Part 2 – Divine inspiration (or a lack thereof).
Saturday morning. Bleary-eyed, you knock off the ear-piercing alarm which you forgot to turn off at the end of the working week, at an hour that seems frankly unfathomable. A vice-grip of a self-inflicted headache prevents any further sleep and the weekend is off to a premature start. Having forgotten to equip yourself sufficiently for the reverberation of Friday night’s escapades, a trip to the corner shop for some fry-up ingredients is needed.
Trudging back, armed with packets of refrigerated meat, you pass the bookies and decide to chance your arm. After all, the sausages were on special offer – why not invest that extra £1 that you saved with your shopping nous on an accumulator bet?
The bell tinkles above the door as you enter, and you step into the sterile world of the betting shop. The only background noises come from the monotone greyhound commentary emanating from a wall of televisions, and a grumbled conversation in the corner between a couple of codgers, who are discussing their tricast on the 2.20 at Haydock. An Alsatian, seemingly belonging to no-one in particular, is slumped lazily in the corner.
After pulling the weekend coupon from its slot and working your way through a dozen duff blue pens until you find one that hasn’t dried up, the realisation sets in that the choc-ices which you bought (at the behest of some duplicitous marketing that made them look overwhelmingly delicious) are beginning to melt in the same bag as the black pudding. It’s a race against the clock – place the bet and get to the freezer.
So the accumulator gets placed with a rather questionable logic – rushed and barely considered, except some sparse recollection of having hear of a striker’s good form and midweek cup ties that should leave their opponents to sapped come Saturday 3pm.
This rather contrived scenario is somewhat more elaborate than how my morning panned out in reality, but I was in a rush nonetheless and came to some hasty decisions. And this is the resulting coupon, and a quick elaboration of the reasoning that forced the choices.
1. Wigan vs Tottenham
After losing Hugo Rodallega to injury recently, I fancy Wigan will struggle to pull out a win against Tottenham. Victor Moses continues to look bright and Franco di Santo has put in a decent run of deflected-goals, but the gulf in class should be apparent against a Spurs side that have begun to look dynamic again. With Tottenham’s semi-strengthed squad losing their Carling Cup tie to Stoke in midweek, Harry Redknapp will surely demand a performance in a very winnable game against a side that have been consistently tipped for relegation for a number of years.
My bet: Tottenham win
2. Coventry vs Reading
Coventry’s start to the season hasn’t been quite as bad as woeful as was predicted – drawing against Middlesbrough and beating Derby – but losing 3-0 at Ipswich last week showed that their defence is capable of leaking goals. Adam Le Fondre has a tall order in filling the boots of the departed Shane Long but a well-taken first goal for the Royals against Doncaster last weekend is perhaps evidence that he is ready to start scoring in the Championship. Reading have retained a lot of their players that got them to the play-off final last year, including Jimmy Kebe and Hal Robson-Kanu, both of whom could prove a threat to the Sky Blues’ defence.
My bet: Reading win
3. Wycombe vs Sheffield United
Both of these teams are new inductees into League One this season – Wycombe finished third in League Two to gain promotion, while Sheffield United slipped out of the Championship in 23rd, only ahead of Scunthorpe on goal difference. Neither have continued their form into the new season though. The Chairboys haven’t scored in five league games and have slumped into the relegation zone, while the Blades, unlike many teams that drop down a level and struggle to come to terms with their less-than plush-surrounding, have looked good on the road and are staking a claim to bounce back at the first attempt.
My bet: Sheffield United win
4. Notts County vs Rochdale
Notts County only narrowly avoided relegation back down to League Two last season while Rochdale came within touching distance of reaching the League One play-offs. However the sides have begun the season in quite opposing form – the Magpies even managed a friendly draw earlier this season in the inaugural match at the newly-built Juventus Stadium against the Old Lady of Turin. Lee Hughes continues to find the net, whereas Rochdale missed a golden opportunity to get through to the fourth round of the Carling Cup in midweek by losing to League One side Aldershot.
My bet: Notts County win
5. Plymouth vs Macclesfield
With one point from nine games and an absolute mountain of off-field troubles, Plymouth’s situation looks terminal. So where would the logic be in betting on them? Well, as football so often proves, there is nothing inevitable about the result and Plymouth’s performances often haven’t been rewarded with the points they merit so far this year. Peter Reid’s sacking by chairman Peter Ridsdale in the week has been scandalised in the press but it could prove a smart move – midfielder Carl Fletcher has been appointed as player-manager and he knows as well as anyone what kind of strife the players have suffered with in not being played, and could be the man to motivate a first win of 2011/12 for the Pilgrims when the Silkmen visit.
My bet: Plymouth win
£1 bet – potential return = £45.36
… and I’ll let you know what kind of rollercoaster this quintet of 3pm kick-offs puts me through in part three.