2019/20 Football Season Betting Preview
As has become traditional, each season I share my long-term positions for the new footy campaign. And in this post I'll reveal the teams which carry my hopes - and cash - for 2019/20. Also, further down, you'll find details of the Geegeez Super League Fantasy Football competition for those of you who like to get involved with such things.
Before all of that, though, how did last season's wagers fare? You can review last year's post here
And the returns were as follows:
I actually did two trixies last year, meaning I duplicated the Huddersfield relegation/Sunderland promotion double. On the face of it that didn't end well, with the Black Cats suffering stoppage time heartache in the playoff final. But the situation had presented an easy hedge opportunity, which was taken. A loss of £62.50 on the £400 stake for both trixies became a decent profit of £300, thanks entirely to Sunderland taking the lead in that Wembley disappointment.
This is exactly why I love the promotion markets: even if you're only nearly right, you still have a solid chance of a hedge during the playoffs. Obviously it's easier if your team makes the playoff final, and easier still if they go in front, but you get the idea.
To this term, and my approach remains the same: a team from the Premier League to be relegated, a team from League One to be promoted, and one or both of two teams from League Two - where there is an extra promotion place - also to go up a division.
Those four teams are played in a perm trixie, that is doubles and trebles (seven bets).
Here's who I'm siding with...
Premier League Relegation
Brighton have the dubious honour of being my pick to get dumped from the top league. I know a lot of Seagulls fans and am unlikely to be endearing that tiny subset who care a jot for my opinion on round-ball-related wagering; but the facts are clear:
- Manager Graham Potter's only exposure to English football management is one season at Swansea where he steered the Welsh side to tenth place. Given that they were one of the favourites and he had almost the entire pre-season to assemble his squad, that's hardly stellar.
- Top scorer last season, with a perfectly respectable 13, was Glenn Murray. The former Bournemouth (and many other clubs) front man will be 36 next month.
- Brighton's 14 points in the second half of the season was better only than Huddersfield (relegated, bottom) with the next two poorest teams in that 19-match ranking also getting relegated.
The untested in Britain Leandro Trossard looks an interesting acquisition, as does former Championship striker, Neal Maupay; but they have zero Premier League experience between them, a problem which proved beyond recent big name signings such as Andone, Jahanbaksh and Balogun. That trio could improve for their first season in the top English flight, but the south coast side were woeful in the latter part of last term, almost getting collared by Cardiff at the death.
As always, it's how you feel about the promoted sides that makes the market, and I'm fairly positive about both Villa and Norwich: the former has spent liberally and - in places - shrewdly, the latter I feel has a fair amount of under-rated class even if they will need to be not nearly so reliant on potential one season wonder, Teemu Pukki. Sheffield United may try to play a very attacking style of football - they've certainly acquired plenty of forwards - and, while that could go calamitously wrong, they've a chance of dodging the drop.
Either way, I reckon there are two established Prem sides treading on eggshells and I'm betting that Brighton are one of them.
League One Promotion
I'll keep this (a little) briefer. Portsmouth are my pick. They were arguably the best attacking team in the division last season, with the possible/probable exception of champions, Luton. But their second half performance was sub-par. They've lost key players (notably player of the season, Matt Clarke) but look to have recruited well, especially in the wide positions.
An opening day 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury barely tells the story: they had 15 shots compared to the hosts' three, and 61% of the possession to back it up. Of course, you need to hit the goal to score so a 20% on target ratio tells the tale. The late dismissal of new boy Ross McCrorie wouldn't have helped either, but they steadied the ship - and how! - in midweek with a 3-0 thumping of Birmingham City (50% shots on target) in the League Cup.
They ought to be a force.
I'm against Sunderland who I don't believe have nearly enough creativity. They were woefully unimaginative last term and are reliant on 33 year old Aiden McGeady to an alarming degree. Relegated Ipswich may find this level far more to their liking but it's hard to pick out another side with similar credentials to those referenced already. Which is not, of course, to say that there is not one, or indeed many.
League Two Promotion
Three auto promo places and another via the playoffs means it makes sense to have two stabs at the promotion market in this division. Salford are well (and famously) financed by the ex-ManU mob and their mates, and the Conference runners-up were tempting to make a double jump which has been achieved a number of times in recent memory. Graham Alexander is a top manager at this level, too.
But I ended up siding with Plymouth and Mansfield, the best of last season's relegated sides and the best placed un-promoted side from this division respectively.
There's a fair chance Plymouth are just too good for these even allowing for the loss of a handful of their best players, particularly Ladapo. But they've got ready made L2 experience in the form of last season's second placed team's manager, Ryan Lowe, and a number of his promoted players. That mob have 'stayed behind' because of the saddening financial issues at Bury. It is to be hoped that club can be saved - as a Cherries fan I've been there and it's horrible, but where we are now shows what is possible if fending off the immediate - but right now they're being asset stripped as players look to secure their career futures. Argyle got their season off to a flyer with a clinical 3-0 away win at Crewe, though the game was a good bit closer than the scoreline suggests.
Mansfield were favourites to win this section last campaign and ran a meritorious fourth. However, the manner of their failure to get promoted - beaten on the last day by MK Dons, who went up at the Stags' expense; and then losing on penalties in the playoff semi-final - may have left some wounds. Nevertheless, it is hard to escape the feeling that a repeat of last season's efforts will be enough to get them in the three this time around. They have goals galore in their line up and showed resilience to come back from a 2-0 deficit at half time and grab a 2-2 draw on opening day, all the more so when down to ten men for most of the last half hour. Again, though, they were second best on the match stats and will need to step forward. That should happen as the new faces familiarise themselves with their team-mates and tactics.
All teams are around the 2/1 mark - or were before last weekend. They remain similar prices overall.
It's a bit of faff to separate out the constituent bets in the perm trixie but it does make a significant difference to the bottom line should they all, or even any of them, cop.
[Note, I split the treble into £20 and £30 bets as a small odds boost was available up to a score]
Total stake of £350 which, for a whole season of entertainment, is a sum I'm prepared to invest; especially as in the last three seasons I've managed one all-correct perm trixie which returned £3,500 and last year's profit of circa £300 from the hedge. But obviously you can do £5 lines (£35) or 50p lines (£3.50) or simply laugh at my terribly bland selections... 😉
Fantasy Football: Geegeez Super League
With the Premier League starting on Friday night - gotta love a bit of Friday night Prem action - it's time to mention the Geegeez Super League Fantasy Football...
If you've entered in previous years, and you've got a team in the official FFL game, you'll be automatically entered into the league (there's already 200 odd teams in the league!) - do check though, just in case.
Here's how to join in
Create your team, then...
Go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com/leagues/join/private and enter this code:
That should be you registered as part of the league. And there's a prize!
The winner will receive the indescribable kudos of being the Geegeez Super League Champion 2019/20.
Oh, and an annual Gold subscription, worth £297. Whoop!
So get yourself entered today - remember, the season starts this FRIDAY EVENING, not Saturday lunchtime as usual.