First of all, I feel the need to start off with an apology. Those are words I probably should have muttered in the past to my parents, friends, family, internal organs, ex-lovers and punters who have heeded my tips, but now I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to football as a whole – the still beautiful game.
In the opening two steps of my £10 to £10k challenge, I have used the words ‘sure-fire’, ‘nailed-on’ and ‘dead-cert’ to describe the games that I’ve identified as winning bets and in both instances, my words have almost come back to haunt me.
First up, I scoffed at the possibility of England overturning a two-goal handicap to beat Italy and following that, I quickly dismissed the notion of newly-promoted Southampton doing anything other than getting spanked on their return to the top flight away to champions Manchester City
Although eventually both of my bets did come off, I felt a sort of shallow and hollow sense of satisfaction because I finally realised that my faith in the game must have completely diminished.
Once upon a time, I expected the unexpected and believed that the spirit of the underdog could prevail. I longed for Ronnie Radford moments and thousands of kids invading the pitch in identical parkers, but now I sit hoping for the predictability of the odds-on home win.
In my first two bets of the £10k challenge, I have come the width of a post and a poor headed clearance away from the most premature of ejections. So this week, I’m going against the habit of a lifetime and putting my faith in women to get the job done.
Perhaps it’s the effects of trying to forge a career in journalism that has turned me so cynical and bitter. A diet of Champions League football and reading about amortisation has led to me viewing football as a business rather than a sport and maybe my next career move along from inserting scratchy gags into betting columns is to start penning whinging, procrastinating and pretentious blogs over sushi and a frappuccino on why there are too many foreigners in the game or how footballers should follow the Olympic spirit.
So now I find myself at a moral and professional crossroads, a little devil resembling Sepp Blatter on one shoulder telling me to chase the pot of gold, while a cherubic Bob Stokoe dances a jig on the other and reminds me of Second Division Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup win against Don Revie’s evil Leeds United.
In order to succeed in my £10 to £10k challenge, I will need approximately 70 bets of 1/10 or longer to reach the target figure and that will be seventy more times that games follow the status quo and seventy more times the underdogs get a kick in the mutt’s nuts.
However, after finding out I now have a hardy band of loyal followers tuned in to the fortunes of the challenge, I feel it is only fair to see the mission through, or at the very least attempt a long and meandering run against all expectations to achieve a goal many think is beyond the boundaries of possibility.
In many ways, my quest is akin to the task of those tiny sides who embark on a gallant cup run or those European minnows sure to soon be swatted aside by one of the continent’s elite. Although in essence I am now predisposed to back against these sides, we do have much in common, in that the size of the job in front of us is glazed over by the prospect of glory and the potential of heroic failure. So let us continue.
As stated previously, in my first two bets of the £10k challenge, I have come the width of a post and a poor headed clearance away from the most premature of ejections. So this week, I’m going against the habit of a lifetime and putting my faith in women to get the job done with the minimum of fuss.
Over in Japan, the Women’s Under-20 World Cup is bubbling up nicely and after following the girls’ games at the Olympics, I’ve quite taken a shine to women’s football.
The women spent less time playing with their hair than the men, got stuck in more, dived less and contributed to some fine spectacles – the semi-final between the USA and Canada being the prime example.
The States have long been the powerhouses of the female game and they have won two of the five Women’s U-20 World Cups and are among the favourites to do so once again here.
They strolled through their first Group D game 4-0 against Ghana and on Thursday morning take on China in their second match, with Germany making up the group.
The Germans and the US are two of the strongest sides in the tournament and Die Mannschaft comfortably disposed of the Chinese 4-0 in their opener.
Against Ghana, the States’ striking starlet Maya Hayes did the damage with a hat-trick and if she can fire once more, then the Stars and Stripes will be all but assured of a quarter-final berth.
Bwin’s 3way football betting market have the US as strong 3/20 favourites to emulate the Germans and collect another three points, so that gets my nod as the third punt of (hopefully) many along my rocky road to ten grand.
I’m currently at £13.33 and should the USA do the business and beat China on Thursday, my prize pot will rise another two quid to £15.33 ahead of the vast expanse of weekend fixtures around the world.
Current balance: £13.33
Potential balance: £15.33
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