certain to go down, and there are only a couple of teams who look certain to be destined for the top.
Saying all this, let’s pick out a few recommended bets based on the above
Fulham to be relegated @ 11/1 – This price is bound to drop once McCormack leaves the cottagers, but I would take it right down to 8/1 I think, the team is a very new side – and has lost it’s real point of difference going forwards.
Leeds United to get promoted @ 14/1 – Garry Monk has made some good solid signings so far in this window, and if Massimo can let him get on with it, they could be a strong side in the division this year, and 14/1 for promotion seems to represent good value for this side.
Aston Villa to win the league @ 10/1 – Newcastle may be strong favourites to win the league, however Aston Villa have recruited sensibly, and should be able to at least compete with them this season, and giving them 10/1 for Newcastle to slip up seems generous.
Let us know in the comments below what you’re backing for the season, be it in the Championship or other leagues.
Good luck to all betting this season, I hope you can join us for the ride and we can all make some £!
Oh and as always, please bet responsibly #gambleaware