A quiet spell in the offing

July 16th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

There is nothing new to report or suggest on the sports betting front this week, mainly because I do not know a great deal about golf and it dominates most of the headlines at present.

For those prepared to play at a short price, Andy Murray became a virtual shoo-in for the Wimbledon title when Novak Djokovic departed the stage in the first week. 11/10 may not sound attractive with at least three matches to be played but the simple fact is that he and the Serb are miles ahead of anyone else. Raonich held on for a while in the final, as we suggested seven days ago, but he does not have the variety of shots to beat Murray, who may well go on to collect more Slam titles over the next few years. He is still hungry, whereas I just wonder if Djokovic’s best days are behind him now. It will take a major effort of will to get back on top, though there is no doubt that he was, and probably still is, marginally the best player in the world when on song.

The FA cares little about criticism and will take its own sweet time about appointing the next England manager. What Sunderland are meant to make of this, with Sam Allardyce odds-on in some books and another domestic season about to start, is anyone’s guess. I have no doubt he would say yes. He wanted the job last time around and is one of the few characters who might not mind leaving the daily grind of club football, especially if it involves another long battle against relegation  –  not bound to be the case, of course.

Coverage of Wales and their splendid achievement has rightly taken up many column inches and many writers choose to overlook the fact that England did actually beat them, a point which is hardly ever mentioned. The Observer ran a good piece the other day and clearly had someone close to the heart of things in the England camp, reporting that Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville had fallen out at one point over tactics and it was the players themselves who insisted that Harry Kane should not take corners and free-kicks. What a shambles the whole thing was, and why anyone thought Hodgson’s overall record made him the correct choice remains a mystery. Apart from Fulham’s splendid run in Europe a while back, where in his British record does it indicate he was the right man for the national team?

Anyway, things can only get better, though the saddest part is that the general public expects nothing now and club football is certainly much more important to most people. To be honest, it’s more important to me, as well, delighted though I was for Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares.

Despite all the speculation and excitement surrounding the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, I think the Premier League title will rest between Tottenham and Liverpool, with Spurs possibly setting up a handy early lead.

Theirs is a settled team, with Wanyama probably settling in easily enough in front of the back four, while the other top clubs will need time. Liverpool will be an exciting side with Mane in the line-up and the absence of European competition must help. I think I’d back both, but there is no need to look beyond Newcastle in the Championship and if you can find some even money you should step in.

Ian Signature