FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan Ross Casey (@rosscasey24) has looked at the big prices available in both the Outright Winner and Relegation markets throughout the EFL and delivered his four favourite fancies ahead of the big 2018/19 season kick-off.
WLB Season Preview 2018/19 | Football League: Long Shots
Birmingham to win outright (50/1 each-way Bet365)
Preparation hasn’t exactly been ideal for Birmingham City considering their transfer embargo from the Football League and the exile of experienced goalkeepers David Stockdale and Tomasz Kuszczak, but sometimes the ‘us against them’ mentality can produce excellent results.
Manager Garry Monk is also a man with something to prove after an underwhelming half season with much fancied Middlesbrough last time out. He has taken on a much less attractive job at St Andrews with less money to splash, but he remains hopeful the club will be able to purchase by the time the transfer window closes.
With five wins in 11, Monk assured Championship football for the Blues towards the end of the season, including masterminding a 3-1 win over Fulham. In those 11 matches, Monk won four of the six he managed at home, only losing once – a 1-0 defeat to Boro.
He has the likes of Jota and Harlee Dean still at his disposal from the big transfers before his arrival, can welcome back Isaac Vassell soon from injury, and in Che Adams he has a quality striker capable of being one of the top scorers in the division.
Plus, the one player he did manage to bring in this summer, left back Kristian Pedersen, is highly thought of and will allow Maxime Colin to return to his usual right back position.
For me, this small, close-knit squad with a chip on their shoulder could be the surprise side of the Championship this season – especially if they begin to learn how to pick up points away from home. At 50/1 (Bet365), they might be worth an each-way poke.
Wigan to be relegated (9/1 William Hill)
It would be fair to say that Wigan Athletic are a yo-yo club with two relegations and two promotions in the last four years.
Yes, they have just destroyed League One last season, racking up 98 points thanks to their strong defence and goals from Will Grigg. However, take Dan Burn out of that defence and they appear to crumble. The big centre-half was taken off with a knock in their final pre-season fixture away at Rangers and once he went off, they fell to a 3-0 defeat at Ibrox.
The Chinese consortium that has invested in the club has helped the Latics sign the exciting Leonardo Da Silva Lopes and re-sign Callum McManaman. There are caveats to a lot of their players, whether newly signed or already in the squad that few have proved themselves at Championship level.
The Latics have lots of players that have been relegated from the Championship, or struggled to perform there, whilst manager Paul Cook is also unproven in the second-tier. Despite the confidence built last year, this could be another season where Athletic have a close shave with relegation yet again and odds of 9/1 (William Hill) to suffer another demotion look quite appealing.
Fleetwood to win outright (33/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
The fact that Joey Barton is the new Fleetwood manager means that almost no-one will want them to do well this season, but you cannot ignore their pre-season form where they have played five matches, won them all and scored 15 goals in the process.
In Paddy Madden and Ched Evans they have goals in their side, whilst loan signing Jason Holt is clearly someone that Joey sees himself in and believes he can get the best out of in midfield. Look for him to try and control games, whilst the likes of Kyle Dempsey and Wes Burns will offer their creative spark.
League One looks a very open league this season, and I would be incredibly surprised if there is a runaway leader. Shrewsbury proved that any side at this level can challenge and if this small Fleetwood squad can avoid major injury worries, they could well be the side to do it in 2018/19.
At 33/1 (Ladbrokes), the Cod Army could challenge for each-way money.
Crawley to win outright (66/1 each-way Spreadex)
Crawley went about their pre-season looking at several trialists and facing tough competition and they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves in their results.
Harry Kewell has quietly gone about bringing in plenty of experience to his squad with the likes of Romain Vincelot, Dominic Poleon and Filipe Morais all on-board for the coming season.
The Red Devils finished 14th last season and now 51 games into his managerial career, Kewell will surely be learning plenty day-to-day and with a full pre-season underneath him this time around, I think he can guide Town towards the top of the League Two table.
Crawley are one of the favourites for relegation, but I think they can outrun those fears and may well prove a massive price at 66/1 (Spreadex), especially if the experienced pros in their squad prove their worth.
2018/19 Championship – Birmingham to win outright (50/1 each-way Bet365)
2018/19 Championship – Wigan to be relegated (9/1 William Hill)
2018/19 League One – Fleetwood to win outright (33/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
2018/19 League Two – Crawley to win outright (66/1 each-way Spreadex)