billy bremner  statue at Elland Road (Large)Despite our first seven-figure signing in eight years, along with the additions of Noel Hunt and Matt Smith, the bookies still aren’t convinced of Leeds United’s title chances for 2013/14.

What’s interesting is that when I checked the Championship odds for an article last month, before Leeds United broke the bank for Luke Murphy, The Whites were considered ninth favourites to win the Championship – the exact same position the bookies have us in today.

Perhaps the lack of movement in the odds is a reflection of how difficult the Championship is to call. Take William Hill for example where you often get the best football odds, they have Leeds United at 14/1 to win the league and 14/1 to be relegated from it. They consider there to be an equal chance of both possible outcomes.

Is there any other league in the world where a team could be considered to have an equal chance of winning the league as they do getting relegated from it? Can you imagine if the Premiership was so difficult to predict that the bookies gave teams equal odds on winning the title as they do going down?

It doesn’t happen because the Premier League always has clear and unmistakable favourites. Only a handful of teams are considered capable of winning the title and you’d get hundreds, probably thousands to one on them going down.  The chasing pack meanwhile are only ever one bad season away from relegation.

You only have to look at Newcastle United’s relegation a couple of seasons back. Outside the top 4-5 of teams in the Premier League, those lucky few who’ve grown so powerful they’ll never be relegated, there’s a much better chance of going down than there is of winning the title.

It makes the Premier League very easy to call. But that’s not true of the Championship.

So common is its usage, calling the Championship “the toughest league in the world to predict” is bordering on cliché, but how else do you explain the lack of effect a positive transfer window (thus far at least) has had on our odds?

The only alternative explanation is that the bookies don’t believe our transfer dealings have improved the squad or they’re expecting something to offset the positives – like the sale of a key player for example?

Maybe they’ve seen one too many false dawns at Leeds United and are now struggling to predict what we’ll do next? I know I do.

But these last eleven days, Leeds United fans have been more optimistic than I’ve seen them in years. Most seem to be expecting further signings when the team gets back from Slovenia, everyone seems to have total faith in Brian McDermott and very few are expecting the sale of key players. Have we been getting a little carried away?

Are the bookies right to be cautious or is this really a new dawn for Leeds United?

  • spellz

    I have said it before and I will say it again, we are massively under priced this season last time I checked we were 5/1 to be promoted I think we stand a great chance we are a different Leeds this year one with optimism, ambition, crowd hype and most importantly a squad with a manager who I think firstly, have got the ability to do it and secondly the belief is there even amongst the fans,

    Looking at the league and other teams this season I feel we have a real chance and the value is there so it will be the first season in a while I throw down a packet on us to actually achieve promotion, come on you mighty whites.

    M.O.T as always.

  • Dr Zen

    If the price hasn’t moved, it means no one has bet on us, that’s all. I’m not sure the signing of a League One player, however promising, and two strikers of dubious quality at best should have bookies frothing at the mouth with excitement anyway. Yes, we’re optimistic, but we probably haven’t improved enough to seriously challenge for promotion. Somewhere in the hunt is fair and that’s where they have us.

  • henrymouni

    I am looking forward to an exciting season for us.
    Just now I do not see as top two.
    We have spent money. Whether it was a straight million, or a million in bits I am not sure. it is not a lot of money, but it has given us hope that the board are doing what they can to support Brian.
    If NW was still our manager, I would have no hope of promotion with the squad as it is.
    There are many clubs who have spent more than us, with better squads.
    My hope is in the boss.
    Noel Hunt should do well for us, and I hope Smith & Murphy can step to a new challenge for them.
    Also, our new manager has not finished recruiting yet.
    When he does the odds may swing in our favour.
    QPR & Wigan look to have a big chance, with strong support from their owners.
    We are probably near top six, but a big quality centre half and a couple of good wingers (at least one anyway) and the outlook changes.
    It will be interesting to see who BM lets go from the squad.

  • Bluesman

    What we have to remember is that we are not the only club who are looking to improve this year and others are also strengthening at the same time! We have had a bit of quality added, but not enough to get overly excited about. The big issue for me is that GFH have started to shown intent, we have a good manager with a good technical brain and know how and the opportunity to strengthen in one or two key areas. Then we have a chance and then the odds will go up. BM does not say very much, but LUFC are work in progress and he knows what he wants and how to get there. Mildly optimistic therefore!!!!

  • Tare

    Betting is usually fun as long as it is kept in reasonable level in spending wise. But like top players e.g. in the Whites shirt it needs cool head and warm heart. It is partly statistical tactical and “nose” how. Some fans takes major book makers offers too lightly and in order to support your own team they will buy those odds.That is a field day for the bookmakers they have only everything to gain almost nothing to lose. So betting against all odds you have follow the games PL/CS/UCL in order to get the feeling of the teams involved.

    Last season some bets on the Whites went right for a chance but then gut feeling and statistics and table position in CS went as I thought they would be:

    3 wins in a row between 24.11.2012-1.12.2012 and opponents were Crystal Palace, Leicester and Huddersfield.

    6.unbeaten for the Whites between 22.9.2012-23.10.2012 and opponents were Forest, Bristol City, Bolton, Barnsley, Owls, Charlton.

    Okay but I have lost more in a long run but last season was success for me.

    Interesting to see why Sky Bet a new sponsor will make their moves during the season.

    But my recommendation is that try to keep cool head and really follow the other teams as well if posiible in order to make right choices.

    What comes to our position in CS this season. Well it is as good as anybody.

    Those parachute believers well Wigan has Euro challenge (double task)as well. Reading

    has PL standard players who as well as Wigan ones has a major culture shock coming down as well as player are really looking for other possibilities. Only QPR I must sat that Harry Redknapp won’t allow the player mental drift and he will recruit players whos has stanima and physical presence for CS challenges.

    Some light thoughts here only for the season ahead.

    Tare

  • Dean

    I guess its early in pre-season. We have an awful lot of deadwood to shift and still have deficiencies at the back so the odds are valid until Brian completes his transfer activity.

    I can’t see the likes of Brown, Diouf, Pugh and Varney getting a single game next season other than for the worst injury list. A few others are definite fringe players too so I think if we get rid of 4/5 players and bring in 2/3 quality signings in the mould of Murphy then everyone will sit up and listen. One player doesn’t really change the chances unless that player is Ronaldo or Messi.

    The obvious problem is who can you possibly shift those guys out to? I guess that is why Brians main target is taking so long, he needs to thin the squad but no one wants our waste.

  • Grenville Hair

    We’ve signed one player for a substantial fee, and the squad that remains from last year nearly got us relegated, so let’s not get carried away. This is going to be a transitional season. We leak goals for fun and haven’t signed any defenders for example.

    • Reiver

      Yep! Same lumbering defence, no decent centre-back, maybe a little more guile in midfield with the new signing but still no pace in attack. Can’t see any improvement at all on last season. Is a ‘transitional season’ newspeak for stagnation?

  • Dfooster

    They make the same mistake every year of making the relegated teams odds on to go straight back up when it often doesn’t happen. The championship takes some adjusting to but the bookies never learn. I would say we have a good chance to go up as we know what this league takes to get out of it now and the players BM is bringing in is a reflection of that. Ill be having some 14/1 thank you very much.

    • henrymouni

      WE ALL HOPE YOU WIN!!!

  • Reiver

    If I was a betting man, which, I’m not, I would only give them an outside chance of making the play-offs. Of course we don’t even know yet what the squad will be but the signs are not encouraging.

    • PAUL W

      I feel exactly the same and until 2 wingers and a central defender arrive at Leeds, it is difficult to say just where Leeds will finish next season. The new signings have been arriving at a painfully slow rate and history shows that nothing ever happens on the transfer front when Leeds go away in Europe on long pre-season trips. The pre-season is being wasted and the way things have been going, players will be signed last minute just like last season and the team will have no time to gel. Leeds are 3 players away from finishing in a top 2 position, as opposed to a play off position, which is where they will finish without those 3 key signings.

      • Irving

        Forget wingers. 4-4-2 went out with flares. Pre-season wasted ? – have you ever been to Slovenia ? Do you watch them in training ? As for being 3 players away from a top 2, the same could be said about most of the teams in the Division.

        • Irving08

          Just to add: the point being that, since talent at this level is difficult to monoplise or concentrate in a few clubs, for financial reasons, it tedns to be disrributed fairly evenly throughout the Division. Consequently, it is the way players are combined, their fitness and self-belief that distinguishes one way team from another. These things depend greatly on the quality of the managers and coaches in charge of their preparation. So, in rating any team’s chances, this is the area where one looks first. Here certain teams do stand out as having a better chance than other – Brighton (If Poyet stays), Notts. Forest, QPR and Leeds United are four that come readily to mind, while Wigan, provided they keep the likes of McManaman and Maloney, could well perform better than their new Manager warrants, for they have Premeriship level talent in their ranks.

          • Irving08

            Can TSS please invent a technique for writing on a webpage so the likes of me wouldn’t have to apologise for typos.

        • PAUL W

          O.K. wingers may be an old fashioned term, so let’s call them wide midfielders, which Leeds have lacked since Snodgrass and Gradel were sold. The pre-season is being wasted because the Leeds team is not completed yet and some players such as Brown, Pugh, Norris, Pearce and Varney should be nowhere near the first team during this pre-season. Leeds are the biggest fish in the Championship pond and need to have a mentally strong squad to overcome the challenge from the rest of the teams in the division, who all raise their game when they play against Leeds. Some players cannot cope with the pressure when they play for Leeds and that is why the team conceded so many late goals last season.

          • Irving08

            The fact that certain players apparently cannot be off loaded is hardly qualifies as ‘wasted’ unless it is the club’s fault. Of the players you mention, I disagree on Pearce who in the home matches I saw was our best central defender central prior to the Watford sending off last season – yes, better than Lees, as I think a perusal of the match reports would show. Neither he nor Lees are in fact top drawer – each has shortcomings that are not easy to train out – but together they are good enough for a promotion chasing team. My concern however is our collective defensive aerial weakness. Prof Smith is going to have a lot of running back to do, I suspect. I agree on mental pressure, but again I would exempt Pearce from your stricture: on the contrary, he seems to be one of the tougher characters in our squad. As for Brown et al, I would have thought that Varney, handled properly, could be a useful squad player – and we are light on forwards. Personally I like Norris, who is a confident and articulate character, with a bit about him, but he may well be surplus to our needs. He’s got much better basic skills than Austin, although the latter, when not off-balance, can at least knock people over, which seems to be his main value.

          • henrymouni

            I wonder if the player BM has been chasing is a big centre back?
            Cannot make my mind up about Austin?
            He may struggle to see first team football, unless he improves dramatically Irv.

          • PAUL W

            O.K. perhaps Pearce was good until the being sent off against Watford, but after that he looked lightweight despite being a tall player. His mistake against Derby at Elland Road was a school boy error and he was knocked off the ball far too easily by Chris Martin that day. I agree that Lees also had a few poor games last season and made many mistakes and bad decisions, but with a strong experienced defender along side him, Lees still has potential. I cannot believe that Brown has gone on the pre-season trip to Slovenia, when he is such a liability to the team.
            I am not the only person that does not rate Varney and even the Yorkshire Radio commentators at the Farsley game were still saying that Varney looked indecisive. Perhaps Norris could be a good squad player, but I am not sure weather all of those ex Portsmouth players can cope with the pressure that comes with playing for Leeds.

      • BarryM

        Yes I agree,same as every season,need at least three more quality players,and get that defence sorted

  • Arnie63

    I have confidence in them getting it right this time and backed them @ 20/1…MOT

    • spellz

      Where did you get 20/1?

      • Arnie63

        Sky bet about 3wks ago….

        • spellz

          Still there, cheers for the info Arnie I did not know Skys odds were so good we are 13/2 with them for promotion too, brilliant.

    • PMH

      I saw them at 20/1 too. That is surely one of the best bets to come along. 10/1 seems about right given a good but not great squad with a proven manager. I agree that the refugees from the premiership tend to do worse than the bookies expect. The fall is a long hard one and the parachute payments don’t cushion the fall much. Examples: Birmingham and Blackburn. Interesting to see what Wigan do, because the are very talented.

  • Peter McGonzie

    Who cares if Leeds are NOT favourites with the bookies. So much the better. At least without the favourites tag around the young players necks, they can play with a lot more freedom to show them what they’re made of.

    Before the 2009/10 season started i wrote to a radio station predicting that Leeds will win promotion to the Championship. But the pundits didnt want to know and never took me seriously until May 2010 when Leeds showed them and the bookies alike that they are not to be underestimated.

    If the bookies want to throw away their money, let them. Because i believe this season is going to be Leeds United’s season anyway.

  • BarryM

    we should be favourites,big club as the fans will tell you,we should be @ the top all season long

  • henrymouni

    What were the odds of BBC Radio Leeds getting live commentries back?

    “Leeds United has announced it has signed a three-year deal with BBC Radio Leeds for live match commentary”.

    Every match of the season!!

    Bit more money coming in.

  • WeareLeeds86

    All I want is an improvement on last season, Its going to take time to get back to the premiership, Lets all get behind the team and move onwards and upwards togethrt. MOT

  • Matthew

    I honestly don’t get this homo erotic fixation some fans have on Gary Mckay Steven. He hasn’t even been confirmed as a target, yet people seem to be worshiping the ground he walks on, it’s like the guy is some kind of idol for some fans. It’s kinda creepy lol

  • Ry

    Our problem is, most of our key players get to big for their boots (pardon the pun) and want premiership football to soon, which causes leeds to slip up.

    • Matthew

      Nah to be honest, it’s the clubs inability to offer players of quality a wage that matches a club bidding for them. For example if Norwich offered say Howson 13k a week. Why aren’t we able to match that and keep him here? Same for any player.

      Norwich don’t offer huge wages for players from our division or lower. Money talks I’m afraid, under Bates the club lacked the ambition to match the wage, and maybe better it slightly than what was offered to our talent to keep them.

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  • Reiver

    I don’t think there’s been a ‘reawakening’, we’ve just stirred in our slumbers.