The start of the English Football League season is two weeks away. It might not have the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, or the vast quantities of money, but the numbers that we are interested definitely catch the eye. Odds.
There are some terrific value bets to be had as we try to decipher who are the teams to follow for a promotion bet from the basement division, League Two. We will look at the League One market later on in the week.
The first team worthy of a mention are Mansfield. The Stags have been well-backed for glory and head the list to win the title at no better than +500 (at Bet365) while the same firm makes them an even money bet to be promoted.
We understand the gamble. They have Steve Evans as coach. Evans is pretty unlikable – he’s brash and unreasonable - but that’s because he is very successful. He has a terrific record of getting teams promoted and he has recruited wisely in the close season.
We were on Mansfield for a late promotion charge last term after Evans brought in some good captures in the January transfer window. But it wasn't. After a surge in results they tailed off disappointingly and ultimately that remembrance – plus their prohibitive price – puts us off.
There is also the small matter that the favourite never lands this league. Portsmouth managed it last season but that was the first time in 16 seasons.
No matter. The standout wager here is Lincoln City under the stewardship of the highly-regarded Danny Cowley. Cowley is something of a coming genius. He did an incredible job at Braintree before leaving for the Imps.
He then orchestrated their title-winning breeze and dramatic run into deep territory in the FA Cup, knocking out Premier League giants Burnley along the way.
Lincoln have not rested on their laurels. Their recruitment has been first-class and it has been so good that it has even taken Cowley by surprise. They have landed Matt Green, a smart and pacy striker who should net close to 20 goals, plus midfield dynamo Michael Bostwick from Peterborough for a fee.
They are +350 with Betway to be promoted and we rate that as a corker of a bet. As for the title they are +1400 with Bwin and that also looks overly generous.
Coventry City, relegated last season, are +250 with BetVictor to return at the first attempt and it’s a price that interest us. Coach Mark Robins is astute and their form picked up when he took over towards the end of the campaign.