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Who are the favourites for Promotion? (Other than Norwich of course…)

by Thomas Rooney

The start of the season isn’t too far away and as always there are teams who are expected to be in and around the top six come the end of the season. Not that it means that much – I seem to remember Norwich being favourites for promotion after relegation from the Premier League in 2005. That didn’t exactly happen did it?

Anyway, who are the  promotion favourites this time around? In short – it’s Birmingham. After their relegation last season, Alex McCleish’s men are expected to bounce straight back. Not always easy, but with Birmingham’s squad they certainly have a good chance. They recently signed Marcus Bent has joined a strike force already containing Cameron Jerome, Kevin Phillips, Gary McSheffrey and James McFadden. That’s quite a selection of strikers to choose from.

The only doubt would be whether they can all stay happy as a lot of them will have to be content with a place on the bench. Overall though, Birmingham have to be considered for promotion. At this stage anyway. A good start to the season and the likes of Sebastian Larsson and Damien Johnson will be flying high with Birmingham at the top of the Championship.

Next up, according to the Championship football odds is Reading. Another one of the relegated teams will be hoping for just the one season in England’s second tier. Steve Coppell has got Reading promoted before and will be looking to do the same again. They have lost Dave Kitson to Stoke but otherwise, they have a similar squad to that which won promotion in 2006. Based on these facts – they should be up there. However, I am unconvinced. I believe that Steve Coppell could have been too loyal to his current squad and perhaps the club as a whole could do with a fresh pair of eyes. I’d like to see them do well, but I think it will tougher than a lot of people believe.

The last team I am going to talk about have literally brought their status as promotion favourites. I am of course talking about Queens Park Rangers. The investment has been received and they are rumoured to be one of the richest clubs in the world. In all honesty though, their spending hasn’t exactly reflected this. They have brought in some good players – like Newcastle’s Peter Ramage – but I am not convinced they can go from relegation candidates to promotion contenders in two seasons. It also frustrates me how so may people rate Iain Dowie so highly. How does he always land these jobs? What has he done other than get Crystal Palace promoted once? I might be being harsh, but in my view he is very over rated as a manager.

So, there is the three that are fancied by the bookies to win promotion to the Premier League. I’d throw Derby into the hat, purely for the amount of players they have signed, but I will be talking about them and some of the other promotion favourites next time.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Who are the favourites for Promotion? (Other than Norwich of course…)

  1. The curious thing about QPR is that they are perceived to be something they clearly are not. It’s hard to spot any reference to Rangers without a phrase like “free spending” or “money bags” appended. They are now owned by very rich people, it’s true. But is QPR itself a rich club? No.

    As a QPR fan, I’m delighted that we are not “doing an Abramovitch”. I think we are doing what most football fans would like their club to do i.e. to bring in exciting players who weren’t being given the chance they deserved at their existing clubs. So we’ve brought in a handful of players from Prem reserves, plus some experienced defensive hands (Ramage, Fitz Hall, Delaney from Hull, Connolly from Man Utd), and finally, 2 or 3 youngsters on loan from Italy, gained through the Italian owners having the right contacts.

    Add all that up and you have a side that’s been transformed since January, but without spending anything significant on transfer fees. On top of that, the club’s owners — particularly Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone — are canny businessmen, with plenty of experience in sports marketing. So after many years of embarrassing sponsorship deals (e.g. £35K a year from JD Sports), we now have a 5 year merchandise deal with Lotto worth up to £20m and a main sponsor, Gulf Air, willing to pay us £7m over 3 years. In Championship terms these are huge deals.

    I don’t approve of everything they’ve done e.g. raise season ticket prices by up to 50%, but by and large, Bernie and Flavio have done some interesting things, and made progress by spending little of their own money but using their know-how to attract sponsors and high-profile support.

    Sorry, this is is a bit long-winded but just wanted to make the point that we’ve splashed very little cash, but are perceived to have done so.

    Onto more interesting matters — I think QPR’s position as promotion favourites is undeserved. We are building a very decent looking side, and I’d expect us to be challenging for a play-off place. With a bit of luck we could go one better but there are several clubs in front of us. Like you, Birmingham are my choice for automatic. Derby seem to have been buying a lot of players, and there are plenty of others you’d expect to see scrapping for those top places — Reading, Ipswich, Sheffield United, Watford, Wolves, plus unknown quantities like Notts Forest. And even your lot, Norwich, seem to have been bold in the transfer market this summer, which makes me think you could have an outside chance. (And I’ve not even mentioned last season’s other play-off sides, Bristol City and Palace.)

    Where exactly QPR fits into that lot, who knows? But it’s going to be a great season, I’m sure.

    Posted by andy | July 26, 2008, 9:15 am
  2. I fancy Birmingham, Sheffield Utd and Reading

    Posted by stato77 | July 26, 2008, 11:01 am
  3. Another QPR fan here and i have to agree with what my fellow supporter up there has said, everyone’s jumping on QPR to buy promotion but it really isn’t that simple anymore, especially this season where they are some top teams going for it (Birmingham City, Derby County, Reading) and some re-born teams aswell who’ve been out of the picture for a while but have re-built (Ipswich Town, Sheffield United, Coventry City). Hell, even Nottingham Forest have built together a pretty strong unit and could challenge!

    At the end of the day, ANYONE can win this league, it’s going to be another cracker of the season. The league is brilliant as a neutral, just a bugger to be in when your desperately trying to get out of it.

    I’ll make a bold prediction and choose Birmingham and Reading as top two, with Ipswich, Crystal Palace, Derby and QPR for the playoffs!

    Posted by John Stevens | July 26, 2008, 3:16 pm

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