Maresca's men outfox Leeds and Southampton in bet365 trading

Maresca’s men outfox Leeds and Southampton in bet365 trading

Leicester City’s decision to appoint ex-Manchester City assistant manager Enzo Maresca as their new boss is causing major excitement among football bettors, but data released by bet365 shows that there is also huge support for fellow relegated clubs Leeds United and Southampton in the Championship title race.

The three teams that crashed out of the Premier League head the bookmaker’s list of most-backed teams for the 2023-24 second tier title, while punters who value experience at that level have shown strong interest in last term’s defeated play-off semi-finalists Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Football fans widely agree that the Championship is one of the most competitive leagues with a host of big name teams always present in the second division. 

If the insights from bet365 are anything to go by, trading teams can expect – perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly – that some of the newcomers from the Premier League could deliver the biggest blows at the end of the season.

As it stands, 37% of bet365 punters have backed Leicester City to win the Championship outright, followed by relegated Leeds and Southampton in second and third place, whilst long-term tier-two residents and consistent promotion contenders Middlesborough come in fourth.

Bet365 Content Writer Steve Freeth commented: “Enzo Maresca was a fine player in his day, especially when gracing English football with West Bromwich Albion. I’m fascinated to see how he does at Leicester, and he’s certainly got the backing of bet365’s customers. 

“The Foxes are way out in front at the top of the Championship outright betting market, with over 37% of bets placed on them to take the title.”

Looking further down the pyramid, Derby County may be the League One club on many trading teams’ minds according to bet365. The Rams have been backed by 32% of punters in this division, a continuing trend from last year. 

Derby are followed by Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Reading and Blackpool in the League One outright markets, but it appears that the appointment of Paul Warne has given customers confidence that the Rams will pull through in their second season in the third tier.

Freeth added: “League One doesn’t look anywhere near as competitive as it did last season, and who knows, we could see another surprise team following in Plymouth’s footsteps. Our customer base are sticking with Derby County however.

“Paul Warne knows how to get a team promoted from League One, and the Rams will be desperate to get out of the third tier after narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season.

 “A slow start though could pile the pressure on Warne. The loss of key players in Jason Knight and David McGoldrick was far from ideal, leaving the likeable coach seemingly frustrated at the lack of incoming transfer activity.”

Finishing in League Two, Hollywood-backed Wrexham are also being backed by customers. Punters seem keen to see Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s National League champions continue their forward momentum and rise through the ranks of the EFL.

However, League Two veterans Stockport County and freshly promoted Notts County have also caught attention, followed by Bradford and Gillingham. Salford City, who like Wrexham have some big name owners in the famous Manchester United Class of 92, come in fifth, with bettors confident in the club’s prospects despite a few stagnant seasons in the fourth tier.

“It’s all about Wrexham in League Two, but the injury to the talismanic Paul Mullin is a huge blow for the title favourites,” Freeth concluded.

“We don’t expect to see Wrexham hang around either, and while money doesn’t always bring instant success at this level, ask Salford about that, we’re just trying to be on the right side of an expected promotion charge because there are bound to be a number of new faces added to an already impressive squad at the Racecourse Ground.”

Trading teams may well benefit from paying attention to the predictions of bet365 punters, with the firm’s customers correctly predicting the transfer of Declan Rice from West Ham to Arsenal during the summer, as well as Ilkay Gundogan’s departure from the Premier League.

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