White Van Man bringing home a lorry full of loot: SL reflects on all pre season betting advice
With 14 games left it seems a good time to see whether or not our pre season bets are going to come home to roost.
5 pts win – Man United to win the Prem @ 13/8 (General) Curently trading - 15/8
This bet looks ok (ish), United will be buoyed by their recent comeback at Stamford Bridge and it appears City aren’t as infallable as they had looked before Christmas. I am still happy that United, with course and distance are more likely to prevail.
1pt Blackburn to be relegated @ 10/3 (coral)
They are now as short as 1/3 with some bookies (best priced 8/15) and despite creating chances they can’t seem to pick up points. Their drubbing at the weekend won’t do their confidence any good and with no other teams emerging as real no hopers (we will come to Wigan in a minute) I am pleased to be on them 6 points better off than their current market position. They could be subject to a bit of laying if you had a pretty big bet. I still think they will probably drop and if their form miraculously revives they will never get bigger than the original 10/3 all season so laying is always a possibility.
3 pts Wigan to be relegated @ 2/1 (coral)
Best priced at 2/9 we are on a real winner with Wigan. They can’t put the ball in the net, are struggling to pick up points and will almost certainly be relegated. 2/1 now looks like a great price.
I was also pleased to avoid the promoted sides. QPR are struggling however are still around 2/1 from odds on at the start and Norwich and Swansea – who both have been very impressive are 28/1!
3 pt win Robin Van Persie to be Top Goalscorer @ 9/1 (betfair)
RVP is now 4/11 to scoop the Golden Boot and the bookies are almost paying out. 21 league goals already and at nearly a double figure price it looks as if our man will win this at a canter. He has been fit all season and has almost single handedly kept Arsenal fighting – Robin I tip my cap to you.
1 pt e/w Jermain Defoe to be Top Goalscorer @ 40/1 (sporting bet & Paddy Power) – Not played enough games. Still in the top 15 but won’t challenge the White Van Man for boots coated in Gold.
With the recent riots about as welcome as Rudi Voeller in a Dutch dressing room , the premiership season gets underway this weekend with some of the worlds greatest players returning to action along with a whole host of average ones.
In previewing a season the hardest thing to gauge is how strong the promoted clubs are. Blackpool last year, dead certs for relegation drubbed Wigan on the opening day. their season was turbulent and they did end up dropping. This illustrates the value of punting early as a topsy turvy season can cause prices to shift quite dramatically. I am going to ignore the promoted clubs as they are all odds on and can back them at that price are seeing how poor they really are (or are not). I think Swansea will struggle but I think the two that might go with them may already be established in the prem. Blackburn are my first pick. Their form in 2011 was worse than all those clubs relegated. This sort of form would send any manager to the slaughter house and I expect Blackburns owners to have wrung Steve Keen’s neck by christmas leaving the Scotsman to run around heedlessly before returning to being a number 2 somewhere. Keen is favourite to be sacked first, yet Blackburn with Coral are 10/3 to be relegated. I think this is a good price – especially as their squad is getting thinner by the day and they may lose Samba (which I suspect they won’t now).
Roberto Martinez is a good, loyal manager who tries to play attacking , attractive football. Sadly at Wigan he has a side that are capable of neither. Rodallega, Cleverly and N’zogbia starred for the Latics last season and with only 1 of that triumvirate left, 2/1 (coral) also looks a good bet for them to slip into the cauldron of Championship next season. The promoted clubs often come up with hunger and desire for the challenge that is slowly ebbed away by tired legs and weary dilapidated squads. Lots of promoted teams have a competitive enough first 11 but usually lack strength in depth and once a few injuries take their toll they struggle. I think a few of the sides coming up may start brighter than teams like Wigan and Blackburn and therefore think it is worth condemning the Lancashire clubs to their Championship doom with their parachute on their back.
The top of the league looks more competitive than ever and with Man City buying the world, Liverpool strengthening and Arsenal signing more Theo Walcott’s, the league looks strong. Add to that mix, 6 strikers Chelsea who spent buckets in January on Shevchenko – MARK 2 and 5 strikers Tottenham, I am looking forward to some epic super Sundays. I normally rant at this point of the year at how Man United look weaker than ever and that I don’t rate their team and they usually go on to win the league. This year is quite the opposite. Their defence looks excellent and with Smalling and Jones as back up there is strength in depth. Their midfield is strong too and Ashley Young is set for a career defining season which I feel will help establish himself as an England regular. If they add Sneijder too their side is frightening and I feel Fergie is competing against Barca now and not the rest of the prem. 13/8 is their best price and I think they are a shoo-in.
The Golden Boot is also something I like to dabble in. In truth it isn’t that easy. Injury often rules out players chances. The top clubs rotate, so would Darren Bent be a good shout as he will probably play every game? Not at 11/1. I must admit to having backed Robin Van Persie at 12/1 a few weeks ago he is about 8/1 now which is a touch short but if (it’s a big if) he stays fit then he will play most games and will rack up the goals. Stuart Downing whipped in more crosses than anyone else last year, a repeat would see Andy Carroll in contention (20/1) however that price is because of his injury prone nature and I will stay clear of him. Of more interest is Jermain Defoe. Proven goalscorer, playing for a top 6 team, he is best priced 45/1 (betfair) or 40/1 (with an e/w market – Paddy Power). At longer prices Peter Odemwingie is 100/1 , if he produces the form of last year he may be up there and he takes penalties. His namesake Peter Crouch may move to Stoke and a regular berth there with some direct football could make his 100/1 look a big price too.
The best of the rest contains as per usual the top four’s cast offs. Steve Bruce has finally achieved his goal of establishing Sunderland as Man United B – cue return of Wellbeck on loan. Stoke aren’t happy with Fuller and Jones’ aerial prowess so are trying to add well needed inches in the box with Crouch or Bendtner to nod in crosses and throws. If they get Crouch they will be a decent side based on their FA cup run last year if, they get Bendter expect their relegation price to shorten – The potters would probably rather have Delilah up top. Villa, Everton and Bolton are likely to scrap hard and achieve nothing and if the latter don’t add to their squad they may be light on goals minus Sturridge.
It is intriguing these riots started shortly after Joey Barton started training on his own, read into that what you will but Newcastle have a season of over expectation and pointless optimism to overcome before they finally sack Pardew and Mike Ashley decides he could do the job better probably with a couple of mates who have won the lot on Championship Manager. Why not go the whole hog and put a pair of football boots on and slip into the number 9 shirt. Make Shearer proud. Talking of Championship Manager, is there any mileage in a new game Football owner? It seems like British football is a honey pot for these new owners – just ask Bryan Robson, he could get you in at a few clubs providing you buy him enough beers in the United club bar.
The total of foreign owners is detailed below and it is an increasing worry that the game slips out of the hardy roots it once thrived in and is as everyone continues to re-iterate a ‘business’ which we must ‘recognise in order to move with the times’ – Disappointing. Business style ownership can lead to financial security but in the most part causes corruption and a distancing from the reality of being a football fan…so basically FIFA!
Premiership – 12 foreign owners (including Lebron James at Liverpool apparently)
Championship -15 foreign owners
The season is set for an interesting beginning, minus Spurs and Everton which is postponed due to the recent riots. But the show must go on and the Premiership is back and booming; despite foreign owners, rising ticket prices, rubbish kick off times, overpaid players who cheat on their gorgeous other halves and the return of Delia “letsbyhavingyou’ Smith its still the premiership and we bloody love it…what a bunch of suckers we all are.