Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: Nigel is worth a gamble

Nigel Worthington is 4-6 with William Hill to continue as Northern Ireland manager and at first glance, that looks a certainty, but recent talk both from himself and the Irish FA, suggests that it is not past the post and some serious negotiations are due to take place today.

Worthington speaks as he finds - nothing wrong with that - but cleary despite his six games in charge which brought two wins and a draw, he is unhappy with certain aspects of the job.

However, the way should be smoothed to keep Nigel on board and he's a solid bet to stay as opposed to 11-10 the he won't.

On the World Cup front, Northern Ireland have been given a tough draw with only the winners guaranteed a place in the South African finals in 2010.

With the Czech Republic and Poland to contend with and an extremely poor away record, Northern Ireland will be doing very well to get second spot and a play-off place,

Eastwood's offer 14-1 that we can top the group with the Czechs at 8-15 and Poland 12-5.

There is value to be had in taking the Poles who took four points off Portugal in winning Group A of the European qualifiers and reaching the finals for the first time.

They only lost two games in 14 and landed odds of 9-2 in winning that group.

There is no point in looking at 2,500-1 for Northern Ireland to win the World Cup as odds of 250,000-1 would not be taken, not even for £1. The coin would be better spent on the lottery.

One has to ask if the layers have taken leave of their senses in qutoing England at 11-10 to automatically qualify with Croatia and Ukraine to contend with.

Croatia are 6-4 to top Group Six and there is no solid reason why they can not outdo England again. England are the worst value at 12-1 to win outright and not worth considering at 11-10.

Holland, Italy and Germany should top their respecitve groups, making for a 13-8 treble approximately.

Count on Ince for Rams

Paul Ince could land one of the biggest punts of the season if getting the Derby County job.

Currently with MK Dons, he has been backed from 33-1 to odds-on.

That would appear to speak for itself and it will be a major shock if he is not in charge of the Rams sooner rather than later.

Former England manager Steve McClaren has drifted to 24-1 on Befair while Paul Jewell is 3.8 after being as low as 2.2

That makes it a two-horse race with Ince well in front in the last furlong.

Paddy Power have suspended their market having earlier this week had the former Man United 'Guv'nor' at 11-8.

Ince is on a meteoric rise up the managerial ladder following his success at Macclesfield and now the MK Dons.

Skybet offered that 33-1 which only lasted half an hour while Ladbrokes also suspended their market after 90 minutes of trading.

"If money talks, it's a done deal," said a Ladbrokes spokesman.

Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez is odds-on to be the next Premiership boss to lose his job.

It would appear there are irreconcilable differences between him and Liverpool's American owners.

Much will be revealed after tonight's game with Porto and Paddy Power make him as low as 1-8 to be in charge at Anfield by the end of the year.

If Rafa is out, he would be the ideal candidate for the England job. Start asking for prices now.

Go to Star and back another to strike gold

Kauto Star's owner Clive Smith believes 9-4 is a good price for his horse to repeat his Gold Cup victory at Cheltenham next March.

That being the case, then the 5-2 offered by Star Racing in Belfast's Donegall Lane, has to be taken.

Kauto knocked his doubters for six with a top-class performance in winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock last Saturday.

As for those who think Exotic Dancer is getting closer to him - he was beaten just half a length, much closer than last year's three meetings - should listen to Tony McCoy.

The champion jockey has pointed out that it's ok getting to Kauto Star, but passing him is a different kettle of fish.

That's telling us that Exotic is hardly likely ever to get his head in front of the current Gold Cup champion.

The pair will clash again in the King George on Boxing Day for which Kauto is a best priced Evens.

The major threat to Kauto next March may come from Denman who if he wins Saturday's Hennessey Gold Cup under top weight, would really put himself in the Cheltenham picture and give trainer Paul Nicholls who also has Kauto Star, plenty to think about.

Belfast Telegraph


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