Guus Hiddink has taken a major step to becoming the next permanent Chelsea manager now that the Russian football authorities have said they will not stand in his way of assuming the role on a temporary basis.
He is now odds-on with William Hill to get the permanent position, sooner or later.
Temporary does not count in the betting market but William Hill’s price of 4-9 for later on, tells its own story.
“He seems sure to be in pole position now, but as Scolari discovered, that doesn't guarantee that results will go his way, and he could still opt for Russia and the World Cup rather than Abramovich and the sack if he can't win anything' said the firm’s Irish spokesman Tony Kenny.
Hill’s make Russia 8-15 to qualify for the World Cup finals and 11-8 not to.
Hiddink is keeping his options open regarding Russia’s bid for World Cup qualification for which they still have a good chance.
Roman Abramovich listened to player-power at the end of the day to remove ‘big Phil’ who departs with the comfort of £7m in his sky-rocket.
At the moment, one would not back the Blues to win an egg cup, never mind a major event. They have won only three of their last nine Premiership matches and the 0-0 draw at home to Hull, was the final nail in Scolari’s coffin.
So step up Hiddink, who has a close links with Abramovich, a prime mover in the Dutchman getting his current post.
Abramovich is also supposed to be interested in AC Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti but the latter won’t be released until the end of the season.
But he is a strong possibility of Hiddink finds his temporary role not to his liking.
Ladbrokes have taken money for former Inter boss Roberto Mancini (pictured), who is currently available while Skybet have cut Sven-Goran Eriksson from 25-1 to 8s but that will surely be quickly revised.
But he will have burned his boats after the fiasco when seeking the job while still the manager of England.
Sven, currently with with Mexico, will be given the heave-ho if they fail to win their World Cup qualifier against the USA tomorrow morning.
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola, who has not done a bad job at West Ham, enters the picture. It now appears odds against former managers Jose Mourinho or Avram Grant making their return to Stamford Bridge.
Give Shah the chance to get England going
If Owais Shah is not in the England team for the second test against the West Indies in Antigua starting on Friday, then there is something rotten in the state of English cricket.
After the abysmal showing by the batsmen in the first Test defeat at Sabina Park in Jamiaca, where they were dismissed for 51 in the second innings - the third lowest score in England Test history - Shah deserves the chance to show that he can do better than what has been served up so far.
The Middlesex batsman hit an unbeaten 125 in the first warm-up game in St Kitt’s but was still overlooked. If he is not given the nod this time, then there is no point in having him out in the Caribbean.
He is almost certain to come in for Ian Bell or Alastair Cook, who has not scored a Test century since December 2007.
His and others’ mental strength for the game has to be questioned and Cook’s scores of four and a duck in Jamaica tell their own story.
The fact the he is vice-captain may just save him from the chop but if he does not deliver in the second match, then his England future is in the balance.
It a similar story for Bell who scored only 28 and four in Jamaica.
Neither are bad players and there are not too many ready made replacements but clearly all is not well in the England camp and they are relying too much on Kevin Pieterson and Andy Flintoff.
Ironically, Pieterson may be at the centre of the discontent but at least he can bat and he is already 30 runs clear of his teammates which makes the 5-6 offered by Coral that he will be the top England scorer in the series, a decent bet.
He is 5-2 (totesport) to be the top batsman in the first innings again.
That win for the Windies was only their second in 30 Tests while England can’t be written off as they have a habit of losing the first match of the series before coming back to win.
An Exotic Dance is a generous gesture
Ante-post punters who have lumped on to Neptune Collonges for Sunday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown, will be pleased with themselves now that Lexus Chase winner Exotic Dancer has been declared a non-runner.
The race, postponed from last Sunday, reverted back to the original declarations which means all ante-post bets stand. The race has not been re-opened to allow new entrants to declare which if it had, would have made ante-post wagers placed on the horse after the closing date of declarations, void. But surprisingly and generously, William Hill have decided to refund all ante-post bets on Exotic Dancer .
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill thinks that the race is now too close to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and has decided to keep his stable star at home. Exotic Dancer is a 12-1 chance for the Gold Cup.
The firm’s spokesman Tony Kenny “The refund will cost us a fair few quid, but we think that it would be unfair to punish the punters for the inclement weather conditions.”
Neptune who fell in the Lexus, is now the 4-5 favourite for Sunday’s race but Neptune backers will have to sweat it out as it is possible that trainer Paul Nicholls will revert to Wincanton on Saturday instead, depending on the weather.
Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (William Hill Bet): 4-5 Neptune Collonges, 7-2 Notre Pere, 9-2 The Listener, 8-1 Air Force One, 20-1 Afistfullofdollars, Thyne Again, 25-1 Chelsea Harbour, (EW ¼ 1-2).