Being a punter is all about making money out of what you believe. It sounds simple when you put it like that, but that’s what you do: you make judgement calls on certain teams and players and go with them in a bid to cash in.
Sometimes, that involves going with the obvious, while at other times it means swimming against the tide of public opinion, but there is nothing wrong with that. Just because you’re stood on your own doesn’t mean you are stood in the wrong place.
If you’re right, you stay ahead of the game and win money. That’s the aim, anyway. That’s all well and good. But a big part of being a punter is knowing when you’ve been wrong and being big enough to admit it, revise your initial opinion and stop losing money.
Anybody who reads what I write regularly (hi mum!) will know that I have wanted to be on the side of Newcastle United since August.
All season long I have tipped them up, especially at the kind of big prices that profits are made of, in the belief that the Magpies have quality in abundance and that a return to last season’s form, which saw Newcastle finish fifth in the Premier League, was just around the corner. The Champions League places were more than a possibility, I thought.
Well, this is my mea culpa moment. I was wrong. I was badly wrong. I have seriously overestimated Newcastle’s capabilities and as the final whistle went at St James’ Park last weekend and the Toon players trudged off after a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City, I thought to myself, ‘that’s it’. Enough is enough.
Newcastle haven’t played well all season. You could argue that there are mitigating circumstances and I would agree to a certain extent that injuries and suspensions have not helped the Toon cause, nor the Thursday/Sunday dilemma of Europa League football.
But the reality is that in the Premier League, Newcastle have been woeful in nearly every match and the time has come for me to stop pretending otherwise.
Even their three league wins – at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and West Browmich Albion – were all, in their different ways, extremely fortunate, as were draws gained away at Everton, Reading and Liverpool, and I’ve had enough of it.
For whatever reason, their top players aren’t firing, they are leaky where they were once solid and the mood in the camp and on the terraces seems restless. It’s a good job manager Alan Pardew only has just over seven-and-a-half years left on his contract.
If somebody would have told me that you could get 2/1 on Newcastle going to Southampton and winning at the start of the season, I’d have been off to pawn everything I owned to lump on. But how can you back a side who haven’t won an away match in nine attempts in all competitions this season? You can’t and you shouldn’t.
But can you be backing Southampton at 5/4? Really? And what about the draw at 12/5? I wouldn’t tip any outcome particularly strongly, but what I am convinced about is that there will be goals and that has to be the play.
The match sees Pardew return to his former club, where he was sacked for, shall we say, being Alan Pardew. If footballing reasons were not the whole story behind his sacking – he was doing okay in League One – then Nigel Adkins showed what a fine decision it was, with the former Scunthorpe boss taking over from Pardew and getting the Saints into the Premier League within two seasons.
But Adkins is in danger of being replaced himself and desperately needed the 3-1 win over rock-bottom Queens Park Rangers last weekend. The victory was just their second this year, but it was, typically, full of goals and that has to be the way to approach this match.
Quite simply, both teams to score is nailed on here. At 12/25 it is short, I’ll say that, but for me it is like buying money.
Southampton have kept just one clean sheet all season, against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup. Domestically, Newcastle have kept one clean sheet in 13 games, against Norwich at St James’ Park.
Both teams have scored in ten of Southampton’s 12 league matches. The stat is eight in 12 for Newcastle and in four of their five away games, each team has struck.
In each of Southampton’s five matches at St Mary’s both they and the opposition have found the net and this game isn’t going to be any different. Register here and then get on it.