The English Championship is notoriously difficult to win yet bookmakers have decided that Middlesbrough is going to take out this season’s edition even though it is nine rounds old.
One does not have an issue with Middlesbrough trading as the English Championship favourite but one does have a serious problem with Boro being odds on with some bookmakers – it is a silly state of affairs and, frankly, if one cannot find a better odds-on jolly to back, one should give up betting.
Middlesbrough recruited well during the English summer but it had to plug several holes in its squad, not least the one that Chelsea created when it recalled Patrick Bamford, who had been Boro’s leading goal scorer on loan from the Blues. It would appear that Middlesbrough coach Aitor Karanka made some smart pre-season decisions because Boro have scored an English Championship-high 17 goals in the first nine rounds and they are on a five-game winning streak in the division.
But it is time for some perspective about Middlesbrough and its excellent start to the English Championship. According to bookmakers, eight English Championship teams are trading at odds of 51.00 or shorter to win this term’s title – in ascending price order they are Middlesbrough, Brighton, Derby, Hull, Reading, Burnley, Ipswich and Queens Park Rangers. It is not Middlesbrough’s fault – blame it on the fixture computer – but Boro have played the fewest English Championship matches versus fellow fancied sides than any of the other seven teams at the top of the betting market. Furthermore, Middlesbrough does not lead the way in the English Championship in spite of its soft schedule – it is one point behind Brighton – its toughest assignment so far resulted in a 1-1 draw at Derby and the other two sides that have taken points off Boro are 22nd-ranked Preston and the division’s cellar dweller, promoted team Bristol City.
One is not saying that Middlesbrough cannot win the English Championship but do you want to play at odds around even money in light of the previous paragraph? Surely not and note that Middlesbrough’s next English Championship game takes it to the Madjeski Stadium home of third-placed Reading on Saturday – the Royals are in fine form.
With more than 80 per cent of the English Championship to go, one likes the idea of dutching two sides – Derby and Reading – at odds of around 6.67 and having two of the division’s title contenders running against Middlesbrough.
Derby has invested every bit as heavily as Middlesbrough and the Rams would be unbeaten in the English Championship had they not conceded an 88th-minute at home to Leeds. Derby had the rub of the green when it visited Reading last month – the Royals had Orlando Sa sent off in the first half – but the Rams got what was a difficult fixture of the way and pocketed three points as well. Derby has back-to-back home matches versus Brentford and Wolverhampton coming up and one can see the Rams launching their English Championship title drive with victories over the disappointing Bees and Wolves.
Remarkably, Reading is flying under the English Championship betting radar even though the Royals are third on the ladder and they thrashed Ipswich 5-1 in front of a large television audience earlier this month. Reading has won four of its last five English Championship matches, the latest of which resulted in 2-1 win at relegated Burnley for which former England midfielder Joey Barton was making his debut. Only Derby has deprived Reading of English Championship points recently and one explained why that happened above.
Bet365 is offering odds of 11.00 about Derby winning the English Championship and Betfred is listing Reading at odds of 17.00 for the same honour. Both those prices hold a lot more appeal than backing Middlesbrough at around even money and the English Championship could look very different if Reading beats Boro at the Madjeski Stadium next time out.
Derby/Reading to win the Championship
Dutched Odds: 6.67