Weblog: The football punter
Five things we learned from the weekend
1 Moyes not the man to revive Black Cats
Sunderland didn’t play badly in the early part of their clash with Manchester United before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal was swiftly followed by a red card for Seb Larsson.
Relegation is a formality yet reports suggest that this failure will not cost David Moyes his job at the Stadium of Light.
However, a change of manager is surely required if the club are to be rejuvenated in the Sky Bet Championship.
Sunderland have now failed to score in ten of their last 11 matches in all competitions and despite the limitations of their squad should they really be ten points worse off than Hull or 16 behind Burnley?
Moyes’s scouting strategy is largely focused on players discarded by his former clubs – Donald Love, Paddy McNair, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo – and much of the blame for Sunderland’s stagnation must lie with the manager.
2 Clean sheets drying up for weary Reds
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino came off the bench to score in Liverpool’s comeback win at Stoke but Jurgen Klopp singled out keeper Simon Mignolet for special praise.
Mignolet could be busy for the rest of the campaign as Liverpool seem to be reverting to their early-season trend of failing to keep clean sheets.
Backing Liverpool to win and both teams to score was a profitable strategy back then – it copped in eight of their first 11 league games – and it could be worth boarding that bandwagon once again.
The 2-1 win at Stoke was the fourth time in six games that Liverpool had won despite conceding and it would have been five but for a late goal from Josh King to make it 2-2 at home to Bournemouth.
3 Rowett’s Rams going in the right direction
Derby have had plenty of false dawns since losing their Premier League status in 2008 but Gary Rowett has made a promising start since taking charge last month.
Rowett returned to Birmingham, the club who had controversially sacked him before Christmas, on Saturday and was rewarded with an injury-time winner for Derby from Tom Ince.
The result left Blues in even deeper trouble under Rowett’s successor Gianfranco Zola but Derby fans can look forward to next season with optimism after three wins and a draw in four games under Rowett.
Ante-post punters have had their fingers burned by the Rams, who tend to be prominent in the title and promotion betting, but their new boss looks a good fit for the club.
Having done so well with limited resources at Burton and Birmingham, Rowett could be the man to end Derby’s era of underachievement.
4 Iron showing their steel in League One
Scunthorpe led the way in Sky Bet League One for a long time but looked to be in freefall after a run of three points from nine games in February and March.
However, the Iron have been grinding out vital victories at home to high-flying Rochdale, Bradford and, on Saturday, Bolton. Playoff contenders Fleetwood, Millwall and Southend have also wobbled in recent weeks so Scunny could be coming back to form at the perfect time.
5 Bologna battered by big boys in Serie A
Roma eased to a 3-0 win at Bologna yesterday, extending their hosts’ woeful record against the top eight in Italy to P13 W0 D2 L11
Bologna have conceded 29 goals in those 13 matches, scoring only four times, and their dismal efforts against Serie A’s top sides don’t bode well for trips to Atalanta and Milan and a home fixture against champions Juventus.