The wait is over, the Saturday afternoons full of boredom and twiddling our thumbs are a thing of the past and money is to be made once again on a weekend because the football season is back.
The Premier League players are still running round the training pitches and calling their agents demanding to be moved, but the Football League campaigns kicks off in the first weekend of August.
Last season showed the unpredictability and how close the season can be right till the end and it will no doubt be the same again this season. Teams will therefore be eager to get three points on the board at the earliest possible stage this weekend.
I hope to be picking three or four of my best bets from across England and Scotland every weekend and becoming very rich in the process…
Bolton Wanderers will be aiming to leave the Championship at the second attempt and return to the promised land of the Premier League now that Dougie Freedman has a full season in charge.
The Scotsman took over in the autumn of last year when the club were looking like relegation candidates in 20th position thanks to Owen Coyle before they narrowly missed out on the play-offs on the last day of the season finishing in 7th.
This season has seen Freedman sign players including defenders Marc Tierney, Alex Baptiste and Jermaine Beckford. David Wheater is also back after missing the majority of last season and Chris Eagles will want to impress back at his old club. However, it remains to be seen whether Sordell will keep his starting place with the arrival of Beckford, but I expect either to trouble their Lancashire rivals.
I think Bolton may struggle to win the Division and they have been hit by a further blow with Stuart Holden injuring his knee again midweek, but I believe they should have too much for Burnley at Turf Moor this weekend.
The home side have just been dealt a knock-out blow of losing one of the Division’s best strikers to Queens Park Rangers in Charlie Austin and I’m not sure Bolton will be scared of the threat of Sam Vokes. They have lost goalkeeper Lee Grant from last season and replaced him with Tom Heaton which is a strong replacement, but overall I feel they will do well to finish mid-table this season.
I’m not sure where the goals will come from and their midfield is also particularly weak, despite the arrival of David Jones. This could be a long season for Burnley unless they replace Charlie Austin suitably.
Bolton Wanderers win at 9/5 with BetVictor.
Saturday sees the first ever Championship game in Yeovil’s history and unfortunately for the away side I see them coming away with nothing.
After a miraculous season in 2012/13, in large part to Paddy Madden’s goalscoring exploits following a bargain buy from Carlisle United, I expect to see them struggle. In fact anyone connected to the club would snap your hands off at the offer of 21st place come the end of the season.
Yeovil’s goalkeeper Marek Stech has great potential in goal and he will need to be at the top of his game this season for the Somerset based club to succeed. Alan Tate and Danny Seaborne are astute signings by Gary Johnson and like Burnley were last season with Charlie Austin, they will be heavily reliant on Paddy Madden scoring goals for fun for them to succeed.
However, Steve Lomas has been impressing me with his signings over the summer. Richard Chaplow in midfield and the return of Welsh international Steve Morison are good experienced signings and I expect Millwall to finish higher than last season. Nicky Bailey, Scott McDonald, Stephen Bywater, Jermaine Easter, Lee Martin look good signings on paper too and last season they might have been distracted by a good FA Cup run to Wembley. This season The Championship must be the priority.
Millwall may have lost nine of their last ten home league games, but this is a new team and I doubt they have played as weak a time as Yeovil in the league for a while. Even looking at last season Yeovil lost their last three league games away from home, that backs up my confidence in a Millwall victory. I fully expect a home win for the South London club and will be backing them at odds against.
Millwall win at 2.05 Unibet
My last selection this weekend will be for a team to recover from a stoppage-time goal to demote them to League One having recovered from a dismal start in 2012/13.
I have backed Peterborough to be promoted and I think they’ll get off to a flying start against a club seemingly in disarray after the resignation of Kevin McDonald leaving Mark Cooper as the Caretaker Manager. On top of that they have filled the club with four Tottenham Hotspurs loanees and got rid of experienced and influential Simon Ferry and Alan McCormack as part of a summer clean out.
Despite the departure of top scorer Dwight Gayle for Peterborough, Lee Tomlin will continue to create chances and history tells us that Peterborough will always score goals under Darren Ferguson. The home side have also been given the boost that Mark Little has signed a new contract after previously rejecting the offer of a stay at London Road and continue to try and sign ex-Celtic winger Paddy McCourt.
Looking back to last season Peterborough played six home games between March and the end of the season winning three and drawing three. This included a victory against the Champions Cardiff City. In contrast in Swindon Town’s last six away games last season they lost five of those.
I have not been impressed with Swindon since the departure of Di Canio and that shows in their results and they have not beaten Peterborough since before 2006. I certainly wouldn’t trust the Wiltshire club to even grab a point away from home. Darren Ferguson knows exactly what is required to get out of this Division and I simply cannot turn down the offer of even money for the home side to prove victorious.