DARYL MURPHY was the unlikely Top Goalscorer in the Championship last season finishing well clear of the pack. Here Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) aims to nail down the 2015/16 top goal-getter.
English Championship | Top Goalscorer
First off, I’ll be honest and true to you. The Top Goalscorer market isn’t and has never been an area of expertise, nor a accolade that’s ever really gotten me pumped. I’ll take a look, eye up a few prices and may have a quid here or there but then I’ve never really put the hours in to try and find the formula to a successful Top Goalscorer bet.
Truth is, there isn’t a particular formula, nor any standout trends. We can see that in the Championship over the course of the past six seasons where, along with Daryl Murphy last season, four of the seven winners (it was shared in 2009/10) weren’t even quoted by bookmakers at the beginning of the campaign.
But before turning away, I would like to share a few interesting (in my mind, anyway) snippets and then hopefully point you in the right direction for an ante-post punt. To begin with, I wanted to know how many goals on average the winner accrued across the past 10 Championship seasons. The answer? 25. The past four campaigns have seen the winner beat that average, mind…
Next? What position did the club of the winner finish in, presuming the bulk of the top runners would be made up by championship chasers. Not quite, the average finishing position was seventh with only one player (Wolves’ Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in 2008/09) topping the charts as his team took the title. But eight of the 11 winners across the past 10 seasons (remember that shared award I mentioned above) have completed the campaign at a club finishing in the top-half.
Of course, the beauty about Top Goalscorer betting is the eye-bulging prices and the luxury of backing each-way bets, rewarding punters with a pay-out for finishing in the top-four places. So I also had a gander at the average goal haul required to reach a placed finish – the answer being 19 (although it’s been as high as 22 twice in the past three seasons but also as low as 16 back in 2008/09).
Next I wanted to check the finishing positions of the clubs these top-four goal-getters represented, particularly the lowest position. Using the same 10-year sample we can see that players plying their trade at clubs as low as 20th managed to find a way into the top-four goalscorers – that happened on two occasions. In fact, the average of those 10 lowest position finishes was 15th, suggesting we shouldn’t be discounting players at lower mid-table clubs from an each-way wager.
So, the findings suggest we should be looking for a top-half team and a player capable of scoring 25 goals to take the top prize whilst a 20-goal season for a mid-table team should net us a top-four finish. It may not be the most rigorous or stringent of laws I’ve put together but at least they act as a nice guide.
We’ve almost a three-way tie at the top of the market between Wolves’ Benik Afobe (9/1 Bet365), Fulham’s Ross McCormack (10/1 Bet365) and Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes (10/1 Bet365). Darren Bent (11/1 Bet365), Daryl Murphy (12/1 Bet365) and Chris Martin (14/1 Bet365) make up the leading pack and it’s a wide open contest.
But for me, there’s one standout candidate amongst those front-runners and I’m happy to be boarding the Jordan Rhodes bus again in 2015/16 (I backed him at 8/1 last season and he finished second, comfortably in the places). It was the third successive season Rhodes finished runner-up in the market. His consistency combined with his excellent injury-free record makes him a superb candidate and when you see the following figures, I’m sure you’ll agree that even at 10/1 he’s a very serious contender.
Yeah, it might sound cheap choosing a 10/1 shot for a Top Goalscorer tip but hey, it’s still 10/1! The Scottish international has netted 73 goals in 134 Championship league appearances since signing for Blackburn – that’s a goal every 1.83 appearances and means he’s likely to net 25 goals, should he feature in every fixture. And the 25-year-old is averaging 45 league appearances a season since 2012/13 when he stepped up to the second tier with Huddersfield before moving to Ewood Park.
At the risk of getting a little too hot and bothered over young Jordan, I also took a look at his minutes-goals ratio and it’s utterly ridiculous. He’s scoring every 155 minutes in the Championship – at that rate, he’s forecasted to score 27 times in 2015/16 and who’d bet against him doing just that? Surely only a big-money move to the Premier League before the end of August is the only potential pitfall?
Rovers have the potential to mount a top-half or even top-six challenge and if Middlesbrough’s bid for the hitman get accepted, he’d still be fitting the bill for that top-half club we talked about. Gary Bowyer isn’t the most attack-minded of managers (averaging 1.48 goals-per-game in his two full seasons at the helm) and it’s not held Rhodes back before so moving to Boro (who struggled for goals last year) certainly doesn’t phase me.
It’s got to be Rhodes. He’s serious pedigree – since his debut in 2007, no player has scored more goals in any of the top four tiers – and he ticks all the boxes I’m looking for in a Top Goalscorer market.
Had Adam Le Fondre fixed himself up with a club, I’d be eyeing a bit of the 50/1 pie on offer. But ALF is on the way out at Cardiff and with penniless Bolton unable to splash the cash and the forward wanting a move north, he may be marooned in no-mans land for the start of the season. A shame seeing as the master poacher has a wonderful record of scoring 50 goals in 144 appearances across the top two tiers.
Instead, I’m going to have a wee poke on Freddie Sears at an attractive 66/1 each-way with Bet365. Across the last 11 seasons, only three players with previous top-flight experience topped the goalscoring Championship charts – last term’s winner Murphy appeared for Sunderland in just 18 appearances and although Sears made 38 during a fairy-tale start at West Ham, his career soon stalled.
Four years after a debut goal at Upton Park, Sears was bombed out to League One Colchester on a free transfer but slowly the confidence and goals have returned. He scored eight goals in his first season, 12 in his second but 2014/15 really put his name back on the map. Fourteen goals for Col U earned the 25-year-old a move to Ipswich and the forward added a further eight to his season tally with the Tractor Boys.
Now in his pomp, Sears is reaching a critical stage in his career. With 37 goals from his last 109 showings, his record of scoring a goal every three games is decent enough. He’ll need to kick-on and continue his year-on-year improvement but having hit it off with Murphy towards the back end of last year, the diminutive frontman looks a much more backable alternative at 66/1.
Remember we’ll get a quarter of the odds should he finish in the top-four. I’m in.
Championship – Jordan Rhodes to be Top Goalscorer (10/1 each-way Bet365)
Championship – Freddie Sears to be Top Goalscorer (66/1 each-way Bet365)
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