PIF’d OFF – ASHLEY, AMANDA AND PREMIER LEAGUE INCOMPETENCE

Congratulations to Liverpool on winning the Premier League. And to do so with such a meagre budget, I sincerely doth my cap. Only spending £56 million on a goalkeeper, £75 million on a centre half and £96 million combined on a lethal front three – which, by the way, was excellent value. Five of their key, title winning players, costing in excess of £200 million, mega money in man-on-the-street terms. Put it into context, 5 Liverpool players are worth nearly the total valuation of Newcastle United Football Club – a fellow Premier League member. I have no problem with these facts, it’s the way of football.

Here, however, is where I do have a problem. It’s ok for Liverpool to spend that sort of money, win Champions Leagues, Premier Leagues and add to their already massive, worldwide reputation, gained from their equally big spending glory periods of the 1970’s and 1980’s but it’s not ok, according to them, for a fellow Premier League side to want to able to or have the chance to do the same. If reports are to be believed, it’s claimed that the main stumbling block of the failed Newcastle United takeover wasn’t the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia or the ongoing TV piracy debacle but objections to the Premier League from various top 6 sides, namely Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. If true, this stinks of the highest hypocrisy.

It appears to be a case of the Premier League’s elite throwing the toys out of the pram, saying they aren’t playing anymore and Premier League trying to pine to their every whim. Had this been a bid for Man United, one feels the takeover would have been pushed through months ago. Elitism in the elitist conservative state that is England.

Tottenham Hotspur, in fact, have went in the other direction. Not so much spending on players but forking out £850 million, yes, close to £1 billion on a new stadium. I say not so much on players, they could still afford £55 million on Tanguy Ndombele, who, incidentally, seems to be just a bit part player. Eye watering sums. But again, I reiterate, this isn’t the problem as long as other clubs in the Premier League, or any league for that matter, are allowed to be able to do the same.

Quite clearly, Newcastle United don’t have that sort of spending power. Under Mike Ashley, the club has been relegated from the Premier League twice in his 13 year tenure. Again to add some context, the club had only previously been relegated twice in the previous 115 years of it’s existence and have never been lower than now championship level. Newcastle have drifted along, happy with just maintaining Premier League status and the TV riches that come with it. Minimum investment in the team, no investment in the training ground or stadium (other than a lick of paint) and the ever increasing gulf in relations between supporters and those that control the club, widening by the day. The fans are ambitious, the owner is not. That is a poisonous concoction, especially when there’s nothing more important than the football club to the fans in Newcastle, many put through mental turmoil while the Premier League dithered on a decision, adding to the extreme pressures of the ongoing Covid crisis. Newcastle could have been the richest club in the world with a chance to compete with the best and that’s the important thing here, not trophies and winning everything, just a chance to compete and having a club to be proud of once again. This failed takeover feels like a real sliding doors moment.

Should another relegation occur in the coming seasons and it is quite likely, there may not be a return for one of the country’s great clubs but as long as status quo is maintained at the top end of the Premier League, who cares eh???

BLOGIN BETS 25/7/20

This week’s accumulator is £10 @10/1

• INTER 4/7 (Away v Genoa. Saturday KO 18:30)

ARSENAL 5/6 (Home v Watford. Sunday KO 16:00)

CHELSEA 4/5 (Home v Wolves. Sunday KO 16:00)

OVER 3.5 GOALS 4/7 (Man City v Norwich. Sunday KO 16:00)

JUVENTUS 2/9 (Home v Sampdoria. Sunday KO 20:45)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: With La Liga and the Bundesliga finished and this being the final round of Premier League matches, it’s likely to be the last betting matches of the season. Luck has been at a premium since lockdown, the lack of full stadiums definitely having an impact. The general pace of games has been noticeably slower and the obvious removal of home advantage has had a massive say on results. Let’s hope it’s not too long into the new season before we see bums on seats once again and a return to normality.

This week I’ve gone for a big 10/1 shot. 5 selections involving 6 teams, spread over Saturday and Sunday. If Chelsea can sneak by Watford I’m pretty confident so let’s see.

PICKS: Inter have beaten opponents Genoa in their last 3 meetings by an aggregate score of 13-0 and, despite the away sides upturn in form, I expect that to be extended. Inter have secured Champions League football for another season whilst Genoa aren’t safe from relegation, sitting 4th bottom. HOME WIN.

Arsenal are a funny side. They beat Liverpool and City then lose to Villa, very unpredictable. However, Watford’s bizarre decision to sack their manager so late in the season hasn’t seemed to pay off, I think it’s one that will see them relegated. Arsenal to put them to the sword with the shackles off.

Chelsea have won 6 matches in a row at home and that’s why I’ve gone for them here. Not only that, they need a win the guarentee a Champions League spot. It’ll be a tough test against a good Wolves side and this will be a crucial match for the acca. Close home win.

Man City have score 4+ goals in 5 of their last 8 Premier League matches. Norwich have conceded 14 goals in 6 of theirs. Enough said. Over 3.5 goals in this one.

Despite only winning one of their last 5 Serie A matches, a win at home to Sampdoria will clinch yet another Scudetto for Juventus. Sampdoria’s form has been decent since lockdown, securing their league status in the process. I can’t see that stopping the old lady wrapping up the title and wrapping up the acca. YESSSAAI.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 38 – FINALE)

OVERVIEW: What a final few weeks of the season it’s been. A massive 90 points in gameweek 37 has all but guaranteed a 4th place office finish. A tremendous effort considering we were second bottom before lockdown and staring sausage sandwich forfeit right between the eyes – An unthinkable outcome. Title winning form since the restart has seen the team safe, form that was a million miles away in early part of the season. Rotation of selection has been key to the turnaround I’ve got to say.

On the pitch, Captain Sterling banged another 34 points while Kane and Laporte both chipped in with 12 a piece. The bonus to come from the round was Burnley keeping a clean sheet and risky selection Pieters bagging a tasty 12. When your luck’s in.

Most teams will be on holiday so there’s bound to be some silly results on the final day. In terms of importance, the last couple of relegation spots, as well as champions league places, are still to be confirmed but looking at the fixture list, there’s not a great deal that stands out other than City home to Norwich. That has to be the place to cash in. Will Pep pick Sterling though? Who bloody knows.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: All being said, I’m going to do something unprecedented in these unprecedented of times….. I going to stick with the same side as Gameweek 37. Hold me, someone.

Sterling will remain as captain and we finish with two Toon boys in the side – Things you love to see. Home to Liverpool is a tough one for the mighty mags but hopefully Liverpool are still in the pub celebrating their title success and Messrs, Saint-Maximin and Fernandez can sneak a few points.

Get tight and let them know your there, lads.

Team for Gameweek 38

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 37)

OVERVIEW: Our friend Pep Guardiola has done it again. Sterling hattrick one week and selected as captain for the next……DROPPED. A measly 2 points for his cameo appearance and stuff of fantasy football nightmares. It could be worse I suppose, one player in our league used his triple captain card on him. Shouldn’t laugh.

Overall though, it was another decent week, 56 points despite the lack of captain input. Good returns from front 3: Kane, Rashford and Jesus. Looking ahead to the penultimate gameweek, I’m not too confident looking at the fixtures but if I can maintain 4th position going into the final day, I will be pleased. A week of consolidation I think.

Also, the added inconvenience of the FA Cup gives an extra selection headache as managers rotate around that this game week.

THIS WEEKS PICKS: Another 2 transfers this time round meaning another -4 hit. It’s been a worthwhile tactic in recent weeks so I’m happy to carry it on. Chelsea being away at Liverpool means I’ve taken out Azpilicueta and Barkley and replaced them with Pieters of Burnley and Zaha of palace. Not ideal if I’m honest, I wanted to bring in Man United’s Fernandez with them being at home to West Ham but available funds would allow.

I’ve risked Sterling as captain again, Rashford will be vice and still we have 2 TOON boys in. There’s a question mark over Saint-Maximin’s fitness but I think/hope he’ll play. BALLS INTO THE BOX, LADS

BLOGIN BETS (18/7/20)

This week’s accumulator is £10 @9/1

BRENTFORD 8/13 (Away v Stoke. Saturday KO 12:30)

ATALANTA 4/11 (Away v Verona. Saturday KO 16:15)

• AC MILAN 1/2 (Home v Bologna. Saturday KO 20:45)

• BARCELONA 4/9 (Away v Alaves. Sunday KO 20:00)

• REAL MADRID 10/11 (Away v Leganes. Sunday KO 20:00)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: First of all, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Real Madrid and Barcelona’s combined odds be so high on a single game week. A double on the two Spanish giants would gain a price of nearly 2/1 alone. Giving both club’s respective dominance in La Liga over the years, I would say this is pretty rare but it’s probably the fact the title race is over – Just an observation but I’ll be looking to take full advantage.

With that in mind, I think we have fantastic value on this week’s accumulator. Granted, there are some tricky fixtures but I’m actually quietly confident. The run down is the usual 5 team pick spread over Saturday and Sunday. With odds of 9/1, let’s have a bit of that.

PICKS: Brentford are flying in the championship, 8 wins from 8 has giving them a great chance of automatic promotion. Opponents Stoke have actually won 4 of their last 5 home games, albeit against lesser opposition. The defeat in that run was against lowly Middlesbrough and the league table does not lie. I expect a Brentford win.

Atalanta’s dream Serie A season roll’s on, a 6-2 victory last time out took their total to 93 goals scored in the league this season, they even have an outside chance at the title. Verona on the other hand have only won once in 8, despite being comfortable in mid table. AWAY WIN.

A tricky one coming up as AC Milan look to clinch a European spot. Their home form has been excellent with notable victories against Juventus and Roma in recent weeks. Bologna have had a decent season themselves but with only 2 wins from 10 and Milan’s home form, I’m thinking a narrow HOME WIN.

Barcelona have thrown away the title and have been in pretty average form all season. But they are Barcelona, still have Messi in their ranks and away to 15th place Alaves, you’d still expect them to get the job done and finish on a high. 4/9 good value.

Real Madrid have sealed the title and hopefully there’ll be a party atmosphere even without supporters. Their opponents are in the relegation zone but 3 wins from 5 has given them hope. 10/11 is really high and I presume this reflects Leganes recent revival and Madrid with nothing left to play for, I can still only see one outcome – AWAY WIN and acca wrapped up.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 36)

OVERVIEW: It’s great when a good plan comes together. 65 points and up to 4th place, Sterling (captain) bagging 42 of those and, as alluded to in my previous post, the importance of your double point captain pick cannot be underestimated. In fact, had it not been for that captain pick it would have been a very poor round which included a red card. It was a good time to gain ground as the average point score for the week was only 40 points.

Looking into gameweek 36, favourable fixtures for Manchester City and Chelsea could be the key.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: Two transfers made this week, one of which is enforced. A red card for Söyüncü in Leicester’s surprise defeat at Bournemouth means he is suspended for this game round. A -3 for the red, coupled with the -4 I’m taking for the double transfer shows the impact a red card can have. That being said, I think that may be the first time this season that a player I’ve selected has been giving his marching orders, not bad considering there’s only 3 matches left. Söyüncü has been replaced by Azpilicueta. With Chelsea at home to already relegated Norwich, it’s a good clean sheet chance. That takes the team to the maximum 3 Chelsea players as Barkley and Willian retain their places.

The other change is Gabriel Jesus for Aubameyang. Arsenal v Liverpool pitted against City v Bournemouth there’s only one winner in terms of where the safe points could be. With Sergio Aguero injured, Jesus is basically City’s only recognised forward and has been getting an extended run in Pep’s side. The dilemma I’ve had was whether to keep Sterling as captain or not. Despite him hitting a hattrick in the last match, it would be just like Pep to rest him this time round. I have actually stuck with him so fingers crossed there.

The two TOON boys, Ferdandez and Saint-Maximin keep their places as Newcastle welcome Tottenham. What worth noting is, José Mourinho has never won a league game at St.James’ Park, the only stadium he hasn’t recorded a victory. Quite remarkable and hopefully that run continues this week.

FROM THE FIRST MINUTE, LADS.

BLOGIN BETS 11/7/2020

This week’s accumulator is £10 @7/1

• CHELSEA 4/7 (Away v Sheffield United. Saturday KO 17:30)

• ROMA 1/2 (Away v Brescia. Saturday KO 18:30)

• MANCHESTER CITY 3/10 (Away v Brighton. Saturday KO 20:00)

• ATLETICO MADRID 40/85 (Home v Real Betis. Saturday KO 21:00)

• LEICESTER CITY 4/6 (Away v Bournemouth. Sunday KO 19:00)

CONFIDENCE: 6/10

OVERVIEW: Manchester City’s inability to put the ball in the net cost us the acca last time out. 1 team yet again.

Moving on to this week, I’ve been given a free hit. BetBull have offered FULL ACCA INSURANCE so any failure will be refunded as a free bet. With this in mind I’ve gone slightly riskier on the selections because, well, why not. Still a group of 5 favourites, albeit not as strong with 4 matches away from home. What this does give us though, is an increased return for 1 less selection, here goes.

PICKS: Chelsea are in fine fettle, they have won 8 of their last 9 games and I fancy them to increase that run at Shef. United. The home side have had a brilliant season themselves but I think in form Willian, Pulisic and co will have too much in this one.

What a scratchy season it’s been for AS Roma. With Champions League qualification hopes all but gone, they’ll be looking to cling onto their Europa spot with a win away at Struggling Brescia. And that’s the reason I’ve still gone with the away side here, Brescia have only won once in 16 games and look destined for relegation. Roma at 1/2 offers good value here.

Yep, I’ve gone Man City again despite last week’s let down. Opponents Brighton have failed to win in 7 of their previous 8 home matches and they’ve conceded 3 goals in their last 2, perfectly open for Pep’s city. AWAY WIN.

Over in Spain, Atleti are doing what they do and not losing. Unbeaten in 13 La Liga matches, they are still the best of the rest and look nailed on for a Champions League place. Visitors Real Betis, on the other hand, are winless in 10 away matches in the league and have averaged less than a goal a game in that run. Not ideal when coming up against one of the meanest defences in Europe. 2-0 ATLETICO.

I’m hoping we are looking at a good cash out number by the time Leicester travel to Bournemouth on Sunday night. After a post lockdown blip, the foxes appear to be back on track whilst Bournemouth have been dreadful. No win in 9 Premier League games for them and adrift in the bottom 3. Leicester great odds at 4/6 to WRAP UP THE ACCA.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 35)

OVERVIEW: Gameweek 34 bought a half respectable yield of 44 points. Not bad considering there were two 1’s and a zero on the team sheet – Willian, Sterling and Aubameyang making up for that. My Captain pick turned out to be crucial as Kane disappointingly scored, had I picking Sterling we would have been looking at 60+ point week, once again that is Pep’s selection minefield playing tricks on the fantasy gaffa.

Looking ahead to gameweek 35 the fixture set doesn’t really seem to suit my team sheet but let’s see if we can produce a rabbit from the Tony Pulis cap.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: There’s a buzz around the dressing room this week, in comes a TOON player Federico Fernandez. He replaces Brandon Williams in the back 3 who I’ve been trying to get out for weeks. Williams has featured sparingly for Man United despite their good form but, because of his low transfer value, he’s been hard to replace with quality. I think Fernandez can do a job there as Newcastle look to bounce back from a battering when they travel to struggling Watford.

I’ve also rolled the dice and taken yet another -4 to make another transfer. Out comes Phil Foden who is replaced by Ross Barkley. Reason being, firstly and once again, Pep’s team selection. Foden played last time out for Man City which means there’s a chance he could drop down to the bench for this one. He has been in and out of the side this season as Guardiola rotates. Secondly, Chelsea’s form has been good and, despite Sheffield United’s excellent season, I expect the Londoners to travel up to Yorkshire and get a win to maintain their Champions League push. Providing Barkley plays, there’s good chance for him to bag points – along with teammate, Willian.

Sterling will be captain this week away at Brighton which is another Pep risk but hopefully it’s a gamble that will pay off. Rashford, home to Southampton will be vice.

Leicester travelling to Bournemouth is a good clean sheet chance for Schmeichel and Söyüncü and hopefully Saint-Maximin will be fit enough to have a double whammy of Newcastle players in the side, always a Steve Brucey bonus!

BALLS INTO THE BOX, lads.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 34)

OVERVIEW: A respectable 50 point haul maintains 5th position in the League, now only 2 points off 4th and dizzy Champions League heights. The standout performers were Rashford (captain), Willian and Almiron but disappointing showings from usual big hitters Kane, Sterling and Aubameyang was made somewhat worse by Vardy regaining some form after i’d just binned him. That happens, but all in all decent week. We move on to gameweek 34.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: It’s a somber atmosphere in the dressing room this week. Yes I’ve had to do it – I’ve transferred out 2 of my 3 Newcastle players, taking another -4 in the process. The reason – they are away to Manchester City. Lascelles is out and in comes Laporte as well as Phil Foden replacing Miguel Almiron. As alluded to in a previous post, I learned pretty quickly how important it is to use your head rather than being guided by the heart in selection terms. I’m fully aware that home to Newcastle it’s a chance for City to fill their boots, especially after a poor defeat in their last match. I can’t see the toon scoring meaning Laporte is a clean sheet candidate and, providing Pep plays Sterling and Foden, there’s a chance of big points there, painful as that may be.

Kane will be captain with Tottenham away at struggling Bournemouth while Sterling will take the vice role. If I could guarantee Guardiola’s team selection then these may have been the other way round. The City boss is a fantasy football manager mine field and trying to preempt him is like picking lottery numbers at times.

Got to fancy Rashford at Villa and Willian is in fine form for Chelsea. Overall, quite confident this round.

Also, Saint-Maximin retains his place and is the sole TOON flag flyer, couldn’t take them all out.

WIN YOUR PERSONAL BATTLES, LADS

Team selection gameweek 34

BLOGIN BETS 4/7/20

This week’s accumulator pick is £10 @5/1

• MANCHESTER UNITED 1/6 (Home v Bournemouth. Saturday KO 15:00)

• BRENTFORD 8/15 (Home v Wigan. Saturday KO 15:00)

• JUVENTUS 2/7 (Home v Torino. Saturday KO 16:15)

• CHELSEA 2/5 (Home v Watford. Saturday KO 20:00)

• MANCHESTER CITY 3/10 (Away v Southampton. Sunday KO 19:00)

• FC PORTO 2/11 (Home v Belenenses. Sunday KO 21:30)

CONFIDENCE: 8/10

OVERVIEW: Straight forward this week. 6 teams, all big favourites spread over Saturday and Sunday. I’ll admit, there was a temptation to add Atletico Madrid who played Friday night. They won incidentally, but previous Friday night failures and the subsequent scuppering of the weekend fun made me think twice, never mind.

Anyway, with 5 of the 6 selections being home sides confidence is pretty high, only Chelsea adding a slight hint of doubt in my mind and when I say slight, I mean very slight. Let’s do this.

PICKS: Man United are unbeaten since January and have won their last 3 Premier League games. Home to a Bournemouth side who have lost 4 in a row and haven’t won in 8 games. Eddie howe’s side lookshot of confidence and easy pickings at the moment. Comfortable HOME WIN.

Brentford still have a faint chance of going up to the Premier League automatically and have won 4 games in row, playing some excellent stuff along the way. Their opponents Wigan are also in pretty decent form but having been placed into administration in the week there’s bound be a lot of uncertainty around the club. Brentford to take full advantage, HOME WIN.

Juventus are on course for yet another Serie A title and at home to city rivals Torino I expect them to stay on track. The away side have only picked up 1 victory from 11 in all competitions which includes 5 straight away defeats. The old lady take this one.

It’s becoming very tight in the race for Champions League places in the Premier League. Chelsea will looking to maintain their spot with Man U breathing down their necks and it’s a good opportunity at home to Watford. The away side haven’t won since lockdown and are hovering perilously above the drop zone. It may be tight but The Blues will be come out on top here.

Manchester City may have lost out on the Premier League title but manager Pep Guardiola won’t let them take their foot off the gas. Outstanding against Liverpool in the week, I expect them to keep up the momentum ahead of crucial FA Cup and Champions League matches. Southampton have lost 10 of their 16 home games this season conceding an average of over 2 goals in those matches. AWAY WIN with De Bruyne again instrumental.

Porto are 6 points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga and, at home to 5th bottom Belenenses, you’ve got to fancy them preserving that cushion. The away side have only won once in 7 games – That will surely become 8 as Porto push towards the title and, more importantly, WRAP UP THE ACCA.