Dunfermline Athletic became the first champions in British senior football last season, wrapping up the Ladbrokes League 1 title before March was over.
They netted a frankly astonishing 83 goals along the way, and while the Championship will prove a tougher test, they have the quality to notch up a second successive promotion. Here’s why.
They may well have the Championship’s best attack
It’s a bold claim for a side who have just achieved promotion, but such was the Pars’ attacking quality last season, that any defence in the second-tier has reason to be frightened by the prospect of facing the likes of Joe Cardle and Michael Moffat.
Dunfermline netted four or more times in eight of their 36 League One games last season, and that record would have been higher had they not taken their eye off the ball after lifting the league crown. And it wasn’t just the league’s strugglers who fell afoul of them – promotion contenders Stranraer were hit for six at East End Park.
The future of star striker Faissal El Bakhtaoui remains uncertain, but with Cardle, Moffat, and Ryan Wallace – who all hit double figures last season – all signed up for the coming season, they’re sure to still offer a serious threat.
Close games against top-flight sides last season
Whilst the Pars didn’t admittedly fell to a poor defeat against St Mirren in the Challenge Cup, they impressed against all three Premiership sides they face last season – Dundee, Dundee United and Ross County.
In the League Cup, the Dark Blues were on the receiving end of a comprehensive 3-1 win, with defender Lewis Martin the star of the show. And in the next round, it took Dundee United until extra-time to defeat a Pars side who deserved to win in 90 minutes.
Ross County struggled even more, with the Staggies needing a replay to oust the Pars in the Scottish Cup. And yes, that’s the same Pars who scored three times against Partick Thistle in a friendly at Firhill last month. If they can cause those problems for Scottish football’s big boys, the likes of Dumbarton should be worried.
They’ve got everything in place for more success
Last season’s average league attendance of 3,496 should tell you everything you need to know about the fervent support this club has – and that can only be a positive both financially and in terms of spurring the team. Indeed, their home league record last season saw them pick up an almighty 40 points from 18 games.
The club’s full-time status also continues to give the Fife outfit an ability to tempt players away from some pretty big-name clubs. Last summer alone, Rhys McCabe arrived from Sheffield Wednesday, as did Joe Cardle of Ross County and Partick Thistle’s Ben Richards-Everton – amongst others.
However, manager Alan Johnston has been perhaps the club’s most important buy of all. An outstanding man-manager with a good deal of tactical nous, he’s now led two different clubs to promotion from Scottish football’s third tier.
Those backing Johnston and his star forwards – roared on by the East End Park faithful – to win the Ladbrokes Championship title in 2016/17 can do so at the very tempting price of 11/1.
Having fallen from the top-flight in 2012, they’ll be desperate to get back there, and it’s hard to write them off.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.