How to make money with a BET365 free £50 Bet Offer

May 24th, 2014 No comments

Ever wanted a sure fire way of beating the bookies?

Well when Bet365 offer their Free In Play Bet Offers there is a way of taking money off the bookies.

They offer a “Risk Free Bet” to all account holders on big games to generate betting activity and if their track record is anything to go buy then I think there will be a few more during World Cup 2014.

So, How do you ensure that you make a profit on this?

A simple way would be to ensure that you have £100* in your bet365 account

(*£100 as £50 is the most you can bet and the other £50 is to cover the free bet, which will be refunded if it loses. You can use smaller amounts but why not take full advantage if you can afford to?)

You then need to have an account with another bookie where you can “lay” your bet365 bet.

So using the Real Madrid vs Atletico example with prices shown in the picture below:-


Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid

Bet on Real to win with a £50 stake at 2.25 on bet 365 – return if wins £112.50

Bet on an Atletico win with the other bookmaker to cover the £50 stake plus the cost of this bet £19.00.

Odds of  3.8 x £19 would return the £72.20.

Use your free in play bet to stake £50 on the draw once the game has kicked off – this should still be around the same price but may drop or gain  a decimal point or two.  £50 at 3.30 odds = £165

So you have now covered the three options of Win, Lose or Draw.  It has cost you £119 / £69 (You will get £50 of this back if the free bet loses) .

If Real win you get £112.50 – a profit of £43.50

If Atletico win you get £72.20 – a profit of £3.20

If it’s a draw you get £165.00 a profit of £46.00 (as you won’t get your risk free free bet refunded as it’s won)

So worse case scenario you make a small profit, best case is £46.00 so worth doing.

N.B. It is best not to have any other bets on the game as Bet365 may select the wrong bet to pay out on (see terms and conditions below)


The game finished as a draw at full time so following the above options would have paid out a profit of £46.00

Below is the offer for the 2014 Champions League Final and the terms and conditions

Real Madrid take on city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final on Saturday 24th May – and we’ve got a fantastic In-Play bet offer to add to the excitement.Place a pre-match bet on the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid game and we will give you a risk free In-Play bet to the same stake on the big match.To qualify for your risk free In-Play bet, simply place a bet before kick-off, then once the game starts place another bet on any In-Play market. If your FIRST In-Play bet loses we will refund this stake, up to the same value as your largest pre-match bet (max £50*).As always, there’ll be plenty to choose from with over 70 In-Play markets available throughout the game including Next Goal, Match Goals, Total Corners, Half-Time Result, Full-Time Result and much more.

With an extensive range of pre-match and In-Play markets and a fantastic In-Play bet offer, bet365 is the number one place for all your Soccer betting.

  1. This offer applies to bets placed on the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League match, played on Saturday 24th May 2014.
  2. Risk free bet value will be equal to the stake of your largest pre-match single bet placed on the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League match, played on Saturday 24th May 2014, up to a maximum of £50*. Pre-match bets that are Cashed Out will not qualify for the offer, whether Cashed Out pre-match or In-Play. The largest pre-match bet that has not been Cashed Out will qualify (up to £50*).
  3. Risk free bet will be deemed your first single bet placed In-Play on the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League match, played on Saturday 24th May 2014. If your first single In-Play bet is Cashed Out, you will no longer be eligible to receive this offer.
  4. Note that ‘pre-match’ is defined as bets placed prior to kick-off of the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League match, played on Saturday 24th May 2014 and ‘In-Play’ is defined as any bet struck after the game has kicked off.
  5. Both your pre-match and In-Play bets must be paid for in the usual way. If your risk free bet loses, your stake will be refunded to your account within two hours of the end of the game. Maximum risk free bet per customer is £50*.
  6. Where more than one In-Play selection is placed on the same betslip, the risk free bet will be deemed to be the one which is first on the betslip.
  7. Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus. In addition bet365 reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
  8. All customer offers are limited to one per person, family, household address, email address, telephone number, same payment account number (e.g. debit or credit card, NETeller etc), and shared computer, e.g. public library or workplace. We reserve the right to withdraw the availability of any offer or all offers to any customer or group of customers at any time and at our sole and absolute discretion. Offers only apply to customers who have made an actual/real money deposit with bet365.
  9. bet365 reserves the right to amend, cancel, reclaim or refuse any promotion at its own discretion.
  10. This offer is only available to customers residing in UK and Republic of Ireland.
  11. All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.

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Halfway to 40, Brisbane’s burnout, JFT96, making the difference, Sepp’s stupidity

December 23rd, 2013 No comments

Stoke City’s hard earned 2-1 victory over Aston Villa was very welcome indeed.  Stoke have now lost only once in eight games.   Too many of those games have been draws so Saturday’s win gave us some points in the bank… with away games to come at Newcastle and Spurs those points were  a much needed deposit!   Mark Hughes’ introduction of Charlie Adam paid off almost immediately when he gave us the lead.  While the build up to the goal looked simple and traditionally Stokesque it was actually a very well crafted goal.  Adam  received the headed flick from Crouch and the way he used his chest to steer the ball away from the defender and create his own space was good thinking and guile we rarely show in the opponents penalty box.  Having battled so hard to gain the advantage we were aghast at how cheaply  Villa were allowed to equalise.  Erik Pieters must have been the most relieved man in Stoke-on-Trent when Peter Crouch slammed the winner in.  A matter of seconds before his inexplicable error Pieters was involved in an incident on the touchline during which he squared up to an opponent.  It could be he’d momentarily lost his concentration.  The lesson to be learnt for all players is instead  of willfully getting embroiled in unnecessary petty confrontations just concentrate on playing the game.  It’s to  Pieters’ credit he soon put his error behind him and was solid when we had to defend our lead late in the game.  We are now halfway to the 40 points mark and are gradually improving.  During most games we see small signs of improvement which, if not spectacular, is quietly satisfying.  We all knew 2013/14 would be not revolution but evolution.

Brisbane Roar’s recent impressive form came to an abrupt end with the bleak 0-2 defeat at home to Newcastle Jets.  Many Roar fans have been aware all season about fine results accompanied by patchy performances.  There has been a feeling if a team with rigorous discipline faced Brisbane it could provide an upset… and so it proved.  Mike Mulvey and his players now need to develop methods of breaking down well drilled defences and ways of breaking those defences down despite being outnumbered.  It might not be an easy task but it is Mulvey’s  job to work on these issues.  Poor as Friday’s showing was from Brisbane there is no need for despondency.  There’s no reason the top of the A-League can’t remain orange.

Manchester City’s recent victory over Bayern Munich was impressive.  Coming back from two goals down and win any game is a substantial feat, to do so at the home of the European Champions is a huge achievement… even if both sides had already confirmed their place in the last 16.  Their glory was tarnished somewhat when Pellegrini admitted he hadn’t done his maths and didn’t realise an extra goal would ensure his team finish top of the group.  Every side in the tournament at this stage will cause problems but to prefer to face Bayer Leverkusen or Olympiacos over  Barcelona is common sense.  Manchester City could pay a heavy price for Pellegrini’s miscalculation.  Sometimes the key is in the details.

Anne Williams tireless work for the Hillsborough justice campaign was honoured at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.  Williams’ 15 years old son Kevin was killed in the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.  In September 2012, 23 years after the disaster, the verdicts were quashed.  On 31 March 2014 a new inquiry will open.  During the inquiry the 25th anniversary of the disaster will pass.  For so many people the whole situation is one of the most heartbreaking tragic and unjust ordeals imaginable.  The unflagging resolve of Anne Williams  testament to the resilience of all those associated with the Hillsborough Justice campaign.  Justice for the 96.

Sepp Blatter has gone to court to try and ban publication of a book in which he is the subject of  satirical cartoons.  Predictably, his legal action has served only to draw attention to it.  Blatter’s lawyers have explained he “has a good reputation and if the cartoons were published he would never be able to repair the damage.”  Blatter is seemingly oblivious to the clamour for change at the big  Swiss ivory tower.  One of the problems is he is taken seriously….  but, as a sport administrator, should the situation be as serious as it’s become?  The lack of transparency and ongoing allegations of impropriety have led to an air of distrust across the planet.   If his organisation is to regain any credibility at all he needs to assert governance and strip Qatar of hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup and re-open the bidding process…..  before resigning.

The three nominees to win the Ballon d’Or have been announced.  The winner will be either Franck Ribery Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.  An axiom of greatness is the ability and poise to make the difference at crucial moments.  With this in mind this years award surely has to go to Cristiano Ronaldo.  When his Portugal team was under pressure to qualify for the World Cup he stood up, was counted, and demonstrated the magnitude of his brilliance by almost single handedly leading his team to Brazil.  It was a performance which also emphasises why international football remains the clearest way for  players to seal their place in history. Ronaldo was under pressure, out of his comfort zone and playing with players he rarely works with.  On every level he delivered.  If  Ronaldo doesn’t win the award this time he could sue the voters.

Another player to benefit from the principle of moments was Inter’s Rodrigo Palacio.  On Sunday the Milan derby had been an intense struggle.  As the game rolled towards a 0-0 draw Palacio seized the moment and with a moment of opportunism secured his place in Milanese folklore with an exquisite backheel to seal three points.   Watch it here, then watch it again and again.

We received  sad news at the weekend with the announcement ex BBC sports broadcaster David Coleman has died.  It’s hard to comprehend now but there was a time when a football match televised live was a novelty.  Only the very biggest games were shown live and for many years those  games were played to a backdrop of David Coleman’s commentary.  Coleman had the knack of making grand pronouncements at dramatic moments.  My own favourite came when Liverpool took the lead in the 1974 FA Cup Final.  “Goals pay the rent and Keegan does his shift” A gloriously poetic way to describe the moment!   Marvellous memories from one of football’s greatest voices.

A thrilling victory, uphill struggles, 1000 down, corruption, increasingly confused episode.

December 10th, 2013 No comments

Stoke City’s evolution can now begin in earnest.  Saturday’s thrilling victory over Chelsea demonstrates we needn’t fear anyone in this league… it also shows fortune favours the brave.  When Jon Walters was substituted on 84 minutes Mark Hughes could have been forgiven for utilising a defensive option.  Instead he chose  Oussama Assaidi and it proved a masterstroke.  Assaidi’s winning goal was worthy of winning any match.  Sealing a victory against one of Europe’s top teams  was an appropriate backdrop for such a moment of opportunist brilliance.  There is however, still much to improve.  We still give the ball away too easily in our own third of the pitch and in the attacking third our play is often too shapeless.  Overall though we’ve now seen what our team is capable of and there is no reason not to maintain the same level of endeavour.  If we maintain the same level of ambition we can shrug off the patchy start to the season and develop into a stronger unit.  At Hull on Saturday we need to go all out to win the game.  If we are as adventurous and resilient as we were against Chelsea we have a good chance of winning any match. It was particularly pleasing that Assaidi earned his moment of glory.  Since arriving at Stoke he’s shown fleeting glimpses of skill yet failed to produce regularly.  This was especially frustrating as a player like Assaidi can provide some of the extra dimensions we need to progress.  Against Cardiff in midweek he was subdued, failing to run at defenders suggested a severe lack of confidence.  After the victory over Chelsea Mark Hughes admitted Assaidi was disappointed he’d been left out of the starting eleven but had made it clear he must make the most of any chances he gets to impress.  He certainly made the most of Saturday’s chance!  From his reaction he enjoyed the moment as much as any of us!  Great work Oussama Assaidi, more of the same please!

The World Cup draw has left England with a huge task to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament.  Facing Italy Uruguay and Costa Rica will be an uphill struggle.  The campaign starts against Italy in the hot humid city of Manaus.  Prior to the draw Roy Hodgson was far too talkative regarding his wish to avoid playing in Manaus.  While hoping to dodge it was perfectly understandable his words gave an air of defeatism and excuse making before we’ve even reached 2014.  Now there’s also the possibility locals will side with Italy which isn’t crucial…. but  hardly helps our cause.  At least this time the England team won’t be dogged with the inexplicable high levels of expectation that have proved as damaging as they are groundless.  Australia  also lacked  good fortune in the draw…. their task is almost insurmountable.  Facing Chile Netherlands and Spain will be a torrid struggle.  Anything Australia achieve in Brazil will be  almost entirely based on a rigid formation and tactical discipline.  You can’t outplay them but you can outnumber them.  It will be a huge challenge for Ange Postecoglou and his players but it will prove useful experience to take into the 2015 Asian Cup.

Brisbane Roar sealed their place at the top of the table with victory in Adelaide. It’s been a productive season for Roar so far.  Generally the games have been enjoyable and a good advert for football.  The A-League reached a milestone on Sunday  when Melbourne Victory and  Newcastle Jets played the 1000th A-League match.  Since the inaugural 2005/06 season the A-League has become a solid part of  the Australian sporting landscape.  That’s not to say it’s all been a breeze.  The embarrassment of expansion clubs folding left a stain on the league and FFA’s credibility.  For all that the competition remains intact.   Eight years and a thousand games, hopefully our game will continue to grow here.

On the final day of the Brazilian Championship Atletico Paranaense met Vasco da Gama.  With Atletico chasing a place in next season’s Copa Libertdores and Vasco da Gama threatened with relegation it was always likely to be an intense affair, and so it proved.  In the opening exchanges of the game Atletico took the lead which lead to rival supporters involved in violent exchanges.  The match was delayed for over an hour while security forces attempted to seize control of the situation.  The violence was so extreme a military helicopter landed on the pitch to take some of the injured to hospital… which led to rumours circulating suggesting (erroneously) some had been killed. While it’s highly unlikely violence on this scale will erupt inside a stadium during the World Cup, it’s hardly the image they wanted to project to the world.  Combine this with the threat of protests outside the stadiums and the ongoing confusion over the completion dates for stadium construction, the 2014 World Cup is already proving to be a very confused episode for everyone involved.

The recent stories about spot fixing in football are distressing.  A point worth emphasising however is while some players may be corrupt, the vast majority aren’t. If the players concerned are charged and found guilty it could lead to any error or strange result tainted by suggestions of impropriety.  It’s crucial to football for this issue to be addressed and perpetrators exposed and punished accordingly.  A salient question is how did we ever get to this point?  Well, in recent years the finance of football has become increasingly prominent.  Broadcasters new deals for TV rights often generate countless headlines and the finance dissected.  Many players, at all levels, see contemporaries transfer to new clubs and one can reasonably assume they involve a hefty pay rise.  Some (but by no means all) of the aforementioned transfers are no doubt motivated by agents who themselves stand to gain from the moves in question.  Sponsors, betting companies, pubs, clothing manufacturers all use football for their own commercial gain.  The Championship play off final is one of the year’s annual showpieces.  Reaching football’s highest level is an achievement to celebrate yet the build up to the game is dominated by headlines regarding the financial riches at stake.  It gets billed as the 20 million 35 million or 50 million pound match… depending on which newspaper you read.  In short, football generates billions, of most currencies you choose to name, every year.  As corrupt and sickening as it is, if some players have been taking illegal payments…. are they evil or are they just a product of their environment?



TCUP and an overhaul, tiresome cheating, Messi, Roy

November 12th, 2013 No comments

Saturday’s results led to Stoke City sliding into the relegation zone.  In Sunday at Swansea we saw why we our league position is so precarious.  Our inability to win games from the most promising positions continues.  Even when we raced into a 2-0 lead  we looked unlikely to see the job through and emerge victorious. The key to  improvement is  TCUP…. Thinking Correctly Under Pressure.  We make far too many errors when a game is running against us.  From needlessly giving away free kicks to being caught in possession, the most fundamental tasks become insurmountable.   While Swansea’s fight back showed resilience on their part, we shouldn’t have allowed them into the game.  It was only good fortune which allowed us to scramble a draw and see us crawl guiltily out of the bottom three.  Charlie Adam’s penalty was a fortuitous award which was ruthlessly executed.  We next face Sunderland in a crucial game which will go some way to determining how the next six months will develop for both clubs.  Our need for victory is clear for all to see while three points for Sunderland will bring their season, and Poyet’s reign, to life.  matches like this can be delicately balanced.  We need to make sure we are on the right side of what could be a very fine line.  If we are to retain our status big changes are required.  Too often the lack of depth in our squad is exposed.  Some of the squad seem to be a spent force.  Matty Etherington has been fantastic for us at times.  His great run of form was pivotal in us reaching the FA Cup Final back in 2011 and we’ll always remember his role in our evolution.  For all that, He’s clearly lost so much pace he contributes very little to the team effort.  Is the Shawcross and Huth defensive partnership drawing to a close?  Huth gets too many yellow cards these days and conceding so many simple goals suggests it’s time for an overhaul.  In the 1994/95 season Manchester United emerged trophyless.  Alex Ferguson realised his team had reached the end and major surgery was required.  In a blitz Ferguson controversially got rid of several of the old guard… one of whom was Mark Hughes.  Hughes will do well to remember his ex manager’s ruthlessness.  Admittedly it was easier to move on players of that calibre but things have to change at Stoke City… and it won’t be a painless exercise.

Diving is a very real blight on modern football.   We rarely get a weekend go by without some huge dive related controversy.  One problem is few people in the game are prepared to give anything away for the good of the game.  Ramires dived on Saturday to get Chelsea a penalty and  a last gasp point.  Jose Mourinho  inexplicably claimed the referee was right to award it.  While understanding Mourinho’s need to be seen to support his player, Surely there has to come a time where authority figures in the game are prepared to address the issue.  It was Mourinho himself who recently claimed he didn’t want his players to dive and would reprimand them for doing so.  Can we not see posthumous suspensions introduced as they are for violent conduct? Neymar Suarez and Ronaldo.  Three players who could illuminate any era of football, yet their names generate much more derision than admiration.  Three players who are so gloriously talented we should never have to consider their devious side but too often the conning outweighs the brilliance.  It betrays fellow professionals and football as a whole.  Our game is worth much more than that.

Thankfully, the greatest player of the current era, Lionel Messi, isn’t prone to habitual cheating.  In recent months however he has become prone to injuries.  The timing is very unfortunate for Messi who, in Brazil next year, has the chance to seal his status as the greatest player ever.  Despite what some of UEFA’s  sponsors and marketing executives would like us to believe, the World Cup remains the pinnacle of world football.  At a World Cup players are often out of their comfort zone and face a series of different challenges to the norm.  Hopefully, by June, Messi will have a clean bill of health and we’ll be treated to a masterclass from a true great.

Martin O’Neill is the new manager of Ireland.  However, most attention was focused on the appointment of Roy Keane as assistant.  Keane won a sackful of medals as a Manchester United player and led from the front.  Internationally his career was blighted by the Saipan incident which resulted in Keane storming out of the 2002 World Cup squad.  As a man who demands total focus and bloody minded resilience he’ll need his thick skin in the new job.  He’ll have to get used to Saipan being thrown in his face each time something goes wrong.

Cancellation of the Soccerex convention in Rio brought further embarrassment to organisers of next year’s World Cup.  Fear of civil unrest led to the Rio state secretary calling the event off.  The convention required public funding which would have served to exacerbate public discord towards monies for corporate and sporting events at the expense of services to the populace.  While it doesn’t jeopardise the tournament itself it hardly inspires confidence things will go smoothly in June.


Win required, retirement, Blatter’s bluster, Rudi’s challenge, supporting football.

November 7th, 2013 No comments

Stoke City’s season so far has been dogged with a chronic lack of goals.  Those who felt a stroke of good fortune was required have been granted their wish.  Asmir Begovic’s goal against Southampton was a gloriously crazy way to start any game!  To take the lead after a matter of seconds, to a goal so bizarre  was the kind of good fortune any team experiences once a decade at the most!  Initially Southampton seemed unsettled.  We pressed forward and looked capable of adding to our lead.  However, when Ryan Shawcross squandered a great chance of adding a second it was  ominous.  Shawcross should have done better.  It could be argued a defender shouldn’t be expected to finish clinically but, as a professional footballer, he should have made contact to get a shot on target. From that point Southampton grew in confidence and their equaliser on the stroke of half time wasn’t a shock.  The second half consisted of both teams trying to carve out an opening with neither creating enough to win the game.  While we can have no complaints about the result it’s frustrating to have failed to win another home game.  It was particularly disheartening to gain only a draw from a game in which we had such a marvellous, albeit outlandish, start.   It’s a simple request, but soon, as soon as possible, we need to start winning games of football.

Mark Schwarzer’s retirement from international football came as a surprise.  At the age of 41 he has 109 international caps…. an Australian record.   Having experienced two World Cup campaigns with the national team there seemed every possibility he’d again play on the biggest stage next year in Brazil.    Australia will miss his presence stature and experience.  Schwarzer himself might have made a mistake when he still has a World Cup left in him.  In June he may come to rue this decision.

Joe Hart in another keeper in the news.  Did Hart’s omission from Manchester City’s starting line up really merit the media attention it generated?  His form has been erratic for months.  Manuel Pellegrini’s decision was relatively straight forward.  Costel Pantilimon performed steadily against Newcastle in midweek so keeping him in the team was a sensible decision in the best interests of the team and the club as a whole…. including Hart himself.  Off form he can use the time away to rest, recuperate and return to his best.  The press have exaggerated the importance of this.

Roma’s perfect start to the season finally reached it’s conclusion when they drew 1-1 at Torino.  Winning the first ten games of any season is impressive for anyone.  The odd thing is after such a dominant start the leaders find themselves only three points ahead of second place Napoli who, worryingly for Roma, are only ahead of Juventus on goal difference.  Manager Rudi Garcia has made a staggering start to his reign in Rome, he now needs to ensure his players can maintain their brilliant start and remember they are still on top and the team to beat.  Also, at the start of the season they wouldn’t have turned down the chance to be three points clear after eleven games!

Brisbane Roar’s 3-0 victory over Melbourne Heart was the archetypal game of two halves.  At half time nobody watching could have guessed the second half would be something of a stroll for Brisbane.  In the first period Heart wasted several great opportunities to take the lead and at half time there was a feeling they may have blown their chance.  To see the hosts effortlessly glide to victory in the second half was a huge surprise!  After the game it was disappointing to get chatting to several football fans who rarely attend A-League matches because they consider the quality of football on offer to be poor.  Of all the reasons not to go to matches the perceived low quality of play is lame.  Not least because the A-League is improving.  It isn’t, and has never claimed to be, a rival to the European Champions League.  It does however have some decent matches and holds it’s own as a national competition.  To dismiss an entire league on the basis of poor quality is to suggest the only football worth spending time on is the absolute pinnacle.  Why watch Brentford when they aren’t as good as Chelsea?  Why watch Piacenza when you can watch Milan?  For that matter, only Bayern Munich Barcelona and Real Madrid would attract crowds at all.  Is this a healthy scenario?

Sepp Blatter has pledged to seek explanations from Qatari authorities regarding the continuing controversy surrounding the 2022 World Cup.  His posturing and talk may be an attempt to recover some integrity.  If his organisation is to regain any credibility at all he needs to assert governance and strip Qatar of hosting rights and re-open the bidding process….. before resigning.





Goalless again, 100% for Brisbane, foolish expectations, Wayne’s world

October 21st, 2013 No comments

While it’d be melodramatic to describe Stoke City’s recent problems as a crisis, few can deny we have hit a dead-end.   A mere four goals in eight league games tells its own story.  Every aspect of our forward play needs work.  Too often we rely on crosses (which vary in quality) from which we rarely have enough players in the box to trouble opposition defences.  When Stephen Ireland squandered a glorious opportunity against West Brom, it was clear we’d draw another blank.  Another disappointing aspect of our play is how wasteful we usually are with set pieces.  Our corners are cleared with the minimum of fuss and free kicks rarely trouble the opposing keeper.  Asmir Begovic made a string of  saves to keep us level.  We should all be grateful to Begovic because our attacking play is so fruitless the moment we concede a goal it may well be game over.    Our decent start to the season has fizzled out as we slide closer to the relegation places.  Within our squad we have the ability to comfortably address the problems and get back to winning games of football. There is often talk of systems and strategy but the key to lifting the assembling clouds could be the result of something as simple as shooting practice.

Helgar Osieck’s removal from the Australia manager’s job is no shock.  Nobody denies Brazil and France are very good teams but to lose both 0-6, and look utterly helpless in doing so is indicative of deeper problems in the camp.  Osieck’s reign wasn’t a failure.  Reaching the final of the Asian Cup in 2011 was a substantial achievement.  Combine this with World Cup qualification and his tenure was far from a calamity.  Despite this, the national team had stagnated.  Too few youngsters gained experience and, as a collective, the old guard look a spent force.  Thoughts immediately turned to a successor.  There has been a clamour for an Australian manager to be appointed.  Understandably, Ange Postecoglou’s name had been mentioned. It should be borne in mind club and international management are two different kinds of jobs with different demands and expectations.  Postecoglou’s success at Brisbane Roar was borne of intense work with the players as a team and as  individuals.  At international level managers don’t get so much time to impose themselves.  In addition to the World Cup the new manager has to be aware of the Asian Cup in 2015.  As host nation, Australia will be expected to challenge for the trophy.  The days of Australia being a football backwater are long gone.  One thing is for certain….. the new Australia manager will have to be prepared for pressure.

Brisbane Roar have started the A-League season in style with a 100% record from the first two games.  Saturday night’s 4-0 thrashing of Sydney was a boost for everyone.  Without wanting to belittle a very good performance, the point has to be made, it’s difficult to ascertain Roar’s potential for the season from Saturday mainly because Sydney were so poor.  They looked utterly demoralised and from the moment Brisbane took the lead the result was never in doubt.  Frank Farina must feel bewildered by such a lethargic display from his players.  It’s a fantastic start to the season for Brisbane but bigger challenges lie ahead.

England have qualified for the 2014 World Cup.  Sensibly, Roy Hodgson has acknowledged England aren’t among the favourites to lift the trophy.  His words may be seen as negative or defeatist when it was merely a realistic appraisal of England’s possibilities.  The quarter finals are by any historical measure a good performance for England and the problem is  some  people seem unable to accept it. Our record since 1966* isn’t great. In the last 47 years we’ve reached a World Cup semi a Euro semi and several World Cup quarter finals. In the same period Holland have reached three WC finals, a World Cup semi final and won the European championship. Bulgaria have reached a World Cup  semi final. Sweden have got to a World Cup semi final and a European  semi final. Poland have reached a World Cup semi final and finished 3rd in 1974.  Soviet Union reached two European Finals. Belgium have reached a European  final and a World Cup semi final. Turkey have reached a World Cup semi final and a European semi final and, of course, Greece were European champions. They are all middle ranking European teams and their records  easily match England’s.  Looking at Europe’s elite, In 2002 and 2008 the Germans were considered to be poor yet still reached the final of the respective competitions. Similarly, Italy were unfancied in last years Euros yet reached the final.  France have twice been European champions as well as World Cup winners.  So since 66 our record, when compared to other European football nations, rarely rises above mediocre.  Despite this people got annoyed because, for example, we didn’t ‘win anything with Sven.’ It’s unlikely we’ll win a competition whoever the manager is! We’d all love to but  actually expecting England to win a tournament is wishful thinking. There’s no great tradition to justify that sort of demand. In a tournament, if we get past the group stage we’ve fulfilled expectancy. From that point we may or may not make progress but we certainly need the luck of the draw….. as soon as we face a side with genuine aspirations to win a tournament we get knocked out.  1990  was great fun but, with all respect, Belgium and Cameroon weren’t contenders to lift the trophy.  Next year we should enjoy the tournament and enjoy England’s presence… and leave silly groundless expectation s to one side.
*our record before 66 wasn’t great…Bela Horizonte anyone?

As required, England won the final two qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.  Both victories were put on track with goals by Wayne Rooney.  In the aftermath of qualification Rooney’s contribution has been overlooked. Some have suggested throughout his career  Rooney has failed to fulfill his potential so let’s examine the facts.  At the age of 27 Rooney has won five Premier league winners medals.  He also has a Champions League winners medal and two runners-up medals.  For England he’s scored 38 goals in 86 appearances and still has the potential to reach 100 caps and may yet  beat Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals.  His failure to score in the two World Cups he’s played in remains a source of frustration.  Hopefully in Brazil next year he’ll rectify that and make a lasting impression on football’s biggest show.  It’s ludicrous to suggest his career is anything but successful.

Lethargy,rerun the vote, excellent journalism flawed motivational methods, Jimmy’s Legacy

October 1st, 2013 No comments

Football can be a cruel game.  There are times when a team doesn’t get what it deserves from a game.  Stoke City v Norwich on Sunday was no such occasion.  The only injustice emerging from the Britannia Stadium on Sunday was how Stoke had somehow managed to stay in the game to the end and have any chance at all of salvaging an unlikely point.  Not that there was ever any serious doubt about the result.  From the moment Jonathan Howson’s speculative effort caught Begovic out and put the visitors ahead, the game was only ever destined to be an away win.   Howson’s goal exposed many of the faults on Sunday.  As Howson carried the ball forward Huth stood off far too deep allowing Howson a strike on goal. The shot itself was decent enough but Begovic was far too slow to get down, allowing the ball  to bounce past him into the net.  Stoke’s play consisted of a litany of misplaced or under hit passes combined with miscontrolled balls and a discordant series of vague disjointed attempts to perhaps create a chance of scoring a goal.  Our only route to goal appeared to be a series of underhit crosses dealt with far too easily by the Norwich defence.  Too often our players were caught in possession which is indicative of the sluggish lethargic approach our players took to the game.   Our next game is at Craven Cottage and Fulham manager Martin Jol is under pressure…. as  Chris Hughton was on Sunday. We must ensure Jol and his team aren’t gifted victory as feebly as Norwich were.   Mark Hughes has made a bright start to his Stoke city career.  How he deals with his first major setback will be a challenge of his motivational and strategic expertise.  Hopefully he addresses the issues properly and we are spared another appalling ‘performance’.

Preparations for the 2022 World cup in Qatar were coated in yet another layer of filth last week when The Guardian exposed the treatment of migrant workers in the country. many of the workers in Qatar are treated as slaves.  This report even ruffled the feathers of those who hide behind empty soundbites.  FIFA’s vice president Jim Boyce called for an examination of working conditions.  The 2022 organising committee have also announced they are “appalled” by such barbaric treatment.  It’s strange to hear FIFA’s surprise at the latest revelations.  Are they not regular visitors to Qatar?  Qatar are after all going to host the World Cup.  If they do visit how do they spend their time?  How can they be shocked when it’s a nation they have to work with so closely?  More importantly, now they have been informed what are they going to do about it?  Do they want it to just blow over and hope everyone forgets?  The article itself was a great piece of work from The Guardian.  An example of media working for the common good.  Tenacious investigative journalism and the public’s clamour for truth and justice saw Lance Armstrong exposed as the cheat he’s been.  It’d be easy to see the Armstrong case in isolation but the clamour for truth over football’s administrators is just as strong.  So many unanswered questions yet the ruling body rolls on.  Resilient journalism and public pressure can yet shake the complacency of those who hide away in Swiss ivory towers.  It may be a long drawn out struggle but the Lance Armstrong story proves it can be done. Have your say here.

Paolo Di Canio’s brief reign at the Stadium of Light came to an abrupt end.  His departure, following an explosive team meeting, concluded a bizarre  episode in Sunderland’s history.  Despite leaving in the wake of a 0-3 defeat at West Brom the point has to be made he wasn’t a total disaster.  His initial aim was to avoid relegation… which he did.  In doing so they beat Newcastle 3-0 at St James Park, a game which will surely go down in Mackem folklore.  For all that he failed to adapt to the differences involved in managing at the top.  At Swindon Di Canio would publicly lambast players and shamelessly expose their weaknesses to all and sundry.  In the Premier League that style of humiliation wasn’t going to work.  Instead of players feeling motivated through it they felt resentful.  Some things have to be kept behind closed doors.  His failings at Sunderland have a precedent.  When Brian Clough  arrived at Leeds in 1974 he instructed his new players (who Clough had ruthlessly slated in the press for several years previously) to throw their medals in the bin because it was time to do things properly.  At Hartlepool or Derby that eccentricity might have amused the players or stimulated them.  At Leeds, dealing with top level players who’d been around the block… and had the medals to prove it… it was just foolish.  For Brian Clough 1974 see Paolo Di Canio 2013. If he manages again Di Canio would be best advised to treat players as adults.

The majority of football fans in Germany feel the games administrators aren’t doing enough to address the issue of bigotry in football.  18% of German supporters feel the German Football Federation doesn’t do enough to deal with homophobia and 46% would like more done to handle racial discrimination.  German football is often considered to be amongst the world’s most fan friendly and progressive.  It will be interesting to see if the administrative bodies take action on these issues.

It was sad to learn football innovator and pundit Jimmy Hill is in a nursing home suffering Alzheimer’s.  In 1961, as chairman of the PFA Hill motivated the campaign to abolish the 20 pound a week minimum wage.  The threat of unanimous strike action pressured the FA to drop the rule.  While some may feel this is partly responsible for some of the modern  games ills, the campaign was entirely appropriate and shrewdly co-ordinated.  It was Jimmy Hill who proposed a new system of three points for a win.  Like many others, he felt attacking football needed greater reward.  In 1981 three points for a win was introduced in England and is now the accepted format across the globe.   Hill is best known for presenting football programmes on television.  He revolutionised football coverage while working for ITV on the 1970 World Cup by introducing the panel.  In the modern age, punditry is often regarded as a credible career for ex players, yet until 1970 no such job existed.  In short, he understood the power of television.  For a long time Jimmy Hill was unpopular.  He often seemed pompous and isolated from the fan on the street.  For all that it’d be harsh to deny his legacy.  Hopefully, his final years will be as comfortable as they can be.

Evolution underway, losing Hope, three mediocre lions, Australia’s challenges

September 11th, 2013 No comments

Stoke City’s long-awaited evolution is underway.  At West Ham we played with style and panache, emerging worthy winners.  The most telling difference was simply going all out to win an away game.  Steve Nzonzi carrying the ball forward and initiating play combined with overlapping full backs gave is a platform to dictate the play and apply pressure to our lacklustre opponents.  Jermaine Pennant’s impressive winner was just reward for an impressive showing from The Potters.  However we still have a long way to go and we have a precedent to limit our expectation.  At the end of the 1996/97 season Lou Macari left Stoke.  Despite his popularity it did seem he’d reached the end of the road with us.  During a poor run of form near the end of the season Macari repeated with monotonous regularity his belief Stoke had to play 100 mph football to be effective.  Many of us felt he recited his mantra to hide a lack of ideas.  In October of the 1997/98 campaign we won 1-0 at Maine Road to move up to a handily placed 6th in the table.  Macari’s replacement Chic Bates had adopted a softer approach and we played with more craft.  The wheels fell off soon after however.  We quickly became a shambles and were deservedly relegated.  Mark Hughes has made an impressive start to his Stoke City career.  We must however keep expectations in check.  Hopefully the coming years will be as enjoyable as the first three games have been.

England women’s football coach Hope Powell was sacked.  Powell had been in the job for fifteen years and oversaw a complete overhaul of the women’s game in England.  As a result  women’s football has a much higher profile.  That experience shouldn’t be wasted.  When the FA didn’t renew Bobby Robson’s contract in 1990 it wasn’t just  his managerial services that were lost.  It meant eight years of experience were also dismissed and the new manager had to start from scratch and grow into the role.  The same mistake shouldn’t be repeated.  Powell has an understanding of what is required and her experience and familiarity with the various challenges involved could prove useful to her successor and the FA as a whole. To repeat the mistake of 1990 would be foolish, she could still be a useful asset to football.

In World Cup qualifying England showed  discipline to play out a 0-0 draw away to Ukraine.  The game itself was hardly a classic but the visitors earned a priceless point and took a significant step to Brazil.  While England’s focus was a positive from the game the ongoing deficiencies continue to blight the team.  In particular, the inability to keep possession is a glaring fault which never gets addressed.  This ongoing flaw is why we should be spared any bombastic posturing from anyone attached to the Three Lions next year.  Of course, there are still people who inexplicably expect England to challenge for trophies.

One of the main talking points emerging in recent weeks is the increasingly fragile Joe Hart.  His errors are too common and it’s  surely only a lack of competition ensuring his place in the England team.  His error in the recent friendly against Scotland was indefensible and with some crucial qualifiers imminent it’s a legitimate point of concern.  For many years David James was a frustrating figure.  James could make saves no other keeper could.  He had a valuable combination of sharp reflexes and rare agility, yet he never had the nuts and bolts of the job right.  Too often positioning was flawed and crosses were flapped at… these flaws overshadowing his many positive qualities.  Hart is only 26, if he is prepared to apply himself and strive  to improve he can avoid being the next David James.

In a friendly match Melbourne Heart’s new signing Orlando Engelaar broke his right leg.  He’ll now miss a significant part of the forthcoming A-League season. Injuries are a horrible part of the game for any player.  Hopefully he can make a full recovery and make a contribution to the season.

If anyone was in denial over the scale of Australia’s task to prepare for next year’s World Cup, their 0-6 defeat to Brazil will have been a rude awakening.  There are some crumbs of comfort though.  The point has to be made Brazil are one of the favourites to lift the trophy next year, it’s not as if Australia were expected to win the match, and, of course, it was only a friendly!  There is also a friendly against France in October in which Osieck can start to work on the defensive flaws and, more importantly, how to help his players to keep and use the ball more. Australia’s outlook and expectations will be largely determined by who they face in the group stage.  2014 will be Australia’s third consecutive World Cup and after drawing Brazil and Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively, Aussies can be forgiven if they hope for  a kinder draw in December.

The Serie A season is underway.  After two consecutive titles Juventus began the campaign with an ominous statement of intent as they hammered Lazio 4-0 in the Italian Supercup.  The acquisition of Carlos Tevez suggests it wouldn’t be a major shock if they added a third consecutive Scudetto to their trophy cabinet. The match also highlighted some of Serie A’s ongoing troubles as racial abuse was heard from the stands.  The issue of bigotry combined with run down stadiums hooliganism and the lingering issue of match fixing have resulted in Serie A losing much of its stature in recent years.  Juventus manager Antonio Conte has stated it could be years before an italian club wins the Champions league again.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Some of the clubs signed some big name players in the close season but all the owners fans coaches and managers involved will be hoping Antonio Conte’s words don’t prove to be prophetic.






New faces, patience, sell Suarez, Australia qualify, Brazilian fury

July 11th, 2013 No comments

Mark Hughes has hit the ground running in his new job.  The purchases of Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa indicates a fresh transfer policy at Stoke City.  As he becomes acquainted with his squad Hughes will see what he needs and it’s reasonable to assume we’ll acquire more new faces before the season opener at Anfield…. but we’ll have to be patient.   Patience is in short supply at times.  With the ongoing flurry of media speculation supporters can feel left behind when signings don’t arrive as quickly as we’d sometimes like.   This is a new phenomenon.  There was a time when, unlike the present day, the months of June and July’s newspapers  contained very little, if any, football news.  International tournaments were covered purely for the football unlike now when the attention on managers and scouts at major football events can give an air of football transfer speed dating!   Stoke City do need more new faces but if they don’t arrive immediately we shouldn’t panic…. whatever the media speculate on!!

We already know that Luis Suarez won’t face Stoke in the first game.  His suspension for biting Ivanovic still has six games to run.  Since the end of last season Suarez has made clear his wish to leave Liverpool.  Rumours abound suggesting Real Madrid want his services and Arsenal have had a 30m bid turned down.  If he is to leave it’s highly unlikely they would sell to another Premier League club.  As yet Liverpool have stated their desire to retain the services of Suarez but they should think again.  Nobody can deny his range of talents, similarly few would deny he is a disciplinary liability.  Since joining Liverpool he has been suspended for 18 matches.  At Ajax he was also suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal.  Remember too, at the end of the 2012/13 season Liverpool were forced to play four games without Suarez and came through unbeaten, which suggests they aren’t absolutely reliant on him.  In fact if money raised from a sale was re-invested it could prove to be a huge step forward in Rogers team building exercise.  Luis Suarez is a hugely gifted player blessed with rare skill and an often overlooked work ethic…. but everyone involved would benefit from his sale.

Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign proved successful following the 1-0 victory at home to Iraq.   Throughout the campaign, head coach Holger Osieck received plenty of criticism for his methods, particularly the refusal to ease younger players into the starting eleven.  Blooding youngsters isn’t easy at international level as the demands can differ hugely from those of the club game.  Overall though, while the campaign wasn’t as comprehensive as the 2010 qualifiers were, the most important aspect is Australia actually qualified with something to spare.  Since being appointed in 2010 Osieck has led Australia to the final of the Asian Cup and now reached Brazil, which is a decent record.  2014 will be Australia’s third consecutive World Cup and after drawing Brazil and Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively, Aussies can be forgiven if they hope for  a kinder draw in December.

Harry Kewell will return to the A-League for the 2013-14 season with Melbourne Heart.  One of Kewell’s main objectives is to return to form to increase chances of a place at the World Cup.  Some may scoff at this but in an era when the games is saturated with people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, it’s refreshing to see a player commiting  himself to earn the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage of all.

South Africa’s qualifying campaign was faltering until they received an outrageous stroke of good fortune.  Bafana Bafana trailed group leaders Ethiopia by five points. However, FIFA found Ethiopia guilty of fielding an illegible player in their match against Botswana and were penalised by having three points taken away.  Ethiopia are still expected to progress but South Africa will be grateful for the lifeline.  One has to wonder of FIFA’s penalty would be so decisive had one of football’s global powerhouses committed a similar offence.

In Brazil, The Confederations Cup was a fantastic tournament.  In the build up much media attention was placed on Neymar.  Having secured a move to Barcelona shortly before the competition many questioned his ability to secure his place amongst the worlds elite. Any fears will have been largely dispelled as he impressed throughout.  The only question  marks over him are 1 his tendency to drift out of matches and 2 the diving and playacting he habitually carries out.  For a player of his immense talent to disrespect his fellow professionals and discredit football is disappointing.  Hopefully next year we’ll see more  brilliance than bluffing.

As good as the football was, the tournament won’t be remembered for the quality of football.  As we know, the  Confederations Cup is effectively a dress rehearsal for the World Cup and the Brazilian people used the world stage to protest against ongoing social deprivation, the scale of which can be seen in sharper focus when considering the billions of dollars thrown at the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Perhaps FIFA and the Brazilian government, knowing  the Brazilian people love football, felt the people would simply accept the expenditure. If that is the case it was a huge mistake by Blatter, current President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from whom she inherited the responsibility to host these two huge sporting festivals.  If the 2014 World Cup is to run smoothly quick decisive action is required.  If FIFA were to hand over some of the vast profit they expect to make, to provide infrastructure for the people of Brazil it’d be a starting point.


Puliser Prised – The end of an era

May 23rd, 2013 No comments

The most surprising aspect of the sacking of Tony Pulis was the startling ruthlessness with which it was carried out.  Several months ago when  Peter Coates announced publicly he’d never really approved of the finance involved in the Peter Crouch signing ,many sensed change was afoot.  What few could have predicted is less that 48 hours after the end of the season Tony Pulis would be dismissed.

Few could deny that in the second half of 2012/13 we hit a dead end.  The malaise was only  exacerbated by the manager’s refusal to change.  We paid a heavy price for Pulis’ stubborn obsession with work rate over craft… when the reliance on graft over guile wasn’t working there was blunt refusal to try any other method.  This was particularly frustrating because in phases Stoke  have been shown to be able to play a more expansive game yet we were dragged back to the artless lottery of the hopeless punt forward.  The mindset of supporters was hardly brightened when we saw clubs with smaller budgets press ahead and evolve…. and we certainly didn’t snag any Michu type bargains!  The age of the team was also an issue.  Few players under the age of 24 were ever considered for the starting line up.  This meant 1 the players being reared by the academy would simply be farmed out elsewhere and 2 as the players we buy are in their late 20s  rarely would any have  sell on value.  These issues and transfer policy in general may well have been the decisive factors in his sacking.

The initial question is whether or not his sacking was the correct course of action.  There is no doubt it contains an element of risk.  The fact remains Pulis had indeed kept us in the top flight for five seasons and has never been relegated as a manager.  However, that can be deemed null and void  when we remember in recent months we were sleepwalked to the edge of a relegation dogfight.  In the last eighteen months we have regressed at an alarming rate, there is no reason to believe we wouldn’t be sucked into the mire next year had he been given another season.  Another matter which has to be mentioned is the nature of the team and the seemingly limited ambition.  While survival and 40 points are undoubtedly a priority to hear those aims mentioned with such monotonous regularity, at the expense of anything else, left a bleak aura surrounding the team and club in general.  Being prepared to do little more than dig out 0-0 draws or perhaps sneak a 1-0 win was never going to be a thrilling spectacle.  Watching Stoke City play football became, at times, an awful way to spend time.  In that respect his sacking has saved him from himself… every time we played he damaged his own legacy.  So the point has to be made, despite the obvious risk his dismissal is the right decision.  A new direction is required and Tony Pulis has never displayed a tendency to embrace change.

Despite the miserable conclusion to his reign the point has to be made Tony Pulis has been a successful Stoke manager.  Promotion and Premier League stability should ensure applause if he manages a visiting team at the Britannia Stadium, not to mention the FA Cup Final and resulting European campaign.  It’s fair to say the vast majority of Stoke supporters wish Tony Pulis well in the next phase of his life and career.  Thank you and goodbye Tony.

Here’s a couple of videos

One showing TP after the Villa game

another as he leaves the pitch at the Brit for his final time as manager of Stoke City