Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bolton right to pursue highly-regarded Freedman

Bolton's search for a new manager to succeed the sacked Owen Coyle has so far proved fruitless but they appear to be barking up the right tree going after Crystal Palace's Dougie Freedman.

The Trotters look to have made the highly-rated Eagles boss their number one target after several other, more high-profile, names were initially linked with the post in the wake of the popular Coyle's departure.

Mick McCarthy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and even Sven Goran Eriksson were mentioned in latest odds as possible contenders for the Bolton job.

Clearly, the under-performing Lancashire club are keen to go down the route so many other teams seem to want to go down now, and make an up-and-coming young British coach their new manager.

And, in this case, their judgement seems spot on, but whether they will be able to lure him to The Reebok or not remains very much up in the air.

Palace initially refused to allow Bolton to speak to their former striker and are, understandably, desperate to keep hold of Freedman, who has managed to guide them up to fourth in an ultra-competitive and extremely tight Championship so far this season.

This comes after the firm fans' favourite, who is only 38, lead Palace to the last four of the League Cup last season, which included a famous win at Manchester United, something that further marked him out as one of the brightest young managers around.

Palace insiders say Freedman, a favourite of the odds betting community, is a methodical, open and intelligent modern coach, who does his best to utilise all the tools available to him to make a success of the job at Selhurst Park. Judging by what he has done already, he seems to be learning quickly and his methods are undoubtedly getting positive results.

He may decide to stay where he is for now, viewing the Bolton job as only an equal position to the one he already has and don't bet against him leading Palace into contention for a promotion spot later in the season if he opts to continue the job he has started so well.

On the other hand, Bolton may get their man after they were eventually granted permission to speak to him.

But one thing's for sure, it looks like the talented Freedman's career will continue on a swift upward curve, whoever he is in charge of.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Neville won't tolerate complacency

England assistant boss Gary Neville says he will do all he can to ensure the Three Lions do not fall foul of complacency ahead of their meeting with San Marino on Friday.

Roy Hodgson’s men host the minnows at Wembley, knowing that they’re expected to record an impressive victory over what is likely to be a team largely made-up of amateurs and part-time players. Indeed the latest betting news suggests punters expect England to score at least six goals without reply.

England famously missed out on qualification for the 1994 World Cup after conceding an early Davide Gualtieri goal during a qualifying match in the tiny republic and despite winning the game 7-1, the team were blasted for their perceived complacency.

However, Neville is adamant that there will be no similar slip-ups this time around and has called on his players to prepare in the same manner as they did for last month’s win over Moldova. He insists that the fans at Wembley Stadium, at home watching on TV or even logging-on to watch live football online will see a professional and committed England team take to the field.

England also face Poland in this batch of international fixtures and the former Manchester United defender says it’s vital that his side take match against La Serenissma seriously, as it will help them prepare for Tuesday’s game in Warsaw

“People can look at the San Marino game and think it's a formality and I'm not going to stand here as an England coach and say I'm not fully aware of our responsibilities to win this match,” he said.

"But when I was a player playing in this type of game in the past the way I prepared for it was to scare myself and think of what would happen if we didn't win and that's enough to get you focused.

"And we certainly don't want to go into the Poland game with anything other than a very good victory on Friday," he added.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bent must build to Gain England Chance

Coming off the bench for just 10 minutes of action in a huge local derby when your team needs a goal is not what a prospective England striker should be doing. Firing home a cool-headed finish to equalise for your team with just two minutes on the clock, however, is bound to catch the eye of Roy Hodgson.

As is the enigmatic status of Darren Bent, currently sat in purgatory with no idea where his career will turn next. At Villa, he has started every game but one, yet competition for places is fierce, after the arrival of Christian Benteke in the summer.

At international level, a freak ankle injury back in February ruined his chances of playing at Euro 2012 and ended his season as Villa slowly fell into a relegation scrap. It now seems Hodgson’s plans have moved on since then to accommodate a different type of striker, while Villa still need a talisman.

Bent has a lot to do to secure another England chance, and form at club level is all-important. Yet without a winning goal in the Premier League this season, his reputation as a match winner is fast depreciating. Thank goodness he scored at the weekend.

The Aston Villa marksman rocked West Brom’s travelling support last Sunday when he volleyed home the equaliser, earning manager, Paul Lambert, a crucial point and restoring some sort of pride against their Midlands rivals; his finish was composed and determined, a gift in front of goal that still needed converting.

Bent must build on this strike against Spurs, this weekend, and start netting regularly for Villa if he has any chance of convincing Hodgson to try him out for England again. At 28-years-old, Bent does not have time on his hands and must hit the back of the net for Villa before Christmas comes around.

Looking for betting tips for the weekend? Take a look at the favourite winning odds Premier League.