Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Today's Pinsticking Pop Picks

£10 on each of these sure things :

Back Barnet (H v Grimsby) @ 1.92
Back Gillingham (H v Forest) @ 2.32
Back Wigan (H v Sunderland) @ 2.26
Lay Palace (H v Stoke) @ 1.68
Lay Southampton (H v Crewe) @ 1.6

Hoots of derision accepted until 2.59pm only.

Some Champions League picks : I have laid Inter @ 1.5 and the Manchester Red Sox SkyHawks @ 1.64 to win their groups. Still trying to lay Arsenal @ 1.54, anyone interested ?

Oh, and spotted in the QPR directors' box last night, John Gregory. Doom !

Mush Of The Same Story

This one's for the official QPR website which made the following observation on last night's game :

"But generally, Rangers were unable to stamp their authority on the game and were looking for a crisper performance in the second period. Sadly it didn't come and it was mush of the same story".

Wasn't it just, as I'm sure you'll agree if you saw it on TV. I was actually there in a fit of keenness. But with Cook out and Furlong on a bad trot, Rangers lack firepower at the moment. Well, best not to over-react to one game. Wednesday looked moderate but kept their shape well and while it's very easy to criticise teams who adopt negative formations away from home, perhaps if we had been able to play with as much discipline on our travels we wouldn't have been gubbed 3-0 twice in a row.

Off the pitch, Gianni Paladini has not surprisingly taken exception to having a gun waved in his face by another director, and has engineered a boardroom coup. Perhaps worrying, but what can I do about it. Well, what can I do about anything, but that doesn't usually stop me :-). Time will tell.

Anyway I shall have a skim through Betfair and pick out some value to give us an interest this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's Only A Game

Carling Cup carnage last night as Rangers were only one of the Championship sides embarrassed by lower-league opposition. By my reckoning Hull, Ipswich, Crewe, Stoke, Preston and Brighton can also "concentrate on the league" till January. More embarrassingly than us probably, Ipswich lost 2-0 at home to Yeovil and Crewe got dumped 5-1 at Lincoln. On top of that, Brentford (top of League 1) lost 5-0, Forest lost 3-2 at home to Macclesfield and Bristol City were humbled 4-2 at home by Barnet ! But Barnet rule so I'll let them off.

No complaints here about Northampton's win, they had the sign over us in the dark Division 2 days, in fact our league nadir was probably Loftus Road echoing to "you'll never beat the Cobblers" towards the end of a 1-0 reverse. And no I haven't forgotten Vauxhall Motors, that was in the Cup :-). We have plenty of previous for embarrassing ourselves in this competition recently too. I should have had a bet on it really.

We had pretty much our best side available on display, not quite but close enough for no excuses. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the others didn't. This competition has gone, basically. Clubs in European competition don't come in till the third round. Even if you do make it that far and draw United, Chelsea or Arsenal they'll put out their youth team, and beat you anyway just to rub it in. And who could get excited about drawing Blackburn, Birmingham, Fulham and the rest. The FA Cup's going the same way, mark my words. Anyway you could do worse than to oppose Cardiff and Coventry tonight if you fancy a nibble.

And of course the Premiership has lumbered into action, and while I should just ignore it, I might as well have a rant. There's a comment in here about a year ago from the Camel comparing the Premiership to the poker festival circuit. In fact there's no need to tease you, it's here. A year on, it's more true than ever. Skimming a paper today I read that Chelsea's shirt sponsorship deal is worth £9 million a year. Wigan and West Ham, by comparison, pull in £300,000. Incidentally I'm surprised West Ham can't do better than that - maybe they signed the deal while in the league below. And that's just an example. Sure, the free market, get what you can, but it doesn't make for a competitive league. The most capitialist-oriented culture in the world seems perfectly happy to have salary caps and draft systems to keep its sport competitive. Unfortunately it's never going to happen here, the lawyers would soon put a stop to any such plans. It's only because of the peculiar nature of football (and how difficult it is to score a goal) that Wigan can give Chelsea a game at all. And over a whole season, they can't. Well if you've read the post from a year ago, there's no need to repeat most of that.

As for Chelsea, they've been taking a ribbing for advertising tickets in the press for tonight's game against West Brom. What the adverts fail to mention is that the cheapest ticket available costs, wait for it, £48. Maybe they figure that after queueing on the phone for 20 minutes, people will think "fuck it" and cough it up anyway. 48 quid though ! I remember when I could watch Rangers in the top division for a tenth of that. It was only 1989. How can the media act all surprised when people aren't prepared to pay it twice in a week ? Alan Green can chunter on about how woeful everything is, including empty seats and lack of atmosphere from supporters, but he hasn't paid £50 for the pleasure ! The cunt.

Now I'm TV-less I'm getting my football fix from Talk Sport, which isn't too bad. Alvin Martin knows the score, he made the point about how it's not easy for people to cough this money up twice in 4 days, but so many people in football and the media have no conception of how fans think at all. Here is a reported exchange between Alex Ferguson and a Manchester United fan, I stress reported, but it bears the ring of truth in my ears :

The two fans first abused chief executive David Gill and then turned on Fergie, saying: "You've f***** us over too, you could've spoken out about it."

Sir Alex replied: "I've got close friends who've been working with me here for 15 years. They come first in all of this."

Fan: "So don't the fans come first?"

Fergie: "Well I suppose they do come somewhere."

Fan: "You what? That's well out of order."

Sir Alex: "If you don't like it, go and watch Chelsea."

Fan: "The fans have been screwed right over. It costs me over £20 a game as it is."

Sir Alex: "It costs more than that at Chelsea - go and watch them."

"Go and watch Chelsea" indeed. When players do really care about their club, it makes a massive difference. Marc Bircham is forgiven many technical deficiencies because he used to stand on the terraces at Rangers. He even used to watch Rangers live when he was a player at Millwall. And we love him for it, because at least in some ways he's one of us. Compare that with Didier Drogba whose first thought after shinning a goal against Arsenal (much like I do in the park quite frankly) was to go and posture to a fan who gave him some GBH to the earhole earlier in the game. I don't like to have a go at players, but when you've paid £50 and your £24 million forward can't kick the ball in a straight line, I don't blame people who do. Even Chelsea fans ! Am I sure :-)

Oh well. It is only a game. Seasons come and go. Enjoy the wins, take the losses like a man, and accept the game for what it is, I suppose. Yesterday has gone my friends. Onwards and sideways.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Heavyweights And Lightweights

Not long back from an afternoon of football, and Rangers are now sitting pretty with 7 points after a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. It wasn't a great game to be honest, very physical as you would expect, but maybe this impression is partly because after two years upstairs with the toffs, I was virtually at pitch level. Any football regular will tell you it looks a completely different game from there, you can really see the pace and physical nature of the game.

As I said we didn't really string many moves together but it was funny, there was a screeching woman behind me and every time we entered the last third she would squeak "just shoot ! Have a pot shot !". Just as she started to really annoy me Marc Bircham did precisely that, 1-0. Rangers then dropped too deep and ceded too much possession, plus ca change there, but with Danny Shittu immense managed to keep the evil Northerners at bay and Stefan Moore broke away to score a second, which it looks like we needed because they got one back in the last minute, but we didn't really.

If Big Dan (the heavyweight of the title) keeps improving at the rate he is we'll have a hell of a job keeping hold of him. There are plenty worse centre-backs in the Premiership already. The lightweight of the title is, of course, me. I caught up with the Camel in the Springbok beforehand, and seeing as he copped 5 large in the shootout last night he treated me to two (yes two) pints of lager shandy (that's shandy). As the game wound on I developed a splitting headache (then again that could be down to the Loftus Road roar) and I gradually felt worse and worse on the way home until the coup de gras, just a mile from home on the bus, I am deeply ashamed on all levels to report that I was physically and rather copiously sick before I could reach the next stop and jump off. What a chav I am.

Must have had a bad pint ! It was totally inexplicable. My penance was to walk home the rest, and more so, when I reached the next stop I had to slink past all the people who had been kicked off the bus so it could return to base to be hosed down.

So next time I ask for a J2O at the bar, don't be embarrassed. Believe me, I'm saving us all from a lot more embarrassment later.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Wacky World Of Football

Courtesy of Football 365's Mediawatch. I don't think I need to add anything at all.


Charity Begins At Southampton
Says Harry Redknapp in The Daily Mail:

"I took a mega pay cut when I came here. I am not quite working for charity, though it's pretty close."

And how close is 'pretty close'?

The report goes on to add that Harry earns an estimated £8,000 a week.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hip Hip Hooray !

Because football is back back back !

I'm not going to have any season bets this year, I usually just stress over them out of all proportion to the insignificant money I have wagered. If I did, then a 4-way win only accumulator of Tottenham, QPR, Brentford and Barnet would surely be the way forward.

Seriously I fancy Tottenham to do quite well this season, but I do think you're burning money backing anyone but Chelsea to win it. Arsenal are the only opposition who have any chance at all. The Championship is wide open, I don't fancy the relegated sides around 6-1 although Norwich and Palace will probably be there or thereabouts ; Ipswich hold no appeal ; Sheffield United are a half-decent bet around 14 but I would be prepared to gamble on Reading around 25, not a bad price if Lita comes off. Brentford I like around 14-16 in a very open division. Once again avoid the relegated sides. League Two is anyone's guess. Wycombe seem to be attracting interest, not sure myself.

I will be opposing the likes of Southampton and Forest just on principle if I have any bets of a weekend, and although it's through my rose-coloured spectacles I can't believe QPR vs Luton are 5/6 each on Hills for a season bet. Stan James go 8/15 QPR the same bet which looks more like it.

Anyway I shall take myself to Underhill tomorrow for the Bees' triumphant return to the Football League. Huzzah !

12/8 Update It is worth pointing out that, on perusal of the archives, this time last year I said "I can't see past Arsenal". And I couldn't. They really looked invincible, right up to the point when Manchester United vinced them. Let's hope that I (and every other pundit in the world) shouldn't be quite so sure, and that maybe the Premiership can at least keep us interested this season.