The Championship season is wrapped up with Newcastle taking the title of champions and Brighton and Huddersfield joining them in the top flight next year. Rotherham, Wigan and Blackburn all bid farewell as they were relegated to League One. Ross Casey looks back at his Championship preview…
Championship Betting Review
"The clubs in this article are in order of their Championship odds pre-season and I feature a blurb of my own thoughts on each club from that time period as well as analysis of how good or bad my predictions were! I hope you enjoy my 2016/17 Premier League betting review!" RC
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NEWCASTLE @ 19/10 – FIRST
“The team to beat for sure, but I would be wary of backing them now at this price. If they start poorly their price should lengthen. That’s the time to get on them in my opinion.”
WIN. Well this was pretty bang on! As Brighton needed three points from nine in their last three games, Newcastle were a bigger price than this at that point of the season!
ASTON VILLA @ 9/1 – THIRTEENTH
“When the second favourite is at 9/1 you know Newcastle are heavily backed favourites! Villa were borderline embarrassing last season, but with Roberto Di Matteo in charge this squad of players should be there or thereabouts this year. Get the 23/20 on them finishing in the top six.”
LOSE. Well I was some way off! Aston Villa spent £60.5m on summer transfers and the fact they finished 13th is a dreadful return for that spend. Their away form needs to be addressed for next season – a record of four wins in 23 is simply appalling for the quality of players they have within their squad and the incredible support they receive from their fans.
NORWICH @ 10/1 – EIGHTH
“Norwich know the Championship well and have kept the core of players that got them promoted in the first place, so in my view they may well adapt better in the first half of the season than Aston Villa.”
LOSE. That statement rang true, but I fancied Norwich to push the automatic places this season to be honest. Their home form was incredible – they scored 55 goals in 23 winning 15 in that sequence. However, they couldn’t replicate that on the road.
DERBY @ 12/1 – BET NOW – NINTH
“Nigel Pearson and Chris Powell are excellent appointments for Derby in my opinion and I think they will push for promotion yet again this season. They are an attractive outfit for potential new signings and will finish in the top six finish at 6/5 looks appealing.”
LOSE. Nigel Pearson was a big flop at the iPro this season – he was sacked after a run of just three wins in 14 and they ended up the season with their third manager as Steve McLaren was sacked also, with Gary Rowett replacing him. Stability is now needed in the east Midlands in my opinion, because ninth was a poor return for the squad they have available.
BRIGHTON @ 14/1 – SECOND
“They are my outside bet to win the Championship this season and 6/1 on a top two finish is my Brighton tip.”
GET IN! They were unlucky for three seasons in a row and as a club, they deserve the promotion they received this season. They were consistent throughout and only showed a wobble right at the end so they missed out of being called champions after picking up just two points from nine in their last three games.
WOLVES @ 16/1 – FIFTEENTH
“With an imminent takeover on the horizon and the likes of Nouha Dicko back from injury this could be a fruitful season for Wolves but whilst their future is still up in the air I am staying well away from the 16/1 on them to win the Championship.”
WIN. The takeover did go through and the new owners spent big, but it did not correlate to instant success. There were glimpses of what they are capable of – not least in their win at Anfield in the FA Cup – and next season they have former Porto coach Nuno Espírito Santo in charge!
SHEFF WED @ 18/1 – FOURTH
“The 10/19 on them to be the top Yorkshire team in the Championship is my best tip for the Owls.”
WIN. It was touch and go between them and Huddersfield, but this was a winning tip on goal difference. Sheffield Wednesday showed what a good side they could be last season, getting to the play-off final and yet again they finished in the top six.
CARDIFF @ 33/1 – TWELFTH.
“Paul Trollope has taken over from Russell Slade at Cardiff this season and he has brought in a host of new faces in order to give the play-offs a real go. The 5/6 on them to claim a top half finish looks a wise bet.”
WIN. Paul Trollope was a poor choice of manager for Cardiff and a real relegation battle looked likely until he was replaced by Neil Warnock. They scraped a 12th place finish in the Championship giving me a winning Championship betting tip.
BRENTFORD @ 33/1 – TENTH
“Dean Smith gets his first pre-season as Bees boss and if the final few weeks of last season are anything to go by they could be on to another good season in the Championship. They are 16/5 to be the top London club.”
LOSS. They had a good season by all accounts, finishing 10th but Fulham finished above them in sixth.
QPR @ 33/1 – EIGHTEENTH
“They have bought Championship stalwarts and impressive young players this summer and I expect a more consistent season from the Hoops, but a top half finish may well prove out of reach again.”
WIN. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink failed to ignite the Hoops and he was replaced by Ian Holloway who went through a difficult spell towards the end of the season where they lost seven of their last eight.
READING @ 40/1 – THIRD
“Lots of questions for the Royals this year – however I fancy a top 12 finish at 11/10.”
WIN. 11/10 on a top 12 finish looks massive in hindsight as Reading finished third with plenty to spare. Under Jaap Stam the Royals lost just twice at home all season long and only missed out on Premier League football via a penalty-shoot-out at Wembley!
WIGAN @ 40/1 – TWENTY THIRD
“Gary Caldwell is still learning is trade as a manager and his squad is decent without being extraordinary. I actually think odds of 8/1 on them to be relegated could prove great value.”
WIN. I am delighted with this winning Championship tip! The Latics struggled to adapt to Championship football throughout the season and never truly looked like getting out of trouble.
LEEDS @ 40/1 – SEVENTH
“Their acquisitions thus far look stellar at this level and Monk proved a wise manager in the Premier League. I am backing them to finish in the top half at 11/8.”
WIN. I think my round up of Leeds pre-season was pretty spot on. The squad that Monk assembled were impressive and whilst they fell away, this is the best Leeds have looked in a long, long time. However, their new owner has now come in and Monk has left the club, so order has been restored!
HUDDERSFIELD @ 40/1 – FIFTH
“One of the least fashionable clubs in the Championship are certainly beginning to look a decent outfit on the pitch under David Wagner. They are still a work in progress though and 8/11 on a bottom half finish appeals.”
LOSS. Well, the Terriers certainly surprised me by how quickly they would improve. I gave them plenty of props but had no idea they were capable of such a great season. However, I will point out that they won just three in 13 during the run-in, so their squad needs improvements next season in the Premier League.
FULHAM @ 40/1 – SIXTH
“4/1 is a poor price in this market, but I think they will push the top six this year.”
WIN. Thanks to an excellent second half of the season, Fulham finished in the top six, leapfrogging Leeds who fell away when the going got tough.
BRISTOL CITY @ 50/1 – SEVENTEENTH
“The loss of Nathan Baker could be a big loss, but Icelandic international Hordur Magnusson could be the answer from Juventus. I fancy the Robins to improve on last year, but still finish in the bottom half at a best price of 8/13.”
WIN. At the start of the season – as I am a Bristol City fan – I was starting to dream the dream before reality hit hard between October and March where the Robins won just four matches in 30 games! Luckily the start and the end of the season was good enough to keep us up!
IPSWICH @ 50/1 – SIXTEENTH
“Mick McCarthy is a good manager at this level and I expect them to be challenging for large parts of the season – I certainly wouldn’t put you off backing them to finish top half.”
Loss. Whilst the Tractor Boys were never in any danger of relegation, a mid-table finish was always on the cards. Fans are split on McCarthy – should they aim higher or stick with the man who guarantees them safety?
NOTTM FOREST @ 50/1 – TWENTY FIRST
When a relatively unheard of manager arrives, it gets worse when your owner misspells his name… however Forest have reasons to be cheerful including Britt Assombalonga being back fit and raring to go after long term injury.”
NEITHER. It was a no bet from me for Forest – although Assombalonga pitched in with a healthy 14 goals this season.
BIRMINGHAM @ 66/1 – NINETEENTH
“I rate this side and especially Gary Rowett as a manager. Having said that I do agree with the bookies that a bottom half finish is on the cards.”
WIN. Gary Rowett had the Blues pushing for promotion but he was laughably sacked by the owners for big name Gianfranco Zola who won just two in 24 for the Blues. They escaped relegation on the last day with a 1-0 win at Bristol City.
BLACKBURN @ 80/1 – TWENTY SECOND
“Danny Graham and Anthony Stokes as a strike pairing is decent at this level, but I am not convinced that Owen Coyle is the man to take Blackburn forward. As a club they have been stagnant for too long for their fans’ liking and this season will be little different in my opinion.”
WIN. Stagnant and relegated.
PRESTON @ 80/1 – ELEVENTH
“Preston impressed in their first season back in the Championship and will look to push for a top half finish. However I will be backing them to finish in the bottom half this time around.”
Annoyingly this was a losing Championship bet – Preston finished in the top half purely thanks to a superior gal difference over Cardiff and Villa.
BARNSLEY @ 100/1 – FOURTEENTH
“Barnsley are an unstoppable force at the moment after an incredible run throughout 2016. I fancy them to start the season well, thanks to that but my only worry is if they can last the pace. I will be backing them to survive, however.”
WIN. Barnsley impressed in their first season back – although they did fall away as I feared – winning just one of their last 14 matches.
ROTHERHAM @ 150/1 – LAST
“Alan Stubbs gets his first crack at management in England with Rotherham following the departure of Neil Warnock. It’s a hard act to follow in my opinion and I fancy them for relegation.”
WIN. Spot. On.
BURTON @ 200/1 – TWENTIETH
“At their odds I would lean towards a no bet with them as relegation is too short in my opinion for a side capable of shocking a few bigger sides.”
NEITHER. Happy days!
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