Watford were the highest placed side in the Championship last season not promoted to the Premier League. Preston have the form and ability to make an impact in League One this season. Fleetwood Town have invested heavily for a team at their level and will looking to move up a tier from League Two.
With the new season in these three leagues beginning on Saturday now is the time to identify potential champions and Bet Enthusiast followers have been advised to back these three teams in singles and an each-way accumulator. None of the sides are the favourites to win their respective leagues but there are sound reasons for opposing the market leaders in each section.
These three selections would usually form part of the Yankee but with the Premier League not starting for another two weeks we are advising just a three team multiple ahead of the weekend’s matches. Each division looks highly competitive with potential champions not limited to just the three teams that can win the main league in England.
In the context of the Premier League it’s difficult to see beyond the Manchester clubs and Chelsea and the usual suspects should qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal have never failed to qualify for the Champions League under Arsene Wenger and their prospects can only be enhanced if Gareth Bale moves from Tottenham to Real Madrid.
Arsenal are the only side from the first four teams in the betting not to be embarking on the season with a new manager. Manchester City stagnated under Roberto Mancini last season and look worthy favourites under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini. Jose Mourinho has made up with Roman Abramovich and will be keen to enhance his reputation as the Special One. David Moyes has the difficult task of following Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Moyes will be under intense pressure to at least qualify for the Champions League. If United struggle to finish in the top four Moyes six year contract will mean very little. He never won a trophy with Everton and he seems to have already made a mistake by suggesting Wayne Rooney would be second choice behind Robin Van Persie.
Another high profile manager will be under pressure to deliver this season. Harry Redkanpp was recruited by Queens Park Rangers during last season but he was unable to save them from relegation. He has decided to stay with Rangers for now but this looks a potential departure especially as Happy Harry appears to have fallen out with the chairman over the club’s transfer policy.
Redknapp is one of those mangers who appears to have more style than substance. He has never won the Premier League or Champions League as a manager and was sacked from his only job with a major club after apparently upsetting the wrong people when in charge of Tottenham. At the time it seemed strange that he was overlooked for the England job. He appeared to be the best candidate but perhaps not seen as the safe pair of hands on the basis of which Roy Hodgeson was appointed.
Rangers gambled on Premier League football and are one of those clubs that need immediate promotion if the business plan and finances do not begin to fall apart. The side looked out of their depth in the Premier League and the high wage earners may not have the stomach for the fight at Championship level.
That scenario makes the London club opposable favourites to win the Championship this season and viable alternatives are Watford. They lost in the play-off final to Crystal Palace by a single extra time goal in May and approach the new season with stability and continuity.
Gianfranco Zola is destined for greater things as a manager and may well lead the Italian national team sometime in the future. For now he is content to continue to work on the Watford project which could see the side in the highest tier of English soccer for the first time since 2000.
A settled side led by an excellent coach can see Watford play their way out of a league in which the relegated sides from the Premier League will be determined to bounce back before the parachute TV income ceases to help them to adjust. In the last 11 years only two relegated sides have won the lower level title the following year.
Wolves have been relegated in each of the last two seasons but bookmakers still make them favourites to win League One. They are the glamour side in the section and relatively big crowds for this level will be offset by the determination of other sides to beat them, especially in their home games.
The favourites have not won League One for 18 years and Wolves do not look an outstanding side capable of ending that run. At four times the price Preston are worthy of interest. They dropped out of the Championship two seasons ago but showed the form at the end of last season to suggest they will have a say in the title race this season. Even at 36 Kevin Davies should score plenty of goals at this level.
Fleetwood Town are another work in progress where an ambitious chairman has targeted a promotion every two years. They consolidated their position in League Two last season but the schedule suggests another promotion is due. Fleetwood have spent plenty of money this summer that could be seen as a gamble. However, in a wide open section the money will be well spent if promotion or even the title is secured in line with the long term plan.
The favourites to win League Two are Portsmouth who won the FA Cup in 2008 and were playing in the Premier League just five seasons ago. The plight of the club illustrates how investing heavily to stay in the Premiership can go badly wrong. Fleetwood should take note but those in charge seem to be taking a more realistic approach to moving through the leagues.