- Norwich City close in on the English Championship title
- Leeds and Sheffield United pushing them all the way
- City now -1000 to win it
Norwich City have surprised everyone this season, including themselves, and with four games left are a maximum of two wins away from winning the Championship – English football’s second tier.
That City are now -1000 to win it is down to an incredible run of eight consecutive wins, which only ended in the last week with two draws on the bounce against Reading and Wigan Athletic.
But eight wins and two draws from their last ten games is title-winning form.
Odds To Win 2019 English Championship
*Odds taken April 16, 2019
After the Christmas programme, three teams emerged at the top of the division, with Leeds United, Sheffield United and Norwich pulling clear from the pack.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) April 14, 2019
Yet few saw this coming. In May 2017, with the club struggling financially off-the-field and failing to perform on it, the Norwich board opted on a change of direction and brought in a sporting director and a German coaching team led by Daniel Farke.
All the Germans
It prompted a culture change throughout the club, from top to bottom, and the 2017/18 season was one of transition.
New players, many of them German, were brought in but results were generally underwhelming and a mid-table finish left City supporters uncertain as to where their club was heading.
? “To have 25 points out of a possible 27 points is outstanding and top class, I just can’t praise the lads enough." #ncfc
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) April 13, 2019
Last summer was again one of transition, with the club having to sell two of their best players – James Maddison and Josh Murphy – to balance their books, while bringing in players on either free transfers or modest fees.
After a Slow Start
After six games of the season, Norwich fans were getting increasingly restless with just a single win on the board, but it was from game seven onwards that the Canaries started their charge for promotion.
Since then, they have won 24 of their 36 games with only three of those being lost.
Teemu Pukki has contributed with 2️⃣7️⃣ goals and 1️⃣0️⃣ assist in the Championship this season – more than anyone since 2000!
Championship Player of the Year? ? pic.twitter.com/ZFtYLgLEMF
— FansBet (@FansBet) April 15, 2019
Better still for City fans, they have done it by playing a really attractive, possession-based style of play that has earned them plaudits from across Europe.
Crucially, one of the summer’s free transfers was Teemu Pukki – a Finnish striker who has played for several clubs over the continent – who has been sensational.
The Finnish Finisher
With 27 goals, Pukki has become the club’s leading scorer in a single season when they have been playing in English football’s top two divisions – an incredible record for someone who didn’t cost the club a single penny.
It’s Sheffield United who appears in most danger of missing out on automatic promotion.
Leeds and Sheffield United have made sure the Canaries haven’t had it all their own way though, and until their eight-game winning run, the three teams had been taking it in turns to head the table.
Leeds, in particular, have applied the pressure. With four games to go, the Whites have closed the gap between themselves and Norwich to four points. But it’s still difficult to see them pipping City to the title, not least because the Canaries have a much better goal difference, which effectively makes it a five-point gap.
Blades in Danger
It’s Sheffield United who appears in most danger of missing out on automatic promotion – only the top two get promoted automatically – and with two draws in their last two games and some injuries to key players, the pressure is well and truly on the Blades.
Though Bielsa’s methods are often said to be impossibly taxing, Leeds showed few signs of 'burnout' in their relentless win against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday | @timrich001 #LUFC https://t.co/9QgnLxQIA1 pic.twitter.com/0n0M2lV25y
— i sport (@iPaperSport) April 16, 2019
For City, while there are still a few hurdles ahead, promotion appears just around the corner.
For the title, Leeds will push them all the way – and we wouldn’t deter anyone from having a piece of +500 – but we think the Canaries will just have enough to get the job done and -1000 offers some easy money.
Our pick: Norwich -1st, Leeds United – 2nd