Category Archives: Random

Golden Rules of Accumulator Gambling, 2015

Placing a bet this weekend? Here’s my Golden Rules of Gambling, live by these and you’ll do alright….

  1. You haven’t lost what isn’t yours. When you bet it, you lose it, no team has let you down – you have simply “given away £5”. You haven’t “Lost £5,000”.
  2. Don’t touch the early game, or the late game. Keep it on all 3pm kick-offs.
  3. A derby game is a bookies’ paradise, not yours.
  4. Avoid betting on your own team as emotions get involved.
  5. Ride the trends, not the history. 2012-2014, Brighton, Blackpool, Dundee United & MK Dons were dead-certainties to score and concede in every game. Don’t let nostalgia fool you into thinking under new management their traits will remain.
  6. Don’t talk about betting – You tweet your bet, you lose your bet
  7. Stay true to your gut. Late changes will cost you. Don’t be a penalty taker who changes his mind last minute, you’ll kick yourself when you miss.
  8. Peterborough will let you down, every single time. Give them a wide berth.
  9. Bet against a new manager with caution….
  10. Big clubs don’t win games – Good teams win games. I’m looking at you, Leeds United.
  11. The Turkish Süper Lig has the highest percentage of home wins in UEFA governed football. Food for thought.
  12. Away wins are where the money is.
  13. Adding value to your bets always adds in tears. Don’t keep adding ‘certainties’ to your slip thinking it will boost your winnings. You’re only giving the bookmakers more chance to take your earnings.
  14. Don’t listen to “That Mate” – You know who I mean, the one who convinces you that St Mirren are FLYING at the minute and you have to back them to win at Aberdeen.
  15. Hold a grudge. The only thing worse than a team letting you down, is you backing them again – and losing again. Trick me once, shame on you – Trick me twice, shame on me.
  16. Never chase your losses. You place a £10 bet on, it flops, there’s 3 late matches on… Re-dig into the pockets and find yourself redemption? No.
  17. Explore how you bet: Heinz, Goliath, Lucky 63, Canadian. If you don’t know what they are, find out. Finding the right betting format is just as important as spending 20mins staring at the League Two table.
  18. Whatever you think you know about football in a different country, you don’t. You really don’t.
  19. Head over heart, people. Once you’ve picked your selections, remove the ONE you think is most likely to let you down. This will serve you well.

Remember, on a Saturday at 1330pm – Bookmakers  are given a list of the top 12 most backed results from the weekend’s fixtures. You know how many times in the last 3 seasons all 12 have won on the same day? 13 times. The most recent being Saturday the 17th of January, 2015. It’s rare, so don’t go mass-hunting favourites like it’s a flawless plan.

Bet wisely…

Over and out.


Blatter’s ignorance to a plea of help. The referee’s paradox.

So, we have a week off from the ups and downs of the Premier League, but the joys of being a football fan does not stop there, oh no.

It’s the turn of the Welsh and the Scots this week to bemoan the poor officiating which has cost their side dearly in the international break; Wales, playing at Wembley, trailing 1-0, see Aaron Ramsey play a pass his old captain would have been proud of,  to the sprinting Gareth Bale, the Tottenham winger controls the ball and is ‘1 on 1’, only to be flagged offside, wrongly. What could have been. Mind, Rob Earnshaw had a chance to make amends had he not blazed a complete sitter.

3 days previous, at Hampden Park, Scotland suffer in the ‘tale of two penalties’. At 2-1 to the hosts, Czech striker Jezek dives under the presence of Wilson and is awarded a penalty, converted by Kadlec. 2-2. Then 50 seconds later, Christophe Berra has his ankles taken and nothing is given. A very costly draw for the Tartan Army’s chances of Euro2012 qualification.

So the argument was re-ignited; do referee’s need help?

I think the world of football is crying out for it.

Hawk-Eye, used in Tennis to determine boundary decisions.

Sport as a whole has always been surrounded by an aura of controversy, but with the development of technologies in the social and media universe, other sports have developed with the advancements; ensuring whilst the referee has final say, he is in a position to use the media to review the incident. Rugby uses the video-ref, tennis has hawk-eye, in American Football you “go upstairs”, and any race, be it horses/cars/humans there is photo-finish and in-race conduct being monitored.

Football is being left in the dark ages, held by the stubborn-ness of a Swiss dictator refusing to budge over the pressing issues. These decisions are literally re-writing history; Spain, won their first World Cup in 2010, however, in the Semi-Final vs Germany, Germany should have been awarded one penalty, and could easily have had a second. Costly in a game finishing 1-0. Furthermore, in the final, Dutch winger Robben had broken free of the Spanish defence only to be pulled back by Puyol as he attempted to shoot, could have been a game-changing red card in extra time.

The cynics will argue that it takes power away from the referees; but I feel it empowers them to officiate in a fair and proper manner. Referee’s will still be able to put their personalities onto a match; the leniency of Webb, the pro-penalty-giving nature of Dean. But the integrity of the sport will remain, and the ‘buck’ will ultimately stop with the referee. Under current rules, referee’s are being blamed for incidents in which they really cannot be expected to know for sure.

Frank Lampard’s shot clearly crosses the line, but officials didn’t spot it.

Take Germany vs England, for example. Whilst the Lampard phantom goal was blatantly obvious for us to see at home, one must consider; we had an elevated angle, we also had the benefit of a replay for clarification; it would take the 4th official a matter of seconds to confirm the correction to the ‘1st official’ and the goal would have stood. As it stands now the referee’s are so bound by dated rules that they can’t even use the replays on the stadium monitors to be sure, regardless if the fans can see an injustice: (Argentina v Mexico, WC2010, Arsenal v Everton BPL 2011).

Sepp Blatter: “The International Football Association Board is of the opinion that football will remain, for the time being, a game for human beings with errors on the field of play. We will try to improve referees but you will never erase errors completely.” – A categorical ‘no’ to the thought of video replays.

If it were up to me, I’d have a system which incorporated both the Tennis and Rugby practises. And here’s what and why;

Mr Blatter argues that video replays would make the game inconsistent, and the stop-start nature of the game would deter fans. My first argument is; football is already more stop start than everyone realises, with every corner/throw/goal kick etc taking an extra 15/20 seconds. Last season, the average ‘game-time’ of teams, i.e., the time that the ball was actually on the field and in motion, was around 75mins. With the lowest team being Stoke City FC. Averaging around 68mins per match. I think Rory Delap can have 5/6 of those minutes himself. My 2nd argument, and my solution, is; 3 unsuccessful challenges per side. The same as used in tennis. Assuming all challenges are used, at an average of 30 seconds for the 4th official to confirm/deny, that would only add 3 minutes to a game. Which is hardly an inconvenience for the sake of a fair result.

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA.

Next, Mr Blatter wants to avoid scenes of players crowding the referees for every tedious decision. My solution to that would be taking a spin on the Rugby system of communication with officials; Only the captain/manager can request use of a challenge. Additionally, the sinned/sinned against player can too, in events of penalties/red cards etc, but captain must be present on field.

Enforcement of these rule changes would take the controversy out of the game, which would apportion the blame inexcusably onto the referees. Which would bring me to my final suggestion on the matter;

This is perhaps the only time in my life I may do so, but I agree with Tony Pulis;

Pulis told BBC Radio 5 live: “Every club should have one vote [annually] and mark referees after every game. Then they have a chance of being relegated to the Championship. It would be a great system.”,

He went on; 

“If the top three [referees] in the Championship got the opportunity to work at the top level, I think it would certainly clear a few referees’ minds.”

What. A. Brilliant. Idea.

….But…..with a few tweaks; whilst rating referee’s will be averaged I think it needs to be weighted; i.e. 25%, home manager, 25% away manager. 50% by the match assessor. That would counter the ever-moaning managers; Wenger, Ferguson, Pardew. And also protect the opinions of certain managers who never seem to complain too much; O’Neill, Bruce, Martinez.

Additionally, I completely disagree with the small pool of referees in the Barclays Premier League. In my opinion, this causes familiarity; which is detrimental to the chances of a fair referee. For example, how many times have you heard the phrase “he’s not that type of player”?

My point being, if Joey Barton makes a late tackle, all of a sudden all his previous misdemeanours are poured onto him and a collaborated decision is given. On the other hand, Theo Walcott, a player with only 2 yellow cards to his name in his Arsenal career, if he makes the same tackle… Are you trying to tell me that you’d give the same decision? I doubt it.

Furthermore, players and referees begin the get friendly, an unhealthy relationship to be had when a game is worth as much as it is. Notably, and perhaps only known by Everton fans, Mark Clattenburg is banned from officiating Toffee’s games after this incident;

Notice how Clattenburg takes a yellow card out of his pocket, then following an exchange of words with the Liverpool skipper, he changes Hibbert’s punishment to a red card. Worrying.

There are 18 referees with Premier League status, or to give it the proper name, 18 are full-time members of the ‘select group’, appointed by Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL). With Jon Moss and Neil Swarbrick sharing a part-time status after both officiating 2 PL games each last term. This means, that there is on average less than 1 full time referee per team, from that, in 2010/2011 it varied from Phil Dowd refereeing 30 games, and Anthony Taylor officiating 13. Moreover, and I hope you’re keeping up!, ‘high profile games’, between top 6 sides, bottom 3 sides, or derby games, go to the referee’s said to be the best; Dean, Webb, Dowd, Atkinson, Foy, Walton. Which can only mean familiarity for the top sides. Which is leading to fans accusations/predictions, and pre-emptive conclusions of ‘the unfairness to come’, all before some games have even started; I.e. Mike Riley had given Man Utd 8 penalties in 8 games at Old Trafford, Webb has given Man Utd 3 penalties in 6 games vs Arsenal, Atkinson is said to bias toward Chelsea, 13 games unbeaten under him. And Webb is said to always lean toward the home side. Meanwhile Dowd has a habit of placing himself at the centre of controversial results, comebacks, game-changing moments, etc.

Phil Dowd dismisses Chelsea skipper John Terry.

The thing is, the more help referees can get, to enforce the laws of the game, the easier the whole process becomes. A referral system gives the referees a chance to make a confident decision, and it takes away the curtain if the decision is wrong. Therefore it makes the individual accountable, which will lead to punishment, which will mean the referees that are the best, are officiating at the highest level. It’s a conclusion that everyone wants.

I am 100% Blatter and Platini; Out. They are corrupt, elitist and racist (in their constant ignoring of the monkey chants at Camp Nou, yet chasing trivial issues).

Whatever happens in the future – and, who knows, football might end up embracing technology as other sports have done – criticism of referees is unlikely to subside completely, but at least football will be rid of the blatant injustice which is currently crippling the sport.

Over and out.

Transfer Season – Part III

So, after a 13 day absence my internet is re-working, my degree is completed and I’m back in business. I’m 2 parts through my 4 part transfer saga and looking to wrap it up before any more movements. 

Further news, the list of Premier League free agents was publicised today, with a few big names out of a club; Lee Bowyer, Patrick Vieria, Seb Larsson, Nigel Reo-Coker, Owen Hargreaves, Jonathon Woodgate, Mathew Upson make up just some of the names who could have clubs, particularly bottom-half vying for their signatures.  

West Bromich Albion; (last season, 11th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available – £25M
Highlighted positions; Utility men, CF, CB, LB, CM.

Despite finishing the season as one of the form teams, Hodgson will be under no illusions, WBA’s priority next season is to stay in the Premier League. Personally, I am a massive fan of Chris Brunt, I genuinely believe his ability of passing, technique and accuracy is of a level of Charlie Adam, however perhaps slightly behind when compared directly. I feel they need a ball winner in CM to compliment him, Hodgson could look back to Fulham or steal from the twelve CM’s at Liverpool. Ideally, perhaps someone like Guy Moussi at Forest could be a steal, or Craig Conway of Dundee United could be suitable along side if WBA could out-bid Glasgow Rangers. My steal for WBA, and appears a non-brainer, Emilie Heskey. Peter Odemwingie made my Alt-TOTY (below) with 15 goals, a link up man link Heskey could see him score more and with Heskey seemingly out-of-favour a smaller club may help him get back on track. Finally, and raiding the free-transfers once more, Matthew Upson would provide experience and cover should he be acquired.  
If I was Roy Hodgson, I would sign; Upson, Heskey, Moussi, Reo-Coker.

Newcastle United; (last season, 12th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available; Available? £40/50M, what will probably be given? £15M.
Highlighted Positions; CM, CF, CB, STR.

My opinion of Newcastle United has changed the most dramatically in the time between the initial planning of this blog and the transfers/movement that have happened since. The in-ability to keep Kevin Nolan to a Championship club is nothing short of embarrassing, you must wonder what he knew about the club that made him lose the faith in their continued growth. More, the expected departure of Joey Barton is leaving their mid-field looking rather bare, and without that core ‘fight’ which allowed them to pull out key results last season, particularly away to Arsenal and their home Dowd-assisted recovery from 4 goals. Newcastle simply must keep a hold of Cheik Tiote, had a fantastic debut season, they need a complimentary CM too, with a bit of creation. Perhaps signing Mark Noble, or Barry Ferguson could aid their midfield cause. They need experience and composure, in my opinion. Ben Arfa will provide flair going forward so a CF and an out-and-out striker are needed to put the goals away; Demba Ba looks prime to join the Magpies but someone quicker to play off him could be the ultimate compliment. Jay Bothroyd is a free-agent and Cameron Jerome has a price on his head. Matthew Upson at such availablity is at least worth an enquiry too.
If I was Alan Pardew, I would sign; Ba, Upson, Ferguson, Bothroyd. And Mike Ashley wouldn’t even need to dig deep into his gambling money…

Stoke City; (last season, 13th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available; £25M
Highlighted Positions; Full backs, CF, CM.
Stoke City finishing 13th is perhaps a poor reflection of them as a team, and their campaign as a whole, with the FA Cup final as an obvious distraction, and never looking a contender for relegation, one can forgive them for ‘taking their foot off the pedal’. That said, I think they are an incredibly balanced side, with no real weakness. However their over-all quality and additions of real class is what needs to be addressed to carry them forward. I can see the re-addition of John Carew on a permanent basis being very likely and I expect them to chase two established full backs as like for like replacements as well as acquiring a solid CM performer. Nigel Reo-Coker could be thrown into the frame, as well as pickings from the recently relegated; Ferguson, Vaughan, Bowyer, Gardner, Noble. I think another CF could be beneficial to help them all round, but someone a bit different from their usual ‘big/strong’ frame. Dj Campbell perhaps, free agent – Jay Bothroyd, or a lower-league raid.
As much as it pains an Arsenal fan to say, Stoke are making great strides to shake off their anti-football label, the FA Cup run has played a huge part aswell as the signings of more natural footballers like Carew, Jones, and the two wide men.
If I was Tony Pulis, I would sign; Ferguson, Bothroyd, Bougherra, Upson, Nigel Reo-Coker, Carew (massive strengthening).

Bolton Wanderers; (last season, 14th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available;
Highlighted positions; STR, CDM, CAM – Replacement for Cahill if sold.
Bolton, similar to Stoke are a side who can be forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal late in campaign. After the smashing at Wembley in the hands of The Potters, Bolton found themselves deflated and with nothing left to play for. As a side, they’re relatively well-balanced. Stand out players being; Cahill, Holden, Davies. They essentially just need a bit of class around with some effective passers to work with Holden’s technical abilities. Joey Barton at Newcastle is seeking the exit and Owen Coyle could have the man-management skills to bring out the best in him. An audacious bit to steal Stan Petrov from Aston Villa is another option they could look at, but it would take a lot to prize him off his captaincy, Jonny Evans has slipped down the pecking order and Liverpool have a silly number of CM players. Manchester City look to be the favourites to sign Gary Cahill, but the out of favour Nedum Onuoha could be involved in some deal, also the inclusion of any of their strikers would also be beneficial to them. City currently have over 8 out-and-out strikers and would be looking to trim the squad for the new season. A Scottish raid of David Goodwillie could be cost-effective and welcomed by the young Terror’s player.
Additionally, one cannot rule out Coyle’s ability to enroll students to what must say is the greatest finishing school in the country; Wilshere, Sturridge so who next? Carlos Vela, Henri Lansbury, Jay Spearing, Josh McEachren could all possibly enter the fray.
If I was Owen Coyle, I would sign; Vela, Upson, Goodwillie, Evans, Barton. As well as a proven striker, a big bid for Shane Long could be hard for Reading to turn down.

Blackburn Rovers; (Last season, 15th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available – £25-30
highlighted positions; RB, CF, CM, CB,
I really fear for the future of Rovers, they escaped relegation when really Robbie Keane (West Ham) and Manchester United should have put them in trouble in fixtures 36 & 37 of the season. They didn’t, and fortunate Rovers live on. Roque Santa Cruz has returned to Man City, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Chris Samba  are looking to move on, and transfer speculation for incoming players is quiet. Blackburn simply have too much to do, with a manager who isn’t good enough and not enough funds to make it possible. The Venky’s are wealthy, but they’re not the Indian monetary force of Tata. If they are to make a healthy account of themselves, they must strengthen the positions mentioned above. RB, Salgado is far too old, every week he’s skinned by anyone with a hint of pace, Alan Hutton is available after a breakdown in relationship with Harry Redknapp at Spurs and Kyle Naughton could be available as a youth investment or as a loan alternative to purchase. CB looks like Upson could most realistically move here, the set up is the most similar to how he is used to playing, but the likely success of WBA is the major competition.  If Robbie Keane puts his ego aside, and Celtic do not review their interest he could be a key addition to the side, as well as a lower league raid or moves for an out-of-for striker. Roque Santa Cruz will probably return but ultimately it won’t be enough.
If I was Steve Kean, I would run a mile. But If forced to stay, I would sign; Alan Hutton, Upson, Roque Santa Cruz, and enquire about Kevin Thomson.

Will be back soon with my conclusion to my transfer preview, hopefully my internet issues are a thing of the past but I do appreciate the enquiries I got from my readers on twitter about when the next one will be!

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And of course post below or on twitter with your thoughts on part 3!

Over and out.

Premier League Round Up – Alternative Best XI.

So, once again the season is finished. And instead of the usual Team of The Year featuring the media hype players such as Bale, Parker, Wilshere, Vidic – I’ve decided to form my own version, not including the top 6 teams and avoiding players which weren’t good enough to avoid the drop – though with one shining exception.

I will try to justify my decisions throughout, but I do expect a lot of disagreement, also, I’ve attempted to include a variation of sides, not just hugging to the bigger clubs.

So here goes; “My Alternative Team Of The Year” (4-2-2-2).

GK – Ali Al-Habsi; The on-loan Wigan stopper’s heroics just may have kept them in the Premier League. With outstanding performances against Tottenham, Blackpool, Wolves and importantly final day against Stoke City at the tricky Britannia Stadium. Andy Gray once said that a good goalkeeper will win you 10 points in the Premier League. That’s good enough for me. Maybe returning to the Reebok to contest the no.1 jersey with Jääskeläinen next season. Intriging.

Full back (s) – Naming them as Full backs because I don’t want the aggro that comes with having two Left-Backs in a dream team. In this instance, I believe both deserve their place in the side, and I would simply rotate them when needed. Jose Enrique and Leighton Baines. Both been shining lights in their respected sides, Enrique was immense in his side’s 1-0 at the Emirates and Baines similarly kept his best for the capital, securing his sides progression in the FA Cup with a stunning free-kick at Stamford Bridge. Baines is also one of few players to have played every minute of this season and is the Fantasy Football top scoring defender. Purchase.

CB – Brede Hangeland – Dominating in central defence for The Cottagers. Mr Wenger enquired about purchasing him 2 years ago and was rejected. How the Gunners could have done with him this season. 7 goals this season in addition to only conseeding 43 goals – not bad for a mid-table side. Shame the club owner doesn’t demand the same respect as he does. Towering.  

CB – Christopher Samba (c) – His performance away to West Ham sums him up in a nutshell. Where there’s danger, you will always find Samba. An ultimate asset. Doubles up as a striker when needed and is never afraid to take one for the team. May be difficult to keep in the Summer with Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton all rumoured to be chasing him and a replacement would be hard to secure. Ox.

CM – Charlie Adam – “His corners & set-plays are worth £10M alone” – Not a bad review from the Knight of the PL. Very nearly single-handedly kept Blackpool in the Premier League, (here’s some highlights of him) and as I mentioned in a previous blog – Perhaps going down will make losing him that little bit easier. My bet is on Liverpool taking him, outside shot of Tottenham. Crucially, though not enough, in the last 14 league games of the season, Adam assisted, or scored, 12 goals. Quarterback.

CM – Stuart Holden – Bolton Fans POTY and rightly so. Influential in securing safety, and earning a trip to Wembley. Unfortunatly missing that match after being on the wrong end of a horror tackle from Jonny Evans at Old Trafford. The Scot-born-American has brilliant technique, a good tackle and commands the midfield. At just 25, he has a big part to play next season. Future.   

LW – Ashley Young – The most fouled player in the Premier League, and the joint highest penalty winner in the division too, along with his absent team-mate Darren Bent. Disappointing season for the Villa but Young’s form has been good enough to keep the young Marc Albrighton out the side, and his goals tally of 7 (with 11 assists) has kept them in the Premier League. Liverpool look to be favourites to sign him this summer and I’d bet on him to go. Replace-able?

RW – Matthew Etherington – 5 goals, 7 assists, an England call-up and a cup final appearance. All in a season for Etherington. His Stoke side may come under unfair critisism for their style of play, but 75% of goals against the top 6 have come from open play, and Etherington/Jones link up has a lot to credit for that. Aerial.  

CF – Peter Odemwingie – When he joined he promised the Baggies fans 15 goals and he delivered like Swiss Public Transport. Exact. Springing to life at the beginning and end of the season – Arguably when you need him most. And scoring in crucial times. He aims to add to his 15 next season, the Baggies fans will hope so too. Progression. 

CF – Steven Fletcher – 10 goals this season which has seen him secure safety in the top division. Much a bit part player but has earned his place following the injury to Kevin Doyle. His 4 goals in the last 4 games of the season, including a winner against Black Country rivals West Brom makes him hard to dismiss as a partner to Doyle next season. Delivered.  

Manager(s) – Chris Hughton & Roberto Martinez. Together they would bring a balance to each-other, the resilience and never-say-die attitude that comes with Hughton, who was harshly sacked by Newcastle United with the flowing game of Martinez which only hasn’t delivered more due to the lack of quality at his disposal. Partnership.

Subs; All could have made the side, but for the brilliant of the players mentioned;

  • Darren Bent – Without his goals, Villa would be on 36pts. Relegated.
  • Richard Dunne – Made the most ‘last man tackles’ in the PL this season. Timing.
  • Charles N’Zogbia – Attempted the most dribbles per game, 8.8. More than any other player by about 3. Legwork.
  • Kevin Nolan – 12 goals, 2 assists. Outscoring Nani, Lampard, Nasri. Chicken.
  • DJ Campbell – 13 goals, including the 1000th of the PL season. Scraps. 
  • Paul Robinson – Blackburn Rovers FC POTY 2011. Stopper.

Please, let me know what you think people! Leave your suggestions below, or write to me on twitter!

Over and out.