SOMETIMES as an ante-post punter you yearn for the
days when footballers were paid 50p a week and were
thankful they’d not been sold into slavery.
The vast gap between rich and poor in soccer has
accelerated player turnover to such an extent that
whole squads are unrecognisable from one season to
Leicester, for example, have switched 41 players in
13 months. The August Foxes will bear scant relation
to the May team sheet and the same applies to
Brentford, Forest, Oldham, Chester, Lincoln,
Macclesfield, Stockport, Wrexham and others, so
tread very carefully in these markets.
Overall, in all three Coca-Cola leagues, the
do not look well-equipped to bounce straight back as
title winners. Southampton have shed ii players, for
example, while Forest have won just one pre-season
game, So, for our main title bets in all three
Divisions we’ll go for teams who have had a season
to adjust to disappointment and whose rebuilding
started last year.
Of the Premiership dropouts, Southampton have lost
their direction, Palace haven’t found any strikers
- or replace - Andy Johnson and Norwich have not
found their defence. They’ll need an away win or two
In the long term, the future looks bright for FA
Youth Cup winners Ipswich, but for now, they will
miss four key players, responsible for 51 goals last
For the first time Neil Warnock has had money to
spend at Sheffield United and with Craig Short,
Lilian Nails and Neil Shipperley amongst the new
boys, they’ll be up there. But not up.
I prefer Wolves and Leeds. In Jackie McNamara (free
from Celtic), Glenn Hoddle
has found just the kind of player that could turn
those draws in their long unbeaten run into wins.
They have had a good preseason and are the pick of
those in the 13-2 bracket.
Leeds will miss Steve Stone at the start, but Hulse
and Healey look a good strike pair and new wmger
Eddie Lewis is a good supplier.
With Ken Bates’ money, guaranteed massive support
and other promising new boys, United are great
each-way value at 16-1.
Millwall, Stoke, Derby and Watford are heading down
and in the case of Mifiwall, maybe out.
Departing Lions include Dichio, Ifill, Muscat, Ward
and Dennis Wise - one of two managers to go.
There’s been just one signing and captain Dave
Livermore has asked for a transfer.
Pick: Norwich, Wolves