England can be still backed at 28/1 to win the World Cup in Brazil next year ahead of the crucial qualifying matches at Wembley over the next week. Wins against Montenegro and Poland will see the side qualify for the South America summer extravaganza of soccer and its just 1/7 that Roy Hodgson’s side are in Brazil next June.
As a now weary watcher of the English national side no doubt I will experience a nerve wrecking 180 minutes of football and it’s a worry that the boys in red, white and blue will have to beat Poland in the final match of the group. Back in 1973 when the World Wide Web was not even a twinkle in the eye of Tim Berners-Lee England had to beat Poland to make the finals in West Germany the following year.
Older readers may remember the performance of the Poland goalie Jan Tomaszewski who was labelled a clown by Brian Clough at half time. Poland scored a goal at the start of the second half that still gives Peter Shilton nightmares. Allan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke (gosh this article is so nostalgic) equalised with a penalty and then the kitchen sink, washing machine and fridge were thrown at the Poland goal but to no avail.
Going back so many years it’s difficult to recall the statistics from the match but it would be no exaggeration to say that England had at least 10 shots on target but could not score a crucial winning goal. The draw cost Sir Alf Ramsey his job so if a World Cup winning manager can be sacked for not making the finals I think we can anticipate the outcome for Hodgson if England fail to qualify for World Cup 2014.
Happy Harry Redknapp’s autobiography is being serialised in the Daily Mail this week. He makes some valid points about the type of manager usually given the biggest job in English football. The only ‘maverick’ to be given a chance was Terry Venables but he lost the job due to some unproven shady business dealings.
England will only have a genuine chance of winning the World Cup if the Premier League is reduced to 20 teams and Glenn Hoddle is reappointed. The former is highly unlikely as no chairman will vote for a measure that could cost their club status in the most lucrative league in the world. Vested club interests will determine that an extra four weeks during the league programme will not be created by reducing the number of clubs at the elite level.
It seems preposterous that players will be going to the World Cup next summer after almost twelve months of continuous training and playing. In my view in a World Cup year the domestic season should finish at the end of April so the national coach will still have a month with his players ahead of the world championships. That still allows for a week off to smoke a cigarette if you so wish or eat burgers with Colleen and the kids.
Hoddle was a man with a plan when he was the manager of England. He used three centre halves with one of those given instructions to move into midfield when the situation was appropriate. England had a great chance to really make an impact at the 1998 World Cup. Sport is all about ifs, buts and maybes but if David Beckham had not been sent off against Argentina maybe England would have won that World Cup.
It all went badly wrong for Hoddle as he was another manager sacked for non-footballing reasons. In my view the best two England managers since Bobby Robson were both dismissed for matters away from the field. I don’t think this would happen in Italy where you could probably deface artwork in the Sistine Chapel and still keep the job as national coach.
So where does all this history and conjecture leave us in the context of betting opportunities? I would back both England’s opponents with a start of a goal in the Asian handicap markets and bet on less than 2.5 goals in each match…and have a saver on the draw in the crucial match against Poland as history could cruelly repeat itself.