Despite His White Boots

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Not Much Happening Then

Wow. Where to start ? Let's start at the bottom and move up. Barnet ground out a 0-0 against Stockport yesterday in a tense game, although it would have been more tense if anything had actually happened. Ross Flitney made a couple of good saves for Barnet early on during the visitors' best spell. That's about it. Which leaves Rushden & Diamonds down and out, for which I can claim a degree of credit. A season and a half ago I tipped them to make the League One playoffs. They were relegated, and again this season. Sorry about that. Oxford United look favourites to join them. John Aldridge and Ray Houghton would be spinning in their graves. If they were dead. Barnet aren't safe yet but their last game is away to Rushden and a draw should be plenty.

Rumours link Ian Holloway with Swindon, newly relegated to League Two, and it would make a lot of sense given that ex-QPR boardroom types Mark Devlin and Bill Power are there. I hope he gets it, and good luck to them if he does. If he's looking for players, Gary Waddock has clearly been given enough responsibility to clear out the dead wood at QPR. So many players have been released or transfer-listed it's almost easier to name the ones who are staying. Unsurprisingly Santos, Evatt, Doherty, Langley and various stiffs you've never heard of are out the door. Perhaps more surprisingly, Bircham, Bignot and Lomas are all listed (though still in contract). I don't actually dislike any of them (not even Santos I must be going soft) so I hope they all get gigs somewhere. Bircham and Bignot are two players who did really well last season and have always busted a gut so I hope they at least can get decent gigs at Championship level.

Birmingham have already been linked with Bircham as they plan for the Championship next season. 1, 2, 3, Ha Ha ! Can't help myself. I was a bit lucky with that bet, I was expecting West Brom to sort them out but in the end it was Portsmouth who rode over the horizon to save the day. I really didn't see that coming, and only a couple of months ago I flat out ridiculed their chances. Well, Redknapp has proved me wrong there. He's still a cunt though.

Chelsea finally put it to bed, in some style by crushing their nearest rivals 3-0. Ferguson has already said exactly what he said last year about making it hard for Chelsea next time out. We totally believe you this time. I found it interesting that of the two Chelsea fans to call TalkSport last night, one came out with a bitter "You lot must be gatted you 'ate us so much" and another went off on a long spiel about Chelsea being fined 10 grand [1] and West Brom getting off and it not being fair. Happy days eh ?

Less happy for England, first of all Big Phil has either taken a look at the tabloids and thought "fuck this for a game of soldiers" or steepled his fingers like Mr Burns and said "eeexcellent" having used the FA to stick two million on his next contract with Portugal. Probably a bit of both. Which means we're back to the usual suspects. Not only that, Rooney and Owen are now both doubtful for the event. Frankly if Crouch is going to be England's number one striker for this tournament I advise everyone to just crack a few beers and have a laugh. I remember Crouch's celebrated Bambi on Ice impression during his time at Rangers. OK he's a bit better now, but if you had told me this guy would lead England's attack for a World Cup I would have called for the men in the white coats with the giant butterfly nets.

Should both the golden boys be absent, I would just play one striker with Gerrard in the withdrawn second striker role. It's got to be better than playing Bent. Or Defoe. Then at least the two players who might get you a goal (Gerrard and Lampard) won't be treading on each others' feet all the time like they are now. But it all smacks of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Never mind, it's only a game :-)

[1] That's got to hurt. Oh no, wait.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Fists Of Rage

I sometimes think I could fill this entire blog ranting about how much of a cunt Steve Bruce is, and still be filled with rage every time his fat head pops up talking bollocks. This time, of course, it's the England manager saga. Now, I'm not one to be all Billy Britain about international football, I think that in many ways it brings out the worst in people. At times during major tournaments, there is a sense that it brings people together, but often only in the spirit of hating foreigners. As such I haven't made an in-depth study of the topic but I think that Big Phil sounds great because he has a cool name and a habit of punching out journalists who annoy him. Bring it on, Jeff Powell.

Anyway, the situation at the moment appears to be that BP has been sounded out but isn't committing to a Yes because he gave his word to concentrate on his current job until his contract expires. Damn those untrustworthy foreigners. Naturally this has attracted the ire of the various rent-a-gobs who qualify for pundits in this country. Ian Wright has conveniently forgotten that his sole redeeming characteristic is his stance against racism to proclaim that he'd rather England were rubbish under an English manager than any good under Johnny F. Serially incompetent club manager Peter Reid bemoans the fact that he and others paid 7 grand [1] for a coaching certificate and still this isn't enough to lead our nation's hopes. All more or less what you would expect from, as I said, professional mouthers-off.

When Steve Bruce weighs in though the first question that springs to mind is haven't you got anything more important to worry about right now ? Although this will come as no surprise to Huddersfield fans who well remember histwo week jaunt to Brazil halfway through a crucial season. Bruce (among others) asks what message this sends out to English managers ? I'll tell you what message, and it's a good one. The message is that you're not going to get the job just for being English if you're fucking shit. Fairly simple I would have thought.

[1] Which he probably makes per hour of talking incoherent rubbish at the licence payers' expense anyway. At least I'm not paying it !

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Are You Watching Georges Santos ?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's That Time Of The Season

Where a year of hard work can be crushed in an afternoon ; dreams of promotion denied and fear of relegation confirmed. Despair and agony. So let's see if we can make a few quid out of it.

Everton and Newcastle are worth a small interest to win at home to Birmingham and West Brom respectively. Desperation can only take you so far if you're not good enough in each penalty area, especially away from home. Passing swiftly over the dead rubbers of the Championship, I hadn't noticed how well Nottingham Forest are doing since Megson walked the plank, and they can run up another win at Hartlepool. Torquay are in the last chance saloon at home to Wrexham. And while I'm not backing it myself, I wouldn't put anyone off Chester at home to Barnet, the Bees are so poor away from fortress Underhill. And no, that isn't a deliberate reverse bok. They never work.

Summary :

Back Everton, 3 pts @ 2.34
Back Newcastle, 3 pts @ 1.87
Back Forest, 3 pts @ 2.10
Back Torquay, 3 pts @ 2.38

Friday, April 21, 2006

Alan Shearer Goes Up In My Estimation

Slightly. According to reports, there was some shindig on Monday where Alex Ferguson was speaking. It might have been some kind of tribute to Shearer. Ferguson, of course, couldn't resist pointing out that Shearer would have won a lot more trophies if he had signed for Manchester United. Shearer's response : "So would you." Wheels away in celebration with one arm aloft.

I should be able to put some bets up tomorrow but in the early kick-off I do think Arsenal will beat Spurs. I don't think Spurs believe they can beat Arsenal ; plus they only need a draw. Psychologically, this will be their downfall. However I was hoping for a bit better odds than 1.75. Clearly everyone else is of a similar opinion. No official bet unless I can get 1.8 anywhere.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Barnet 1 Mansfield 0

Someone up there's looking after Barnet. No wait, it's someone down here. In a green shirt with a whistle. Two penalties last week, two men sent off today, all favouring the Bees. Barnet took the lead early on, just a couple of minutes after I thought to myself "wouldn't it be just like football for Hatch (a striker) to score his first of the season today", the self same man cracked a half-volley into the bottom corner, leaving Kevin Pieman munching his chicken & mushroom in vain. Mansfield played some decent stuff and kept Barnet on their toes for the rest of the half but they managed to keep them out.

After the break, Barnet's Fuller and Mansfield's Coke were involved in a tangle on the ground after a tackle ; both were booked, but Coke walked having already been booked in the first half. Not long after, substitute Reet followed him for a challenge that I thought wasn't even a foul ... but the referee may have seen it as a downward stamp even if he did touch the ball. Needless to say the visitors were not best pleased, and I felt they had a case as the likes of Hessenthaler and King had put in some crunching fouls earlier on. Swings and roundabouts.

Barnet were dreadful against nine men, seeming to be completely unable to change tactics, keep possession and switch the ball like you should with two extra men. Mansfield forced a couple of decent chances, one with a player receiving treatment and only 8 men on the pitch, but missed them. Bailey hit the post for Barnet but wasn't made to pay and eventually the game ended. The Bees still have to play Stockport at home and Rushden away in their last two games but it's in their hands.

I might make them favourites to finish higher in League Two than Rangers will finish in the Championship. The R's continue to find new and inventive ways to lose games, from 2-0 up with fifteen minutes left today. Playing the percentages I would guess this is not unconnected with the name Santos appearing at centre half. With Reading and Watford to come in their last two games, there's a very fair chance Rangers will finish one place above the relegation zone despite never having been in any real trouble all season, which would be a fittingly bizarre end to a disappointing campaign. Whoever takes over full-time has a hell of a job to do this summer that's for sure.

Kids Can Be So Cruel

Football news today, according to a newspaper report [1], Manchester United players vandalised their teammate Park Ji-Sung's car because it was only a Kia. Yay for team spirit and tolerance of other peoples' cultural values. We might as well lump our hard-earned on a school team.

Nonetheless, what's on offer today ? Last chance for Crewe, they're worth the maximum investment at home to Cardiff. Last chance for Brighton as well but I'm steering clear this week. Sometimes you think teams are maliciously playing well only when you oppose them. Plymouth are finishing the season strongly, their opponents Luton aren't. As much as I'd like to see MK Dons sink down the pyramid without trace, they're having a good go and are worth a nibble at home to wobbling Hartlepool. And dare I back Barnet at home to Mansfield ? I'll be there today and there's enough riding on this already. No need to spice it up with a bet !

Back Crewe, 5 pts @ 2.34
Back Plymouth, 3 pts @ 2.26
Back MK Dons, 3 pts @ 2.32

[1] It was in the Express so there's a fair chance it's not as true as it rings.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Worth 700 Grand Of Anyone's Money

Easter weekend, nyum nyum. With Easter being so late this year, a lot of issues have already been settled. The Championship in particular is practically done and dusted. Some are wary of betting on games where neither team has much to play for, but someone has to win [1] and the books still add up to the same per cent so why not.

West Ham look great value to beat poor travellers Manchester City. Bolton are nobody's pushover at the Reebok, Chelsea haven't been playing well and have had the pressure taken off by United's slip-up yesterday. Bolton can dig out a result here. And I think that Fulham should beat Charlton at the Cottage.

Crewe are rocking. I missed a trick not backing them last weekend after I saw them play so well at Loftus Road. They can take something from Palace who have a playoff place locked up. Brighton are so poor that even inconsistent, nothing to play for Ipswich are backable at evens. Finally Chester are on a good run and it's worth once again taking the opportunity to oppose Wycombe against them.

Summary :

Back West Ham, 5 pts @ 2.38
Lay Chelsea, 5 pts @ 1.81
Back Fulham, 3 pts @ 2.10
Lay Crystal Palace, 5 pts @ 1.62
Back Ipswich, 3 pts @ 2.00
Back Chester, 3 pts @ 2.64

[1] er, unless it's a draw

Results : 4/6 +12 pts not bad. Particularly good effort from Crewe to pull back to 2-2 after I'd given up on them. Running total 17/35 +3.2 pts.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Football and Gambling Update No.1 (of 98745)

Newspapers report that "England's players will be restricted to £200 per hand in any card schools at the World Cup".

Come on, how's he going to get out of it now ?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

When Worlds Collide (2)

Almost all the hysteria about Wayne Rooney's gambling debts has passed me by. It's amusing to note which papers and people ignore the issue for their own reasons. The Sun are still trying to push Wayne and Colleen as the new Posh and Becks in the hope that Rooney will settle out of court over the granny prostitute story. Meanwhile Bobby Charlton, who two years ago described Michael Owen's £30,000 gambling debts as "vulgar", is remarkably shy about saving our nation's youth from themselves this time around. Who'd have thunk it.

I'm mostly shrugging my shoulders because people who say things like "that's six weeks' wages where would you and I be if we gambled that away" are missing the point that a huge proportion of Rooney's titanic wage packet is completely disposable income. And that's not even including the money he makes "writing" books and for newspapers, and being the face of Scunge [1].

The only point that's really worthy of comment IMO is the fact that, according to newspapers today, he's trying to weasel out of paying all of it. On what grounds, God only knows. Come on though son, nobody likes a welsher. You can afford it, cough up and consider it a lesson learned (or even learnt). The only possible effect I can see it having on England's World Cup chances would be if the bookies in question took out payment in kind on Rooney's knees, as I suspect they might in less high-profile cases. Unlikely as it is, that really would fuck England's chances ...

[1] Scunge is always handy, to have around the plaaaace !

[2] Interesting fact : scunge appears to be Australian slang for "nip". That's not what I was referencing though. 10 points if you know what I was, and google's no help !

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Stolen Joke

A real setback for Chelsea today, going down 1-0 to West Ham. How's Mourinho going to turn that one around ? Yes I know technically they won 4-1, but if there's one thing we learned from Chelsea-Barcelona, it's that what happens after you go down to ten men doesn't count.

Thanks to Fred Titmus for that one !

Barnet 2 Notts County 1

Ooh you lucky fish. I'm fairly sure Barnet only had 3 shots on target in the whole game. 2 of them were the penalties. After a scrappy first half, County's nippy frontman latched onto a punt down the line, ran towards the goal quickly and scored. Simple game sometimes. Barnet huffed and puffed until a high ball went in to the far post and someone punched it into the net. Normally this would either be a goal or a free kick to the defence, but a penalty was given, probably because the forward Ben Strevens punched it in as a result of being pushed, it's all I can think of. Ian Hendon despatched the spot-kick for 1-1.

County then pressed quite strongly but, with all 11 players back for a corner, Andy Hessenthaler [1] of all people carried the ball the length of the field, turned back looking for support, and fell over. Another penalty ! It was right up the other end of the pitch so I didn't have a good view, but I just can't believe the defender would have fouled him when he had turned away from goal. We'll take it though, 2-1. County huffed and puffed but didn't threaten any more until the very last minute of injury time when Nicky Bailey, who's probably been Barnet's player of the year in my book, presented a forward with a one on one through his weak back-header. Fortunately for all concerned he lifted it over the bar.

Torquay look doomed now at it's any one of 4 or 5 for the second relegation spot. Two things need to happen for Barnet this year, they need to stay up and they need the local election results to go their way. Both are odds-on, as a double though ... 50/50. Let's hope for the best.

[1] I say of all people because Hessenthaler is older than me. I reckon that's only him and Teddy Sheringham left ...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Day Off

You'll have to manage without my help today. It'll be hard I know, but try to soldier on. I'm off to Underhill, crunch game for the Bees today.

Friday, April 07, 2006

When Worlds Collide

I could have put this on any one of my 3 blogs. Perhaps I should start a new one for crossover stories. Anyway, here's Dave Colclough's very entertaining account of a "Poker and Soccer Legends" tournament.

Great stuff. I once heard of the legendary Anita calling allin on the river with 99 on a board something like AJJTA, but this probably tops it. I love that Southall took his team mates out first and then went on to play like a total cunt. Still, that's team poker for you ! I can imagine DC banging his head on the floor but I think that, faced with such utter incompetence from his team-mate, there was only one thing he should have done. Walked onto the pitch and sat against the goal post in a strop for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Whites 6 Blues 4

We were the biz today. Good defensive organisation and ruthless on the break. We even held out 4 against 5 for the last 10 minutes. My best moments were clawing one away from the top corner when in goal and nutmegging their best player. Nut ! I'm going to miss this, if nothing else.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

QPR 1 Crewe 2

Oh dear. This was all rather depressing. In brief, this was no smash and grab ; I felt that we were outplayed.

We were poor apart from a gung-ho 20 minute spell after half time. Now this is an honest bunch of players, but no amount of commitment or good intentions can make you pass the ball any better. We didn't create enough and a goal 3 milliseconds from time doesn't change that.

Crewe were good. They always are. They were so much better than Millwall and Brighton that I can hardly believe they're bottom. Looking at it now they might still have a chance to stay up, but if they don't then I'd like to be on the right side of them betting-wise next season.

Now, I've been watching Rangers for, blimey, 18 years and I've seen them all come and go. Like any fan I want to see them do well but, provided they're trying, if we lose to a better team like today then fair enough, and I'm not going to sulk about it all week like I used to in the early days. Unfortunately not everyone is so philosophical. There was a fair amount of fractiousness in the stands, as you might expect when you're being gubbed by the team bottom of the league, but I wasn't prepared for the most stupid, cowardly and frankly cuntish act that I've seen for a long time. Two guys were having some kind of argument. One of them turned away to leave when the younger, stronger and less drunk of the two shoved him hard in the back, causing him to fall head first down a concrete stairway. It looked very nasty, and while I couldn't see what kind of state he was in, they hadn't been able to move him 20 minutes later by the time the game ended.

What the fuck is wrong with people ? It's only a game. Rangers might find the going difficult next season and if people are going to react like this, W12 will not be a pleasant place to spend Saturday afternoons (as it wasn't for a couple of years around 2000/01) . And if it comes to that, I won't go. I did it before and I'll do it again, and if you think that makes me a cunt, at least I don't go pushing people down stairs just because we're losing.

Action Dammit, Action !

I now have a position for the rest of the season on so many teams that it's interfering with my daily match betting ! I have to bite the bullet and double up on the teams I like where appropriate.

Bolton and Everton are tempting in the Premiership, but not quite priced to my liking, so once again we drop down to the Championship in our hunt for value. Coventry are in excellent form [1], having beaten Leeds and Sheffield United recently, and can make it a treble against wobbling promotion-chasers as they host Preston, still without main man David Nugent. Millwall are good value at odds-against in their relegation clash against Brighton, and Sheffield Wednesday are still a team to keep on the right side of, they entertain mid-table Burnley today. I also can't resist a small punt on QPR at home to bottom of the table Crewe. The Rangers players made the unusual step of publishing a statement on Thursday, taking full responsibility for the defeat to Stoke and promising to put it right today. I was wondering whether to stump up £30 for this game or not, but I'm going to go. Some fresh air, and I'll get it back in the Vic afterwards :-)

Further down (action dammit, action !) Blackpool are worth a nibble at home to Walsall in a huge relegation 6-pointer (aren't they all in League One), and I think Brentford are tough enough to beat Colchester at Layer Road. And tempted as I am to back Barnet and lay Wycombe, that's probably enough for one day :

Back Coventry, 4 pts @ 2.4
Back Millwall, 4 pts @ 2.04
Back Sheff Wed, 4 pts @ 2.16
Back QPR, 2 pts @ 1.9
Back Blackpool, 3 pts @ 2.24
Back Brentford, 2 pts @ 3.4

[1] I just remembered they lost 4-1 to Crewe last time out. A blip ...

Results : Doh. 1/6 no good. And Southampton won, and Birmingham drew, and I should have laid Wycombe. Fortunately I got it back in the Vic. By winning £12. Which gives you an idea of what stakes I back my judgement with.