Canaries tipped ahead of Town for success next season
NORWICH City wave goodbye to League One and hello to the Championship on Saturday - and already they have got one over their old rivals from Portman Road.
While Paul Lambert has been the architect of a remarkable record-breaking season at Carrow Road, his opposite number at Ipswich, Roy Keane has struggled to make an impact and had to endure a chorus of boos as the Tractor Boys ended their season with an humiliating defeat in front of their own fans on Sunday.
And already one major bookie reckons the Canaries have a better chance of getting into the top flight than their most bitter rivals.
Sky Bet have issued the first set of odds for next season’s Championship campaign, and they have Norwich at 12-1 to win the title outright, just as they did six years ago.
But Ipswich, who finished the season in 15th place after a club record 20 draws, are 14-1 to finish top.
Burnley and Middlesbrough are the early favourites at 10-1, with City, Reading and QPR 12-1.
With the play-offs yet to decide who earns the coveted third place in the top flight with Newcastle and West Brom, the odds will inevitably change, but the early indication suggests that the bookies fancy City to maintain the momentum that has swept them to the title.
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Both Lambert and Keane have started planning for next season, although the Ipswich manager has gone public while City’s boss has yet to show his hand.
While Lambert is likely to need a bargain hunter’s eye in the transfer market as he brings in the “bit of help” his title-winning squad needs, Keane is backed by the millions of Marcus Evans - and has already admitted he will ‘throw money’ at bringing in a goalscorer during the summer.
And Keane believes there is a big opportunity given the quality of the competition next season.
“Newcastle and West Brom were likely to be certs to go back up and that the rest of us were playing for one spot this term,” said Keane.
“But with their financial problems the likes of Portsmouth and Hull may not offer such a threat.
“We must take the chance that is in front of us, and this means bringing in four or five newcomers to make us strong enough to take advantage.
“Blackpool and Leicester have done well without spending a fortune so it proves it can be done. But while other positions can be filled without breaking the bank, I have been given the okay to throw money at bringing in a goalscoring threat.
“The owner has been very supportive and I’m sitting back a bit now while the chief executive deals with negotiations with other clubs.”
Odds (Sky Bet)
To win: Burnley, Middlesboro 10-1, Norwich, Reading 12-1, QPR 12-1, Ipswich 14-1, Portsmouth, Bristol City 16-1, Hull 20-1, Preston 20-1, Barnsley 40-1.