Wayne Rooney’s back! A problem for United?

One of the biggest names in world football makes his return soon, how can that be a problem? If Rooney was missing for any of the season’s since Ronaldo left Manchester United then you’d have been right in thinking that the majority of United fans would be desperate for his return. He was top scorer in two of the last three seasons for the club with 34 goals each time and a key figure in the year in between. As of now though, there isn’t that sense of relief that he’s coming back, even his injury and layoff was met with a ‘oh well’ reaction.

Of course, the reason for this is that Rooney just doesn’t seem to be as needed as much as he has been in previous seasons. Even in the year where Dimitar Berbatov outscored him, it was Rooney who would play the big games with the Bulgarian normally watching from the bench. The reason for this current indifference to his return? Robin van Persie of course. Since the Dutchman’s introduction and Rooney’s injury caused by the studs of Hugo Rodallega, the Red Devils have won all four league games with Van Persie topping the Premier League scoring charts.

So what happens now? There are a few options for Ferguson. He can continue his one up front system, with Kagawa playing behind either Rooney or Van Persie or he can try them together. My personal opinion is that this is going to be a frustrating season for the English striker. With Van Persie already settled I can’t see Ferguson dropping him any time soon, and in the big games when Ferguson prefers his 4-5-1 formation, it’s going to be Van Persie leading the line, with Rooney either reverting to the wing like he did during Ronaldo’s last season (especially with Nani’s recent regression to the frustrating force he was before a couple of seasons ago), or, even finding himself on the bench.

Ferguson can quite happily play Rooney up front on his own, or pair him with Van Persie in the games United expect to win. However, when the blue half come visiting or they face a trip to the Emirates, I’d fully expect Van Persie to be the striker with his name at the point of United’s attack. Where does this leave Rooney? He is still an excellent player and 30+ goals last season is not to be sniffed at.

Ferguson can’t really leave one of the highest paid players in world football to kick his heels on the bench, but unless Van Persie gets injured, or they hit off such a partnership that Ferguson is happy to employ a 4-4-2 away at Stamford Bridge, then Rooney runs the risk of missing out on the big games. Hernandez and Welbeck may be reasonably happy to play bit-part roles from the bench and against the lesser teams, but Rooney happy with that? I don’t think so. Intriguing times ahead at Old Trafford.


Are long contracts the way forward for managers?

This week Alan Pardew, manager of Newcastle United, and his management team have joined chief scout Graham Carr in signing contracts with the club until 2020. That is a massive eight-year contract. Is that the way forward? Newcastle’s thoughts behind this are that Manchester United and Arsenal, arguably the two most successful clubs of the Premier League era, have been able to achieve what they have due to the stability gained by keeping a manager and his back-room staff for significant periods of time.

Ferguson has been at the Old Trafford club for nearly 26 years, during this time Newcastle United have had 23 managers (including caretaker managers), nearly one for each year. In this period Newcastle have won nothing, well, they have won the Championship (or First Division) twice, but to have done that, they’ve needed to be relegated, and a club of Newcastle’s size should not be playing outside of the top league in English football. So you can see the logic behind the decision. Newcastle have not been the most stable club, and you can applaud Mike Ashley and his board for trying to provide the continuity for success.

However, is this going to work? Or is it just going to result in Newcastle having to give Pardew a massive pay-off when Newcastle aren’t doing as well as expected in a couple of years time?

The average length of tenure for a manager is around two years, so arguably Pardew is almost at the time when other managers are beginning to lose their jobs, yet, he has just been given a contract four times the length of this average. Surely just giving a manager a long contract is not enough to guarantee success? If Newcastle were to tie me to an 8 year contract, then I’m pretty sure it’d end in disaster. Now, admittedly, they have more hope with Pardew and based on his previous season in which Newcastle finished a very credible 5th they will be hopeful of improvement.

However, just a quick look through the history books sees that George Burley achieved this with Ipswich Town. Would an 8 year contract have made Ipswich a force to be reckoned with? It’s hard to say, but it’s doubtful. Admittedly, Newcastle are a bigger club with more money, but my point is that for success, you don’t only need to have belief and faith in a manager, but you also need a very talented guy in charge. Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager of all time and before he came to Old Trafford he’d already won the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen and beaten Celtic and Rangers to three Scottish Premier Division titles. Alan Pardew has won the F.A. Trophy with Southampton. Is he the right man for the job?

The key here is not to be too quick to judge. Ferguson was in charge for nearly four years before he won anything, and nearly seven years before his first league title. Pardew has yet to be in charge for 2 full years, and just a season (albeit a successful season) and a half prior to this one. This means Pardew should be given until at least the end of the 2013-2014 season until he can start to be judged, and probably longer. Whether he is the man for the job remains to be seen, but he needs Ashley and Llambias et al to give him the support such a large contract warrants. If they do, Pardew could surprise us and rival Ferguson and Wenger with a Newcastle United dynasty, or, he could be sacked in a year or two with the Magpies mid-table. Interesting times ahead in the North-East.


Premier League Betting Tips – Saturday 29th September

Premier League has some fantastic games this upcoming Saturday. We start with Arsenal against Chelsea, finish off with Manchester United hosting Tottenham, and the games in between are not bad either! I will go over some of the key matches on Saturday and give you some betting tips along the way.

Arsenal v Chelsea – 12:45pm

This has always been one of the best Premier League fixtures in a calendar season, and these two teams have been challenging for honours. Since 1997 these two teams have won 6 Premier League titles between them. The rivalry has always been fierce, and there has been some classic matches in between the two sides, most recently when Arsenal won at Stamford Bridge 5-3 last October.

This game promises to be a classic too, as both teams go into this game undefeated, after both having solid starts to the league. Chelsea lead the Premier League pile at the moment, having only dropped two points in five matches. It’s fair to say though, that this will definitely be their toughest test of the campaign so far. Arsenal have drew three matches, and won two, sitting four points behind Chelsea. Their recent games saw them dismantle Southampton, win 2-0 at Liverpool and claim a deserved point at Manchester City. They are also the hosts to this match, and home support will make them slight favourites in this encounter.

Arsenal are at 5/4 to win this match, with Chelsea at 7/4, so there really isn’t a lot in it. When these two teams met last year in this fixture, it was a dull 0-0 affair, but the game came in a busy period for both teams, I expect a lot more fireworks in this one.

Whoever has scored the first goal in this fixture, doesn’t usually lose, in fact it hasn’t happened since the Premier League started back in1992. The team who has scored first hasn’t lost, so maybe it may change in this fixture? Arsenal are 9/1 to come from behind and win, whilst Chelsea are 10/1. Eden Hazard has been a danger to any team so far this season, and he is 7/1 to score first.

However, in these big matches, anyone across the pitch can score first, and can often be defenders so it’ll be best to see who is starting, and get money on a centre back. In terms of a result, I think this will be a score draw.

Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea – 6/1

Fulham v Manchester City – 3:00pm

It’s not going totally rosy for Manchester City so far this season. Eliminated from the Capital One Cup, lost their opening Champions League game cruelly to Real Madrid, and have drew 3 of their 5 Premier League games, conceding 7 in the progress, not one clean sheet. That would suggest that this perhaps is a bad time to visit Fulham, who sit one place above them in the Premier League.

Fulham have won three out of five so far, and look a solid team to beat, especially on home soil. They have won both games at home this season, scoring 8 and conceding none. This fixture was played last year, and nearly the same time. Fulham got a 2-2 draw with Manchester City, which was City’s first dropped points of the season. For Fulham to get a draw this time, the odds are at 23/10, and for them to go one better it’s at 7/2.

Manchester City are quite strong favourites in most games they play, but the bookies only see them at 4/6 to win this rather tricky fixture. I do expect a City win here after their recent disappointing performances, but only a narrow one. Tevez started midweek but so not sure whether he will start. He has a brilliant record scoring at this ground, and is 5/1 to get on the score sheet first, I’ll go with him for first goal scorer.

Fulham 0-2 Manchester City – 15/2

Manchester United v Tottenham – 5:30pm

Always a cracking game to watch, with both sides best defence is to go out and attack. I expect an end to end affair here. This fixture never fails to amaze me, and for one reason is that Tottenham never get any luck in this fixture. If you would back Manchester United not to lose a match against Tottenham, since 2001, (27 matches) then you would be a very rich man!

Tottenham haven’t beaten Manchester United home or away, league or cup, since May in 2001, when they beat a Manchester United side who had already won the title. Tottenham have been unlucky in some fixtures, with some crazy incidents not going their way, but also they seem to fear playing against Manchester United, and we never see the best of them. Manchester United, since losing at Everton, have won four in a row in the Premier League, with the most recent win coming at Anfield.

Tottenham started slowly, mustering up two points in their first three league games, but have won back to back games since. Manchester United are 1/2 to win the match, with Tottenham at an underdog 9/2. I keep saying to myself every year that Tottenham are due a win against United, but I don’t think so this time. I think Manchester United will edge it. Rooney is expected to return and play up front with Van Persie, as both are 3/1 to score first. For a bit more value though, I’d go for Valencia at 8/1.

Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham – 20/1

Overall this Saturday there is 8 matches, and the five I haven’t mentioned are just as important and key to the ones above. I am going to give an accumulator on the other five matches, and calculate how much you can win from a £1 stake.

Everton host Southampton, and the formbook would suggest a routine home win here, but I think Southampton may surprise a few, and get a draw here. Liverpool will look for their first win of the season away at Norwich, who are also looking for their first three points, I’d back an away win there, but won’t be easy for Liverpool. Sunderland will get their first win of the season against Wigan. I think Swansea may surprise a few and get a draw at Stoke. Bottom of the pile Reading, will struggle to get a result from Newcastle. Here is my accumulator below, the more you bet the more you win of course, but remember all Premier League games are getting harder and harder to predict!

£1 stake will win you: £86

Everton v Southampton (Draw)

Norwich v Liverpool (Away Win)

Reading v Newcastle (Away Win)

Stoke v Swansea (Draw)

Sunderland v Wigan (Home Win)


La Liga Betting Tips – 29th + 30th September

The La Liga has another exciting weekend with some fantastic fixtures. Barcelona will want to keep their 100% record continuing but face a hard task at Sevilla. Real Madrid are back to winning ways, whilst Atletico Madrid, who have gone from strength to strength this season, look to continue their impressive and unbeaten start to the season. Here are some of my betting tips for this week’s La Liga action!

Sevilla v Barcelona 9:00pm – Saturday

Sevilla have picked up 11 points from a possible 15, and remain unbeaten. Their proudest moment of the season so far was beating Real Madrid at home, and would like to upset current pace setters Barcelona this weekend. Sevilla have won both home games so far, but face Barcelona who have won all league games so far this season. Barcelona have had some tough games, but this will be their toughest test so far. Barcelona have scored 14, and only conceded 3 in their first five games, but another win here would clearly show a statement of intent. Sevilla are 5/1 to win this match, with Barcelona at 4/9, clear favourites.

These odds were similar to those a few weeks ago when Sevilla beat Real Madrid, so it’s possible again. It’s always risky to bet against Barcelona, but I fancy Sevilla to cause an upset here, and get a draw against the Catalan club, and the odds of that are at 10/3. Messi, as usual, top favourite to score, at 9/4, but I’d tip Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo at 7/1.

My Prediction; Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona – 16/1

Real Madrid v Deportivo – 6:50pm – Sunday

Jose Mourinho had criticised his team after losing to Sevilla a few weeks ago, and claimed his side have lost their fight and ambition. Real Madrid have lost two games this season, and dropping home points too, leaving them 8 points behind Barcelona already. They have won their last two matches, and the spark seems to be back. No one is expecting any upsets here, as Real Madrid are 1/9 to win.

Deportivo, who have had a fairly solid start to the season, unbeaten on their travels, are 16/1 to come away with a victory, or 7/1 to earn even a draw. I’d go for a convincing home win. First goal scorer? Take your pick, but to win better money, you have to be more risky, so I’ll go for Xabi Alonso at 18/1.

Real Madrid 4-0 Deportivo – 15/2

Espanyol v Atletico Madrid – 8:30pm – Sunday

Atletico Madrid were brilliant towards the end of last season. They won the Europa League in style, but couldn’t manage to get in the top four places to have Champions League football. Their aim is to do that this year, but perhaps could even challenge for the title. They have one of the best strikers in the world, in Falcao, and a vast amount of creative midfielders. Espanyol have had a poor start to the season, sitting in 18th position, as Atletico are favourites for this one at EVENS. Atletico to be winning at half time and full time is at 11/5, so I’d tip that. Falcao to score first is at 3/1. I’d go for Arda Turan at 7/1 instead.

Espanyol 1-3 Atletico Madrid – 14/1


Wimbledon Women’s Semi-Finals Could not be more Different!

The two semi-finals for the 2013 Wimbledon championship looked as though they would be really close. With Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova expected to be the two ladies to reach the final, it was a big shock when they were both knocked out fairly early on in the competition. This left the doors open for many new faces to take advantage and that is exactly what happened. The semi-finals saw an exciting line up of four ladies who had never won Wimbledon.

The first semi-final was between Bartoli and Flipkens. Neither may have been tipped to win their quarter final, but it was still expected that their semi-final would be an exciting one. Bartoli has been in a Wimbledon final before but it was six years ago when she was beaten by Venus Williams. This experience must have helped her as she powered through her match and won 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour. The match was rather one sided and the crowd seemed disappointed.

Wimbledon Womens Semi-Finals

However, the second match on centre court was always highly anticipated and this was much more exciting. Lisicki played Radwanska and the crowd were not disappointed. It went to third set with both players battling hard to try to win. In the end Lisicki came through the victor, after a stumble in the second set and holding it all together in the last set which went to 9-7. She will be tired going in to the final, but she will have lots of confidence knowing that she managed to come through a very tough match and battle her nerves and drop in form to still be able to win. She did the same thing when she knocked out Serena Williams and so it will be interesting to see whether she can hold it together. Bartoli on the other hand seemed extremely laid back and even took a nap for half an hour just an hour before the match started to help her to relax, which certainly seemed to work!

Now bets are on as to who will win the final between Bartoli who has been there before and Lisicki who has not. It could be a very exciting match with both girls bound to be confident but also nervous. A lot of people will be tuning in on Saturday to find out which of these two women will be the new Wimbledon champion. Both have already achieved so much but who will it be that will get the ultimate prize? Visit FREEbets blog to find out more about where you can go to place a free bet on the game and then watch on Saturday to see whether your favourite wins.


Choosing the Best Casino Games

If you enjoy playing casino games, then you may have discovered some games at certain casinos that you like playing. However, there could be some much better games out there, that you do not know about and so it is a good idea to find out more so that you can have as much fun as possible.

Obviously, playing on every single casino and trying out every game is impossible. This means that you need a way of cutting it down a bit. One good way of doing this is to have a look at the other games at the casino that you enjoying playing. For examples if you use Unibet then chances are that you have not tried all of the functions of the site and everything that there is to do. Have a go as because you already like the site, you may be more likely to like some of the other things on there.

Casino Games

Another way to find some good games to play is to look at some online reviews. You will find that there are a lot of websites that review casinos and casino games and so you should easily be able to find some. This will give you an idea of what the site is like, what the games are like and what other people think of them. Obviously opinions do differ and you may not agree, but if a lot of people have praised a particular game, then it stands to reason that it could be worth having a look at.

It is worth considering what features you are looking for in a casino. You might like ones with high prizes or lots of prizes, one that is cheap to lay, one that allows high bets, one that is friendly, easy to use or whatever. Think about any casinos that you have used in the past and what you liked and disliked about them as this may help you to make up your mind.

It is a lot quicker looking at reviews than trying to work out for yourself which you will like. However, it is the opinion of someone else and so there is no guarantee that you will agree with what they think. It will save you a lot of time though and could narrow down the many options for you a bit. You will know which sites will be worth trying out and which you should ignore.


French Open Excitement Starts!

The draw for the French Open will take place on 24th May and then fans will be able to see which exciting matches will be taking place and when. Until then, there is time to have a think about who you want to place money on to win. Take a look at the French Open tennis odds from Paddy Power to see what the bookies think and then decide whether you agree with them or not. Why not place a bet as well, to make watching the games more fun?

Sadly No 2 in the World, Scotland’s Andy Murray will not be able to play due to a back injury that caused him to pull out of a recent tournament. He is hoping that he will be able to rest up and do his best to win Wimbledon in June on home soil. However, there will still be plenty of excitement in the men’s game at the French Open. Novak Djokovic will be working hard to hold on to his number one spot. However, he may have to beat Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer to win the trophy. There will also be hard competition from some of the other top ten placed men, Ferrer, Berdych, Del Potro, Tsonga and Gasquet, all of whom could be threatening on a good day.

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Italy's S

The women’s games could also be very exciting too. With two Britons, Laura Robson and Heather Watson in the top 100, there will be some exciting matches for the Brits to watch there. Hopefully the girls will do their country proud and progress through a couple of rounds. In the top end of the rankings, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka look like they may be fighting for the top spot. However, there will be some competition from Radwanska, Errani, Na, Kvita and Kerber. The women’s game is more open than it used to be and so there could be some surprises.

Doubles matches can also be fun in the big grand slam tournaments and with mixed doubles as well, there will certainly be a lot of great games to watch . So empty your diary from May 21 to June 9th so that you can settle in front of the television and enjoy one of the greatest tennis tournaments in the world. Even if you prefer Wimbledon, this will give you an idea of what to expect when the grass court season starts in June.