LEEDS United can be backed at 5-1 to make the Championship play-offs – and might be worth a small investment to do so.
There doesn’t seem too much doubt that the Whites have a team capable of getting into the top six if everything falls into place.
The team produced promotion form no less at times under Neil Redfearn last term – 15 points out of 18 in the new year – and the club’s 15th-placed finish underestimates their ability.
A multitude of off-field distractions clearly led to the team’s slide but it is hoped that calm has now been restored under Uwe Rosler and Adam Pearson – and the Whites should be just as strong, if not stronger than last year.
With Aidy White continually injured, the main departures in Rudy Austin, Billy Sharp and Steve Morison do not concern as with Chris Wood, Lee Erwin, Stuart Dallas and Tom Adeyemi brought in, United ought to be notably stronger than last term – especially with Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor all having an extra year’s experience.
Leeds ultimately fell 22 points shy of the play-offs last year with the Whites actually only 15 clear of the drop zone.
United are a best-priced 6-1 to go down but, if allowed stability, talk of going down seems nonsensical.
Rotherham, Charlton and Huddersfield are the bookies’ three favourites to go down – closely followed by Preston, Birmingham and MK Dons.
After Bolton, Leeds are next –- and it could be argued that United deserve to be eighth favourites to go down after finishing tenth-bottom last term.
But there’s a gut feeling that the layers are underestimating Leeds somewhat and the 5-1 with Coral, Betway and Betfair looks a fair price that Rosler’s men can sneak into the play-offs.
Derby and Middlesbrough are expected to fight out the race for automatic promotion by the bookies as the two clubs are general 6-1 joint favourites to win the division – ahead of Hull at 10s followed by the likes of Brentford (14s), Burnley (14s) and QPR (16s).
Leeds are a best-priced 33-1 to win the division – a price that makes zero appeal – with United 10-1 to go up. Realistically, with the play-offs probably our only hope, you’d want a better price than that.
But for the optimists among us, odds of 5-1 about getting into the top six doesn’t seem too bad, even if Rosler did say his initial aim was a top ten finish; Leeds should easily justify odds of 13-8 for a top-half finish with Coral. If you don’t fancy the 5-1 about the play-offs then that is the bet for you. At shorter odds, Chris Wood, a strong 6-4 favourite and confident pick to be United’s top scorer, is also 1-2 to score ten goals or more with SkyBet and that looks a sho-in.
Mirco Antenucci is next in the Leeds top scorer market with Sky Bet at 4s ahead of Erwin at 5s, Mowatt at 6s and Dallas at 10s. Luke Murphy is next at 14s ahead of Souleymane Doukara at 16s.
Wood, meanwhile, is 40-1 to be the division’s top scorer, with Wolves’ Benik Afobe and Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes 12-1 joint favs ahead of Derby duo Chris Martin and Darren Bent (pictured left), at 14s followed by Fulham’s Ross McCormack and Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy at 16s.
Purely on the Leeds front, Mowatt is also 7-4 to bag ten or more and another interesting Sky Bet special concerns the odds of United’s ‘big four’ going on to gain England honours by the end of 2020.
Taylor is 33-1 to do so (there must be worse outsiders than that) while Mowatt is 12s with Byram 8s and Cook just 5-2. Us Whites fans know just how good these kids are that for all of them to gain an England cap by the end of 2020 would be no surprise. Let’s just hope it’s with Leeds – who might just squeeze into this season’s play-offs.