Two weeks ago, West Ham United were available at 7/1 to win the Championship. The bookies looked prepared to take on the Hammers, despite the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager, with many of the squad’s most talented players set to leave Upton Park after the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
However, the West Ham owners clearly don’t intend to stay in the English second flight for very long, especially with the Olympic Stadium to fill and the signing of Kevin Nolan has seen the odds shrink to a best price 11/2 (William Hill) on the outright market. Nolan joins Abdoulaye Faye at the east London club and the Hammers could be the team to beat next season.
Birmingham City were another team relegated from the Premier League last season and the Blues are close to landing a new manager, with Chris Hughton the current favourite to try and do the same with the Midlands club as he did with Newcastle United two seasons ago. Similarly to West Ham, Birmingham will lose several talented players although they can be backed at 9/1 (Victor Chandler) to win the league.
As for Blackpool, they are available to back at 20/1 with Blue Square, despite looking anything other than relegation material for much of the season. By Christmas, Ian Holloway’s team were in the top half of the table, although the Tangerines’ form dipped badly and let to a final day drop at Old Trafford. Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell are just two players set to leave, although Holloway knows what’s required to gain promotion.
Not the relegated teams from the Premier League have a good record when it comes to bouncing back up and it might instead be better to go for a team who have retained the nucleus of a squad that did well last season. Norwich City proved that a double promotion could be achieved and Southampton should go well under manager Nigel Adkins.
You can back the Saints at 16/1 with Ladbrokes, while the Hampshire side are 11/2 with Betfred to gain promotion and they will benefit from the goals of Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana. They might also be able to retain the services of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a season and that could see them figure in the top six.
Meanwhile, Simon Grayson will be trying to steer Leeds into the top six after narrowly missing out last term, with some silly results costing them in the early part of the season. Leeds are a 6/1 chance with Ladbrokes to gain promotion and they will be banking on their supporters making Elland Road into even more of a fortress.
Another so-called big club are Nottingham Forest and they have secured a place in the top six for the past two seasons, suggesting that a small improvement will see them go close to snaring the title. Steve McClaren is on board and they are 14/1 with Blue Square to win the league although much depends on how much money is available.