Reading led Southampton and West Ham into the Premier League as the Championship’s top three but the trio are flipped in the relegation betting. Reading are 10/11 to go down, with Southampton evens and West Ham a distant 9/4.
The Royals were easily the most impressive of the three when it mattered most last season, enjoying a run of 20 wins in 24 games in the run-in and showcasing their big-match ability by taking ten points off the other promoted clubs.
They have also made the most eye-catching addition of the newcomers thus far this summer by convincing the Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak to snub a top-ten club based in the capital in favour of a move to the Madejski Stadium.
Pogrebnyak caught the eye of several established Premier League sides by scoring six times in 12 starts during a loan spell at Fulham, yet Reading’s new Russian owner Anton Zingarevich has successfully wooed his 28-year-old compatriot.
The fact that the forward’s representative admitted that the superior pay pocket offered by Brian McDermott’s side was a decisive factor supports the theory that Zingarevich is willing to invest a considerable amount in his new project.
Dr Oliver Wendt said: “There are maybe a number of reasons why we have decided to move to Reading, but in the end, the difference in wages was too great and we could not ignore it.”
The £7 million that Southampton are rumoured to have spent on Jay Rodriguez trumps even the £6 million splashed by Reading on Pogrebnyak, however as far as statements of intent go, it is a far less emphatic one.
The 22-year-old is a considerable talent but, like his new attacking team-mates, is short of top-level experience, so is a far riskier player to be dependent on for goals.
Nigel Adkins’ men have also climbed two divisions in two campaigns and though Norwich survived such an ascent last term, it was a huge achievement. The last team to try it, Manchester City in 2000/01, went straight back down.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.