The chase for honours in the Skybet Championship is going to be one of the closest and most exciting for years.

And it’s fantastic that Town are improving nicely under new boss Chris Powell, who has clearly been a big hit so far at the John Smith’s Stadium.

I’ve been looking at how the betting markets have changed on teams since the start of the season and, while Town are longer odds now to win the Championship than they were at the start of the season – 200/1 compared with 50/1 – they are nowhere near as long to get relegated.

At the start of the season Town were a 10/3 shot to suffer the drop, but now they are 9/2 and that’s a reflection of the improvement made under the new manager.

It’s a significant one, too, and while Town suffered a midweek defeat at Derby County, the performance was still competitive and they were up against a side who were not only joint-favourites alongside Cardiff City at 7/1 before a ball had been kicked, but are the new 3/1 outright favourites to be Championship title winners.

Mention of Cardiff brings me to the other clear factor which has developed in the division – a lot of big clubs have struggled.

Fulham were 9/1 for the title before the season started but are now 50/1, Wigan Athletic have gone out from 9/1 to 80s, Reading are 50/1 from 18s and Cardiff, from their pre-season 7/1, are now 33/1 to lift the trophy.

The relegation market wasn’t far off the mark with teams like Blackpool and Birmingham among the favourites and being in the drop zone at the moment, while Bolton’s chances of avoiding the drop have improved from 12/1 to 9/4 following the appointment of Neil Lennon, even though they remain second-bottom of the standings.

The new leaders, Bournemouth, are an interesting story as far as the Skybet odds are concerned.

AFC Bournemouth's Manager Eddie Howe
AFC Bournemouth's Manager Eddie Howe
 

Before a ball had been kicked, Bournemouth were only 20/1 to win the title and, in the office, we all raised a few eyebrows.

But the guy who did the odds is a keen Bournemouth fan and he reckoned Eddie Howe had them ready to challenge, so he posted the odds a lot shorter than the rest of us would have.

We all thought he was mad, but it turns out he was right and they are now just a 13/2 shot.

The great thing is, though – and Town fans will be well aware of this – the Championship table is very, very tight with a third of the season gone and anyone can make a positive move.

Town are only seven points off the play-off places and, with them turning the corner in terms of both results and performances, there is no reason why they can’t close that gap and become contenders themselves.