Your Sunday Read: Profiting From Man United’s Misery

Today I have something a bit different for you, something to read and browse through during a Sunday Afternoon.

What follows is an article by a very close friend of mine, Liam. We have been friends since about the age of 5 and in recent years he’s been successfully developing his journalistic flair. I enjoy reading his stuff and I know you will too.

We are both football fans. I’m a Liverpool FC fan, as you know. He is a diehard ‘Manc’. We have had some good natured ‘banter’ over the years, as you would expect – indeed I think I still owe him  £30 for a wager I made when predicting that Rafa Benitez would win us the league! – I hope he isn’t reading this 🙂

Anyway, I have promised to try and improve your experience of my blog and this is the first non-racing based content – so I will be interested to see how it is received. Those of you who have been generous enough to ‘donate’ have made this kind of article possible, as well as any future developments on this blog. Liam is a very good friend, but he still needs paying! 🙂

In what may become the first of many articles from him, this week Liam reflects on the current state of Man United, pouring salt in his open wounds. But, don’t feel too sorry for him, United deserve some time in the ‘wilderness!’

This article includes a few football punting pointers – mainly how you may profit from United’s current form in their next three games. He also touches on Arsenal, Manchester City and an interesting bet in the Championship.

This is meant to be a light hearted, enjoyable read, with a splattering of fun betting pointers.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Over to Liam…


Profiting from Man United’s misery

For much of my 27 and a bit years on this earth, I’ve been spoilt.

No, not in terms of always getting what I’ve wanted, the latest toys, gadgets and flash holidays to far flung countries. Instead, it’s the footballing world that has provided me with an embarrassment of riches.

Born to a father that followed Manchester United up and down the country and across the continent for much of the 1980s and 1990s, my club has won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues and the Cup Winners’ Cup since November 1988 – the month/year I was born.

A trophy-winning machine that frequently made mincemeat of the opposition with a swashbuckling, care-free attitude to football. There were numerous stages throughout my late teens and early 20s where it seemed like it would never end.

It has, though, and in spectacular fashion. To list the reasons why would see me far exceed the word limit I’ve been provided with and would no doubt send you to sleep – a bit like tuning in to watch Louis van Gaal’s men. Suffice to say this has slowly been coming for some time now.

At the time of writing, eight victories have been collected from the last 25 games in all competitions. Bad results and even bad seasons can and will inevitably happen, but it’s the soul-sapping, mundane and attack-free nature of the performances that have seen the supporters lose faith and patience.

No fan can believe that their team has a define right to win and challenge for the top prizes campaign after campaign, but it is not too much to want to be entertained – unless Tony Pulis is your manager, of course – sorry to those of a Baggies persuasion, cheap dig!

All the more so when you consider the prices punters are being charged. Quite what the Liverpool owners thought they were doing hiking up prices so drastically when their team is churning out such inconsistent displays right now is beyond me. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed, but there is much more work to do – again, a subject for another day!

So, while the rest of the nation seems to be basking in the satisfaction of seeing a giant dramatically slayed, it’s left me to act like the spoilt kid I’ve already confessed to being – sulking and feeling sorry for myself.

There will be people reading this that are rightly scoffing. After all, many fans would give their right arm to see their team fifth in the Premier League, as well as challenging in the latter stages of the FA Cup and Europa League.

Yet, there is one thing we can all agree on – it’s always good to earn some extra cash. As United’s campaign flits from mishap to mishap, let’s try to do just that.

Shrewsbury – Monday, February 22

In the current circumstances, could a Shrewsbury win over United be branded one of the great FA Cup shocks? Yes, the Shrews may be fighting against relegation down to League Two, but it would be hard to compare it to Ronnie Radford’s heroics against Newcastle United or Bradford coming from two behind to topple Chelsea. If anything, United coming through as winners would be the biggest upset (typed with tongue only half planted in cheek!)

The bookies seem to agree, with most pricing Shrewsbury at around 15/2 to win (in years gone by teams in the third tier were often 16-20/1) and the draw at 4/1. The draw in particular is a tempting one to back, given that United have struggled against lower league outfits at times over recent years. The likes of Crawley Town, Exeter City, Burton Albion and Cambridge United have all earned surprise replays against the Red Devils.

If the goalscoring market is your thing and you’re looking for a bit of value, Shrewsbury’s Andy Mangan is 9/2 (Bwin) to find the net at any time. The 29-year-old has scored four goals in his last eight outings, while United have kept just three clean sheets from their 10 matches in 2016.

For a real long shot and with United’s frailties from set-pieces taken into consideration, Shrewsbury defenders Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Zak Whitbread are 40/1 and 66/1 (both William Hill) to score at any stage.

From a United point of view, Memphis Depay comes across as easily dislikeable with the flashy cars, earrings and designer gear. But, underneath all of that, there is a footballer in there – he showed that at PSV Eindhoven and with the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup. He’s almost certain to start against Shrewsbury and buoyed by his goal last time out against Midtylland, 9/2 (William Hill) for the number seven to score the game’s first goal shouldn’t be sniffed at.

And one more, it could well be worth backing the draw at half-time. After all, from United’s last 18 matches in all competitions, they have held the lead at the interval just twice. The draw/draw is 11/2, with draw/United 16/5 (Paddy Power) – it would not be a shock were either of those come up.

FC Midtylland – Thursday, February 25

Where do you even start with last Thursday? United may have been up against a side that had not played a competitive fixture in two months and before that had won one of their last 10, yet as the game wore on the 2-1 victory for the Danes felt inevitable.

Considering the opposition were only formed in 1999 and are hardly a household name, it’s arguably United’s most embarrassing defeat since Bournemouth in 1984. It was so bad that I wish I’d been round Nick Powell’s house playing FIFA, as he confessed to doing instead of watching his parent club!

The format of the Europa League means that United have the chance to redeem themselves with a second leg at Old Trafford – another 90 minutes to enjoy/endure (delete appropriately).

For some reason (perhaps blind loyalty) I actually still expect United to qualify, despite their negative recent record in the competition. Of their last five Europa League encounters, the men from Manchester have been defeated four times.

Despite the deficit, the bookies make United odds on to advance to the last 16, so that’s not worth touching. One thing is for sure, if they do go through, it won’t be straight forward – it rarely is with United in Europe. With that in mind, 11/10 (Paddy Power) for both teams to score gets my money.

Arsenal – Sunday, February 28

There was once a time when these two sides were comfortably the best two in the country. It was a contest that would often go a long way to deciding the destination of the title. Yet, while Arsenal have their eyes trained firmly on the top prize, United’s role in this particular game has been reduced to that of party pooper.

Again, I don’t think United are going to lose this one and there is a bit more logic behind that opinion this time!

Van Gaal has plenty of flaws and faults (too many too list), but one of those is not his record in the big domestic games. In their four meetings with the current top quartet, United have lost only once and are also unbeaten against Chelsea and Liverpool. On top of that, last season they were beaten just twice in the six encounters against the teams that finished above them in the table. It’s by no means pretty on the eye, but being a well organised unit pays dividends in these type of games.

Draw/Man United for the half-time/full time at 11/2 (Bet 365) is worth your consideration, as is draw/draw (15/4).

Wayne Rooney would have been the obvious goalscorer to back, given that he has found the net on 14 occasions against the Gunners. But, with the captain injured, try Juan Mata, who is also United’s penalty taker. He’s 11/1 and 4/1 (Bet 365) to score anytime or first respectively.

If you have an inkling that Arsenal are going to net first, then Olivier Giroud is the man to be backing. The Frenchman can be frustrating in front of goal, but he’s particularly impressive in the air – an area where United are weak at present. He’s 11/2 (Bet 365) to notch first.

The small matter of Barca…

Talking of the North Londoners, they scraped through the Champions League group stages by the skin of their teeth. Yet, they might end up wishing that they hadn’t of bothered going to all the effort of that dramatic win in Olympiacos, given that they have been paired with reigning champions Barcelona.

These two are certainly no strangers, having met seven times since 1999. When they do clash, one thing is invariably guaranteed – goals. In those aforementioned seven games, 27 goals have been scored. Only once has there been less than three goals in a game, while on three occasions there has been four goals plus. For the first leg at the Emirates Stadium on February 23rd, total goals over 3.5 is 11/8 (with Coral) and over 4.5 is 16/5 (also Coral).

Champions League football in Manchester

It is crazy to think that but for the heroics of a less-than-athletic Nicky Weaver in goal during the 1999 Division Two play-off final, Manchester City would have been out in the wilderness with no likelihood of returning.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Citizens are one of the richest clubs in the world, with some of the highest-earning players on their books. And, of course, the game’s most revered coach will soon be strutting his stuff on the Etihad Stadium touchline. The swing in Manchester is well and truly underway – over to you, Jose!

First, though, it’s down to Manuel Pellegrini to negotiate the team’s way through the remainder of the season. Still in the title race, his side are actually fighting on four fronts. They remain in the Champions League, with Dynamo Kiev standing in their way of a place in the quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history.

In their first two Champions League quests in 2011 and 2012, the Citizens were hopeless on the road, losing five of their six away matches.

More recently, though, three wins in their previous five outings would suggest that they have cured that travel sickness and 11/10 (with Paddy Power) for them to win in Ukraine is worth considering when you learn that Kiev have won only one of their last five home matches in the Champions League.

And finally…

I’ll leave you with one line from the Championship and it involves Cardiff City.

As far as the playoffs are concerned, there is quite often one team that arrives late in the day and that momentum carries them all the way to Wembley and then into the Premier League. This time around, that may very well be the Bluebirds.

Having smashed Brighton 4-1 on Saturday, they are now just four points adrift of the top six with 14 matches left to play. On top of that, they also have to face the likes of Derby County, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday, all of whom are just above them. Cardiff’s destiny is very much in their own hands, so a few quid on them to gain promotion either automatically or via the playoffs at 25/1 could end up proving to be a nice little earner.

Right, that’s enough from me, I’m off to watch Shrewsbury v United through the cracks in my fingers. Good luck with any wagers you opt to place and until next time, goodbye.

Liam Apicella



Do post a comment if you enjoyed the read and wish to see more. He has a flair for all sports etc and in the future there may be some cricket based articles, athletics, cycling etc Who knows?! 


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Post Comments

Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

13 Responses

  1. I,like Josh,am a Liverpool fan and have little sympathy for United’s predicament. Ironically they are going through the same phase as Liverpool have been going through since the inception of the Premier League and that is accepting that you are not top dogs anymore and you are not even second best or third even. Something we Liverpool fans have had to swallow for a good while. With United though I have little sympathy as they were the club that set the stupidly high ceiling on transfers by pricing other teams out of transfers for the likes of Rooney and Ferdinand and now they are reaping what they sow. To be fair Van Gaal is a good manager but probably a bad fit for a team like United whose fans still cannot accept that their team is one of their worst,if not their worst in PL history. Much like Liverpool at present to be fair.

    As for the betting side of the comments I would like to speak about Trading games like Shrewsbury v Man United where there is a heavy favourite. A simple strategy would be to lay Man Utd who are currently about 1.4 on Betfair( for a £10 lay you would lose £4 if United won but win £10 minus 5% commission if they won but win £10 if they drew or lost.) I would combat this by Dutching (backing more than one selection) in the correct score market in Man United’s favour eg 2-1,3-0,3-1 for around a £4-£6 outlay and you could always cash out in play if you had a favourable profit during the game. The scorers market Liam mentions features Zak Whitbread,an ex Liverpool player and born to a Liverpool Dad,so he would love to score against them!

    Maybe Trading strategies could be spoken about for all sports in the future Josh as well as outright betting?

    Thanks to Liam for his contribution and Josh too for the diversification.

    1. Hi John, thanks for comment,

      In terms of trading strategies, that is something to think about for the future – albeit bar racing – I dont want to get too serious on the betting side with other sports. I don’t have a trading knowledge,and Liam is a writer first, and interesting betting angles second – these articles are very much aimed at the entertaining end of spectrum and the recreational footy punter end.
      To go down the trading route I would have to find someone with expertise in that area – which is possible, and a further diversification angle for the future. So, I will add it to the list, but don’t expect anything too soon! 🙂

      Of course, your trading comments are always welcome – and if/when I develop the forum as part of blog, that kind of football strand would have some interest no doubt.

  2. Liam,
    You’re but a youngster watching United, as I was fortunate to have a Manchester-based uncle take me to watch them back in 1949 as a star-struck 7yo! While I remember the Busby years with fondness too, I also remember the barren years that followed him stepping aside, so there is a precedent for the current woes. It’s a simple fact that as players have aged they have not been replaced by those of the same quality and notwithstanding the horrendous injury list, there are too many players below United quality.

    Having lived in Indonesia for the past 40 years, my following is nowadays restricted to watching matches over the internet, but I agree it currently “ain’t pretty”. Good luck with your predictions.

  3. Hi Josh
    Good article from Liam even though I am a Man U fan – Louis van Gaal is a train wreck from my point of view, we have the players but the style of play is woeful. We have one of the best defensive records in the league but we just cant score. This is due to the rigid and stilted form of play. We have goal scorers but lack the attacking style to utilise them.

    We were blessed with an era under Ferguson but if you look back in history United have had long periods of zero or low honours

    1912 – 1932 1 x Second Division Title
    1958 – 1972 Nothing
    1972 -1986 2 x Charity Shields 3 x FA Cups and 1 x Second Division Title ( Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton and Ron Atkinson)
    July 2013 – to date 1 x community shield

    Looking at the historical trophy haul there have really been just two guys who have truly done the business Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson and they were 27 years apart so lets hope we dont have to wait that long again!!

    So hold onto your hats guys – we may be in for a drought for some time until another wonder manager comes along?

  4. United also benefited from favourable refeeing decisions for many a year.

    On the subject of Shrewsbury, I saw them play v Millwall when we beat them 2-1 at the New Meadow. We should have won by much more and they were poor. I would expect Man U’s second XI to beat them easily.

  5. I am not a Man Utd fan but a fan off football.

    I would pose one question about Man Utd.

    Twice in their history they have enjoyed prolonged periods of success, the common denominator in those were two men in whom they bestowed trust and a vision to build from within. The Busby Babes and the Fergie Academy.

    Bringing in “the next big thing(s) did not work post Busby and they had a decade in the wilderness before Fergie arrived and they stuck with him through a difficult early spell, now and only now do we understand just how great Fergie was, in creating not one, not two but three different sides in almost 2 decades.

    The answer is not necessarily abroad, the answer may well be a young hungry manager at a slightly lower level, as Fergie was, who can bring in a track record of success and a reputation for giving youth a chance and also building from the bottom up, and not needing tens of millions to do it, they have wasted 3-4 years, it would have been better to have used those to build a foundation post Fergie, that they have now seen crumble.

    I suggest they look not to Spain, or Holland; or France or Germany or Portugal but to the Championship and other lower leagues for a man with a plan and a vision that would work at any level including Man Utd….there are a few very surprising and unheralded names down there who have worked with peanuts and delivered incredibly consistent results over 2-3 years…

    Are they ready??….I don’t know, but they could do no worse than VanGaal and Moyes!

  6. Thanks Josh and well done Liam enjoyed that take, enjoyed some of the comments as well, obviously United is the hot topic at the moment, I am not sure whether the yardstick to measure Uniteds next manager by is whether they could do any worse than Van Gaal or Moyes because that does not even rule us out, tried an up and coming manager in Moyes who turned Everton from a below halfway team to an above halfway team and I personally don’t know anyone in the lower leagues with anywhere near the experience to manage United.

  7. I am sorry I am not a donor. I am a single parent on a zero hours contract. I am a horse racing nut and do not really care about football but read this piece because I do read about football in order to talk to mates who do talk about soccer.

    Can I make some suggestions please? Unless you can employ an editor to go through your material, which I doubt, then ALWAYS read out loud what you have written in order to avoid poor emphasis, punctuation, or MEANING. Let me explain. You have written: “Van Gaal has plenty of flaws and faults (too many too list), but one of those is not his record in the big domestic games.”

    First, flaws means faults so to use both words is a tautology. Second, you are saying, in effect, one of his flaws is NOT his record in big games. Think about that for a second. You could write one of his flaws IS in big games, or his record in big games IS flawed, You cannot say a flaw is NOT something. If his record in big games is good, which is what you are saying, then that cannot be a flaw. Do you see what I mean? Apologies if I have upset you, but I get all pedantic when such obvious errors are allowed to go through unchecked. Remember, read it out loud before posting.

    Also do not use the word ongoing when you mean continuing, continuous, continual, continually; do not use the word them when you mean those; never add one’s, as in those one’s or them one’s; never write or say outside of, when you simply mean outside; never say or write amount of people when the word is number; NEVER use the word AWESOME; always think about the meaning of words. Philip

    1. Hi Phillip.
      Firstly, there is never any need to apologise for not donating. This model allows everyone, whatever their circumstances, to read the blog. You can judge what you follow etc and what value you place on your engagement. Maybe you will follow some of my winning tips every now and then and chip in £3 say. Or you just wish to read the blog and that’s it. I am thankful for your readership…

      secondly, thanks for the points you raise. My own command of the English language is poor but I will take on board your in depth analysis.

  8. Philip, please don’t use the word football and soccer in the same sentence, i do get pedantic when this happens because I split my time between the USA and the UK and I find it very confusing when this happens, I hope this does not upset one.

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