Monday, 20 May 2013

Rio right to announce England retirement

Rio Ferdinand has done the right thing in announcing his retirement from international football: not just for the good of his career but also the evolution of the England team.

The 34-year-old hasn’t played for England in almost two years, since a 2-2 draw with Switzerland during Euro 2012 qualifying. Since then a race row and new managerial appointment in Roy Hodgson has blocked Ferdinand’s path to a recall, leaving him time to focus on club side Manchester United.

And what a focus that has been. Despite suffering from numerous injuries the ageing centre-back has maintained his place in the Old Trafford dressing room and last week scored his first goal since October 2008 (in an England shirt) as United beat Swansea 2-1 on Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home game.

Ferdinand has benefitted from not having to travel Europe with England and his infamous withdrawal before the February international break only fuelled speculation his heart isn’t in it.

Indeed, as Betfair pundit Lee Dixon has previously written, maybe it’s good for England that Ferdinand calls it a day, for Hodgson’s side is now free to develop with younger players. Both he and John Terry have threatened to return to the side before retiring, and this has given Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill the opportunities to stake their claim for a first-team shirt.

After the 2010 World Cup many football betting fans argued we should get rid of the England old guard and start afresh and, although Ferdinand played no part in the tournament because of injury, his name was alongside Terry, Heskey, Joe Cole, even Lampard and Gerrard as those who must now leave.

The 2014 World Cup will certainly be the latter pair’s ultimate international tournament and then, finally, England will have gotten rid of its golden generation (bar Ashley Cole, who appears impervious to bad performances).

Now Hodgson can start afresh and begin building a new generation without the stresses of a previous era, perhaps tempting pundits to put a Football bet on future England glory. Ferdinand has been a loyal servant to England and a credit to his profession, and a return to the set-up would only tarnish that reputation.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Gerrard desperate to seal World Cup place

England captain Steven Gerrard says his side are ‘desperate’ to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Three Lions are yet to taste defeat in qualification, but despite them being in what appears to be a rather straightforward group, they have so far struggled to dominate their opponents and currently trail Montenegro with four games left, with some punters who bet on football tipping them to fall into the play-offs.
Qualifying, whether it be automatically or through the play-offs, is a must for England, especially with the 2014 World Cup already shaping up to be one of the best in the competition’s history.
The tournament is also likely to be a number of players last for the national side and they will understandably be desperate to finally fulfil the potential they that they have always promised but never really delivered on following a string of quarter-final disappointments.
Gerrard acknowledges that his side are in some danger of missing the championship, but says he’s desperate to lead his team to South America and that everyone in the squad will be doing all they can to make it through to what promises to be a true festival of football in Brazil.
"There's no getting away from it. It's a huge year for the FA, it's the 150-year anniversary and what they're doing for the game and putting back in,” the skipper said to football betting news reporters.

"In amongst that is a really big challenge ahead of us to qualify for probably the biggest World Cup there's going to be. There is no bigger place to have the World Cup than in Brazil, except for England for us players.
"We want to be there, we're desperate to be there and we're going to keep fighting all the way to the end, and give it everything we've got to get there."

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hodgson not worried by Rooney's temper troubles

England boss Roy Hodgson says he is not concerned about Wayne Rooney’s disciplinary record ahead of his side’s clash with Montenegro later this month.

Last time the Three Lions played in Podgorica, they were leading 2-0 before the Manchester United striker was sent-off for lashing out at an opponent.

England ended up drawing that game 2-2, with Rooney being handed a two-match ban for the incident, meaning he missed the first two games of Euro 2012.

This wasn’t the first time that the 27-year-old’s temper had got the better of him in a big match, after he was previously sent-off for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup. Indeed, punters who bet on football regularly back Rooney to see red.

Following draws against Poland and Ukraine, the Three Lions currently sit second behind the Montenegrins in their World Cup qualifying group, and the upcoming clashes against both San Marino and Branko Brnovic’s men are sure to prove vital in their bid to qualify for Brazil in 2014.

This means Rooney is likely to be once again under the spotlight but Hodgson says he won’t be taking any special measures to ensure the striker keeps his head at the Stadion Pod Goricom.

"I don't think I will speak to Wayne personally on the matter because he is more than aware (of what happened),” the boss said to football betting news reporters. "When you have been sent off in a game, you don't forget your sendings off.

"I will be speaking to all the players. Away matches at this level of football require a lot of discipline, not only tactical discipline but also mental.

"But I won't be singling out Wayne for that. He has not let me down as a player so I have no reason to doubt him," he added.

Rio furore a waste as defender withdraws from England

The mass debate that surrounded Roy Hodgson’s decision to recall Rio Ferdinand to the England squad appears to have been a complete waste of time after the defender announced his withdrawal from this week’s World Cup qualifiers.

Ferdinand’s inclusion sparked huge interest in the betting world with fans, pundits and pub landlords alike all happy to give their views on the decision to recall the centre-back.

For many, the defender’s return would only further signify Hodgson’s weak management, for the boss only last years excluded Ferdinand for England’s Euro 2012 squad. For others, however, Rio’s comeback was to spark a greater solidarity in England’s defence that could prove vital to their qualification for Brazil.

Regardless of which argument has most truth, the fact is Rio now won’t don the England shirt for upcoming clashes against San Marino and Montenegro.

The reason for his withdrawal is based on Ferdinand’s physical routine at club side Manchester United, where his deteriorating body is kept in check via a “detailed medical programme he must follow” – according to Hodgson.

So while he is happy to play for England, his appearances must come in line with his progression at Old Trafford.

The more suspicious of England fans in World cup 2014 betting markets may wonder if United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has had any influence over proceedings, but we are not here to point fingers.

Instead, fans should just be pleased Ferdinand is willing to play for his country and put previous bad blood – such as his relationship with Ashley Cole – behind him. He is a professional and a good one at that, and if his influence on the team helps us qualify for Brazil 2014 then Hodgson’s decision to bring him back will be more than vindicated.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Confident England get U21 Championships Boost

England U21’s hopes of winning the 2013 European Championships this summer will be sky high after Stuart Pearce’s side demolished Sweden 4-0 in Walsall during a friendly on Tuesday.

Although the Euros are still four months away, this squad will take great confidence from their performance that saw them dominate a Sweden side who comfortably won qualifying group B before losing to Italy in a two-legged playoff last October.

The man of the moment – as he has been all season – was Tom Ince, Blackpool’s spirited winger-come-striker who terrorised Sweden’s defence with two clinical finishes. Jonjo Shelvey also got on the scoresheet, while Connor Wickham is making a name for himself at U21 level with a header late on.

It was a performance that will greatly impress not only boss, Pearce, but also England manager, Roy Hodgson, who is still developing the first team into a unit capable of qualifying and possibly winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Fans betting on football should expect Ince to be in the first-team squad by next summer, and success at this year’s European Championships can only help the 21-year-old’s aspirations.

England are in a tough group with Italy, Norway, and Israel yet have now won their last seven matches and lost just once since June 2011. Over this two-year period Pearce has developed a strong side genuinely capable of winning silverware and their dominance over Sweden proved this team is the real deal.

The players have just one more fixture – against Wales in March – to prove themselves before Pearce picks his 2013 Euro squad. With competition rife throughout the squad, each player will put his all into every opportunity handed to them – a spirit that could make the difference at this summer’s Euros.

Watching tonight’s match? Pick up the latest odds, tips, and news from the England camp at

Monday, 31 December 2012

First Stadium Opens in Brazil

Brazil have taken an enormous step to realising their 2014 World Cup ambitions after the first of 12 new stadiums was announced open this week.

The Castelao Arena, in the city of Fortaleza, was inaugurated in an opening ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff. The project comes in on schedule and cost an approximate £153.5m to fully renovate a 40-year-old stadium, which has hosted international matches since the 1980s.

It was all smiles and laughter at the opening ceremony and the President used the opportunity to congratulate Brazil’s capability of achieving success both on the football field and in building stadiums, yet there are still major concerns some projects will not be finished.

The Maracana Stadium – Brazil’s historic arena that will host the World Cup final in 2014 – is slightly behind schedule, while the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus is still very much a construction site.

Meanwhile FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, recently claimed one of Brazil’s host cities has just 17,000 hotel rooms for a 45,000-seater stadium, while a report by the Brazil Audits Office claimed a multi-million-pound rail infrastructure project in another city would not be complete until after the World Cup.

However, many Brazilians will claim this is just scaremongering from the media and tactics by FIFA to get the government into more decisive action. The Castelao Arena’s completion proves Brazil is on track and just about on budget to host football’s largest tournament in 18 months’ time.

Granted, there is still work to do and the Castelao itself looks bare without the billboards, flags and vibrant supporters that will eventually fill its terraces. But faith should be put in Brazil to host a successful World Cup. South Africa did it in 2010 despite greater pressures from the international community, so there is no reason to believe Brazil cannot better that success.

Looking for some early gambling tips for the World Cup? Visit the Betfair website ( for the latest news, tips, and odds for Brazil 2014:

Monday, 10 December 2012

Fan ‘hubs’ a great idea for Euro 2020

The growing positivity behind a continent-wide Euro 2020 must please UEFA president Michel Platini, who received much criticism for the idea just a year ago.

Platini was branded a moron by many experts and pundits for his apparent ‘out of touch’ comments about a Europe-wide tournament. Yet after the infrastructure and financial problems that surrounded Euro 2012 last summer, in which hotel rooms were being sold at almost £500 a night in the major cities, his novel Euro 2020 idea has drawn wider acceptance.

On Thursday UEFA confirmed it would stage a continental European Championships and invites national football associations to bid for host city status. The English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish FAs are all interested, and if they join together could all stage games should a ‘hub’ idea prove desirable.

For these four FAs could act as a northern ‘hub’ for Euro 2020, with four-stadium hubs in the west and the east making the tournament accessible for all fans. The distance between Wembley, Hampden Park, the Millennium Stadium and Dublin’s Aviva Stadium is far shorter than, say, Paris, London, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

A northern hub on the British Isles and Ireland would work wonders for Euro 2020, giving fans the safety and accessibility of movement while also offering four countries the chance to stage games.
In the west we could see Barcelona, Marseilles, Rome and Milan form a hub, while the east could boast Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and Vienna.

Granted, these names are pulled out of thin air and UEFA’s decision on host cities will be far more detailed and considered, yet the idea of hub areas should not be dismissed. The point of Euro 2020 is to improve the fan experience and bring Europe together; many punters in the betting world would rather they join a hub, rather than single host city miles from anywhere, to mingle with the multitude of crowds.

Make sure you head over to Betfair for all your cup betting needs. As well as the latest news and expert opinion there is the latest Capital One Cup Betting markets as well as all the Betfair FA Cup  tips and previews you could ever need.