Despite His White Boots

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

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ask The Fans

This is quite interesting if you're looking for some pointers for next season. I always say that anyone who watches their own team regularly, whether as a fan or someone in the local media, is always going to know more about that team than someone who doesn't. Even if the someone who doesn't is the biggest (so-called) expert in the biggest paper or on the main TV show. I would give a lot more weight to this survey than any nationwide preview by one indivivual, however knowledgeable or well-intentioned that individual might be.

So, the five questions asked here don't relate directly to a forecast for next season, but even so they're a decent indicator of the level of confidence that fans have in manager and playing squad. The questions were as follows :

1. How would you rate your club's current manager (from Dreadful to Excellent) ?
2. How do you rate your club's players (ditto) ?
3. How would you describe your feelings about the forthcoming football season (from Very Fearful to Very Hopeful) ?
4. How would you rate your team's style of play towards the end of last season (from Dreadful to Excellent) ?
5. Overall, how would you rate the match day atmosphere at your ground last season (ditto) ?

Now, let's have a look at the results (to date, this runs till the start of the season but I wouldn't expect them to change all that much except in the case of major transfer deals).


Tottenham and Portsmouth fans are more confident than I would have expected. If I think about it though, Spurs have signed some exciting players and (most importantly of all) kept hold of Berbatov. Can they crack the top four ? 3.3 on Betfair to do so. Will Nugent be the goalscorer that Pompey missed last season ? Perhaps their fans think so. Pompey are 26 to finish top 4 and a more tempting 5.7 for top six.

Down at the bottom, no surprise to see Bolton fans being very pessimistic. 6.8 to be relegated now Fat Sam has left looks tasty. Fulham are 3.1 but, despite their fans obvious lack of enthusiasm for Lawrie Sanchez, I think they've signed some good players (Cook, Baird, Kamara). Signing players from the lower English leagues is currently viewed as a gamble, but I think if you know your players and buy wisely then it's much less of a gamble than signing foreign players (particularly South Americans who really don't have a good track record in the Premiership). Wigan are second favourites for relegation on Betfair (2.14) but in the top half of the fans' survey - do they know something we don't ? If they do, it's certainly something I don't know :-)


No major surprises near the top, the fans of the three relegated clubs seem confident that they can make a quick return, but then again Wolves are top of the pile under Mick McCarthy, and that's a group of fans not known for their optimism :-). 3.1 for promotion doesn't appeal all that much to me, partly because I don't rate Eastwood all that highly.

West Brom and Southampton fans obviously aren't too keen, given the players sold by both clubs. Southampton can be laid for promotion at 4.1, but in each case it might be better to just oppose them on a match-by-match basis for a while. Of the promoted clubs, it's interesting to see how much happier Blackpool fans are than their counterparts in Scunthorpe. The loss of Billy Sharp has probably knocked confidence in Yorkshire, and the Irons are 2.32 to go straight back down, which may be worth an interest. QPR's mid-table position echoes where I expect the Rs to finish up this year. Meanwhile Palace fans have just about had enough of Taylor and/or Jordan by the look of their position.

Leagues One and Two

These tables might be the most useful of all, especially close to kick-off. I don't think anyone actually expects Leeds to finish bottom of League One but clearly morale is at an all-time low. 3.5 looks grotesquely short for promotion, and 4 is a tempting lay, although this should be left to tighten up for a few weeks. Odds to win the division seem to match the supporters' table, if you don't like Forest or Leeds then Swansea (12.5), Doncaster (12.5) and Millwall (14.5) are all worth consideration. Oldham could be the pick though at 22 to win (6 to be promoted).

Down in league two, Barnet fans are obviously down at the sales of King, Bailey and Sinclair, following on from Kandol's departure last winter. However, those sales did pull in about £700K which is a heck of a lot in this division and Barnet are one club who aren't in a bad long-term financial position despite a small turnover. It will depend whether Fairclough can attract any players of similar quality to the ones who left, even if he has the budget. Rochdale, Shrewsbury and Chester all have favourable odds and supporter backing, while Chesterfield, Brentford and Rotherham fans are more downbeat, though this could just be relegation blues. Peterboro at 4.9 to win is an awfully short price for anyone in this division, so maybe Bradford (15) could be worth a look.

Generally I would advise keeping an eye on this, and anything similar, especially when considering the lower divisions. Even the biggest statto in a gambling paper just isn't watching these teams like the fans are and, despite what you might hear from media mouthpieces and phone-in presenters, fans aren't stupid.


  • At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If Arsenal finish 12th I'll rod my dog.

    If Spurs finish second I'll marry him.


  • At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Welcome back sir

    For what it is worth the 'Bald Bets' I have availed myself of for the coming season are.


    Wolves each way (have had 9-1 already). I quite like Eastwood, along with the other strikers they have I really think they could be the key. Mick knows how to get out of that division too.

    Coventry each way 33-1 (still available with Betfred)

    League One

    Notts Forest. I have had some 13-2 to win it but have had a bigger bet at 7-4 to be promoted. I still don't totally trust Calderwood. Mind you unlike last year they now have a true leader on the pitch in Neil Lennon...and perhaps a player manager in waiting should Calderwood fuck up again like he did last year?

    League Two

    Peterborough. I have had the 9-2 already. I take your point about them being short but, given the players and money at 'son of Sir's' disposal I really do think they are good things...hopefully they will not lose the league in the last 5 minutes of the season like the monkey hangers did in the same division last year. Ouch! 8-(

    Think Rochdale could be lively outsiders though too.

    I like the look of the 9-4 about East Fife in the Scots Div 3. I think they look like a penalty kick. Famous last words eh!

    I have also had shekel or two each way on Danny North (Grimsby) to be top scorer in League Two as well. I think 66-1 is a fair price for a player who could be a lot better than this division. Could have a pretty decent mentor in Alan Buckley too?

    Have you had any bets yet?

    Stevie Bennett

  • At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Andy:

    Your opening line immediately put me in mind of the book "The Wisdom of Crowds" (which I have around here somewhere, but can't find at the moment).

    There are certain scenarios where democracy works. Unfortunately, electing governments and presidents doesn't seem to be one of them, but all of the alternatives seems to be worse.

    I remember thinking a few years ago that people underrated "Ask the Audience" in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? And a similar reasoning applies here.

    The point is, it doesn't really matter if 80% of the respondent fans are idiots who know nothing (just as it doesn't matter if 80% of the audience in WWTBAM are guessing), because these can be seen as "random noise" and the sample is large enough that the noise cancels itself out.

    What's left is the 20% of respondents who do know something, and, just as the audience in WWTBAM performs remarkably better than people tend to expect (because the guessers cancel each other out, leaving the people who "know" the answer to influence the vote in the right direction), so the footy fans here should give a keenly accurate sign of things to come.

    This line only falls down if a particular set of supporters are naturally more optimistic or pessimistic (or "more fanatic/less fanatic") in the face of all known facts. Perhaps some kind of historic analysis could be used to filter out this possible bias (how has the team performed relative to supporters' expectations?).

    I've often considered it a disadvantage to have actually watched the movies nominated for Oscars before I bet on them, since the quality of the movie is such a small part of what makes a winner, and my opinion on the quality of a movie is unlikely to be in sync with the Academy Members ("Billion Dollar Baby", anyone?). I tend to make my bets more on principles of "Buggins' Turn" and "What will the Academy Members be thinking this year". This has worked well.

    Perhaps I'll adopt a similar approach to football.

    Any interest in trying to get three or four of us together to rent a house (say, $4,000 to $8,000 for the month) in LV in December (Bellagio Five Stars)? I could probably get out on Dec 1 - return date to UK flexible.


  • At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Scunthorpe isn't in Yorkshire

  • At 6:27 PM, Blogger Andy_Ward said…

    Is it ? Meh, up north, whatever :-).

    Pete, I'll Email you about Bellagio. Good related points about WWTBAM and Oscars.

    Some interesting bets there Steve. I hadn't given Coventry a moment's thought in the Champ, do they have any good players at all ? I can't think of any !! Forest are justifiable favourites, and 13-2 sounds like a good price, currently 5.1 on Betfair. Quite like Oldham @ 22 though, esp if Lee Hughes comes off. As for Scottish Div 3, come on, you're sick :-)

    And finally I may incur the wrath of the large proportion of the (few) readers of this blog who are Arsenal fans by suggesting that Tottenham might only be 5 or 6 points short of Arsenal this season, if that !



  • At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Cov' have signed almost a new last count 12 players I think. I think they have a solid squad without being spectacular.

    I have a lot of time for Dowie too. Both he and his nutty Aussie egg chaser fitness coach seem to be very bullish in many of their comments too. My biggest worry would be that with so many new players it may take too long to gel

    I think Sperz will is particularly galling that in Berbatosser they have a better forward than us for the first time since the days Archibald. Although, providing he can stay fit, a big if I reckon, RVP could really become a huge star this season.

    That said I think reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. I am going to buy our points. Hopefully Le Boss will buy a goalscorer in the next few weeks...another centre half would be good too!

    If we can avoid the ridiculous number of injuries we have had for the past two seasons any improvement from the spuds should be worrying for Liverpool I reckon.

    I will also say that our conveyor belt of young players has far from been exhausted. Expect to see another half dozen or so before the season is out. Looking forward to the Worthless Cup already.

    My only worry is the lack of experience. I would like to see us sign a couple of players with a bit of experience before the season begins. They do not have to be that good, just a couple of 'personalities' and leaders.

    As for East Fife. You have to look everywhere for winners these days. The 9-4 has now gone but bottle is still available.

    Sick is Gilberto Silva being captain of Arsenal...not backing a winner!

    Happy punting


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