Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Some very clever business that - getting Santa Cruz in a buy-out clause worth a ridiculous £18m

He is apparently worth more than Glen Johnson and Gareth Barry...

This is a 27-year-old striker who scored four goals last season (even Johnson scored three) and is trading in on his relationship with Sparky

I admit he's a talent, the best at Blackburn, but it's still a massive overspend in my book

A nice windfall for Blackburn, and more crazy spending from City, who also think Sturridge is worth £10m

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More wins

I managed to get another decent return off the second list of fixtures - I basically got evens by multiplying all the safe games (yes, including England at 1/200)

A 100% return ain't bad for such predictable games (actually it was 96-point-something)

Roll on August..

Saturday, June 6, 2009

All went acording to plan

Yay, almost all my predictions came true - England won, Serbia won, Ireland drew, even Denmark won - I love international football!

Croatia also managed to draw with Ukraine, leaving us seven points clear (unless you want to fear Belarus) - that means that presuming we beat Andorra at home we need two points off three games, and one of them is Belarus at home, oh or we could draw with Croatia - This is how you do a qualification, McClaren!

Also, congrats to Ireland for drawing with Bulgaria, they should be clear to the play-offs now with Montenegro and Cyprus two of their remaining three

Macedonia unfortunately let me down, but that leaves Scotland in a strong position for second (although I worry they will be in last place) - and the Netherlands have now officially cemented their spot in the Cup, the first European team in

In other news, Japan beat Australia to the first spot, but the Ozzies qualified as well, as did S.Korea - well done to them, although I am still not impressed with the AFC qualification - look out for everyone's favourite team, North Korea, quite possibly getting the remaining automatic berth, or playing New Zealand in a play-off...bizarre

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We're in the cup! (II)

OK, I got sidetracked and wrote too much for a note about Barry, so here is my actual post about the upcoming qualifiers

It's in the bag!!

So I may be getting a little ahead of myself, but let's face it - Andorra at home IS a win, anything less would be a sacking offence, you can be a little wary of going halfway round the world to Kazakhstan but they are pretty dire - they lost 3-1 to Belarus! England are 1/6 to win that one alone so it should be a done deal

That will put us on 21 points, 7 out of 7 with 3 left

Meanwhile we are already ahead of Croatia by 5 points, and should they draw with Ukraine (again) at home then we'll be 7 ahead with only 9 available - of course should Croatia win then the top two spots will be all but guaranteed, not that it's much different from our current position

Hence why England are 9 to 1 on to win the group - a very pointless bet unless you feel like sticking your life savings on for an 11% return?

Other big games are Belarus v Andorra, the odds of 16/1 for a win are a bit excessive considering it's Belarus, so don't bother - 10/1 for a draw tho?? You never know, also Kazakhstan travel to Ukraine - should be safe for Andriy and co.

So anyway, group six very boring, let's take a look around

One thing I always love to remember is that Portugal are under a lot of pressure and if you're looking for a good bet I recommend Denmark to win Group 1 - Portugal, despite trailing by seven points, are still regarded as second favourites at 3/1 - that's based on public perception and is too short, but equally Hungary are unlikely to threaten the Danes (and are appropriately at 16/1 despite having at least a four point lead) - meaning that Denmark at 10/11 is a very tasty bet - basically you're betting on at worst 9 points out of five games, probably less

Albania v Portugal, surely an away win is a must for the whinger's lot? But 5/11 is a bit harsh, Sweden v Denmark will be tight, that probably won't be three of the aforementioned points - Sweden v Malta isn't getting my attention

I won''t revel in Portugal's plight any longer for fear of tempting fate, into 'group ridiculous' we go - Greece (4/5) should win the group with two bankers coming up, but for the risk-taker Switzerland may be worth a punt at 6/4 - but as I say, Greece should win, tho it's not as valuable as Denmark IMO, and there's no games this round

Moving (very) swiftly on, I already said this but NI are probably boned, it should be a three horse race with Slovakia and Poland leading the Czechs, it's quite open but I think Slovakia are good for their 11/10 price tag - bit unpredictable though - they'll be notching up three points in the only match of the round so get that bet in now if you want it

Next up is group 4 - Germany and Russia guaranteed in this one, however the bookies have predictably gone for Germany as big favourites - you can get Russia at 11/4 and I think it's worth it, there's effectively one point in this and it's Russia v Germany that will decide it - the only matches right now are Azerbaijan v Wales - like I'd ever go near Wales, even if they are against a team who gave Liechtenstein a point (OK, fine - Wales should win, but don't trust that) and Finland at home to said Liechtenstein and Russia - win and a loss should be pretty safe, but the odds suck

Group 5 - Maybe get odds on Spain getting 10 wins out of 10, because this is sewn up, no matches

Group 7 - Ah, Le France - much like I do when Scotland play, back them to win - then you can't lose! In all seriousness, they are given, in my opinion - ridiculously short odds of 1/2 considering their form, so don't go near that - Serbia may not be well respected but they have a two point lead and France are anything but solid, I'll put it to you this way - France went to Austria and lost 3-1, Serbia went there and won 3-1, you can get Serbia at 2/1 and I feel that's a nice bet

In terms of matches, Serbia greet Austria and are off to the Faroes - two they should win (see?), and Lithuania play Romania - rewarding odds for a game you can expect Lithuania to win (39/19) - France aren't in action, so if Serbia win two they'll be trailing eight with two in hand - how do you think they'll handle the pressure when they go to Serbia in September, the second of two 'must-wins' in their next round? ....hehehe...

Ah group 8 - go on the Irish! (no affiliations, they just have a real chance) - Italy will win the group but if I'm going to put such a soft bet on, I'd rather it were reliable and Spanish, Ireland have one game and it's in Bulgaria - they'll need at least a draw, and I'd be inclined to back it, the only other game is Cyprus v Montenegro..right...I personally wouldn't consider Ireland taking the group, should be a play-off spot tho

On to Scotland's group - The Netherlands have won this so no point speculating, as for matches, no doubt they'll beat Iceland and make it official, Iceland also go to Macedonia - they need to win, and they probably won't, Macedonia are solid, expect Macedonia to possibly beat Norway too, should they win both the Scots are actually in trouble, also Netherlands v Norway should be a home win - maybe a double Dutch? Or a double Macedonian for the brave

And so my hot tip is for Denmark just shy of evens, but don't put your house on it

Matches to look out for

England double over Kazakhstan and Andorra
Ukraine win over Kazakhstan
Russia to win in Finland
Serbian double
Dutch double
Macedonian double??

We're in the cup!

I am being very optimistic, but first I must express my shock at Barry's move to Man City - no warning, no flirting, no 'will he, won't he' bollocks for weeks on end....I like it

That is how you do a transfer deal, Mr. Whingey-pants - you do not express your love for a different club each week for two years and never actually leave

I will grant that Barry arsed about with Liverpool last summer, but fair play to the boy today for making a decisive decision, and I think it's pretty clear all the 'arsing' last year was on Liverpool's front

I am somewhat perplexed as to why he's gone to City from arguably the team with the most potential in the league - 'Champions' League football' last year was one thing, but he's moved to a club who didn't even get into Europe this year

Now as I said, I have respect for Barry and clearly he felt City, with masses of money and a bloody good manager are headed somewhere soon, but it does seem a strange one - Villa have arguably a better manager (more accomplished at least) and are pretty big themselves, they aren't exactly a feeder club

Maybe Barry felt he was going nowhere in the UEFA cup (sorry, 'Europa Premiero really good, please watch us' league) every year? Perhaps he thinks the likes of Villa (and Everton) have hit the glass ceiling and the only way out is with the money behind City - a sad but true reflection on modern football, I guess he's a realist

As the BBC point out, he wants to be playing first team football for his England prospects, Rafa is far less likely to play him every week, especially if Alonso sticks around - so going to a manager who knows what he's doing and who is more likely to utilise him fully is probably a good idea

But the fact remains that he's got to be thinking long term, City aren't even in Europe next season and need a lot of work to challenge Arsenal and the rest - it's going to take a while to bed in players and money is no guarantee of instant success, and Barry is nearing 30 - but I can certainly see his reasoning, it's just a punt