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Championship Preview: Title winner, promotion contenders, wild card, and first manager to leave

Scott Parker is on the hunt for promotion number two
Scott Parker is on the hunt for promotion number two

The new Championship season is now upon us as 23 managers prepare for the big kick-off.

We say 23 managers because Swansea are still searching for Steve Cooper’s replacement, and last season’s beaten play-off finalists will need to act soon as there’s now only a week to go until the campaign gets underway. At the time of writing the likes of Chris Wilder, Russell Martin, and Jody Morris all feature in the next Swansea manager odds.

*Swansea have since appointed Russell Martin*

Below we take a look at the early favourite for the Championship title, the promotion contenders, who could be this season's Valerien Ismael, and those gaffers who desperately need to avoid a slow start...

Championship Winner Odds

The Early Favourite

The four main betting contenders in the race for the title each have a new manager at the helm, including the three relegated clubs, with Fulham installed as the narrow favourites to claim the Championship title.

Relegated in 2019, the Cottagers bounced back under Scott Parker in 2020, only to suffer an instant drop back down to the second-tier last term. Parker has since switched Championship dugouts to Bournemouth meaning the Londoners enter the new season with Marco Silva at the helm.

READ: A closer look at Marco Silva’s managerial record

The former Everton, Watford, and Hull boss is back in the dugout for the first time in over 18 months and has already made a wise choice in recruiting Fulham legend Luis Boa Morte as his assistant. Silva will however, not have the likes of Alphonse Areola, Ademola Lookman, and Joachim Andersen in his squad, but has added Paulo Gazzaniga and Harry Wilson to his ranks.

6/1-priced Fulham have the quality but given the competition coupled with the intrigue surrounding Silva they are perhaps a tentative pick to finish top of the pile, meaning there are a few other fruitful options in the betting...

Promotion Contenders

(Title odds in brackets)

The chasing pack is spearheaded by fellow relegated club West Brom (7/1), who are now managed by Valerien Ismael. The Frenchman worked wonders at Barnsley last season and it will be fascinating to see his direct, high-intensity approach at the Hawthorns. The Baggies’ promotion hopes will be significantly bolstered if they can somehow persuade  Matheus Pereira to stay.

Sheffield United’s (8/1) lengthy search for a new manager ended in the appointment of two-time Championship promotion-winner Slavisa Jokanovic; a very shrewd move. Last season was one to forget, but the Blades still have the majority of the squad who won automatic promotion and claimed a remarkable 9th place Premier League finish.

Slavisa Jokanovic is a two-time promotion winner
Slavisa Jokanovic is a two-time promotion winner

The aforementioned Scott Parker will have his sights set on a second promotion in as many Championship seasons. The immaculately dressed Bournemouth (10/1) boss has described his new club as the “perfect fit” and is looking to create a “dynamic, hungry, front foot team who want to go out to win games and dominate”.

Beaten play-off finalists Swansea have gone from 12/1 to 20/1 to win the league following the exit of Steve Cooper, however the incoming manager will have an ideal opportunity to make their mark this season as they look to build on the foundations of Cooper and Graham Potter.

Veljko Paunovic (25/1) will be hoping to build on an impressive first season which saw Reading finish 7th, although he’s hindered by a transfer embargo.

Don’t rule out eight-time promotion king Neil Warnock, whose Middlesbrough side can be backed at 11/2 to return to the Premier League, and keep an eye on Mark Warburton’s improving QPR (9/2 to make the play-offs).

Chris Hughton is a high-quality manager and there are hopes that his Nottingham Forest side can mount a play-off push this season, whereas Mick McCarthy’s Cardiff could be worth keeping an eye on.

Championship Promotion Odds

The Wild Card

Who will be this season’s Valerien Ismael?

New Tykes boss Markus Schopp is an unknown quantity on English soil, but Barnsley’s managerial recruitment has been suburb in the last few years so there’s every reason to believe that the Austrian can build on the work of Ismael, Gerhard Struber, and Daniel Stendel.

However, it’s Nathan Jones who we are backing to conjure up something special this season. He returned to the club to a mixed reaction but impressively saved the Hatters from the drop then propelled them to an impressive 12th last season. Jones’ side are 14/1 to win promotion, 8/1 to make the play-offs, and 18/1 to finish as the top southern club, however another top-half finish will represent more progress. Carlos Mendes Gomes could prove to be an excellent signing from Morecambe.

Unlikely to challenge for promotion, but Neil Critchley has created an exciting side at newly-promoted Blackpool. If he continues to impress then the club may have to swat away admirers.

First Manager To Leave

There were a total of 11 Championship changes last season, with Gerhard Struber (Barnsley) and Sabri Lamouchi (Nottingham Forest) the first two bosses to depart within hours of each other on 6th October; just four games into the 2020/21 season.

Derby’s pre-season preparations have been disastrous. They can barely string a team together while multiple off-field incidents have been an unwanted distraction. However, Wayne Rooney showed resilience to keep the Rams up last season and he’ll need to dig deep to motivate the club in what is likely to be another extremely difficult campaign.

Given Derby’s perilous situation it would be easy to pick Rooney as the first manager to leave, but we’re instead opting for Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray

Tony Mowbray is the Championship's longest-serving manager
Tony Mowbray is the Championship's longest-serving manager

The Championship’s longest-serving manager has yet to finish in the top-10 since leading Rovers back into the league and came under pressure following a disappointing 2020/21 season. A stuttering start will only increase the growing chorus of discontent from frustrated fans. Losing goal-machine Adam Armstrong would be a big blow.

Grant McCann should have credit in the bank following last season’s title success, but things change quickly in football and it will be crucial he gets some early wins on the board. Carlos Corberan will also need to make Huddersfield more competitive to avoid scrutiny.

 

Championship Winner Odds

Fulham
WIN PROB: 38%
1
£40 FREE BET
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8/5
£100 FREE BET
8/5
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
6/4
£40 FREE BET
6/4
£30 FREE BET
5/4
West Bromwich Albion
WIN PROB: 27%
1
£40 FREE BET
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5/2
£100 FREE BET
5/2
£30 FREE BET
2/1
AFC Bournemouth
WIN PROB: 15%
1
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
5/1
£30 FREE BET
5/1
£30 FREE BET
5/1
£20 FREE BET
9/2
£100 FREE BET
9/2
Stoke City
WIN PROB: 6%
1
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£20 FREE BET
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£100 FREE BET
Queens Park Rangers
WIN PROB: 3%
1
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£40 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
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Sheffield United
WIN PROB: 3%
1
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
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£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Coventry
WIN PROB: 2%
1
£40 FREE BET
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£30 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
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Blackburn
WIN PROB: 2%
1
£30 FREE BET
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£30 FREE BET
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REVEAL OFFER
Cardiff
WIN PROB: 2%
1
£30 FREE BET
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REVEAL OFFER
£20 FREE BET
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Middlesbrough
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£30 FREE BET
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£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
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REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
Birmingham
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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£40 FREE BET
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£40 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
Millwall
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£30 FREE BET
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£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Bristol City
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£100 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Huddersfield
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
Barnsley
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
Luton
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£30 FREE BET
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£20 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Reading
WIN PROB: 1%
1
£20 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Preston
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Swansea City
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
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£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
Nottingham Forest
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Blackpool
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£20 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Peterborough
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£20 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Hull City
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
Derby
WIN PROB: 0%
1
£30 FREE BET
£40 FREE BET
£20 FREE BET
£100 FREE BET
£30 FREE BET
REVEAL OFFER
£40 FREE BET
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Odds correct as of 2021-09-23 03:43 Odds subject to change.
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