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He`s in the Nic (Betting Preview)

The wife is a born complainer. Even this week`s little snowfall failed to improve her mood; I overheard her on the phone to her mother complaining that 'it`s only a couple of inches`. It kept the kids quiet though.

I try to convey a rosier outlook, but even the great Monty Panesar would struggle to put a positive spin on the shambles that is the England football team.

A recent poll showed that 67% believe that Steve McClaren is the wrong man for the job; the other 33% are either having the question reread to them or are Scottish, and there`s a fair chance that it`s both.

The manager`s original squad selection for the match against Israel was a joke. There are only two people in this world who believe that Phil Neville is a better full-back than Gareth Barry. Steve McClaren is one; the other is hanging out with Bashful, Sneezy, Doc, Happy, Sleepy and the wife.

It`s easy to blame the hapless McClaren, but it`s his employers who are the real culprits. The suits at the FA are so clueless; it wouldn`t surprise me if their plans for the new Wembley include appointing Freddie Flintoff as a barman and Frank Lampard as the catering manager. The situation is a shambles; back Israel to beat England at 21/5, then back them again.

A recently discovered tribe of Congolese pygmies have admitted knowing absolutely nothing of western civilisation, other than the fact you can`t play Lampard and Gerrard in the same team.

In my opinion, big Frank should be the one to make way. There`s no doubting the fact that he`s worth his weight in gold to Chelsea, although Fort Knox would probably struggle with an order of such colossal magnitude.

A crazed supporter tried to punch a shirtless Frank Lampard earlier in the week, dispelling the myth that pot doesn`t lead to violence. Backing Benayoun to net the opening goal at 16/1 will lead to an abundance of riches.

I`m all for having a good laugh; you should see the wife. But as often is the case, some people can take things too far. Some 'comedian` has hacked into a number of websites to show Scotland sitting on top of a qualifying group that includes France and Italy. The 10/3 for a draw between the Sweaties and Georgia is a genuine reason to raise a little smile.

Stan Staunton`s left foot was so polished; it would often gleam like Andy Johnson`s noggin. But somewhat paradoxically, a great player rarely makes a good manager. Only a last minute strike saved the Irish from ridicule against San Marino last time out, I like the look of the Welsh at 43/10.

Northern Ireland travel to Liechtenstein for their qualifier and I fancy the footballing minnows to take a pasting. Admittedly, that doesn`t really narrow down the bet selection. It`s Northern Ireland at 4/9.

A stunning French lady has recently moved in next door. I do think it`s important to try and get on with your neighbours, so I`ve been trying to get on for the last few weeks. France look a sumptuous betting proposition at 1/2 against Lithuania.

Being a friendly soul, I`ve introduced Nicole to the local leisure centre. I`m not a great swimmer, but i try to get the occasional length in. The Greeks and the Turks do not share my literal 'love thy neighbour` philosophy; a draw between the old foes will keep everyone happy at 11/5.

The accer this week is so charming; I`m using it as a tool to woo the lovely Nicole. There are only three selections, but hopefully size isn`t important. Wales, France and Israel are the picks, the payout is a magnificent 37/1.

Weekend Betting:

Rep of Ireland v Wales
Saturday 24th March 15:00
Live on Sky

Rep of Ireland 4/5
Draw 12/5
Wales 43/10

Get on: Wales

Match Special:
Bale to score direct from a free kick 14/1

Scotland v Georgia
Saturday 24th March 15:00
Live on Sky

Scotland 9/20
Draw 10/3
Georgia 15/2

Get on: Draw

Match Special:
Arveladze to score at any time 3/1

Lithuania v France
Saturday 24th March 17:00
Live on Eurosport

Lithuania 8/1
Draw 3/1
France 1/2

Get on: France

Match Special:
Cisse to score a hat-trick 16/1

Israel v England
Saturday 24th March 18:30
Live on Sky

Israel 21/5
Draw 23/10
England 10/11

Get on: Israel

Match Special:
Benayoun to score two or more goals 25/1

Liechtenstein v Northern Ireland
Saturday 24th March 19:15
Live on BBC Interactive

Liechtenstein 8/1
Draw 3/1
Northern Ireland 4/9

Get on: Northern Ireland

Match Special:
Northern Ireland to win and keep a clean sheet 6/5

Greece v Turkey
Saturday 24th March 19:30

Greece 6/5
Draw 11/5
Turkey 5/2

Get on: Draw

Match Special:
No goalscorer in the game 13/2

By Gerry McDonnell

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Site Staff Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 22 2007

Time: 5:19PM


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