The start of the new EFL season is just around the corner and all 72 clubs are busy with their pre-season preparations. Come May, most will be hoping to be challenging for promotion, or stay in the division they begin the campaign in.
It looks like it is going to be another scramble for promotion in the Championship, as perennial underachievers, Leeds United, go into another campaign below the Premier League. They are once again amongst the favourites to win promotion, something that had looked certain last season after a blistering start to their campaign. However, a poor run of form and results towards the end of the season, perhaps brought on by pressure and expectancy, saw them drop into the play-off places, where they were beaten by Derby County.
A club who have recently been relegated from the top-flight, Fulham, will also be amongst the favourites to challenge for an immediate return to English football’s elite. Even though they spent more than £100million on new player’s last summer, they had a very poor season and were relegated with plenty of games to spare. However, they did improve under their new permanent manager, Scott Parker, and the Craven Cottage faithful will be looking forward to a season with a few more wins.
Cardiff City, also relegated from the Premier League last term, are expected to challenge at the top of the Championship, as are West Brom, who lost in the play-offs to Aston Villa. Brentford is not a club that you’d instantly associate with a promotion chance, but the bookies have them at a short price to reach the Premier League for the first time in their history.
In League One, Sunderland have been installed as favourites for promotion after missing out in the play-off final last season when they lost to Charlton Athletic at Wembley. The Mackem’s had beaten Portsmouth to reach the final, and Pompey are also amongst the favourites for a return to the Championship.
One-time UEFA Cup winners, Ipswich Town, start their campaign in the third tier for the first time in 62 years, and they are tipped to challenge for promotion too, along with Rotherham who came down with them last term. Lincoln City, champions of League Two last season, are priced at short odds for back-to-back promotions as well with most bookmakers.
In League Two, Salford City, who are making their league debut after winning the National League play-offs, have been made joint favourites to achieve another promotion. They are being tipped alongside Bradford City, who were relegated from League One last season. Plymouth Argyle and Scunthorpe United, who came down with the Bantams, are also amongst the favourites, as are Mansfield Town and Forest Green, who both missed out in the League Two play-offs last term.
It is sure to be another brilliant season of EFL football and there will no doubt be some surprise teams challenging at the top of their respective divisions.