Championship 16/17: Preview & betting tips

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Sky Bet Championship winner odds

Due to the financial advantages in play we need to pay a bit more attention to the previously relegated teams than we do with say League One or League Two, for example.

The top three favourites for the title (Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa) were all plying their trade in the Premier League last season and will want to bounce back immediately.

In Championship terms at least, Newcastle (7/4) are a financial powerhouse and their spending this summer has demonstrated that.

Related: League One 2016/17 betting preview
Related: League Two 2016/17 betting preview

Matt Ritchie ripped up The Championship with Bournemouth two seasons ago and Dwight Gayle will get plenty of goals after dropping down a level.

Mohamed Diame, Ciaran Clark and Grant Henley are impressive additions, too. It appears Rafa is building a side well equipped to handle the physical challenge.

Most of us would likely choose Newcastle for the title if we had to pick one, but the real question for us punters is “do they offer value at 7/4?”.

I think they do. In Benitez they have an excellent tactician, a pragmatic manager who won’t be thrown off by the challenges this league has to offer.

Norwich (9/1) offer stability in terms of both managerial and playing staff, and you have to admire that these days.

As with Burnley last season, they’ve stuck with the same manager who earned promotion from this division the season before last. That worked out well for Sean Dyche and Co.

Alex Neil has retained most of the players who did a fine job in getting the club into the Premier League, which has to be seen as a positive despite the fact they couldn’t keep them there.

With Aston Villa (9/1) you get the feel of a team on a downward spiral that hasn’t bottomed out yet.

The mood of the club is in stark contrast to the optimism we’re seeing at Newcastle this summer, and I think we’ll see the effects of that going into the season.

The jury is still very much out on Roberto Di Matteo. The signing of Ross McCormack is a boost for the new manager but when you compare the respective squads with Norwich, for example, it’s difficult to see why they’re the same price.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Villa struggle this year.

Derby (10/1) have been messing around with the wrong managers for some time but in Nigel Pearson they’ve acquired a man who knows this division inside out.

Pearson will feel he has a point to prove after leaving Leicester and in Derby he’s picked a good club who are primed to improve on their recent showings.

The Rams have a small squad in truth but it’s brimming with quality. I’d still marginally favour the stability of Norwich at this price point but if Pearson can make some astute signings before deadline day, they’re capable of pushing for automatic promotion.

Sky Bet Championship promotions odds

The big question for Brighton (7/2) is can they bounce back after coming so agonisingly close last year?

Middlesbrough pipped The Seagulls on goal difference despite the fact Brighton were unbeaten for the final 14 games of the season.

A poor showing in the play-offs suggests their mentality wasn’t right after that setback, but will they bring that into the new season?

Chris Hughton has proved himself time and time again to be an excellent manager, and he should be capable of lifting the troops. He’s still underrated in my eyes, and a strong showing once again wouldn’t be a big surprise.

Much will rest on Newcastle’s pursuit of winger Anthony Knockaert, a key man for Brighton who’ll be sorely missed if Benitez can prise him away.

Wolves (9/2) have a bit of cash to splash after their Chinese takeover.

They’ve been recruiting overseas talent in the likes of Helder Costa and Joao Teixeira, among others, with more likely follow before the transfer window closes.

Italian boss Walter Zenga has been installed but, seriously, how many clubs has this guy had? He has a new job every summer. It doesn’t bode well for stability.

It feels like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? New foreign owners, a manager with hasn’t managed or played in this country before, and a bunch of flashy new players. Compare that with Newcastle, who’ve purchased quality players with experience in this league.

I’ll be steering clear of the 9/2 on offer for promotion and indeed the 14/1 to win the title too.

Sheffield Wednesday (9/2). We talked of Villa being on a downward spiral but in Wednesday we surely have the opposite, a team very much on the up.

After a slow start to the 2015/16 campaign the Owls recovered well to make the play-offs. Steven Fletcher is a good signing if he can stay fit and Fernando Forestieri will always get you goals at this level.

At the exact same price as Wolves, it feels like much better value at 9/2 for Wednesday to be promoted.

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Sky Bet Championship relegation odds

The odds on Burton (10/11) seem too short when you consider they finished just two points behind Wigan last season who are 7/1 for the drop.

People kept expecting them to fade last season but they kept it going to make it back-to-back promotions.

That isn’t really the profile of a club more likely to be relegated than not. Laying is a much better option.

Rotherham (15/8) on the other hand, seem much more adequately priced, given they’ve spent the last two seasons flirting with relegation.

I do see hope for Rotherham fans in the shape of Alan Stubbs, who had a decent record at Hibernian. Add to that the fact that rookie Scottish managers usually do well in League One.

Stubbs appears to have enough about him to suggest 15/8 isn’t a good bet.

Talking of downward spirals, Blackburn (4/1) are definitely in the midst of one.

With Owen Coyle as manager, and without Jordan Rhodes up front they could be in for a long season.

For an outside punt Fulham (8/1) are worthy of our attention. Moussa Dembele has left for Celtic and Ross McCormack went to Villa, arguably their two best players.

When you consider Fulham only finished two points ahead of Rotherham last season while conceding more goals in the process, the 8/1 starts to look a bit tasty.

Sky Bet Championship 2016/17 betting tips

Newcastle to win the title – 7/4 @ Bet365 (bet now)
Sheffield Wednesday to win promotion – 5/1 @ 888 (bet now)
Fulham to be relegated – 8/1 @ Bet365 (bet now)
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