Having sold the Championship’s top scorer to a divisional rival and hired a manager with nothing but a non-league coaching background to speak of, Leeds United are actually bigger fancies for relegation than they are promotion this season.
Following Ross McCormack’s £11m Fulham switch, the Yorkshire side are yet to really reinvest that cash, choosing to use their newly acquired Italian links to bring in the majority of their summer signings so far.
While not too much may be known about Tommaso Bianchi, Gaetano Berardi and Marco Silvestri, Watford’s recent exploitation of Serie A-based youth means Leeds’ new arrivals can’t immediately be written off.
His record as Forest Green Rovers boss doesn’t come dripping in accolades, but David Hockaday’s penchant for developing young players actually makes him a very good fit for the Whites dugout.
A previous stint as Watford’s U18s coach saw Hockaday grow the talents of left-back Paul Robinson and Manchester United’s Ashley Young and with Leeds’ squad chock full of wide-eyed young professionals, the former Swindon Town defender should feel right at home.
Two well-established prospects in the Leeds ranks are at full-back, with Sam Byram and Aiden White both highly rated among the Elland Road faithful. With the experience of Steve Morison, Rodolph Austin, Jason Pearce and Stephen Warnock interspersed through the ranks, Leeds have a pleasing mix to build a promotion push with, at odds of 9/1.
Obviously doing without McCormack’s 28 league goals will be a hindrance for the one-time Champions League semi-finalists, but in Matt Smith – who notched 12 strikes of his own last term, in just 20 starts – they have a beanpole front man with the ability to impose himself on the league.
While odds of 28/1 that the Peacocks win the league indicate ultimate glory is beyond them, there’s actually plenty of reason for hope at the club, should everything click into place this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.