We take a look at three clubs the bookmakers predict to struggle in 2016/17With Championship fixture release just three days away, we continue to profile some of the Royals’ opponents for the upcoming 2016/17 campaign. We have already looked at the three newly promoted teams to England’s second tier, the trio that have dropped down from the Premier League and three teams with the shortest odds of promotion.
In this profile we turn our attention to three sides that have the shortest odds for relegation from the EFL Championship. Despite there being shorter odds for the drop on some of the newly promoted teams, Rotherham, Leeds and Wolves are all also tipped to struggle by bookmakers Sky Bet…
Sky Bet relegation odds: 5/2
After winning promotion from League 1 through the Play-Offs in 2013/14, Rotherham battled hard in 2015/16 to maintain their Championship status for another season. The Millers finished in 21st – one place outside the relegation zone – but nine points clear of 22nd-placed Charlton Athletic.
In a season full of managerial change, especially in the early months, Rotherham turned round their fortunes in the latter stages of the season under the guidance of Neil Warnock. With Steve Evans departing the club in late September to take up the manager’s post at Leeds, Neil Redfearn came into the club to try and take the Yorkshire club back out of the relegation zone.
His first game in charge was a 2-1 away defeat to Brentford, but followed it up by earning a point in his first home game which was an enthralling 1-1 draw with the Royals. After an up-and-down period with Redfearn as manager, Rotherham parted company with the former Leeds manager on February 8th following a 2-1 defeat away to Bolton, consequently sending the Millers back into the bottom three.
Warnock took charge three days later and, after a slow start, the Millers went on to go on a two month unbeaten run, firing their way out of the relegation zone and to safety.
Rotherham have not signed any players so far this summer, but have appointed a new manager, with Alan Stubbs joining the Millers at the start of the month. The former Everton and Celtic defender, who guided Hibernian to their first ever Scottish Cup victory last season, comes into Rotherham looking to find managerial success south of the border.
The last meeting between Reading and the Millers was at Madejski Stadium on February 23rd of this year, with a 66th-minute goal from Hal Robson-Kanu the difference between the sides, as Reading took all three points from Warnock’s men.
Rotherham will be travelling to Poland for a pre-season tour and will also be hosting Premier League outfit Sunderland as part of their build up to the new season in late July.
Sky Bet relegation odds: 4/1
Steve Evans was at the helm at Elland Road for the majority of the campaign last season, as Leeds finished 13th in the Championship table after a season of mixed results. In a 2015/16 of uncertainty at the club in the boardroom, the team had a solid mid-table campaign after Evans took up the role of manager in mid-October.
Evans came into the club, replacing former Brentford and Wigan boss Uwe Rosler after a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton which saw Leeds slip to 18th in the table. The Yorkshire club picked up some notable results through the season, including a 2-1 win away at high-flying Derby early in the campaign and a win at home against promotion hopefuls Hull City.
Despite having short odds for relegation, Sky Bet have odds of 8/1 for Leeds to earn promotion, showing even the bookies are unsure what to expect from the Whites in 2016/17. The club have appointed former Swansea boss Garry Monk as manager, bringing with him a reputation for playing good football. Despite Monk’s lack of experience at Championship level there is a lot of excitement around Elland Road about the upcoming season.
Eight players have left Leeds so far this summer, all out of contract, and despite not signing anyone thus far, United are expected to be busy in the transfer window in the coming weeks as Monk looks to put together a new team. Leeds are yet to announce their pre-season fixture schedule, despite the new campaign drawing ever nearer.
An early season 0-0 draw between the Royals and Leeds at Madejski Stadium was a close affair in a game dominated by both defences. It was stark contrast to the game at Elland Road on April 16th however, when Leeds came out on top in a five goal thriller.
Michael Hector put Reading ahead, only for Leeds to score twice in quick succession and go 2-1 up. When Deniss Rakels equalised in the 81st minute it seemed the least Reading would earn from the game was a point, but Chris Wood’s second goal of the game four minutes later stole the points for Leeds.
Sky Bet relegation odds 9/2
Wolves finished a place below Leeds in last season's campaign, as Kenny Jackett’s side finished in 14th position in the Sky Bet Championship. Amassing 58 points over a season of mixed results, Wolves had their strongest spell over the Christmas period.
Starting with a 1-0 win over the Royals on Boxing Day, Wanderers went onto win four on the bounce lifting themselves from 16th to 10th in the table by January 12th. In early January Wolves were looking up the table at the potential of a Play-Off place; the push for the top six never transpired however with Jacket’s side only winning four of their last 20 games in the league.
Following Reading’s defeat away at Molineux the two clubs played out a 0-0 draw at Madejski Stadium on February 6th. In a game of few chances neither side was able to break the deadlock in front of over 17,000 in Berkshire.
Wolves have started their transfer business already this summer, with Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan joining the Midland club from Championship rivals Fulham, as Kenny Jackett looks to strengthen his squad for the coming season.
In Wolves' preparation for 2016/17 they have confirmed five pre-season friendlies, including a trip to Ireland to face Cork City. Elsewhere Wolves will be travelling to Port Vale, Crewe Alexandra and Northampton Town, finishing their calendar of friendlies with a clash against Swansea City on 30th July at Molineux, a week before the season's start.