No matter what happens to 16/1 title hopefuls Norwich in their opening day Championship encounter with Watford on Friday, nothing can be as bad as their first match of last season.
Back in League One, almost a year to the day ago, the Canaries were thumped 7-1 at home to Colchester United, much to the disgust of their fans.
The amazing turnaround from that embarrassment to being crowned champions of the division in May owed a large debt of gratitude to Paul Lambert swapping the Colchester Community Stadium for Carrow Road just ten days after the slaughter in Norfolk.
He guided Norwich to the title by nine points and ensured a relatively smooth return to the second tier of English football, a season after they had left it. Now he aims to take his side back to Premier League, six years since they were last in receipt of its generous offerings.
If Norwich are to fulfil their 5/1 odds to gain promotion it’s clear captain Grant Holt will need to reproduce his player of the year form from the last campaign.
A Brian Gunn signing for £400,000 from Shrewsbury Town last summer, Holt fired in 24 league goals to finish as the division’s fourth hottest shot. The 29-year-old is a healthy 25/1 chance to win the Golden Boot this year in a league above, and given his undoubted confidence provides much value for money.
He’s not the only Norwich forward with goals on the mind, though.
Chris Martin notched 17 times for Norwich in League One last season – only eight players got more – and the 21-year-old East Anglia native could well make a seamless step up. He’s a tempting 50/1 to be the Championship’s top scorer.
Another 50/1 chance for the Championship Golden Boot is 23-year-old Simeon Jackson. The Jamaican-born Canada striker bagged 14 goals in 34 league starts for a Gillingham side that were relegated from League One last season.
With better players around him, Jackson, a summer signing, is bound to prosper. He offers something different to Holt or Martin and should help Norwich win their match with Watford (4/5), which kicks off at 7.45pm to start the Championship season.
Watford are 7/2 to repeat Colchester’s trick and win on the opening day at Carrow Road. However, a 2-1 victory for the Canaries (7/1) seems more likely.