'Ludicrous' - Jeff Stelling slams Hartlepool United's National League title odds
Honorary president Jeff Stelling is feeling optimistic ahead of Hartlepool United’s third season in the National League.
But the TV presenter insists Pools’ odds on winning the title are “ludicrous”.
It has been an encouraging summer for Pools, with several promising additions to the squad, including former Sunderland winger Luke Molyneux and most recently promotion-winning midfielder Gus Mafuta.
The core of last season’s squad is very much intact with Craig Hignett assembling a side which will be hoping to significantly improve on last season’s 16th-place finish.
Bookmakers have Pools priced at 25/1 to win the National League in 2019-20, with just eight sides considered less likely to win the title, according to Sky Bet.
And Stelling says: “25/1 for Hartlepool United to win the National League is ludicrous!
“I’m not saying we’re going to top the table come the end of April, but we can’t be that much of an outsider.
“Famous last words, but the league looks more open this coming season. Leyton Orient and Salford City have gone up and some of the clubs who’ve had money in the past don’t seem to have what they had.”
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Pools honorary president feels his side will have a lot of stiff competition as he hopes to see them challenge at the right end of the table.
“There are decent sides coming up,” Stelling admitted in his Non-League Papercolumn.
“I’m sure Stockport County are going to be a force to be reckoned with and Torquay United, under Gary Johnson, likewise.
“Notts County are coming down and I’ve seen they’re favourites with one bookmaker. I wish them luck, but put it this way, I wouldn’t be backing them. Not with their recent record and we all know what can happen to the big clubs when they come down.
“We found it incredibly difficult – Leyton Orient did initially, as did Chesterfield last season.
“The usual suspects will inevitably be up there. The Wrexhams of this world and I’ve got no doubt Chesterfield will be strong. But seven places to aim for gives you a cracking chance if you get off to a decent start. It’s going to be really interesting.”