UK & Ireland Football

Gary Speed's last Betfair column

Players Under The Microscope RSS / Gary Speed / 30 November 2007 / 3 Comments

The Bolton midfield maestro bows out with an optimistic look ahead to the remainder of Bolton's season and his bets for the Premiership, Championship and League One

After the start we had to the season I'm not sure even the most optimistic of punters among you would have backed Bolton to draw away to Bayern Munich and then beat Manchester United in the space of a couple of weeks. But that's what we've done and you can imagine the boost it has given to morale within the club.

In fact we've not now lost a game since Gary Megson took over as manager and we'll go to Anfield on Sunday with the same determination to provide another upset to one of the big boys. There's a bit of stickability in the side now - even on Thursday night we dug out a result in the UEFA Cup with virtually the last kick of the game and you can't underestimate how that builds confidence.

Beating United was obviously massive. I only played the last 20 minutes but it was a big team effort and we had to work really hard to see the result out. To be honest I was glad to get three points against anybody because we needed that to lift ourselves away from the basement places. Once you start badly it's really tough and I felt we just needed a win to get us going. But the fact it was against such a top side gives you a real feeling of belief. Our next aim has to be to start beating some of the other teams around us in the table which we've really not done so far this season.

I still think United will win the title, whatever happened against us. It was a bit of an off day for them. I wasn't involved when we played against Arsenal so I've not looked at them at first hand, although a lot of people have told me they are capable of staying on top. But I just think United have so many options to hurt teams. Ronaldo wasn't playing against us and was a big miss for them, but he showed just how much quality he has in the Champions League. And I think with Wayne Rooney close to coming back they'll have enough depth to go on and wrap things up. I think [2.74] is still a good price.

Mind you I wouldn't rule out either Liverpool [8.2] or Chelsea [5.5] coming through with a strong challenge. Fernando Torres is looking more and more dangerous while Avram Grant seems to be making a real impact since taking over at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's big problem is they have to keep Didier Drogba fit because I don't think they have a real alternative if he's missing.

But I keep going back to Cristiano Ronaldo as the key influence, and I also think he'll be a fair shout to win the PFA Player of the Year award. I've said before how much I admire Cesc Fabregas, and this year he's added goals to his game. I think he's already got ten in all competitions which is a terrific record for a midfield man. But Ronaldo is the player that a lot of others I speak to are talking about and [3.75] is an interesting bet, that's for sure.

Probably the most open race of this season - as it often is - will be who wins promotion from the Championship. Watford appeared to be cruising but have now hit a sticky patch, while West Brom are beginning to look really strong. But I think you can look below them to try to find the side that might hit a strong run in the New Year when the depth of your squad begins to count. If you look at Sunderland last season they were nowhere at this stage and then came powering through to win the title, never mind go up. Somebody like Sheffield United could be the ones to do it this time. I think they've got a fair bit of depth to them and although they had an iffy result against Plymouth it seems that Bryan Robson is beginning to get them rolling. I picked out Sunderland at a long price last season, and while [36] for them to finish top is a big ask I can certainly see [6] for promotion as a bet worth having.

In League One it has to be Leeds! My heart says that as well as my head. They've also had a sticky patch but I think that Dennis Wise won't let that last and they are now in a good position to push on again. I'll be pleased for the friends I still have in the area who are fans. They tell me how much they are enjoying the experience of going to smaller away grounds, and standing on the terraces. It's a great nostalgia trip for watching football as it used to be. But I don't think they want that novelty for more than one season, thank you very much!

Finally if you're wondering why I'm taking an overview of the rest of the season, it's because this will be my last column for Betfair. I've decided to cut back on some of my media work because I want to put my efforts into playing. I want to get at least one more season and that means putting a lot of energy into training really hard to keep my fitness levels up.

But I've really enjoyed writing for the site and the challenge of looking over the odds for different events every week. I wish you all luck in finding good bets yourselves.

Tags: Gary Speed

Comments (3)

  1. Mike Norman | 30 November 2007

    It's sad to read that you wont be writing anymore for the Betfair site Gary, but it's been a great insight reading your articles over the last few months.

    Many thanks for you input and I wish you all the very best for the rest of your football career. I'm sure we will be seeing much more of you in the media once your playing days are over.

  2. Marc L | 01 December 2007

    Gary, why is this your last post? It's been good reading your thoughts and tips. Good luck with the rest of the season.

  3. apal | 03 December 2007

    Any chance of getting Joey Barton as the next columnist..if only to wind up the Newcastle fans? Perhaps Betfair could do a market on Newcastle Total booing minutes, First player to be singled out for vitriolic abuse or a substitutes market -Applause - Yes or No?

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