Perennial play-off also-rans Nottingham Forest can be backed at 14/1 with Boylesports to win next year’s Championship after confirming the appointment of former England coach Steve McClaren as their new manager on a three-year contract just hours after sacking Billy Davies. McClaren was recently linked with the vacancy at Aston Villa but returns to club management in England with Forest, having previously been in charge at Middlesbrough before being sacked as England manager by the Football Association following his team’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008. McClaren has worked hard abroad to shed his ‘Wally with the Brolly’ image from his time with the international team and steered Dutch side FC Twente to a maiden Eredivisie title in his first full season as coach. But he had a less successful time of it in Germany with Wolfsburg, lasting less than nine months before being given the boot. The Tricky Trees are 9/2 with Boylesports and Coral to gain promotion in McClaren‘s first season in charge.
In the same division, Birmingham City are a general 9/1 to win the Championship despite Alex McLeish‘s shock resignation at the weekend. The Blues are already threatening legal action if McLeish ends up at arch-rivals Aston Villa but the Scot is no bigger than 6/5 with Blue Square and 888sport to succeed Gerard Houllier in the Villa Park hot seat. It could be a very turbulent summer at City with several of their big name players, Cameron Jerome and Roger Johnson among them, already stating a desire to remain in the Premier League. Sam Allardyce is already beginning to plot West Ham’s return to the top division and the Hammers are currently vying for favouritism with Sven-Goran Eriksson‘s Leicester City at a general 7/1 for next season’s Championship, with last year’s play-off finalists Reading at a general 12/1 even though they are likely to lose a few of their stars to the Premier League before the new campaign kicks off. Middlesbrough, who ended last season strongly, are 14/1 with bet365 and Coral with managerless Cardiff City rated 20/1 chances by Betfred despite already losing strikers Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra from the team that finished fourth last year. Ian Holloway‘s Blackpool are a general 18/1.