by Thomas Rooney
When I covered the topic of promotion favourites last time, I weighed up the chances or Birmingham, Queens Park Rangers and Reading. This time, I’ll be running the rule over Derby County, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. All of whom will fancy their chances of mixing it with the Premier League big boys next season.
First up, let’s talk Derby. After last years Premier League horror show, I would say that things can only get better, but in all honesty – that simply isn’t true. There is every chance that the losing mentality they have picked up could continue this season. A bad run of form during August and Paul Jewell will start feeling the pressure. They must start well.
So far in pre-season it has been a mixed bag for the Rams. Despite victories over Rushden, Mansfield Town and Burton Albion, they have been held by both Oldham Athletic and Rotherham United. Inconsistent, but at least they are getting out of the losing habit. The main reason you may wish to back Derby though is the amount of signings they have made. They have brought some real quality in.
Because the list is so long, I’ll just name the ones who I believe will have a big impact on their season – Kris Commons, Rob Hulse, Nathan Ellington and Martin Albrechsten. All top quality Championship players. If they aren’t at least occupying a play-off spot come May I will be very surprised.
Next up is Crystal Palace. Before I talk about their chances of promotion, let’s get one thing straight. I have never liked Crystal Palace and I have never liked Neil Warnock, so forgive me if I am a little negative when weighing up their chances for this season!
I am being completely honest though when I say I don’t think they have what it takes to win promotion. Yes, they could push for the play-offs, but so could a lot of teams. They have a very young side, but with Ben Watson and Clinton Morrison on there way out of the club they are losing two key performers. Warnock has a habit of getting the best out of what he has got, but there is no doubt in my mind that they would be remarkably over achieving if they made it to the Premier League.
The final team I am focusing on today is Sheffield United. In the first of a new addition to my blogs for this site, they are involved in my Friday Football Betting Tip. I believe they will win promotion to the Premier League. After a poor start last season they surged when Kevin Blackwell took charge and they almost made the play-offs.
One of the main reasons I am suggesting that you back them for promotion is the signings they have made. They haven’t been the biggest spenders, but I think they have done some excellent business. Making the move to the Blades is Matthew Spring, David Cotterill and Darius Henderson. These are all good signings in my view and add to a squad that already contains James Beattie, Billy Sharp, Jonathan Stead and Michael Tounge. They also have Gary Speed and Ugo Ehiogu to add some experience to the squad. These are the type of characters you need if you are to win promotion.
You will make some decent money backing the Sheffield United now as there are plenty of teams who are favoured above them in the Championship promotion odds. So stick some money on Sheffield United – that’s my Friday tip.
Next time I will cast an eye over those who are going to be flirting with relegation to League One. I’ll try to avoid mentioning Norwich in this category but it might not be practical!