Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rovers can challenge despite off-field issues

Despite the latest unseemly outburst from a Blackburn Rovers official, on the pitch at least the Lancashire club look well-placed to secure promotion from the Championship in the coming season and a quick return to the Premier League awaits.

Rovers were distracted by all sorts of off-field problems last term when they were relegated from the top flight.

Not least were the frequent, vociferous fans' demonstrations against manager Steve Kean and the club's owners, Venky's, who became targets for the match-going supporters to vent their anger at as Blackburn slid
into the relegation zone without so much as a fight.

Against all the odds, though, Kean kept his job over the summer and has overseen a considerable rebuilding project at Ewood Park as the much-criticised owners have at least stuck by their word and kept faith with the Scot for now while giving him a bit of money to spend in the process.

After the reality of relegation had sunk in, the summer started in positive fashion for Rovers with experienced players arriving to bolster the squad in the shape of Danny Murphy and Nuno Gomes, while the capture of striker Leon Best from Newcastle also looked like a really astute purchase. The betting news places them as runaway favourites for the Championship title.

Best has since been ruled out until the New Year after suffering cruciate ligament damage in a summer friendly - a cruel blow to Kean who had lined him up as the perfect man to lead from the front and find the goals that would get the club back up among the elite.

The departure of Junior Hoilett weakens the Blackburn squad but he was fully expected to move on and Kean has wasted no time strengthening with more new faces still expected before the transfer window shuts.

Colin Kazim-Richards has joined on a season-long loan from Galatasaray and Kean remains confident of landing prolific striker Jordan Rhodes from Huddersfield - a signing, if it comes off, to really excite the fans ahead of the Championship campaign.

So, despite Blackburn global advisor Shebby Singh having to apologise for poorly-judged public comments he made about Kean and midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen, there is room for plenty of optimism around a club which has had nothing but bad press for the best part of 12 months.

Singh stated that Kean would be sacked if he lost three consecutive soccer games early in the season and he undoubtedly remains under pressure as fans continue to openly question if he is the right man for the job.

However, another off-field PR gaffe will not affect the manager, now well used to such outbursts and behind-the-scenes uncertainty, and instead he is cleverly continuing to build a side ready to challenge for a swift return back to the big time.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Jarvis and Fletcher Move a Mistake

The departure of Wolves wingers, Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher, to West Ham and Sunderland, respectively, will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for Molineux fans, who see their hopes of bouncing straight back into the Premier League take a cruel blow.

For many fans from the Black Country, their season tickets will have already been bought, shelling out good money to watch their beloved club attempt to regain Premier League status.

But with just one week left before the transfer deadline arrives, they have had to endure the humiliation of watching manager, Ståle Solbakken, sell their two best assets.

Fletcher, who will join Sunderland for a reported £14million, scored the most amount of headed goals last season and, despite the inflated transfer price, will leave a real hole at Molineux.

Meanwhile, Jarvis – who has one England cap to his name – could cost West Ham up to £10.75million once all the add-ons have been calculated, but that is nothing compared to his value as a Championship winger.

England’s second tier is a ridiculously competitive league and, for Wolves to have any chance of a quick return to the Premier League, then hanging on to Fletcher and Jarvis was a must, rather than taking the cash.

Wolves are 7/2 in the football betting for an immediate return to the Premier League, behind Bolton, Leicester, and Blackburn.

If Wolves fail to be promoted this season, then granted, the transfer value of Fletcher and Jarvis will be a fraction of what they have been sold for now – and they would have inevitably left then anyway.

But if you take into account the parachute payments that relegated clubs receive now, it makes much more sense to keep Fletcher and Jarvis in the Midlands.

Wolves fans will be angered, as there aren’t many players who they will be able to attract to replace the recent departures, and now they will struggle to return to the English top flight.

For more on one of the Championship’s success stories, visit the West Ham betting website on Bet Victor.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Adkins right to be confident of Saints survival

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins says his players will not be intimidated by the Premier League and is confident they can avoid relegation. But is this wild pre-season optimism or foolish naivety?

A couple of years ago, the three teams who were promoted to the Barclays Premier League were virtual certainties to go straight back down as smaller clubs struggled to keep up with the big boys when the going got tough.

But that pattern appears to be changing so Adkins has every right to believe his Saints side can handle it in the Premier League this term.

Swansea and Norwich are great examples for the south coast club to follow, with both tipped to go straight back down in 2011-12. Yet they managed to secure top 12 finishes and were comfortable throughout the season among so-called better company. QPR, too, were able to keep their top-flight status in their first campaign back in the big time, albeit by the skin of their teeth on the final day.

So looking at the recent promoted teams, there is plenty of evidence to suggest Saints can add their name to the growing list of clubs capable of coming up and staying up.

Adkins' side, like Norwich before them, have won back-to-back promotions, adapting to life in the Championship superbly after coming up from League One and will have ambitions to do exactly the same in 2012-13, despite the obvious step-up in class.

The likeable, hard-working coach appears to have engendered a great team spirit at St Mary's and says that the togetherness in his squad should not be underestimated.

This was also something that Paul Lambert at Norwich and Brendan Rodgers at Swansea cultivated very successfully before they both left for bigger and better things earlier in the summer.

Southampton might not be returning to the top flight with big stars, although much is expected of the experienced, talented Rickie Lambert as he gets a long-awaited crack at the big-time but they have an astute manager and a spirit to be feared.

So even though the latest odds  puts them among the favourites to go down, don't be surprised to see Saints safely in mid-table come next May.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Troubling Times for Jol if Dembele also Leaves

Fulham fans’ tough pre-season is about to get even worse, with reports Moussa Dembele is attracting overseas attention from Real Madrid.

Having already failed to tempt last season’s loan signing, Pavel Pogrebnyak, to stay at the club, the Cottagers have been fighting tooth and nail to prevent midfield ace, Clint Dempsey moving to Liverpool.

Now, news of Dembele’s proposed departure has left many Fulham fans scratching their heads in great concern about the future of the club. 

The Cottagers are currently 5/4 to finish in the top ten in the football betting tips on Betfair.

Dembele’s agent told Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, this week that Madrid were in contact with the player, and are not the first ‘big club’ this summer to have done so.

Such a transfer rumour – no matter how weak it may be – is likely to unnerve fans already bracing themselves for the departure of Dempsey.

Should Dembele also walk with Dempsey, manager, Martin Jol, will have seen five senior members of his attacking unit leave the club.

Their midfield looks incredibly weak already, with Danny Murphy’s transfer to Blackburn earlier this summer, and their forward line now lacks the experienced Andrew Johnson.

Dembele, who can play in attacking midfield or up front, is a central figure to Jol’s plans this season, but there is no way he can resist the lure of the Bernabeu should Jose Mourinho come calling.

Jol must start looking for a replacement now if he is to lose the Belgian star. The manager has already brought in Hugo Rodallega and Mladaen Petric, but these players were meant to boost the squad, not replace it.

Expect the search to continue deep into August, with Fulham’s start-of-season performances to be badly affected by any player loss from now on.

Love football? Keep up with the latest updates online: Betfair’s Michael Lintorn believes that Celtic will only have themselves to blame if another SPL team claims the title, next season.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Consistent Selection is Key to Euro Success - Fergie

Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, puts his team’s poor performance in Europe, last year, down to a lack of consistency in selection.

"Last season we changed the team too much and it backfired," Ferguson said, following his team’s exit from the Champions League in the group stages, and subsequent defeat in the Europa League at the hands of Athletic Bilbao. "It definitely won't happen next season - there is no chance of that,” he added.

Having led Manchester United to the Champions League final in three of the last four seasons, it seems that Sir Alex has now accepted that a change of approach is required, if his team are to regain the trophy, and this could mean fewer opportunities for the less established players at the club. 

"Over the last few years, we have used the group stage as an opportunity to play the youngsters,” Ferguson said.

However, after their failure to defeat either Basel or Benfica in the 2011/12 group stages, both of whom ranked poorly in the online betting, Fergie seems likely to stick with the older heads this year. "Basel were just an ordinary team and they showed that when they played Bayern," he added. 

Last season was the first since 2004/05 that the Red Devils failed to win any silverware, and the sight of arch rivals, Manchester City, winning the 2011/12 Premier League, and Liverpool winning the League and FA Cups is sure to spur Ferguson’s men on.

All at Old Trafford would welcome a strong start to their Premier League campaign; their first fixture is away at Everton on 20th August, and a win against David Moyes’, notoriously slow starting team would certainly give Ferguson’s side a well-needed confidence boost.