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.