Blackburn look a better bet to go up than a Snodgrass-less Leeds
A promising start to the summer at Elland Road hasn’t been sustained
Beyond the three favourites to gain promotion from the Championship – Leicester (2/1), Bolton (9/4) and Wolves (5/2) – there are four closely matched contenders, with Cardiff, Blackburn, Leeds and Nottingham Forest all rated at 7/2.
Who from that quartet is the most likely to secure a spot in the Premier League though? At present, it is Blackburn who present the most impressive case, with the predicted post-relegation fire sale yet to materialise.
Yakubu has left with Junior Hoilett almost certain to follow but the likes of Paul Robinson and Morten Gamst Pedersen remain and the squad has been strengthened by the likes of Danny Murphy, Leon Best and Nuno Gomes.
A number of promising Portuguese youngsters have also been recruited to supplement the talented graduates of the club’s own academy who are expected to stay.
The sums invested, including a reported £3 million for Best, suggest that, as much as their faith in Steve Kean and lack of decisive leadership may provoke criticism, the owners are at least committed to trying to guide Blackburn back up.
The other team that stood out as strong candidates were Leeds after a summer of revamping and being prepared by promotion specialist Neil Warnock. However, the anticipated £3 million sale of Robert Snodgrass to Norwich is a major blow.
It is unclear how much of that money Warnock will be permitted to reinvest by unpopular chairman Ken Bates, as talk of a Middle Eastern takeover that started at a similar time to Nottingham Forest’s has gone alarmingly quiet.
As far as Forest are concerned, the arrival of the Al-Hasawi family significantly increases their chance but Leicester’s heavy investment and miserable failure last season shows that spending plenty offers no guarantee of success.
Cardiff are harder to call as they are always in the mix, making the play-offs in each of the last three campaigns, yet regularly fall short. It is worth waiting until mid-August to see who they add, with the likes of Craig Bellamy linked.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.