Article written

  • on 04.08.2011
  • at 08:08 PM
  • by KT

Npower Championship 2011/12 Preview

The brand new Npower Championship 2011/12 season gets underway this weekend when Hull take on Blackpool at the KC Stadium on Friday night. And this season promises to be one of the most wide open for many years!

We’ve previewed the season ahead so that we can help guide you with your football bets, highlighting the teams that will be likely battling it out at the top and

bottom of the Championship.

Before placing your bets it’s worth noting that William Hill are top price on 22 of the 24 teams to win the Championship and they are also offering a £25 free bet for new customers. Click here to read our William Hill Review.

Npower Championship – Promotion Candidates

Leicester City (5/1 – William Hill) are the division’s big spenders. Sven-Göran Eriksson has brought in Matt Mills, Kasper Schmeichel, David Nugent, Paul Konchesky and Michael Johnson but the Swede will know that anything less than promotion will be deemed a failure. They have a good mixture of youth and experience and have a large enough squad to cope with the demands of a long hard season. Although not a given, automatic promotion is certainly achievable this time around.

Fellow joint-favourites are West Ham (5/1 – William Hill). They will start with a very talented squad, arguably the best in the division, yet they will need to gel better than they did in last season’s disastrous Premier League campaign. They have managed to hold on to many of their star players whilst also bring in more recruits (namely Kevin Nolan). But they will need to bounce back at the first attempt if their somewhat risky strategy is to pay off.

Last season may well have been Cardiff City’s (22/1 – William Hill) best shot at automatic promotion. They have kept most of that squad together, and the squad may settle better now that they have a regular strike partnership of Rob Earnshaw and Kenny Miller as opposed to trying to play everything through Craig Bellamy. Malky Mackay’s side are play-off certainties.

Since taking over at Nottm Forest (16/1 – William Hill), Steve McClaren has brought in George Boateng, Jonathan Greening and Andy Reid, all of which some add some guile, quality and most of all experience to what is a very young squad. They may just be a striker short of mounting a serious challenge for the Championship title, yet we expect them to be there or thereabouts come May.

The summer has seen 15 players and a manager leave St Andrews yet the sale may still continue. With owner Carson Yeung’s assets frozen more players may follow Johnson and co out the door. Consolidation will be the aim for Birmingham City (22/1 – William Hill) but Chris Hughton will have a major job on his hands to prevent a Portsmouth-style demise.

Despite losing Charlie Adam, Blackpool (22/1 – William Hill) have tried to fill that void by bringing in Barry Ferguson. Although the remainder of the squad is still intact, it will be difficult to predict whether Ian Holloway can create the same creativity and togetherness that has boded so well for them over the past two seasons.

Championship new boys Brighton and Hove Albion (22/1 – William Hill) will try and play an attacking style of football and will be looking for lots of goals from new striker Craig Mackail-Smith. Gus Poyet has been quoted as saying that promotion is the target, yet behind closed doors you would image that a top half finish would be deemed success in their first season.

Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough (18/1 – William Hill) have been through a period of consolidation since he took over, mainly tasked with reducing the wage bill. He now has a much smaller, yet much closer nit squad then when he arrived at the Riverside and if some of their younger players, including Adam Roach, continue to develop they could well have a shot at promotion via the play-offs.

Leeds United (22/1 – William Hill) are definitely good enough to reach the play-offs at least, yet their inconsistency may prove to be their downfall when it comes to mounting a serious title challenge. Simon Grayson’s side have struggled in pre-season and they will need to get off to a good start if they are to challenge the likes of Leicester, West Ham and Nottm Forest over the course of a season.

Paul Jewell has made some excellent signings for Ipswich Town (22/1 – William Hill) this summer; Lee Bowyer, Michael Chopra and David Stockdale. They have lost hot prospect Connor Wickham to Sunderland but the board have shown faith and given the manager some of that money to re-invest. If Jewell can get the side better organised then there’s no reason why Ipswich wouldn’t have an outside shot at reaching the play-offs.

Npower Championship -Relegation Candidates

Coventry (15/8 – Paddy Power) have lost eight players in the summer, very few of which have been replaced. The manager seems pretty upbeat about their chances of survival but unfortunately not many other people share that same optimism. The Sky Blues look nailed on relegation fodder to us.

Millwall (6/1 – Betfred) have made some significant changes to the squad during the summer, with both strikers Neil Harris and Stevie Morison moving on. Darius Henderson has been lined up as a replacement but they are likely to lack the goals that saw them finish 9th last term. That said they may just have enough quality elsewhere in the spine of the team to escape relegation (just).

Crystal Palace (5/2 – Victor Chandler) will have to cope with the loss of Neil Danns and sure up the defence if they are to survive this season. The squad has largely remained unchanged and they will need to find some consistency and grind out results if they are to make any progress up the table.

Another season of struggle awaits Bristol City (11/2 – bet365) too. They are trying to build a defence from scratch; a risky strategy given their struggles last season. Star striker Nicky Maynard is rumoured to be on his way to Leicester or Middlesbrough, and if they lose him they may well lose their place in the Championship too.

No-one can deny Sean O’Driscoll has worked miracles since he has been at Doncaster Utd (9/4 – Victor Chandler), the question us how long he can continue to get his side to perform against the odds. Last season they flirted with relegation, and another difficult season is on the cards. It is very hard to make a case for Doncaster’s survival this time around.

Peterborough Utd (5/2 – Victor Chandler) manager Ferguson junior has brought in a number of young players in from his father’s club, yet the loss of star man Craig Mackail-Smith means that Championship survival will be tough. There would be very few raised eyebrows if they were to drop down to League One this coming season.

Watford (11/4 – Sporting Bet) have lost their manager to Cardiff and their top scorer to Swansea, yet they appear to be doing their best to try and rebuild for the 2011/12 season. They have brought in a number of new players, many of which have been impressive in pre-season and Watford may well possess enough guile to survive another season against the odds.

Championship Tips

Outright

Relegation

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