Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: Mour to gain if jose is the man

England need a 'special one' to take over the reigns after the abysmal failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

So step forward Jose Mourinho is a strong 3-1 favourite now that our own Martin O'Neill has ruled himself out of the contest.

The Aston Villa boss made it clear yesterday where his loyalties lie and that's the mission he is embarked on in the Premiership.

The job was once the most coveted in football but not any more with all the pressures that it brings.

It needs someone who has charisma that overshadows some of England's prima-donna players who had too much of a hold over Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

There are no English candidates on the horizon which leaves Italian Fabio Capello as the only other serious contender, although Guus Hiddink is a possibility once his commitments with Russia after the Euro 2008 finals.

Capello is available after being sacked by Real Madrid whom he took to the Primera Liga title last season.

Capello is trading at 6-1 with Hiddink as big as 31-1 on Betfair.

Alan Shearer has been mentioned but he has no managerial or coaching experience and it would be madness to allow him to cut his teeth on the international front.

The safest bet is that the FA will go foreign again for the next manager and totesport offer 1-3 on that prospect with 9-4 for an Englishman.

Paul Petrie, totesport spokesman commented: " Punters have clearly looked at the runners and don't think there is a serious English candidate. "

Next England manager: 3-1 Mourinho, 4-1 Capello; 16-1 Scolari, Shearer; 20-1 M Lippi; 25-1 Hiddink, Pearce, Coppell; 40-1 Curbishley, Klinnsman, Mark Hughes, Wenger; 50-1 Allardyce; 100-1 Venables.

Bookies take a hit from England

It's not just Steve McClaren crying into his beer over England's demise in Europe.

The major bookmaking firms are cursing that Croatian victory as it is reckoned it will cost the layers up to 40 per cent in lost revenue.

No matter what people might think about England, their absence in any major tournament, is a big turn-off in terms of viewers and punters.

When the Three Lions are involved, even non-punters get involved with their £20 bets on goalscores, scorecasts and other special involving England.

Without the media hype, the industry could be down by as much as £10m, come the Euro 2008 finals.

Meanwhile Skybet are returning all outright bets placed on England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales but it has only cost the company less than £5,000.

But undeterred by England's failings, William Hill make them 1-3 to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The worst value of the year by a long way, especially as England will be up against one of Europe's top nations when the draw is made tomorrow night.

Betfair report a rush for Terry Venables for the Republic of Ireland job after he too was shown the door by the FA.

On the exchange, he was available at 5-2 on Wednesday but has been shortened to 4-5.

Betfair's Eoin Ryan commented: "There are plenty of false dawns in these markets so punters need to tread carefully!

"Remember, Venables was as short as 1-4 with some betting firms before Steve Staunton's appointment."

Next Republic manager (Betfair): 9-10 Venables, 8-1 Houllier, 11-1 Jewell, 12-1 O'Leary, 16-1 Brady 16-1 Hodgson, 20-1 upwards others.

Martin has Star in his midst for Troytown

Tony Martin is a master of handicaps and in Royal County Star must have a cracking chance of landing the Troytown Chase at Navan tomorrow which will be shown on BBC2 at 2.30pm.

The selection was fancied for the Kerry National in September but unseated his rider.

That was his first outing since winning at the Punchestown festival last April. Previously, he won a Beginners' Chase at Fairyhouse and while his inexperience counts against him, he is in with a very low weight of 10st 3lbs.

A very useful hurdler, this, the eight-year-old may just be the blot on the handicap.

This is one of the most competitive chases in the Irish calendar and see Mister Top Notch carry burdened with 11st 10lbs in the race for the €65,100 first prize.

The 6-1 favourite is Merdeka whose trainer Tom Taaffe won the race last year with Cane Brake. Tony Kenny from the sponsors said: "Merdeka has been relatively easy to back in recent days, but we still believe that he's a worthy favourite for the race" Troytown Chase (Sponsors Bet): 6-1 Merdeka, 7-1 Royal County Star, 8-1 Gazza's Girl, 10-1 Baily Breeze, Well Tutored, 12-1 Benefit Night, Teeming Rain, 14-1 Chelsea Harbour, Homer Wells Mister Top Notch, 16-1 Black Apalachi, Mercuric, News Item, Sound Witness, 20-1 Father Matt, 25-1 Mac Three, 33-1 Lotomore Lad, Prince Of Tata ? All 18 quoted ? E/W ¼ 1-2-3-4

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