Supporting a Championship team might see you drinking in the atmosphere at Griffin Park and the John Smith’s Stadium rather than Old Trafford and Anfield; but there is just as much excitement as watching a griffin sink a pint of John Smiths in the English second tier.
All Rhodes lead to goals
As sure as Mick McCarthy loves pie, peas and gravy, Jordan Rhodes will score goals in the Championship. Blackburn’s lethal hitman has a whopping 156 goals in 291 Football League appearances; whilst he is operating at this level he is guaranteed to find the back of the net.
Rhodes has finished second top-scorer in the Championship for the last three years, bagging 20-plus goals in each of those campaigns. Blackburn looked solid enough last year, finishing ninth, and they will probably be knocking around the play-off positions again this time around.
- The Scotland international is in at 10/1 to finish top scorer and that looks a cracking each-way punt; a bet that would have come off in each of the last three years. Bet now: Desktop | Mobile
Follow the tuna money
Foreign owners splurging cash on Championship clubs does not necessarily mean success, but it can do. The top two last year are both backed by some big wigs from abroad so there is hope for the new play-thing of an incoming magnate; Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls are now in the hands of Dejphon Chansiri who is a big dog in the tuna industry and has already dipped into his briny fortune to sign Marco Matias from Nacional and Darryl Lachman from FC Twente. Matias banged in 20 goals for the Portuguese top-flight side last season and cost a substantial seven-figure sum to bring him to South Yorkshire.
Wednesday finished 13th last season, but with a better defensive record than three of the top six. With this added firepower they will be a much bigger threat.
When asked how much money he is likely to spend at Hillsborough, Chansiri responded with; ‘as much as it takes’, so these are exciting times for the blue and white half of the Steel City.
- Wednesday are still a long-shot but could well grab a top six finish at 3/1. Bet now: Desktop | Mobile
Seagulls set to crash
Brighton stayed out of the headlines last season as they steered clear of relegation, but they had a shocker towards the end of the campaign and were not too far from the drop. The Seagulls’ last 11 matches served up one win, four draws and six loses, in a run in which they scored just four goals.
Chris Hughton has tried to cure his woes in front of goal by unleashing most of his budget on 28-year-old Israeli forward Tomer Hemed from Almeria; a gamble to say the least. Brighton won just 10 games last season, relegated sides Millwall and Wigan both won nine showing how close they were to the abyss.
If they don’t get off to a good start then Brighton will be in a lot of trouble, and with an opening month that includes clashes with Blackburn, Ipswich and Fulham then this could well happen.
Boro should be back in big time
Aitor Karanka’s Boro side looked like they were mid-siesta when they rocked up for the play-off final against Norwich in May, but that doesn’t mean they are a bad side, far from it.
The men from the Riverside conceded just 37 goals in 46 Championship games last season, eight less than any other side in the division. Their problem was scoring goals but with the return of Stewart Downing and talk of a splurge on a striker (possibly the aforementioned Rhodes) they should fix this problem.
Boro scored fewer goals than any other top eight side last season but were still only four points off automatic promotion. If they just sharpen up in front of goal and remain as tight at the back they will be the team to beat this year.
Burnley to Lord it over Lancashire
There is a Lancashire hotpot of action in the Championship this year with Burnley and Preston joining the fray alongside Blackburn and Bolton. Things could get more feisty than a scrap at kicking out time in the Rovers Return but it is surely Burnley who will come out on top when the dust settles.
The Clarets put on a good show in the Premier League last campaign; it definitely was not an experience that will leave permanent scars. They may have lost Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier but have replaced them pretty handily with Jelle Vossen and Matt Lowton. Other than that they have pretty much the same side that stormed to second in the Championship two years ago with 93 points, the best defence in the division and just five defeats.
Neither Blackburn nor Bolton have managed a play-off spot in their two seasons in the Championship whilst Preston have only just arrived from League One.
- Burnley look a strong shout for the play-offs and look spot on to be the top northwest club at 10/11. Bet now: Desktop | Mobile
- Chelsea, Manchester United and Watford should be confident of an opening day delight, while it’s bad news for Southampton fans
- Arsenal, Liverpool, or Manchester United? Find out where your money is going on the Premier League 2015/16
- Manchester United v Tottenham: Louis van Gaal is the cock of the North, and punters can kick-start the season with this 7/1 shot