Italy’s second goal on Saturday pretty much consigned Euro 2008 to a dim and distant memory for me. As a Brit, I had obviously been rooting for Scotland to make it through to the Finals – not only did they deserved it but I needed someone to follow next summer!
Up steps Israel's Omer Golan, my precious, to resurrect my, by that stage long-gone, opinion that, despite Brazil never having won it, the European Championships is a tournament worth being part of after all. As an Englishman, I was ecstatic– it was like being told you could stay up an extra hour as a child or being allowed to play with the big kids.
McClaren couldn’t bear to watch the final throes of the game and spent what were probably the last 10 minutes of his reign as England Manager on another throne – let’s hope he can stay on the touchline tonight but if you think it will be a nail-biter then there’s 9/4 available for England to scrape the point they need with a draw. (Odds available at: www.williamhill.co.uk )
Macca was on his last legs in the job because he had, to all intents and purposes, failed to get England to qualify for next summer’s Finals. Why then should a great performance by Israel make him a better candidate for the job? England’s qualification for the finals tonight will probably cloud the issue as to whether he’s the right man or not but my advice to Steve would be a little security investment on Croatia to win at 7/1. That could keep the family fed for a while.
“What’s happening tonight? “ you ask. Have a word! It’s only England’s most important game since... well, the last really important last-ditch attempt to qualify for a tournament. Everyone knows that it’s the getting there that counts not the taking part. Those quarterfinal defeats (traditionally involving penalties) are becoming a little predictable. You could brighten up the inevitable disappointment by picking up the 7/4 winner that Hills are offering for England to be knocked out in that round of Euro 2008 – if they get there. A draw would be enough to qualify – a win could see them top the group! Could you have imagined that on Saturday morning? But there are still decisions for McClaren to make.
With just the one proven striker available, with Rooney and Owen injured, Peter Crouch is likely to start up front by himself and is 6/1 to score the first goal and 6/4 to score anytime. Despite attempts to keep the starting line up a secret it is expected that Shaun Wright-Phillips will start on the right with David Beckham on the bench. If Croatia have got their sights set too high on Crouch then the diminutive winger could sneak in under the radar and score first at 14/1 (11/2 anytime). On the other side of the pitch, Joe Cole is due a goal for England having not found the back of the net since his cracking effort out of nothing against Estonia in June.
Tensions will be running high; Croatia are 8/15 to receive the first card while England, with so much more to play for, are 17/10. The same prices are available for the last card and Total Booking Points to exceed 45 can be taken at 2/1. Let’s hope it’s going to be a stroll in the park for the boys sporting the Three Lions – otherwise it could be a little crowded in the Wembley toilets this evening.
For odds from Vital Football betting partners William Hill, go to:www.williamhill.co.uk
So what do you think, will England provide the great escape and qualify now they have this second chance? If they do, should McClaren remain as manager or should the FA be looking for a new man?
Manager Tim Sherwood has spoken of his disappointment - and shouldered the blame - for today's one nil loss to Stoke City.
All the stats from Aston Villa (0) vs (1) Stoke, Villa Park, 3/10/15 Att: 33,189
Statistics, damn lies and Aston Villa..
Bit of a mix and match today from manager Tim Sherwood's pre Stoke press conference.
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