Bobby’s Bets

Manchester City v Bayern Munich + City’s European Cup Heartache of 45 Years

Wednesday night sees Manchester City mix it with the big boys again as they continue in their Champions League adventure – And they don’t come much bigger than the reigning European Champions Bayern Munich.

City won their opening game 3-0 at Viktoria Plzen, but this encounter will provide a first real test for City under Pellegrini. Under his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, City failed to get out of the group stages in the last two campaigns and if they are to establish a serious reputation for themselves in Europe they will have to improve upon that this time round.

Those last two European campaigns were City’s first in the quest for the cup with the big ears since way back in 1968. That time England had two representatives in the European Cup and both were from Manchester; City represented England as champions and United were there as holders.

But back then, just as it has done lately, Europe’s premier competition brought little cheer for the blue half of Manchester and sadly for City they succumbed to Fenerbache in the first round 45 years ago this week.

Tony Coleman

Tony Coleman gave City the lead in Istanbul

It all began well enough in Istanbul, Tony Coleman giving City the lead after 11 minutes. After a goalless first leg City were now in the driving seat and they were doing a decent job of navigating their way through this tricky tie, Fenerbache looked a beaten side as they went in for the break.

The Guardian’s Albert Barham described it like this: “Ercan, the big, burly strong man of the defence shaped to head it back. Then he made mistakes. He decided to fox Coleman and anticipated that the ball would carry to Yavuz. It did not. Coleman, quick to spot the chance, pounced on it and as Yavuz came out to him, trying to tackle waist-high, Coleman popped the ball into the net. From then until half time the game was City’s to have if they could hold it. Oakes was playing superbly and Young did great work as City fell back on defence.”

But the second half couldn’t have started worse for the Blues as they conceded almost immediately after the restart, Abdullah the scorer after Ogun had squeezed the ball through a tiny gap in City’s massed defence.

City faced wave after wave of attack as the reinvigorated Turkish champions, roared on by a huge partisan crowd, tested their English counterparts resolve to breaking point. That point came with only 12 minutes left as Can’s free-kick was prodded home by Ogun.

It was a hostile environment the likes of which City had never encountered before and Fenerbahce in the end would not be denied.

Barham gives us an insight into what it was like that night in Istanbul: “They had begun the game, as was only to be expected, in a flurry of action which was almost hysterical, and from Can’s pass, Ogun put the ball into the net after six minutes. He was offside but not a Turk in the stadium – crammed to overflowing three hours before kick-off for this, Fenerbahce’s greatest match – would believe this. Players jostled the referee and hustled him in the general melee, but the official stood firm. He had a similar moment of embarrassment only seconds before the crucial goal. Again it was Ogun who got the ball into the net. Again he was offside. The scene was a repeat one.”

So City’s hopes of emulating their near-neighbours triumph from the previous May disappeared after just 180 minutes of football.

United on the other hand made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing out to eventual winners; Milan.


Bayern’s Robben is 13/2 to open the scoring


Manchester City v Bayern Munich

Man City:  2/1  The Draw: 12/5   Bayern Munich:  23/20

Selected Bets:

Correct Score: Man City 1-1 Bayern Munich at 13/2

First Goalscorer: Arjen Robben at 13/2

Scorecast: Aguero to score 1st, City to win 2-1: 70/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Halftime/Fulltime:  City/Draw at 14/1


Odds courtesy of William Hill


Spurs v Chelsea: Hoddle’s Verdict

GLENN Hoddle believes that Christian Eriksen is the creative No 10 who can “unlock the door” to Spurs success this season.

Hoddle believes that Spurs have a better team all round – and a stronger squad – since the sale of Gareth Bale enabled the acquisition of so many new talented players, with Eriksen the key signing.

Hoddle was discussing the Saturday clash between the London clubs he managed, Chelsea and Spurs, at the launch of his own young talent search – ‘Zapstarz!’ – at Planet Hollywood in London on Thursday.

Hoddle said: “Spurs are now a stronger squad, and possibly team, without Gareth Bale and much of that is down to the signing of Christian Eriksen. They needed somebody to unlock the door, the type of player Spurs haven’t had for some considerable time.


Eriksen: Hoddle is a big fan

“In fact, I was asked today whether he is the No 10 that has been missing since the days of myself and Ossie Ardiles.”

The question was posed with Hoddle standing next to his old friend Ardiles with a battery of cameras and journalists’ microphones picking up his every word.

Hoddle avoided that question, as it is not for him to say – and Ossie smiled!

But Hoddle does believe that the young Dane could be the game-changer Spurs have been crying out for. Before the ex-Ajax star’s beat-the-deadline signing, Hoddle believed Spurs’ other signings had given them more strength and power – but they still lacked a major creative spark. Then Eriksen arrived.

“Eriksen is making a huge difference to Spurs’ style of play,” he said, “notably in the creativity department. I am really looking forward to this one as it has the look of a fascinating encounter which could go either way.

“I’m expecting an exciting game. Naturally as I managed both the clubs I will be keeping a keen eye on this match.  Spurs look as though they have a really strong squad, while Chelsea have already had a strong squad for the last couple of years.

“But Spurs are progressing and I really do think they are going or make the top four this season, they might even be considered title contenders, who knows?  Much depends on the next few results, and if they can keep their confidence levels going.

“I saw Spurs earlier in the season and I was scared for them. They had just sold Gareth Bale and everyone was looking to see how that would affect them.  If they had kept Bale maybe they would now have a chance of winning the league because the arrival of Eriksen has provided them with the creative player they have been missing.

“With Eriksen and Lewis Holtby coming into the picture they look as though they are strong in midfield. Eriksson, though, has taken them to another level.”

Hoddle  believes Chelsea, despite teething troubles since the return of Jose Mourinho, have the quality available to win the title.


Mata destroyed Spurs last year, but will he even figure this time..?

“Chelsea could win the League because they have so many good players although it is a big surprise they are not playing Juan Mata,” he said.  “Maybe there is some kind of political reason for it, I don’t know, but he has been such an excellent footballer for Chelsea for the last two years and he has elevated them.  I cannot believe he will be out of the picture for much longer.

“Perhaps with Chelsea’s early-season troubles this is a good time for Spurs to be playing Chelsea. I am not sitting on the fence because I managed both teams but I see it being a draw, but a very entertaining draw, maybe even a high-scoring draw.

“Spurs have spent a lot of money because they let Bale go but they look good for bringing all those players in.  It looks like money well spent. It looks good enough for me to believe they can make it into the top four – and might even challenge for the title.

“For me, the title is more open than it has been for the past two years which makes it all the more exciting.  Spurs would love to win this one as they are at home and Chelsea are not yet firing on all cylinders but. I see Chelsea getting a draw.”

The Odds

Tottenham: 13/8 Draw: 9/4 Chelsea: 17/10

History is very much on the side of The Blues for this one. In 3,780 minutes of Premier League football – that’s 42 games in old money – astonishingly Spurs have won just thrice!

By my reckoning that would suggest odds of around 14/1 on a home win, but alas the bookies see it differently and you’ll get a little under 2/1 for your money if you fancy a home win.

If after reading Glenn Hoddle’s words you think it will be a score-draw and honours even, then you can get 12/1 for a 2-2 final score.

Of course the team here at BOBBY very much respect history, for that reason we’re going for three points for The Blues with a correct score of Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea at 9/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Samuel Eto’o to open his Chelsea account with the first goal of the game at 6/1

Other selected bets:

Paulinho to score first: 12/1

HT/FT: Chelsea/Draw: 12/1

Chelsea to come from behind to win: 12/1

Soldado to score 2 or more goals: 17/1

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

Stat of the Day: Tottenham have conceded more Premier League home goals to Chelsea (38) than any other team.

BOBBY BONUS: Below are the goals from Chelsea’s win in the League Cup against a Spurs team featuring Lineker and Gazza back in 1990.

The Shortest Reigns in Club Management + Who’s Next Up at Sunderland..?


Di Matteo would be a popular choice with Sunderland fans

from Rob Shepherd.

Gustavo Poyet has emerged as the new favourite to succeed Paolo Di Canio in the Sunderland hot seat. Poyet has moved ahead of former Chelsea team-mate and initial favourite Roberto Di Matteo.

Di Canio was sacked after a player revolt following a showdown meeting on Sunday in the wake of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at West Brom.

It hardly came as a shock given the constant rows Di Canio has had with his players since he took over towards the end of last season.

As predicted in a previous article in BOBBY (look for an archived piece in Now and Then) it was always going to be a roller coaster ride.

Initially the adrenalin rush Di Canio injected with his volatile, impassioned nature gave Sunderland the boost they wanted following the end of Martin O’Neill’s relatively short rein and the threat of relegation was averted.

But the start to this campaign has been disastrous and Di Canio’s power-crazed showboating style of management was destined to hit the buffers.

And when a manager loses control, the respect of the dressing room AND the faith of the fans it’s always going to be curtains.

And so Di Canio’s tenure becomes one of the shortest ever in English football. It lasted 175 days – although in effect it was less than that in the respect that it also spanned the close season.

But compared to the shortest reigns ever Di Canio lasted quite long.

Here BOBBY looks back at those managers who got the axe before getting their feet settled under the table.

FA Cup: Torquay United v Birmingham City

Rosenior: The ten minute man

Leroy Rosenior, lasted just 10 minutes in his second spell as Torquay boss. In may 2007 Rosenior signed on the dotted line. But the club was in the process of being taken over by a new consortium and 600 seconds later the former Fulham and West Ham striker was shown the door.

Back in the late Fifties Bill Lambton last only three days at Scunthorpe.

Dave Bassett lasted just four days at Crystal Palace in 1984 after leaving Wimbledon. The contract was signed but he didn’t like what he saw under Ron Noades so jumped ship and went back to the Dons.

Tommy Docherty was another of the shortest reigns in the top flight; he led QPR for four games in 1968 before resigning following a dispute with Rangers chairman Jim Gregory.

Paul Hart managed a bit better (but only just) at QPR being given the boot in January 2010 after  only 28 days in charge following a bust up with Adel Taarabat. Chairman Flavio Briatore intervened and sided with the player.

Les Reed was given only eight games in charge of Charlton before the axe fell.


Henning never got going at Blackburn

More recently Henning Berg was reluctant to take charge of Blackburn last year and his fears were confirmed. After opting to to take the job he went after 57 days.

Colin Todd got the bullet as Derby boss in 2002 after 98 days.

But the brief reigns of two of the biggest managers of all time remain best remembered and were recently featured on BOBBY FC (This Was The Week).

The 44 days of Brian Clough and Jock Stein at Leeds are still the most remarkable.

The majority of the Leeds squad could not accept the manner in which Clough took over from Don Revie who had been given the job Clough really wanted in 1974 – that of the England manager.

Clough was in charge for just eight games over those 44 days before a players revolt – a bit like the one Di Canio suffered – brought his tenure to an end.

Stein resigned after only ten matches in 1978 to take charge of Scotland.

The Odds


Pulis has recent Premier League experience and could represent good value at 9/1

Victor Chandler offers these odds  to be the next Sunderland manager;

Poyet 1/3

McClaren 9/1

Pulis 9/1

Di Matteo 9/1

McCleish 16/1

Ince 25/1

Hoddle 50/1

Warnock 66/1

Redknapp 66/1



The Group of Champions

by Rob Shepherd

The Champions League is back

Over the past decade what used to be know as the European Cup has evolved into a de facto European Super League.

With the Super Clubs virtually guaranteed participation, a sense of embarking on a weird and wonderful mystery tour has to a large degree been lost.

Given the seeded format of the Group stages so too has the spine tingling cut and thrust of sudden death in the early stages.

But Group H – Celtic’s Group – throws up a spicy taste of the past. If not ‘The Group of Death’ – that could be Arsenal’s – its more like ‘The Group of Romance’;
Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax & Celtic.


Billy McNeill was the skipper of the first team from these shores to win the European Cup

All four are steeped in the colourful heritage of the competition. Celtic of course were the first British side to win the European Cup when they beat Inter Milan in Lisbon in 1967.

This season’s final is in Lisbon, but not even a New Romantic could expect history to repeat itself. In the hard nosed football world where money DOES buy success it’s too far fetched to hope for Lisbon Lions II.

But there will be a few teary eyed Green Glaswegian granddads who will well up over the next few weeks as The Bhoys play it out on the big stage. They won’t be able to resist recalling the exploits of McNeill, Johnstone, Auld et all to their bairns.

And while some bookies make Celtic 750/1 no-hopers to lift the trophy there is every prospect of them causing an upset or two on the way.


It worked out nicely for AC Milan when they went Dutch

AC Milan, who boasted one of the all time great European Cup teams in the late Eighties, have already expressed caution ahead of their opening game against Neil Lennon’s side in the opening game at the San Siro.

That Milan are 50/1 emphasises they are a long way from being the force they were when they had the three Dutch masters, Rijkaard, Van Basten and Gullit, in their team.

Ajax, who had the dominant team of the early Seventies with Cruyff, Krol and Neeskens are 200-1 outsiders and could be vulnerable.

As for Barcelona, will the great team of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and now Neymar, bounce back after the disappointment of last season..? Barca are 9/2 second favourites behind holders Bayern Munich.

What is for certain is the atmosphere at Celtic’s three home games especially will be a throwback to the days when on the big European nights even the poshest punters would drink Bovril not Bollinger.

And as for the away trips; well for this generation of Celtic supporters it will be a bit like the Yellow Brick Road.

The Odds:

Chelsea to win it all? With Jose Mourinho on an unfinished business mission to win the CL with The Blues 9/1 is decent punt.

Dark Horse: The latest mega bucks side Paris St Germain are interesting at 16/1.

As for a decent long shot: Napoli are worth a go at 40-1.


The Saints March Again + Southampton v West Ham preview

By Rob Shepherd.

To Southampton fans it must seem a bit baffling that Rickie Lambert has already had a more prolific England career than Matt Le Tissier and could end up playing at a World Cup finals.

Even if it was a dour draw in Ukraine, Lambert did his bit tirelessly leading the line to push England further down the road to Rio and with two goals in three internationals is putting up a string case to be in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup plans as a new boy at the advanced years of 31.

By that age Le Tissier’s career for one reason or another had passed him by when he was omitted for the 1998 World Cup finals with eight caps and no goals.

Saints fans often argue there was a prejudice against their hero Le Tiss because he remained loyal to their “unfashionable” club down on the South Coast. Such barriers no longer seem to apply.

And of course there was a time when Southampton was a showbiz club of sorts and the centre of the England team when the England captain was a Saint.

soton_KeeganOn 10th February 1980 Lawrie McMenemy called a press conference at the Potters Heron hotel, Ampfield in Hampshire.

‘A new shirt sponsor perhaps?’ pondered the handful of press guys that were hanging around.

When everyone was sitting comfortably McMenemy pulled back a curtain from behind the stage and out walked Kevin Keegan. The reigning European Football of The Year would be joining Southampton from German club SV Hamburg for the significant sum of £440,000.

Even some of the seasoned hacks – many of whom were close to McMenemy and were often give a nod and wink about news – were taken aback with shock. It was hardly the sort of razzmatazz that now comes with signature signings (as former Saint Gareth Bale had at Madrid) but it was more jaw dropping not least because there had been absolutely no hint of the move until the theatrical unveiling.

It had been assumed that if Keegan returned to England a clause would see him go back to Liverpool. But by then Kenny Dalglish had taken over Keegan’s number 7 shirt and Liverpool didn’t want him back.

When McMenemy got wind of the situation he moved swiftly. And that summer Keegan would lead England at the 1980 European Championship and was an injured skipper at the 1982 World Cup finals.

And for a couple of seasons he was the shaggy haired focal point of a swashbuckling Saints team which included former internationals Alan Ball, Mick Channon, Charlie George and Dave Watson. Watching the Saints was a bit like watching a roving England all stars XI.

Keegan’s England career ended in 1982 with 21 goals from 63 games and he moved on to Newcastle.

It’s unlikely Lambert will surpass that but he may yet have a bigger impact than the 20 minutes from the bench Keegan managed at the ’82 World Cup.

And there is a new batch of young Saints knocking on the England door such as Luke Shaw and James Ward–Prowse, with of course ex youth product Theo Walcott a regular.

In Keegan’s day Southampton was a former England veteran club – it’s now becoming something of a feeder club for country. ‘If only back in my day’ Le Tissier might ponder ….

The Odds


Extra pressure will be on Nolan to score for West Ham with Carroll out injured

Certainly Lambert’s attacking menace and sky high confidence could give the Saints an edge in Sunday’s televised game against West Ham.

The Hammers have been rocked by an injury to key man Andy Carroll, so added pressure will be on the likes of Kevin Nolan and new recruit Petric to score their goals.

Southampton:  5/6  Draw: 5/2  West Ham: 7/2

Selected Bets:

Correct Score: Southampton 2-1 West Ham : 7/1

First Goalscorer: Kevin Nolan 12/1

Bobby’s Bet of the Day:

Half Time / Full Time:

Southampton / Draw:  13/1


Odds courtesy of PaddyPower


Will It Be Pain in the Ukraine..?

As an international country in its own right, Ukraine is a relatively new force. But it is getting stronger all the time as it proved by holding England to a 1-1 draw at Wembley in the reverse fixture of this World Cup campaign.

And England must avoid defeat in Kiev if they are to avert putting qualification for Brazil next summer in jeopardy.

Until 1992 The Ukraine played under the Soviet Union badge. Two of the strongest clubs over the years during the year of Soviet rule were Ukrainian – Dynamo Tbilisi and Dynamo Kiev.

In the Seventies and Eighties The Soviet Union should have done much a better in European Championships and World Cup’s given the talent at their disposal, especially from the Ukraine.

But deep rooted prejudices and jealousies usually meant that it was difficult for Soviet Union national team to play with any harmony or the team spirit needed to match the talent.

And many individual players suffered the frustration of not being able to transport themselves and play for the big clubs in Western Europe with The Iron Curtain preventing players from moving abroad.


Blockhin: Play for Madrid..? Not for all the Levi’s in Camden!

The first to do so was Oleg Blockhin – but only towards the end of his career when Glasnost started to come in – but even then he played for small teams in Austria and Cyprus.

Most football fans will know him as the cantankerous and controversial manager of the Ukraine national side at the last European Championships. He has since gone back to Kiev to manage his old team.

But at his height Blockhin was bigger and better than Andriy Shevchenko would become in the Ukraine.

It was a mark of his talent that in 1975 he not only won the Ballon d’ Or but was also voted as European Footballer of the Year even though much of what he did was shrouded by that Iron Curtain.

His record for Kiev between 1969-88 reads 211 goals from 432 games. He scored 42 goals in 112 internationals.

The Odds

England have met Ukraine on six previous occasions but after two comfortable wins it’s been ever harder going, and this match in a hostile environment could well prove the hardest yet after the 4-0 stroll over Moldova on Friday.

Ukraine can be especially dangerous upfront with one striker Mario Devic, supported by three floating forwards. Devic is 7-1 to be first goal scorer.

The odds reflect how tight the game could be. A 1-1 draw at 5-1 looks a decent shout but 2-0 to Ukraine at 11-1 has an unpatriotic but tempting look to it.

Ukraine v England Betting

Odds supplied by Paddy Power

Match Betting
Ukraine 8/5
England 13/8
Draw  23/10


Can Lambert continue his great scoring form for England..?

Correct Score Odds
1-0 Ukraine   13/2
2-0 Ukraine   11/1
2-1 Ukraine   17/2

1-0 England 13/2
2-0 England 11/1
2-1 England 9-1

First Goalscorer Odds
Rickie Lambert  13/2
Theo Walcott      7/1
Jermain Defoe    7/1
Marko Devic       7/1
Andriy Yarmolenko  7/1
Yevhen Seleznyov   15/2
Roman Zozulya   8/1
Frank Lampard     9/1
Steven Gerrard    11/1
Yevhen Konoplianka  11/1

Head To Head Record
England have played Ukraine a total of six times in their history, all of which have taken place since the turn of the 21st Century. England’s first win was a straight forward 2-0 win in 2000, which was followed by a 3-0 victory four years later. The Three Lions recently came up against Ukraine in their World Cup 2010 qualifying group, beating them 2-1 at Wembley but then losing the return fixture 1-0. The teams met again at Euro 2012, with a Wayne Rooney goal separating the sides, before drawing 1-1 in their first World Cup 2014 qualification meeting.


John Terry, England’s best player at Euro 2012, clears it off the line v Ukraine


Matches -6
England – 4 wins
Ukraine – 1 win
Draw – 1

From Moldova to Hollywood: The World Meets David Beckham

by Rob Shepherd

No-one knew it at the time. How could we ? I was there and didn’t spot that the road from Moldova would lead to Hollywood.

But in hindsight, on a bumpy pitch in a poverty stricken Eastern European backwater, English football – the global game even – would change forever.

In the immediate after glow of Euro ’96 England embarked not just on a new era but a new epoch.

Soccer - World Cup Qualifier - Moldova v England

“Playing for England; This is what I want, what I really, really want…Hmm, quite like that song”

David Beckham, who a few weeks earlier had hit the headlines as something special – something a bit different – scoring that career-defining wonder goal from the halfway line for Manchester United at Wimbledon, made his England debut.

At the time there was more fuss about Andy Hinchcliffe winning his first cap than Beckham winning his. Andy Who..?

But looking back this was the day when football morphed from a sport into showbiz, because this was the day when Becks Inc took to the world stage.

And just as it is in showbiz it wasn’t exactly an overnight success.

Indeed, Beckham’s contribution to a 3-0 win in England first World Cup qualifier for France ’98 was very low key.

But Beckham had that three Lions number 7 shirt on his back and, despite an early rocky road, in terms of time line this was the beginning of football becoming more about the brand than the ball, with Beckham the ring master.

Never remotely the best footballer of his or any other generation, Beckham would become the biggest commercial football icon globally, not to mention the wealthiest that soccer had ever seen.

To some he was and remains a hero, a role model, an all- time great; to others he became an anti-hero, the definition of the game selling it’s soul, even the death of football as former German international Uli Hoeness once described.

So it was in a country which at the time was still struggling to move on from Soviet Union rule that ironically became the launchpad of the Americanization of football; the day that Becks Inc as it would become launched a thousand sponsorships; or conversely the day the music died.

It is September 1996, the Spice Girls are at number one with Wannabe (Posh hadn’t met Becks yet), Will Smith is battling aliens in Independence Day and, in the wake Euro 96, England are embarking on a new era under Glenn Hoddle and playing 3-5-2. Click below to see the goals;

It was Nick Barmby rather than Beckham who set England on their way with the first goal, Paul Gascoigne hit the second and Alan Shearer the third.

The Odds

It was all so easy – matter of fact even – and should be again this time with the real business coming next week against Ukraine.

That said you just can’t tell with England under Roy Hodgson, especially with a squad severely depleted because of injury.

But logic says a win of 3-0 (5/1 with William Hill) or 4-0 (6/1) at Wembley should be achieved.

Perhaps better value can be found with the goalscorer markets, where the in-form Rickie Lambert is 2/1 to score 2 or more.

Where Are They Now ?

Let’s take a look back at the team that started that day in Kishinev;

David Seaman The goalkeeper remained England’s first choice for many years to come, picking up 75 caps in all. He played all the way through to the World Cup finals in France, where England again suffered penalty heartbreak against Argentina and would go on to be first choice under Kevin Keegan at Euro 2000 and Sven Goran Eriksson at the 2002 World Cup. Now a goalkeeping coach at non-league Wembley FC.

Gary Neville Then a fresh-faced youngster breaking through for club and country, Neville went on to become a stalwart for England at right-back, playing at the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and Euro 2004. He missed the 2002 World Cup due to a foot injury. He won 85 caps in total and every honour in the game with Manchester United. Now works as a pundit for Sky Sports.

Stuart Pearce With over 50 caps already to his name, Pearce had intended to retire after Euro 96 – where he had laid to rest the ghosts of his shoot-out miss in 1990 – but Hoddle persuaded him to continue. He played through the qualification campaign for France 98 but was not selected for the finals squad. Was looking after the next generation as England Under 21 coach until recently but some poor perfromances at the recent UEFA U21 Championships in Israel saw him replaced by Gareth Southgate.

Gareth Southgate After a busy summer in which he missed THAT penalty against Germany then starred in a Pizza Hut advert, Southgate was a regular fixture in the England side for another few years, playing at the France 98 finals. In all, he won 57 England caps and made over 500 league appearances. After retirement, he managed Middlesbrough and worked as a pundit for ITV after leaving his post as Head of Elite Development at the FA. Now the U21 manager.


“What would you do if I dropped you Gazza?” he said. ‘A spot of interior decorating Boss’ I said…”

Paul Ince An integral part of the England team at this time, having played superbly at Euro 96, Ince would go from hero to zero. His heroic, blood-stained performance in Rome secured England’s qualification for the finals, but he missed a crucial penalty in the shoot-out defeat to Argentina. Played the last of his 53 England games at Euro 2000 but didn’t retire from club football until 2007, after which he became a manager, with mixed results.

Gary Pallister The game in Moldova turned out to be Pallister’s penultimate England cap and he was gradually squeezed out of the Manchester United side as well, eventually leaving Old Trafford for his first side Middlesbrough in 1998. Has worked since as a television pundit and in roles at Darlington FC.

David Beckham The match in Moldova was just the start for Becks, who went on to win 115 England caps, many as captain, and became arguably the most recognised footballer in the world (and the wealthiest). Won every major honour in club football and only recently retired after a spell at PSG, as well as being wheeled out as a well-known face when Britain wants to win something or someone wants to promote something.

Paul Gascoigne This campaign was the beginning of the end for Gazza, even though he had proved at Euro 96 that he retained much of his genius. Playing for Rangers at the time, Gascoigne featured in half of England’s qualifying campaign, before injuries and ill-discipline started to cast doubt on his first team place. In the end, he was left out of Hoddle’s squad for the finals and didn’t take it particularly well – wrecking his manager’s room.

Alan Shearer The top goalscorer at Euro 96, captain of England and the world’s most expensive player after joining Newcastle United, Shearer was truly at the peak of his powers. He went on to score five goals in the qualification campaign despite a number of injury setbacks and scored in the finals against Tunisia and Argentina. In all, he scored 30 times for England in 63 appearances and is now a mainstay on the Match of the Day sofa.


They could make a film about me now I’m an international – ‘Bend It Like Hinchcliffe’ – Yeah, that has a good ring to it…

Nicky Barmby Scored the first goal of the Hoddle era in Moldova but was never able to hold down a regular starting place. In total, collected 23 caps for England and scored four goals spaced over seven years. Ended his career as player and manager for Hull City.

Andy Hinchcliffe Would have been optimistic of becoming an England regular after making his debut here but never made the grade winning just seven caps for England in all. Hinchcliffe who was playing for Everton at the time, continued a decent but unspectacular career and now does some TV and media work. But a coach would tell you his left foot delivery from open play and dead ball was every bit as pin point as Beckham’s – but he didn’t marry a pop ‘singer’…

The Bitter Reds: Liverpool v United

You will have to be well into your thirties to remember clearly the last time Liverpool won the title.

For those of us a little older and who witnessed Liverpool dominate English football at the end of the Seventies and throughout the entire Eighties, a period when they also won the European Cup five times, it would have seemed surreal to predict that the title success of the 1989-90 season would be their last for over two decades.


Barnes scored twice at Old Trafford in Liverpool’s last title winning season

And when Liverpool disposed of United 2-1 at Old Trafford in March 1990 -John Barnes (2) Ronnie Whelan (og) – setting them on the run-in to an 18th title, it seemed incomprehensible the tables would be turned so dramatically. At the time that made the title count 18 -7 to Liverpool.

While Liverpool were still then a well-oiled machine, United remained a team of talented individuals lacking consistency or identity.

Liverpool eventually held off the challenge of Aston Villa led by their former boss Ron Atkinson (now of Celebrity Big Brother fame), whilst United finished 13th, a place behind Coventry City.

It was highly likely Sir Alex Ferguson would have followed Big Ron out of the Old Trafford door at the end of the season (Howard Kendall had been rumoured as a successor) had United not gone on to win the FA Cup that season beating Crystal Palace in the final after a replay.

That success gave Ferguson the breathing space he needed to see big money gambles like Gary Pallister and Paul Ince produce and home-grown players led by Ryan Giggs come through, before huge impact signings like Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona made their mark.

The title score is now United 20 Liverpool 18.

Yet for all United’s dominance the overall trophy count for both clubs remains pretty close. As this table shows:


The rivalry is not just about the shift in power over recent years.

It is deep rooted, it’s geographic context given the traditional rivalries and jealousies of both sets of fans not just in football but in terms of their working class roots, industry, politics and even music.

Always played in a fraught and hostile atmosphere (sometimes hateful) there will be a spice this Sunday when once bitter rivals as players Gary Nevile and Jamie Carragher go head to head as Sky TV pundits.

The start of this campaign represents a potential new watershed of course following Ferguson’s abdication:

Can United maintain the momentum under David Moyes ?

Is Brendan Rodgers really re-building Liverpool ??

Liverpool ‘Stick’ on 18

For those who have never seen Liverpool lift the title, here it is;


It’s so long ago that it’s the old Football League Championship trophy.

The teams from that day at Old Trafford:





The Odds

But what of this season…? Liverpool have started well and will be confident. For United the attention is all on David Moyes still, but at least the Wayne Rooney situation seems to have been resolved which is one less headache.

It’s a fixture that traditionally delivers goals, and after the dour stalemate against Chelsea the other night we fully expect United to come out with guns blazing for this one, which will probably suit Liverpool’s style.

So Bobby’s Bets fancies a scoring draw, for which William Hill are offering 14/1 for a 2-2 draw or if you’re feeling frisky there’s 50/1 on offer for a 3-3.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: Wayne Rooney to open the scoring at 13/2



Monday Night Football: United v Chelsea Preview

by Karl Hofer

For a club that has dominated the domestic game in modern times, United’s home league record against Chelsea is far from impressive. In the modern Premier League era, United have won eight, drawn seven and lost six against the Blues.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Chelsea have the best record of any other team in the Premier League against United, but this is seen as something of a modern phenomenon. It is not.

If you look at what happened between the two clubs at Old Trafford before the Premier League, all the way back a quarter of a century to the 1966-67 season, you’ll see something quite extraordinary;

United wins: one. Draws: eight. Chelsea wins: eight.


Dixon ended an eleven game goal drought with a brace

Perhaps the most painful for United of those eight defeats – and bear in mind one of those was a 4-0 as the newly crowned European Champions in 1968 – was Chelsea’s 2-1 win in April 1986. Despite Everton and Liverpool breaking away from the chasing pack, both clubs were still grimly hanging on in the title race. Neither side were in any kind of form going into this meeting. Chelsea were squandering away the games they had in hand on the leaders, having just been slapped 4-0 at home by fellow contenders West Ham and (even more disastrously) 6-0 away to neighbours QPR.

United meanwhile were starting to resemble that depressed drunk guy at a party, rambling to themselves in the corner with bottle in hand. Having seen a 10 point lead at Christmas dissolve into nothing, Ron Atkinson’s side knew their long wait for the title would continue for sure unless they won this one. This was make or break for both clubs.

After a goalless first half, Kerry Dixon beat the offside trap to score his first goal for four months. United then equalised through a Jesper Olsen penalty, big Doug Rougvie doing what he did best; this time sending Hughes crashing to the floor in the area. But Dixon had the final say in the dying moments to knock United out of the title race and send the many thousands of travelling fans into delirium and the home fans into despair. The future looked bright momentarily for John Neal’s team but Chelsea would subsequently win only one of their last seven games to finish in sixth spot.

United’s poor form continued through the beginning of the following season, and with the club languishing at the foot of the table in November manager Ron Atkinson was dismissed – with Alex Ferguson and his assistant Archie Knox taking over that same day.

Without question the greatest match between the sides was an 11 goal thriller at Stamford Bridge back in October 1954. Ted Drake had taken over Chelsea in 1952 and had been busy trying to rid them of their image, one that saw them as the butt of many a comedian’s jokes in the music-halls up and down the land. Out went the nickname ‘The Pensioners’, replaced with the more respectable ‘Blues’. Also dispatched was the affable septuagenarian on the clubs crest. This was a new Chelsea, one that Drake was instilling with a winning mentality.

To that end Drake drafted in solid defenders Peter Sillett and future England boss Ron Greenwood, plus striker Roy Bentley. As a consequence the team established itself in the top flight and were no longer involved in relegation battles, but nobody expected more than a safe mid-table position when the 1954-55 season came round.

The favourites for the title were reigning champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Matt Busby’s upcoming Manchester United side.


Dennis Viollet was a hat-trick hero

The game on October 16th was a glowing confirmation of the emergence of the attacking prowess of the ‘Busby’s Babes’. The visitors went 1-0 up with Dennis Viollet opening the scoring but a pair of unknown amateurs making their debuts returned fire as Seamus O’Connell equalized before the Thermos-flask seller Jim Lewis put the home side 2-1 up. Tommy Taylor and then Viollet put United back in front 2-3, a lead they held at half-time.

The same pair in the same order, Taylor and then Viollet (completing his hat-trick) seemed to have put Matt Busby’s side out of sight at 2-5 but then Ken Armstrong pulled one back for Chelsea. Jackie Blanchflower looked to have sealed the points when he made it 3-6, but cattle-farmer O’Connell then scored twice to record a famous debut hat-trick and set up a grandstand finish, but United’s shaky defence clung on for an extraordinary 5-6 triumph.

Chelsea lost their next two games – completing a run of six games without a win – to end October in 12th place, Wolves having taken over from United at the top. But then Drake’s Ducklings got their act together losing only four more games all season as they stormed up the table and, beating Wolves home and away, shocked the nation to win the title. Their last defeat of the season was at Old Trafford – but by then, the title, Chelsea’s first trophy in their 50 year history, had been won.

The Busby Babes would have to wait to make their mark on English football’s roll of honour.

The Odds


If you fancy a repeat of that scoreline then you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that William Hill are offering a handsome 500-1 on it. Realistically the game is set to be a much tighter affair, there’s a lot at stake and it’s very early in the season. Both teams have new managers and neither will want to concede any ground so early on in the race for the title. So Bobby’s Bets recommends a draw at 11/5.

You can also get 8/1 on Wayne Rooney to open the scoring, although with Mourinho rumoured to be lining up a third bid for the unsettled striker we can’t be 100% sure if he’ll be in red or blue on the day.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: 10/1 for Frank Lampard to continue his good start to the season by scoring the opening goal.

History Man, plus Golden Boot Odds

You may well be aware the Premiership started on 15 August 1992,  but who scored the first goal ?

Well this photograph reveals all. Sort of…


The first ever Premier League goal, but who scored it..?

For the record it came in the fifth minute of Sheffield United’s 2-1 win over Manchester United and it was scored by Brian Deane,  but the Reds would go on to be crowned champions in the first ever PL season.


Big Brian Deane…History man

Deane recalls “Whatever happens, that will be the one moment fans all over the world will remember me for”.

“It was a fantastic feeling and even to this day people remind me of it – and it’s now a classic quiz question too.” It started when Blades goalkeeper Simon Tracey cleared a back-pass – then only recently outlawed by FIFA – deep into Manchester United territory, with United defender Gary Pallister heading the ball out for a throw-in.

“We had a throw-in at the Kop End (at Bramall Lane), Carl Bradshaw took a long throw aiming for Alan Cork at the near post,” recalls Deane, who also played for Leeds, Middlesbrough and Leicester City during his 12 seasons in the League notching 71 goals.

“He flicked a header on and I managed to get myself between Steve Bruce and Pallister to nod the ball past Peter Schmeichel.”

“They were no mugs those three, all great players. That made it extra special because that goal was against one of the top teams in the country and in Europe.”

That season Deane scored 15 goals. The Premier League top scorer that campaign was Teddy Sheringham with 22 goals. Sheringham scored the only goal in the first Live TV match on Sky in the Premier League for Nottingham Forest against Liverpool but then moved on to Tottenham a week later in £2.1 million deal. Click on the below link to see Teddy’s excellent finish and for a classic bit of Cloughie.

Golden Boot

Robin van Persie won the golden boot last season with 26 goals. No surprise that RVP is favourite again, but Fernando Torres at 20-1 looks good value as it stands and Sergio Aguero is keenly priced and at 8-1 Christian Benteke is worth a tickle.

This is how Graham Sharpe of WILLIAM HILL books it:SturridgeOdds

7/2       RVP
8/1       Sergio Aguero
16/1     Daniel Sturridge; Gareth Bale;  Luis Suarez; Wayne Rooney;

18/1    Christian Benteke
20/1    Fernando Torres.

Twitter @sharpeangle