John Terry’s decision to drop down a division and leave London has seen his new club Aston Villa installed as joint-favourites in the Championship outright winner betting.
It is hoped the former England captain can galvanise the dressing room and add extra quality to a squad which had already been strengthened in January by the arrivals of the likes of Scott Hogan, Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury.
Villa will need to produce a huge improvement to justify backing them at 8/1 for the title, though. They ended last season in 13th – 32 points behind champions Newcastle – after winning just one of their last six matches and at the age of 36, Terry’s influence on the pitch may not be what it once was.
We’re much more optimistic about the prospects of the co-market leaders and the first of our Championship 2017/18 betting tips is Middlesbrough to win the title.
They disappointed in the Premier League under Aitor Karanka but their squad is packed with proven Championship performers and the appointment of former Swansea and Leeds boss Garry Monk looks a smart move. Britt Assombalonga and Jonny Howson, in particular, can be key performers and it is hard to see Boro not being in contention come May.
The last two Championship winners – Burnley and Newcastle – had been relegated in the previous season but as we have previously highlighted, bouncing back up at the first attempt is surprisingly difficult.
Only half of the teams relegated since 2002/03 finished in the top six in the Championship the following season, with just 29 per cent winning promotion, and it is likely to be a year of rebuilding for Hull and Sunderland.
The title betting looks wide open, with 10 teams available at 14/1 or under, and other than Boro, the most likely challengers look to be Fulham (9/1). They were the best team in the second tier from Christmas onwards, have kept star men Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon, as well as adding shrewdly to the squad which finished sixth last term.
Sheffield Wednesday (10/1) also have stability under Carlos Carvalhal and could make it third time lucky after two unsuccessful play-off campaigns, especially if they can get the best out of Jordan Rhodes.
Huddersfield proved last season that money is not everything in the quest to reach the Premier League. Several clubs will have been inspired by the route the Terriers took to promotion, none more so than Norwich.
They have brought in Stuart Webber – the man behind David Wagner’s appointment at Huddersfield – as sporting director and he has brought in Wagner’s Borussia Dortmund B successor Daniel Farke as head coach. A much-needed clear-out at Carrow Road plus money from the sale of Jacob Murphy could see the Canaries challenge if Farke quickly gets to grips with English football and we like Norwich to win promotion at 3/1.
Brentford are dark horses at 7/1 with a young, pacey squad built around Spanish midfielder Jota. We’re going instead with Leeds to be promoted at 11/2 after a busy summer in the transfer market and the appointment of Thomas Christiansen, who could help the Whites improve on last season’s seventh-placed finish.
The step up to the Championship looks a big one for Millwall after finishing sixth in League One last season with just seven away wins. They will need to make the Den a fortress but we fear even that will not be enough to save them and 9/4 for an instant return to League One is worth backing.
Seven defeats in their final eight matches meant QPR only avoided relegation by two points. They have done little in the transfer market to suggest an improvement is on the cards and at 4/1, they are also one of our Championship relegation tips.
For longer odds, Sunderland appeal at 14/1 to be relegated and are the last of our Championship 2017/18 betting tips. Only two players emerged from their dismal relegation season with any credit and Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe were quickly out of the door. New manager Simon Grayson has hardly set pulses racing and things could get worse before they get better on Wearside.
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