In a great week for all of the home nations, I was finding it hard to join in with the jubilation shared by Roy Hodgson, Gordon Strachan and Chris Coleman.
Instead, I was feeling nothing but resentment and the man I felt the most affinity with was definitely Michael O’Neill.
Because as Brazil were deservedly beaten by England at Wembley, Wales saw off the challenge of Austria in Swansea and wee Gordon got his Scotland reign off to a winning start in Aberdeen against Estonia, poor old Northern Ireland were being held by that bastion of European football, Malta, and it was the latest in a run of poor results for their beleaguered manager.
The goalless non-event means that O’Neill is yet to taste victory as Norn Iron boss since taking charge eight games ago, but you won’t hear me mocking the failure to beat Malta, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Finland.
Well, not until I get my own house in order, anyway, as two weeks running since the launch of this column I have not managed a winner either, meaning SC’s BTTS (yeah, still going with it) is yet to get off the ground.
Last week, five of our six teams scored, but once MK Dons had striker Ryan Lowe sent off in the first half for a ridiculous tackle, we were always up against it.
But third time lucky and all that, and this week’s choices look really good to me. Be wary that one of them kicks off on Friday night.
And here they are…..
Watford v Crystal Palace @ 3/5
A Championship London derby, and a vital one at the top of the table to boot, the fixture between Watford and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road looks set to be a Friday night cracker and I am banking on both sides finding the net.
Just one point and one place separate Gianfranco Zola’s Hornets and Ian Holloway’s visitors and with both sides in the play-off places with their eyes firmly set on promotion to the Premier League, we are well within our rights to expect an exciting encounter between two teams whose managers insist on attacking football.
And that is shown in the statistics: Watford are the top scorers in the Championship with 58 goals, while Palace are fourth highest with 52, and with both sides hitting the net consistently – Zola’s side have failed to score just five times in 30 games, the Eagles just four – I expect goals at both ends.
Both of these teams are joint top of the Both Teams to Score table, with 20 of their 30 league matches seeing both sides find the net.
For Watford, this incorporates nine home games, including five out of the last seven, while for Palace it is now nine times out of the last 12 away games in all competitions that each defence has been breached.
At 3/5, I see more of the same here.
Charlton Athletic v Birmingham City @ 18/25
Another two sides in the Championship that seem evenly matched and have a tendency for goals at both ends meet at the Valley on Saturday – and when Charlton Athletic host Birmingham City, I expect another game where both teams score.
Again, just two points and two places are the difference between the Addicks and Lee Clark’s side and, like Watford and Crystal Palace, both have featured in 20 league matches that have seen both teams hit the net.
And with both teams failing to score just six times apiece all year, those are stats that we have to adhere to.
Seven of Charlton’s last eight games have seen goals at both ends, as have eight of their last ten matches at the Valley.
Ten out of Birmingham’s last 11 have seen each keeper picking the ball out of the net, with eight of the last nine games on their travels ending up the same way, and at 18/25, I see no other outcome on Saturday.
Coventry City v Yeovil @ 31/50
Our final selection is another clash between two teams who sit side by side in the table, this time in League One, and Yeovil Town’s trip to Coventry City is making up our treble.
Once again, just one place and one point is the difference between these two clubs, who hover in seventh and eighth position, just below the third-tier play-off places, and there is every chance that both teams will be finding the net at the City of Coventry Stadium.
In fact, no club has seen both teams score in as many of their matches as Coventry: the Sky Blues have featured in 22 league matches where each team has been celebrating at least one goal, 12 of which have come in their 15 matches on their own patch.
Yeovil have seen 17 of their league games go the same way, with eight of their away fixtures landing the bet.
Both teams have good respective home and away goalscoring records – the Sky Blues have failed to score just once at home all season, while Gary Johnson’s side have scored in 12 of their 14 away trips.
This selection looks to be another sure thing and completes our treble at 31/50.