Football League Preview – 2010/11 Season

And now, dear reader, for something completely different, as the old Python's used to say. This Saturday sees the start of the football season for 'real' fans, i.e. those whose team does not play in the Premier League, and I have a thought or three on the subject. So here goes...

There is one team in the three divisions that stands out as a very short price. That is the 12/5 best price on Southampton. To be truthful, in a division with 24 teams, that is a joke price. They might win. So what? 12/5 is a joke price. They've got fierce derby matches against Bournemouth and Brighton to contend with, as well as road trips to the likes of Carlisle at the other end of the cosmos (or England at least). 12/5... joke price.

Also bear in mind that a favourite hasn't won this division in the last eleven seasons, and that includes Leeds twice (at 3/1 and 4/1), Nottingham Forest three times (at 7/2 and 5/1 twice), and Cardiff at 13/5. Joke price.

Every team in the division wants to beat the moneybags side, and Southampton are not going to be gifted too many games this year. Sure, they have a strong squad with a lot of striking firepower in the likes of Rickie Lambert, but defensively, they might need shoring up.

There's also strong rumours of dissension between wealthy chairman and manager. Never a good sign. Saints have a chequered recent past and this looks a fairly combustible powder-keg of a situation. If Pardew doesn't start well, he might not be there by October.

Give the Saints the swerve. Lay them if you don't mind tying up capital for nine months, but I just can't have them at 12/5. As I may have mentioned, it's a joke price.

So who's going to beat them then? Well, my man who knows about low league football gave me two teams ages ago, and the price has gone on both of them to some degree. Nevertheless, I still think one of them offers cracking each-way value.

The two are Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield, and the team I like are Huddersfield. They scored bundles of goals last year, but were a bit shaky defensively. Manager Lee Clark has addressed that in the close season, with the eye-catching acquisition of middle of the park kicker (a man after my own heart!), Joey Gudjonsson, and octogenarian Gary Naysmith (actually, much to my surprise, he's only 31 - seems to have been around forever).

They've also added some goals and width in midfield with the loans of Joe Garner from Forest and Lee Croft from Derby. They are rock solid at the Galpharm Stadium (I preferred stadia before they were sponsored), but do need to improve on their away form.

8/1 looks decent value indeed, and they must have a great shout of troubling the judge at more than three times the price of Southampton.

Sheffield Wednesday have made some headline signings, like Neil Mellor and Clinton Morrison, but it'll take more than a fat journeyman and a thin journeyman to turn the tide in the blue half of the city of steel. Add to this the fact that there are some fairly serious financial problems at Wednesday, and they look opposable at odds as short as 9/2 (6/1 available).

Peterborough, relegated horribly last season, will be much stronger this time with excellent manager Gary Johnson in the hot seat, and League One penalty box executioners, CMS (that's Craig Mackail-Smith to you) and Aaron McLean, set to fill their boots. But they were awful last year, and I just wonder about their temperament. Wouldn't surprise me to see them up there.

Finally, I have to give a mention to my own team, the Super Cherries of Bournemouth. Last season, Eddie Howe did exceptionally well to get us promoted in second place, with a transfer embargo in situ for pretty much the entire season. Cherries were playing with as few as three of the allowed seven subs, and including the 33 year old assistant manager Jason Tindall, last year due to the burden of the fiscal misdeeds of the previous administration.

My own reservations regarding the new chairman, Eddie Mitchell (ostensibly a property developing wide boy), have all but dissipated and he deserves immense credit for turning a £1.4 million debt into about £300k, which should be paid off by October, without dipping in and bailing out.

In other words, he's introduced some sound (and hard nosed, I might add) business acumen to a football club. Of that, we Bournemouth fans can be justly proud.

The two Eddies have worked hard to instill a fierce sense of club loyalty, and that has been borne out by manager Howe's refusal to consider - let's face it - better offers higher up the league ladder.

Having retained the entire squad from last season, and bolstered it with some canny additions - including Howe's half-brother, the reasonably prolific SPL striker, Steve Lovell; Marc Pugh, a well regarded midfielder who scored 13 goals for a relegated side from midfield last season; Michael Symes, another goalscorer; and previous club defenders, Stephen Purches - returning from Orient after three seasons away, and Rhoys Wiggins - finally signed on a full-time contract after two seasons on loan.

I'm not saying Bournemouth will win the division but they are a buy on the spreads for total points at 55 (50 would likely see them relegated!), and are definitely worth a look in season match bets too.

My two against the field are: Huddersfield Town and Peterborough

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Heading back up to the Championship, it's a much harder league to call - on the face of it at least.

With much discussion in recent years about Rangers and Celtic coming to play in the Championship south of the border, that will virtually happen this season as former Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, has brought four SPL players, three of them from the Auld Firm.

Boro were truly awful last year, and the ever-patient chairman Steve Gibson was right to get shot of insipid Gareth Southgate. The only frustration about that is that we're now obliged to listen to his guffing on ITV sport football. (Seriously, has there ever been a worse studio pundit squad than ITV's at the World Cup. With the notable exception of Marcel Desailly's passion, they were just horrible. Watching Adrian Chiles is like watching Murun Buchstansangur!)

Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, Middlesbrough and Championship. Maybe, but not for me at the price.

It's another division where the favourite hasn't won for a long time - in this case, Manchester City back in 2001-2 at 7/2. So look for value...

Relegated clubs have an excellent record of 'bouncebackability' from this section, so Burnley and Hull are interesting on that score. Forget Pompey, who look to have a long, hard road just to stay in business.

Burnley are much preferred and, having retained most of their players, look primed for a decent charge. They'll miss Steven Fletcher and Robbie Blake mind you, so 10/1 looks only fair.

Reading finished last season very well: the forty points they secured in the second half of the season was only bettered by promoted sides, Newcastle and West Brom. They've not done much business in the window, but they're a capable outfit and, if a charge begins to manifest itself, the chairman will likely cough up for signings. Again, 12/1 looks fair rather than generous.

A side worth looking out for here are Sheffield United. They weren't far away last season, finishing eighth, and they were ninth and third in the two previous seasons. Granted a decent run, they should be looking at a play-off spot, and automatic promotion is not beyond them. Bet 365 are standout at 20/1, but there's plenty of 18's available.

My four against the field are: Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading and Sheffield United

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Down in the basement division, League Two, it's very tough. This one looks wide open this year, and is a brave punter who piles in here.

Of the relegated sides, I think Wycombe will do well, and so does my football man. Funnily enough, so did the Racing Post footy pullout yesterday, so the price may have contracted by now. Wanderers have had a very good pre-season, and are a goalscoring team.

Rotherham look best of the League Two sides who try again this year and, in Adam Le Fondre, have a dead-eye striker at this level. They still have talismanic manager, Ronnie Moore, in the hot seat and - after a serious summer of wheeler dealing - they ought to do better than last term's 5th place.

Teams who come up from the Conference (or Blue Square Bet Premier to give it the current title) have done well in League Two. Dagenham and Redbridge are the latest to jump up to League One, and a number of sides - including Carlisle, Exeter and Doncaster (now nicely embedded in the Championship under former Cherries boss, Sean O'Driscoll).

So Stevenage are worth more than a cursory glance at 16's. They've strengthened the squad which hacked up in the Conference last season, and will smash a fair few of the 'dead wood' sides in League Two.

My three against the field are: Wycombe, Rotherham, and Stevenage.

I'm looking at a perm trixie, which is 50 bets for two, three and four teams as above. Be careful with e/w bets though, as it comes to a LOT more lines!

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Now you'll know that the new Geegeez Racing Club horse, Khajaaly, had his first run for us yesterday at Newcastle. You may also know that he finished fourth in the end, of the seven runners, and beaten a fair way.

Given that he was sent off the 11/4 favourite, it is probably OK to say that this was a disappointing run, for which there may have been a number of reasons.

I'll not go into those here, as I have already discussed with members by email. Suffice it to say, we look forward to another day with Khajaaly.

Today, Julia is at Haydock with a 2yo newcomer, Generous Genella. I know that she works very well at home, beating the stable's Albany Stakes 5th, Emma's Gift, always. But... Emma's is not much of a home worker, so it's hard to know what to expect.

All I can say is that stable are extremely hopeful. They've another five runners across Brighton and Yarmouth, and all are entered with hope rather than expectation, though most are in the right grade so have a chance.

That's all for today.

Matt

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17 replies
  1. dave foster says:

    didnt know you supported the cherries.your old servant steve fletcher,is the son of my mate.how small the wworld is.,can always remember one of the years ho won player of the season,he brought the magnificent trophy home,and it got broke.L.O.L.some panic that was getting it fixed,nice memories.

  2. Chris says:

    Happy to lay Southampton, Matt, and good luck to Bournemouth and ex Pompey man Eddie Howe.

    Hopefully, I’ll still have a club to support after today.

  3. Chris Obee says:

    Sorry Matt but whilst I would agree 12/5 is a silly price for Southampon you are way off the mark when you mention they might need shoring up defensively. They already had the best goalkeeper in league one in Kelvin Davis plus excelent back up in Bialkowski. I can only imagine Fonte didn’t make the PFA team of the year as he joined in January, easily a Championship quality player and they have also signed Frasier Richardson. Add to that they have not one but 2 of the left backs now with Harding and Dickson, another excellent signing in Butterfield and 3 players vying to play alongside Fonte in central defence in Jaidi, Seaborne but almost certainly the best of the lot in young Aaron Martin who is going to be a player who will get better and better. Midfield might be the area of concern but it would be a major surprise if at least one good quality signing isn’t made soon in that area. I also thought you might steer clear of rumours, the roles of Pardew and Cortese are well defined and though Cortese does have an air of arrogance he is not stupid and the only way Pardew will leave anytime let alone in October is if the team aren’t doing well in which case winning the league will be improbable anyway. But in fact the chairman may have a fair bit of money ( no idea as he doesn’t invest in the club) but is is the owner Markus Liebherr who provides the funds!
    Finally there is no real fierce rivalry between Southampton and Bournemouth (though a few Bournemouth fans might hype it up which seems what you are trying to do!), in fact the clubs have a good relationship unlike the Southampton/Portsmouth rivalry which is intense. Even Southampton and Brighton are hardly the fiercest of rivals, the game at Brighton last season only attracted a gate of just under 8,000. So while you may well have reached the right conclusion the reasoning isn’t too accurate. Rather like saying a horse is unlikely to win as it won’t like the going when in fact it probably won’t win as maybe it’s running over 2 miles when it has never run over further than a mile before !!
    At least you didn’t go so far as to say Bournemouth might win the league as that simply isn’t going to happen though at least they are top now virtue of course of the table being shown on most sites in alphabetical order. Only top for 2 more days though, enjoy!

    Cheers,

    Chris

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      It’s all about opinions, Chris, and the way you present ‘best player in the league’ statements as though there were some kind of empirical measurement of such things is a little ‘pot calling kettle black’, no?

      I did state, in relation to Pardew’s potential departure, that it would be as a direct result of on pitch events, so credit where it’s due.

      And, if you ask any Bournemouth fan which team they really want to beat, they’ll reply, “the scum”. That’s Southampton. Whilst I don’t echo the terminology, I am massively looking forward to beating Southampton. (I know Saints don’t feel the same about Bmth, as Bmth do about Saints, but take my word for it, there will be a BIG crowd at Dean Court and a bigger one at St Mary’s).

      I believe the Withdean barely holds 8,000 which would explain that. You will find that it was in fact the highest attendance in the season.

      So, please, with respect, don’t come it with the ‘get your facts straight’ lines. This is a blog, where facts and opinions are interchangeable, so long as they don’t disrupt the general flow of things.

      Matt

  4. Jack says:

    Re Khajaaly:

    There is usually a good reason why a horse that cost 140k 18 months ago can be purchased now for 9k.

    Also with a strike rate of 12 from 128 (9%) maybe Miss Fielden’s stables might not be the best location for the Geegeez horses – i imagine she will have offered up as you say “a number of reasons”.

    Is Adam Beschizza the most capable jockey that could be found – although clearly not at fault for the horse finshing a distant 4th he does not seem to posess the necessary drive tin the saddle ?

    Not popular opinions maybe but sometimes these questions need to be asked – i don’t doubt your loyalty to Julia, Matt – maybe the stable is just bang out of form!

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Jack

      It’s more than just loyalty. As well as that commodity, I’m also blessed with a modicum of intelligence! 😉

      Julia does extremely well with her string of horses, and they are always trying on every racecourse run. That’s why she has winners at evens and winners at 100/1. Adam is one of the most up and coming young apprentices in the country, as you’ll know seeing as you’ve been checking Julia’s stats (I assume you also checked Adam’s).

      Regarding other stables, it’s simply not a case of popping in for a cup of tea with Sir Michael Stoute. And the bills would be unaffordable for a small operation such as ours.

      Regarding the sale price, the reasons for this are:

      1. Sheiks sell their horses that are not going to win Listed races or big handicaps. Period.
      2. The sales prices are down generally due to a recession
      3. 9000 Guineas is a fair sum for a horse to be competitive in Class 5 or 6 handicaps
      4. The vending stable were extremely disappointed with the price Khajaaly fetched, implying we had a bargain.

      None of these things mean anything unless the horse performs on the track, and I think it is FAR (!!!) too early to be making blithe and sweeping statements from the comfort of one’s bunker.

      Regards,
      Matt

  5. AJ says:

    I may live in a small village in Norfolk Matt, but as you I cannot forget my roots. Therefore the mighty Bees at 25’s are a cracking bet with The Cherries 2nd. How that for a forecast. Best wishes for the season and keep the tips coming please,as i cannot wait for the”proper” jump season to start.
    All the best

    AJ

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks AJ – my football sage friend tells me that Andy Scott is not long for League One. Apparently he is wanted higher up the chain. A very fine manager he is too.

      Best,
      Matt

  6. AJ says:

    That’s the same story for us eh!!. But, I have a feeling he will stay and not do a Martin Allen. He is still unproven, it seems that some people get carried away after 1 3/4 good seasons.Blimey sounds like a footy blog….Bring on the Jumps

  7. Chris Obee says:

    Matt, not a problem. Your site, your blog so of course you are free to write whatever you want and never mind the facts. I only stated Davis as the best goalkeeper as he was voted for that position by the PFA which is a far better recommendation than say the awards journalists hand out in my opinion. Given the tone of your reply I’ll not comment further on this or any other of yor blogs.

    Chris

  8. Simon says:

    In Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski excellent book “Why England Lose” they point out there is a strong correlation between wage bill and finishing position in the league (in the Premiership at least).

    Anyone know if there are reliable sources for this sort of info for outside the Prem?

    On the subject of AFCB it might interest other lower-league watchers that it’s a couple of new signings that have impressed pre-season: Marc Pugh from Hereford playing down the left and Harry Arter plucked from Woking in centre mid (will probably play behind Pitman on Saturday if we only have one fit striker).

    Any other lesser-known picks from fans of other teams for us to keep an eye out for?

    As an AFCB fan myself I have to say I cringe when I hear Bournemouth fans talk about Saints as the Scum. I’m not suggesting Matt is wrong to say there is a keenly felt antipathy to Southampton from Dean Court just that as Chris points out, it is so one-sided. I’m all for hate but let’s focus it on the deserving.

    Gillingham for example.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      As I said, Simon. It’s not a sentiment I echo, but rather a statement of the feeling in the masses. After all, it’s only football!

      Chris, your comments are always welcome, so long as you accept my right to reply (and also to reiterate and defend my initial statements). I [CERTAINLY] don’t always get it right, and that’s not a problem especially. However, on this occasion, and in the case of the Saints piece, I’m happy to stand by that.

      Most interesting to me is that you make a far stronger case for them than I do, and yet your view is still that they’re a joke price. Some value in laying them, then? 😉

      Matt

  9. Kicky says:

    Swindon Town in the handicap look good value, prices vary. But with the acquisition of the lads from Celtic, the Togo international, Ball from Man City, Rose and David Prutton I think they’ll be dark horses once again. Add to that mix Tresor Kandol (with whom they are heavily linked) and the consistent Charlie Austin signing a contract extension I think things look rosy with Wiltshire.
    Other than that, I think Bristol Rovers and Brentford are worth + handicap bets too.

  10. vic willsher says:

    hi matt , could you explain the bet perm trixie , two three & four teams please ?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Vic

      Yes, sure. A trixie has three selection legs and four bets: legs 1, 2 and 3.
      It has three doubles: 1-2, 1-3, and 2-3; and one treble: 1-2-3

      With the perm, you multiply the number of selections in each leg. So, for instance in this case, we’ve got two, three and four selections.

      1: 4 selections
      2: 3 selections
      3: 2 selections

      Therefore,
      1-2 = 4 x 3 = 12
      1-3 = 4 x 2 = 8
      2-3 = 3 x 2 = 6
      1-2-3= 4 x 3 x 2 = 24

      Total bets: 12 + 8 +6 + 24 = 50 bets

      Hope that makes sense.
      Matt

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