Despite His White Boots

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

Monday, March 27, 2006

Saints To Go Marching Down ?

An interesting situation has developed at the foot of the Championship. Following Sheffield Wednesday's win at Wolves (hooray !), they have closed to within a point of Southampton. The business end (complete with the relegation line of doom) now looks like this :

20 Southampton...P 39 Pts 42
21 Sheffield Wed...P 40 Pts 41
22 Millwall...........P 40 Pts 36

The Saints have a game in hand, but it's an away game. Sheffield Wednesday are in much better form, having beaten Preston and Wolves in their last two games. All of which would suggest to me that Wednesday should be a slightly lower price to be relegated than Southampton, in the event that Millwall can catch either of them. Southampton are at home to Millwall on Easter Monday, and if the Lions could win that it would definitely be game on.

And yet we look on Betfair to see that Wednesday are 3.3 to be relegated. Southampton are 10.5 !

I have immediately snapped up 2 points on the Saints. I have also posted an offer to lay Wednesday, 2 pts @ 4.5 . If someone takes that (and you can take it yourself if you think I'm full of it), that will give us a position as follows :

Southampton go down : +21
Wednesday go down : -11
Neither go down : level

I'll update this if the Wednesday bet is matched, otherwise it's just 2 points on Southampton @ 10.5 .

Update : Someone has snapped up the bait. Must also update my terrible arithmetic, Wednesday down = -9. Jeez I can't even add up properly. Unlucky to West Brom, that would have been a double bubble if they could have squeezed out a result. Still, the Baggies are going down 2-1 in the last 5 minutes, Birmingham are getting whacked 3-0 and talking as if it's a good result. Which in a way it is.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Charlton 3 Newcastle 1

A good game which I really enjoyed. A bit more quality than I'm used to, even if half the field probably wouldn't have looked out of place in a decent Championship team. A dodgy pen, a 30-yard howitzer, a comedy own goal and in doubt right until the breakaway decider in the last minute.

I can't say that anyone really stood out though, Emre and Darren Bent were quite lively. Unfortunately Marcus Bent never looked like troubling the onion bag, scuppering plans of a "Bent Double" headline. What perplexes me though is why Roeder, like Souness, thinks Ameobi is anything but a waste of space playing on the left. You could tell Shearer's running down the clock as well, he couldn't even be bothered to harangue the referee.

All in all a nice change and I'll have to see if I can squeeze another one in before the end of the season.

What's The Score ?

I'm in the black thanks to some good recent form (and Leeds being crap, hehe). Total match betting to date 12/23, + 3.4 pts. Considering I'm betting 3-5 points per spin though, that's well within noise. Breaking even and having an interest will do me. There have been quite a few occasions when I've laid the home team, or backed the away team with a goal start, and the away team have surpassed expectations and won. QPR @ Sheffield Utd, Torquay @ Wycombe and Sheffield Wed @ Wolves spring to mind. A little courage would have paid off !

Orient I've given up on, even though they did beat Wycombe yesterday, Carlisle look like they're not going to falter. Blackburn are still in the mixer but my best bet of all was Birmingham to go down a couple of months ago. I could lay this back at just over 1.5, but I'm not going to.

As for yesterday, massive win for Barnet, well done to them. And hats off to the Villa fans who produced a banner for David O'Leary saying "We're not fickle, we just don't like you". Banners are always to be encouraged.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Small Interest

It's a Saturday on the couch for me, as I'm off to Charlton-Newcastle tomorrow. Unfortunately that game has mid-table mediocrity stamped all over it, but you never know, both sides could unleash a free-flowing spectacle of entertainment with the pressure off. It could happen.

As for today, not too much catches the eye but, unprofessional though it is [1], let's have a few small wagers for an interest. West Ham could have their eyes on the cup semi-final and Wigan are capable of turning them over. Both Sheffield United and Leeds are in desperate need of the Heimlich maneuver, and they can continue to choke today. Neither Stoke (at Leeds) nor Southampton (at Sheffield United) are in much form but that's virtually irrelevant. Back them both with a goal start. Improving Sheffield Wednesday can come away from Wolves with a result. Finally the heart says Barnet are due a win. Let's hope so !

Back Wigan, 3 pts @ 2.12
Back Southampton (+1), 3 pts @ 1.85
Back Stoke (+1), 3 pts @ 2.02
Lay Wolves, 4 pts @ 1.64
Back Barnet, 2 pts @ 2.46

[1] But seeing that I'm not a professional sports bettor, that's allowed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Making The Rounds

Kevin Gallen has "apologised to his team mates" after his sending off at the weekend. The Internet footage isn't entirely clear, but whatever it was, it happened well after the ball had gone. We'd still have won if not for the own goal which looks even worse on replay. Mark McGhee has promised Marcus Bignot a bottle of champagne if Brighton stay up. I wouldn't be holding my breath myself.

I am moving back towards Radio 5 for my main football feed in the absence of television. Talk Sport are just too determined to generate controversy when there isn't any (much like Sky and the tabloids). The other night they evidently had nothing to talk about, so were trying to bait Spurs fans with a "rumour" about Ledley King going to Chelsea that they had either read out of a comic or made up. Although their Saturday coverage is still generally better because they don't allow egg-chasing and so on to interfere. Radio 5 would be ok but when oh when are they going to get rid of the awful Alan Green. Or at least stop him from working on Liverpool games, is the BBC not supposed to be impartial ? Of the many criticisms that can be levelled at this wannabe pundit who can't bear to just do his commentating job, the one that isn't levelled enough is that his clumsy, sarcastic attempts at humour can only be described in one word ... woeful.

As mentioned in a comment below, I have had an official 2 points on Blackburn to finish fourth @ 10.5, and a small interest for tonight, Leeds are feeling the pressure in the Championship and are worth laying at home to Crystal Palace, 3 pts @ 2.14. Just to clarify, if I'm laying someone, the points represent the backer's stake, so from my POV it's 3.42 points risked to win 3 (less commission).

Finally it's good to see [1] Mo Sissoko back in the Liverpool squad tonight. Best of luck to him.

[1] sorry ...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

QPR 1 Brighton 1

Probably both sides were disappointed with the result in the end. It doesn't mean a lot to Rangers in the great scheme of things but it's impossible to argue with Gary Waddock's position that we surely would have won without the sending off. I'm going to have to claim the Wenger defence on that one, I really didn't see it. It would be very out of character if Kevin Gallen had whacked him after the ball had gone, he's not that kind of player.

Brighton were so poor going forward that even against ten men they rarely threatened until Marcus Bignot headed a high ball into his own net. I believe the word is "Doh". They look doomed. Sheffield Wednesday gave Rangers a battering last week by all accounts, and beat Preston today to open up a gap that Brighton are unlikely to close from what I saw today.

Not a bad day though, enjoyed watching the game in the company of The Camel, even though it was his fault for bokking us at half time with text messages to various Brighton fans. And when I popped into Gutshot on my way back I was delighted to be rescued from the usuriously raked cash game by an unexpected visit from Lord and Lady Miros, no doubt on their way to a 1-2 in the tournament as I write. No deals though, to the death :-)

Once More Unto The Breach

Back in the saddle, and so forth. Blackburn are my go-to guys at the moment and they are worthy of the maximum investment at home to Middlesboro, who must be due some kind of UEFA Cup hangover. In my opinion punters have over-reacted to the news that West Ham are going to field a weakened side against Portsmouth today. I also think that the "desperation factor" of teams facing relegation counts for least in the Premiership where the quality gap has the most effect. Finally in League Two Wycombe still look uncertain and I think that improving (and desperate) Torquay can nick something off them. Selectivity being the cornerstone of value betting, that's your lot.

I'm off to Loftus Road again today and a low score looks on the cards. Feel free to back under 2.5 goals in this one, if you trust me after what happened in the week ! I'm going to abstain myself, I don't want to be in Dom's position last week where a Rangers goal costs me money ... I know I'm a wuss.

Selections :

Back Blackburn, 5 pts @ 1.8
Back West Ham, 4 pts @ 2.28
Lay Wycombe, 4 pts @ 1.75

Thursday, March 16, 2006


"Before the match Fernando Morientes, Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler and Djibril Cisse had managed one goal between them in 51 combined hours on the pitch. By the end Fowler had netted his first since his return from Manchester City and Morientes and Crouch had both got on the scoresheet - with young full-back Stephen Warnock also weighing in with his first for the club."

Good job they didn't play any more injury time. The frigging tea lady might have come on and scored. Oh well, a mile is good as a miss ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Simple Logic

I'm very tempted to back "Under 2.5 goals" in the Liverpool-Fulham game tonight, because Liverpool are crap at scoring goals. Fulham are pretty good at conceding them lately, but I think Liverpool's overall crapness at scoring goals will win out. OK I've convinced myself, 5 points @ 1.83.

While I'm here, memo to David O'Leary. Qualify for the Cup quarter finals first, then complain about their scheduling. Thank you, come again.

Update : "> GOAL: Liverpool 2-1 Fulham: M Brown (og 34)"

Back to the ironing board. Good job I didn't sell the goals or anything like that ...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Simulation At Its Worst

Check this out. A blatant dive, completely untouched. Caught on camera, right in front of many high-ranking UEFA officials. And what gets done about it ? Nothing.

Don't Mess With Psycho

Anyone who wants to have a pop at Stuart Pearce has to get through me first. Some twat on BBC Sport said this today :

"Stuart Pearce has only been a manager for 5 minutes!!! Please FA don't be fooled by his apparent indifference. I think he wants it big-time. How dare he consider himself qualified. "

For one, he doesn't consider himself qualified. He's said so very clearly. It was more than a week ago so you've probably forgotten.

It's funny how a public figure who (in my opinion) is just level zero honest all the time (rare as that is) can be misinterpreted. In this case by someone saying "I think he's lying. How dare he lie. And how dare he take the position that he says he isn't because he's lying".

How dare you talk such crap about Pearce. What should come across from all of my many blogs is how I hate the hypocrisy and arse-covering that people think is a substitute for doing their jobs right, and if they can't do it right, finding something else they can do right even if this is less well-paid and out of the public eye. When someone like Pearce cuts the crap, gets on with it and takes it on the chin when it doesn't go well they earn my total respect, and I will take his corner against tools like the correspondent above. I have Emailed a response to BBC Sport, we'll see if it is printed.

Update : Take that, hoser ! Also note that I spelled "impugn" correctly in my Email to the BBC, and they changed it to "impune". Don't start me off about standards at the BBC ...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nailed On These Are

I like the look of today's line-up. First up two home wins in the Premiership, Everton to beat Fulham and Blackburn to beat Aston Villa, both generously priced at 1.98. Everton are better than Fulham. Blackburn are better than Villa. Analysis complete.

QPR are well worth a nibble away to Sheffield Wednesday, and Leeds can keep the pressure on Sheffield United by despactching Norwich at Elland Road. Finally Colchester are having a major wobble-up in League One and could well come unstuck again at Oldham.

Summary :

Everton, 5 pts @ 1.98
Blackburn, 5 pts @ 1.98
QPR, 3 pts @ 2.94
Leeds, 4 pts @ 1.74
Oldham, 3 pts @ 2.44

The biggest betting game for me today is Birmingham v West Brom. I'm effectively on WBA here already for a load of points. I'm not going to press it any further with a match bet. There's also an interesting game at Fratton Park where my least favourite Prem manager takes on the legendary Stuart Pearce. The funny thing is, I can see Portsmouth winning this, they're in the last chance saloon and City are poor travellers. I can't bring myself to back them though.

Results : 3/5 for +6.4 points, not bad. Both my maximum bets obliged by two goals, and Oldham nicked it in injury time. Never in doubt. West Brom should have walked it by all accounts but a draw's OK.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Best Of British

I thought the TalkSport commentator was going to have apoplexy on Wednesday night. "ALL OF BRITAIN'S HOPES REST ON ARSENAL NOW" he screamed. All over a 0-0 :-). All of Britain's hopes though ? That Arsenal team again :

Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini, Hleb (Bergkamp 86), Silva, Fabregas, Reyes (Pires 68), Henry, Ljungberg.

Gordon Taylor, who usually talks a load of bollocks, has been criticised for weighing in as well, but here's what he actually said :

"It's an English club but not an English success. It's probably a greater reflection of youngsters from France and elsewhere in Europe. It's hard to say it speaks volumes for English football. When none of the players are home-grown it's hardly a reflection on England."

Now I don't like Gordon Taylor either, but tell me which bit of that is wrong. I don't blame Arsenal for their transfer policy, what are they supposed to do instead, outbid Tottenham for Dean Richards, but you can't play the Billy Britain card when you're talking it up. Frankly I'd prefer it if commentators didn't show any bias at all, even in England internationals, but I know that's never going to happen. If you must though, at least confine it to those occasions when there is some actual British involvement, or you just look a bit silly.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blues 7 Whites 8

Dammit. We were 7-6 up with time running out. I knew we should have stood on it in the corner. Sadly they equalised and scored a dramatic "last goal wins" winner.

I failed to trouble the scorers today, slightly unlucky with a flicked volley that was well saved and a drive deflected onto the cone, er post. Less so when I snatched at three clear chances with the goal at my mercy. Take a touch you idiot !

A good game though with even sides (which helps a lot). I have a terrible habit of giving people Schmeichel-esque bollockings when we concede a goal which is really unnecessary in a fun game. Even if they did let the runner go. But today I resolved to mind my own and just get on with it, which made it more enjoyable for everyone I'm sure. I'm writing this here in the hope that I'll stick to it ...

You Might Be An Idiot, But We're Not

Milan Mandaric is at it again.

"I still believe we will stay up [1] but even if we go down it will only be short-term. There are other clubs who have been relegated like Newcastle, Manchester City and even Manchester United - in the Seventies - and came back stronger."

Yes, other clubs who can attract 40,000+ through the gate. It's also worth pointing out that City dropped down another level and Newcastle were remarkably close to doing the same thing pre-Keegan. Let's instead look at some other more Portsmouth-sized clubs who have been relegated in recent years. Leeds have a decent chance of coming back up. Palace and Wolves are hovering around the playoffs. Ipswich, Norwich, Coventry, QPR, Southampton and Derby are safe enough in the Championship for another season but there's no reason to believe that any of them will be top two material next time out. Sheffield Wednesday are still in considerable danger of joining Nottingham Forest in League One. And as for Oldham, Bradford and Swindon ... If he had said West Ham, Bolton and Charlton I would have thought fair enough. But Manchester United, come on, that was 30 years ago !

I am so tired of people in football, and other walks of life, talking bollocks to try to make themselves look better. Utter, utter bollocks that we would have to be complete idiots to believe. If Portsmouth think that they're going to cruise the Championship next season, they are in for a very rude awakening.

[1] ROFLMAO as they say on the forums. In which case I trust you will be laying the bejesus out of them on Betfair at 1.12 to go down. You could use some of the money your mates made in that Redknapp coup.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Go With The O's

While Chelsea and Reading have virtually won their divisions already, matters are more interesting at the top of Leagues One and Two. Southend have opened up a gap of 6 points in League One, although their points tally of 67 from 36 games would usually see them in a play-off spot at this stage of the season. Colchester remind me of Bristol City a couple of seasons ago ; they won 11 games on the spin in the New Year but as soon as they overtook Plymouth and QPR to take top spot they suffered a nose bleed and were unable to even make second in the end (hooray !). Colchester were whacked 3-0 at home to Southend at the weekend and could be worth opposing for a few games. There's no standout bet to win the division though.

I think there is a good bet to be had in League Two though : Leyton Orient to win @ 9 on Betfair. OK I've only seen these teams once each this season, but that's once more than most, and Leyton Orient looked a far better side at Underhill than Wycombe, Carlisle and Northampton. I could give you lots of guff about getting results despite not playing well, kicking on for the last 10 games, and so on, but the bottom line is that the four teams above them are priced at no better than 6, even though the top five are covered by only two points . Orient's run-in isn't too arduous, and they have home games against rivals Wycombe and Grimsby to come. 3 points on the nose.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

QPR 0 Wolves 0

A decent game, although a 0-0 is always going to be lacking the ebb and flow that can make football great, but both sides passed it and tried to be constructive. Wolves controlled the midfield for the first 20 minutes and made 2 or 3 chances, all of which they directed straight at Paul Jones. Rangers reasserted themselves and it was fairly even until halftime, just before which Kenny Miller missed the best chance to date, Jones saving with his feet [1].

Rangers were then much the better side in the second half but, frustratingly, were unable to press Stefan Postma into making a save. One day (probably just one day in his career) Danny Shittu is going to lash one in from 30 yards ... but not today as his blunderbuss shot flew wide. With 5 minutes to go Rangers over-committed and Wolves had a golden chance to win the match on the break, however Jones pulled off a fantastic double save. Carl Cort really should have scored the rebound. A draw seemed fair enough although Wolves did have the better chances.

Rangers tried to play again, with Lee Cook looking particularly sharp. He left Paul Ince hacking at thin air more than once, although the ever-popular "Guvnor" did manage to clatter him horrendously when he finally got close enough, earning a well deserved booking. Unfortunately Furlong, Gallen and Youssouf offered too little end product in attack.

Wolves I thought were a bit too far up themselves tactically. They were playing a 4-3-3 with the front three of Miller, Cort and (the totally ineffective) Jeremie Aliadiere swapping at regular intervals. Meanwhile Darren Anderton was playing the "quarterback" role and Ince was trying to break forward. It worked well for 20 minutes, albeit against a Rangers centre pair of Langley who's not the best defensively and Bailey, an 18 year old making his second career start. Once Rangers got to grips with it though a couple of players (Cort in particular) looked lost and unsure as to what they should be doing. Joleon Lescott was very good though and he and Shittu were the best performers on the day.

Finally there was an amusing interlude before the game. I was having a quick pre-match J2O with the Camel in the Walkabout, where the West Brom - Chelsea game was on TV. As we were talking there was a massive cheer and we both assumed that the Baggies had pegged back the evil empire. But no, there was Joe Cole wheeling away after yet another deflected goal. How do they do it ? Witchcraft and magnetism probably. We were both perplexed by this Chelsea support in a pub virtually in the shadow of Loftus Road until it became apparent that these were Wolves fans indulging in a bit of schadenfreude at the expense of their Black Country rivals. Phew. Everyone did hate Chelsea and all was right with the world again.

[1] This was not cleared off the line by Marcus Bignot as reports state. I was there, I have to wonder whether the reporter was !

Friday, March 03, 2006

Out And About

A reasonable question to ask would be how can I comment on football when I don't even have a TV ? Quite easily I think. I'm sure there are a lot of points you can miss watching a game of football through the small screen, particularly defensive organistion, positioning and the like. One could also argue that not being subjected to TV's relentless hype and various biases (especially when it comes to international and Champions League games) is a plus point.

In any case this blog is a good excuse to get off my arse and take in some more games. I shall be at Loftus Road tomorrow to see QPR take on Wolves. I might not have time to post any bets for this weekend but I wouldn't put anyone off backing Rangers tomorrow, 2.9 something last I looked. If the boys can keep playing the way they are, they'll be good value generally for a month or two. One interesting sidenote to this game is that Gary Waddock man-marked Glenn Hoddle in both of the Cup Final games of 1982 and, legend has it, the only time Hoddle escaped his clutches in two games was when Waddock slipped and Hoddle set up the chance for the match-winning penalty.

Also today I had no trouble whatsoever in booking a ticket for Charlton v Newcastle in three weeks time. This will be my first Premiership game in at least 7 years, and should be interesting. I'm already interested to note that I'm only stuck £26 for the privilege, and that's the most expensive ticket available. That's less than Rangers charge, which can't be right. Well, I suppose we're still paying for the John Spencer / Vinny Jones years in a lot of ways. Mind you, at least Spencer could fucking play.