FOOTBALL is finally back – Fulham’s Europa League clash with NSI Runavik getting us back in the swing of things on Thursday though hardly a betting proposition with the London outfit 1-100 with some!
But forget pointless odds-on prices like that as now could be the time to get on a tasty 5-1 shot to win next season’s Championship – strong favourites West Ham United.
Nothing would give greater pleasure than to advise a decent wager on Leeds but let’s face it - the signs are hardly promising with Kasper Schmeichel having left for Leicester and with the core of the midfield - Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny on their way as well.
Next out could well be Max Gradel – a bitter pill which would be extremely hard to swallow – and the Hammers are among he front-runners to lead his signature – the capture of which would make them even stronger fancies than they are now.
But regardless of developments with Gradel and for that matter Leeds, the London outfit will remain confident picks whatever the weather because of two men in particular – Kevin Nolan and Sam Allardyce and it is actually the former that speaks most volumes.
Learning of Nolan’s transfer from St James’ Park to East London the other week came as a massive surprise – one of the season’s most impressive Premier league footballers dropping down a division to join the Hammers.
That means one of two things – either matters are going severely belly-up at St James’ Park or West Ham are going places and while both may be true all that matters for our bet is the latter.
It’s fair to say Nolan would have walked into most Premier league sides last season and having signed a five-year-deal at West Ham it’s pretty clear they will be going all out to bounce back at the first attempt.
Then there is new boss Allardyce and let’s face it, Big Sam is no second tier manager.
The 56-year-old has an impressive CV – consolidating Bolton as a solid Premier league force and like Nolan he will want to be back in the big time ASAP.
West Ham might well have to off load the likes of Scotty Parker and co but even then there is more than enough quality remaining and remember if their top players are flogged that will bring in the cash.
Crucially, Big Sam also makes his teams very hard to beat and with a decent start likely beginning at home to Cardiff - that game followed by a confidence boosting home League Cup clash with minnows Aldershot - the Hammers could very soon be more like 5-2 than 5-1 about winning the division.
Then there is the presence of directors David Gold, David Sullivan and vice-chairman Karen Brady and let’s face it – that trio are hardly mugs destined to fail are they?
Under Sven Goran Eriksson, Leicester look the biggest dangers while Birmingham should also go well with Chris Hughton in charge but Steve McLaren, new boss of Notts Forest, is in agreement that the Hammers are quite clearly the ones to beat, saying: “In golf you have ‘gimmes’. In the Championship, I think West Ham are probably a ‘gimme.’
“They have made a big statement with the capture of the boy Kevin Nolan. He won’t have come cheap.
“They are going for it. They want to do a Newcastle by keeping their squad strong and trying to blow this league away.”
We all wish Leeds would do just that and who’s to say they won’t but thinking logically West Ham do look by far the most likely winners and in my book the 5-1 with Coral and 9-2 elsewhere is too big.
We’ll have a look in the weeks to come about the best bets concerning Leeds next term - a bet to finish in the play-offs the most likely at this stage – but the 5-1 about West Ham might not last long given any more decent signings and I’m getting on while I can.