The Bitterest Pillow
I am not a happy man. As a rule, the wife and I are normally easy going, or to be more truthful, she`s easy and I`m going. But for some strange reason, after just two weeks of quality football, the Premiership has been sidelined to make way for the International, like Cinderella being dumped in favour of her ugly sister. (The other one married me.) I haven`t been this upset since the wife first told me she was pregnant, (It was my own fault, i was hoping that her looks would provide adequate contraception; damn those pillow cases.) luckily, i have now calmed down enough to point the way to a few cracking weekend punts.
After an unproductive World Cup, it`s time to embrace a brand new dawn for the English game. I`d like to offer my best wishes to the man who was without a shadow of a doubt, the most outstanding candidate to replace Sven Goran Eriksson; good luck at the Villa, Martin O`Neill. Incredible as it may seem, O`Neill was overlooked as the FA first courted 'Big Phil` Scolari, before settling for 'first choice` Steve 'I once bought Michael Ricketts` McClaren.
Let`s be honest, Macca is no Brian Clough, his record at Middlesbrough was a joke. The Boro board backed him to the hilt financially, yet McClaren could only finish in the top half of the Premiership once. Still, there`s no point in crying over spilt milk (only a significant loss of lager justifies tears), even Macca can lead England to a comfortable victory over Andorra. The English are unbackable at 1/50, playing on a 4-0 scoreline at 13/2 can prove a profitable alternative.
McClaren`s first duty as England manager was to shut the door on David Beckham, the best crosser of a ball in world football. The situation would be comical if it wasn`t so serious. There`s no Becks, there`s no Rooney, the first goal scorer betting centres around Crouch and Frank 'one goal every thirty shots` Lampard. God help us all. Lamps is the lesser of two evils at 5/1.
I`m a big fan of John Terry; I can honestly say that I would never, under any circumstances, throw him out of a nightclub. The new England captain is available at 9/2 to score with a header; that`s worth a second look.
Scotland host the Faroe Isles in their opening qualifier and I`m preparing for a bad day. It`s absolute carnage in my house when the Jocks play, the wife gets all patriotic; out comes the haggis, the bagpipes and the syringe. Scotland were held to a 2-2 draw by the Faroe Isles four years ago, I think there`s a great chance of a shock here; I think Scotland can nick it at 1/8.
Krissy Boyd scores plenty of goals at a domestic level, but I`d probably score 30 a season in the SPL. I`m tipping Boyd to net the opener for our skirt-wearing neighbours at 3/1 thanks to a complex new system I`ve been developing, if a team has only one decent player, pick him.
Tomas Rosicky could do with an easy match to guarantee a win after a depressing start to the season with Arsenal. Luckily for Tommy, the Czech`s are hosting Wales. There`s been a few tears shed in Robbie Savage`s caravan since John Toshack was appointed the Welsh manager, there will be a few more when the Czech`s take an easy three points at 2/5.
I`m a big fan of Bjork, the Icelandic nutcase once beat up a reporter for saying, "Welcome to Bangkok," tough but fair. Iceland have been priced up at 9/4 for their trip to Northern Ireland, be like Bjork and get stuck in. There`s only one call for first goalscorer betting, that`s Gudjohnsen, Eidur put a bet on it at 6/1.
The Republic of Ireland are in the same group as Germany and the Czech Republic, but have kindly promised to fulfil their fixtures anyway. The Irish travel to Stuttgart to begin their campaign, the Germans will walk it at 4/9.
Stan Staunton was held at gunpoint recently, police are looking for a complete madman, Niall Quinn hasn`t been ruled out. Another lanky forward looks the call to open the scoring, take a Klose look at Miroslav at 4/1.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy has been left out of the Dutch squad for the trip to Luxembourg. The horse-faced goal machine was reportedly devastated by Van Basten`s decision, but he`s since been stabilised. Only the rich can play on the Dutch at 1/50, a correct score perm of 3-0 / 4-0 will have to suffice for the rest of us at 12/5.
There`s a real treat in store for footy fans on Sunday, when Brazil lock horns with Argentina at the Emirates. From the look of the squads, both managers are taking this friendly seriously; Tevez, Messi, and Riquelme will face off against Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka. Ronaldo 'too fat to have two names` hasn`t made the squad which gives the Brazilians a glimmer of hope, but I`ll be on the Argies at 7/4.
The acc of the week:
The accer this week is so nailed on, a team of demolition experts would struggle to loosen it. Iceland, Scotland, France, Czech Republic, Germany and Italy are the teams, the payout is a pleasing 10/1.
The quote of the week:
"When you are good enough to go to Arsenal, you are good enough to play in the England team; because there are many players who play for England who would not play at Arsenal."
Arsene Wenger is such a diplomat, he refused to name Peter Crouch.
The lay man:
England are a fantastic lay at 6/1 to win Euro 2008, but if you want your money tied up for years you should consider marriage. On the weekend action, Northern Ireland should definitely be layed on the exchanges at 13/10.
Northern Ireland v Iceland Saturday 2nd September 15:00 Live on BBC NI
Northern Ireland 5/4
Get on: Iceland
Iceland to score three or more goals 6/1
Scotland v Faroe Isles Saturday 2nd September 15:00 Live on Sky
Faroe Isles 25/1
Get on: Scotland
Boyd to score a hat-trick 12/1
England v Andorra Saturday 2nd September 17:00 Live on BBC
Get on: England
The first goal to be scored before/during the 18 minute mark 5/6
Georgia v France Saturday 2nd September 17:00
Get on: France
France to score in both halves 5/4
Czech Rep v Wales Saturday 2nd September 19:15 Live on Sky
Czech Rep 2/5
Get on: Czech Rep
Rosicky to score from outside the area 13/2
Luxembourg v Holland Saturday 2nd September 19:30
Get on: Holland
Kuyt to score a hat-trick 11/1
Germany v Rep of Ireland Saturday 2nd September 19:45
Rep of Ireland 7/1
Get on: Germany
Germany to win and keep a clean sheet 11/10
Italy v Lithuania Saturday 2nd September 19:50
Get on: Italy
Pirlo to score direct from a free kick 13/2
Spain v Liechtenstein Saturday 2nd September 21:00
Get on: Spain
Villa to score a hat-trick 10/1
Brazil v Argentina Sunday 3rd September 16:00 Live on BBC
Get on: Argentina
Riquelme to score at any time 7/2
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