BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Always look on the bright side of life

HOW much doom and gloom can we take?

Summer’s over, the nights are drawing in, Roy Hodgson’s still in charge of a team heading for mediocrity and Wembley’s set for its lowest ever crowd; or at least since it’s last lowest ever crowd.

Mark my words, I bet before kick-off we’re going to get some dubious piece of research from the University of Basingstoke telling us that whenever England play a team from Scandinavia on a September evening suicide rates treble, researched based on a seven-year programme studying half-a-dozen rats who were pumped full of nutella and forced to watch A League of Their Own.

Still, on the bright side, Frank Lampard’s retired.

Call me a simpleton if you will, but surely the way to get more people through the turnstiles is to bring down the ticket prices. No? Kids for a quid perhaps. I remember them doing it at Brentford once for a JPT game and, let’s be honest, the standard of football won’t be any different.

Once the kids are in the merchandisers can clean up. Dads are chuffed to bits that nipper’s watching the national team (yes, even this national team) for the price of a Twix Xtra and then doesn’t feel unduly ripped off when he forks out £73.99 for a foam finger.

So, having solved the bums-on-seats problem, let’s turn our attention to the cash-in-pocket conundrum and find a winning bet or two.

I know England are without a win in five but Norway haven’t won in six, and that’s a sequence which includes defeat by the Scots of all sides.

They weren’t good in World Cup qualifying and some of Roy’s pacy youngsters who will cause them any number of problems. Unless, of course, he picks Rickie Lambert, who won’t. It’s a 2-0 win for England for me.

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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY PMSK

Ireland v Oman

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Oman have kept clean sheets in nine of their last ten matches
Expert verdict
Anyone expecting an easy home win for Ireland over Oman may be disappointed. When the fixture was announced it may not have seemed great preparation for the start of the Euro 2016 qualifiers but Oman are a well-organised side – conceding just one goal in their last ten games – and may maintain parity until half-time.