The normally blissfully quiet period, known domestically by some people as ‘summer’, when the sporting landscape is dominated by golf, tennis and cricket comes to a shuddering halt next weekend when the new football season gets under way.
It does so laden with one feature which accounts, at least in part, for the game’s undying appeal. Hope. The opening period of any season is invariably characterised by unprecedented levels of supporter optimism, most of which usually exceeds reality by a considerable margin.
Bookmakers, however, have a habit of bringing us back down to earth.
For example, despite Sheffield Wednesday’s defeat in last season’s play-off final, bet365 make them 16/1 to be crowned champions this term, although they’re 6/4 with Betway to secure another top six berth and 1/3 (Unibet) to finish in the division’s top half.
Elsewhere, optimistic souls may fancy the look of Paddy Power’s 9/2 for the Owls to be promoted, while backers anticipating another finale involving tension and excessive nail-biting can get 12/1 (Victor Chandler) against Wednesday winning the play-offs.
Wednesday face a run of tough opening fixtures, including early duels against Aston Villa and Norwich as well as a visit from Leeds United before the end of August. Another relegated club, Newcastle, are, not surprisingly, 7/4 (Ladbrokes) to claim the title, although at 9/1 (William Hill.)
In other markets, Sheffield Wednesday are Totesport’s 8/15 favourites to finish the campaign as the Championship’s top Yorkshire side, while for those still in positive mood, Stan James’s 25/1 for Fernando Forestieri to end the season as the Championship’s leading goalscorer may appear worthy of a punt.
Odds supplied by Smartbets.com