I buy the Racing Post once per year; today is this year's day, there being a 56-page football betting preview within for the new series which starts to roll into action from Saturday onwards. If you're interested in British football and in betting, this is the edition of the year to buy. I particularly enjoyed reading that the best odds about each of the three promoted teams winning the Premiership title are 5,000-1 against, and the best odds about Arsenal finishing last in the Premiership are 10,000-1 against.
Interesting also to see the newspaper pundit predict Middlesbrough (my home town here) to finish fifth this year, quoting a possible 4-4-2 line-up of Schwarzer; Reiziger, Southgate, Ehiogu and Quedrue; Mendieta, Parlour, Boateng and Zenden in the middle with Hasselbaink and Viduka at the far end. (Subs bench? Juninho, Job, Maccarone, Doriva and a goalie...)
Fifth is getting a little overexcited, perhaps, but that is indeed a fairly fearsome-looking first XI, capable on a good day of giving the England team a run for its money. Expect the usual Middlesbrough Christmas collapse as the remarkably high average age takes its toll but nevertheless anything less than beating Middlesbrough's best previous finish of ninth place will be regarded as disappointing. Indeed, you can get 5-1 against Middlesbrough to finish best outside the big five (Man U., Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle) which looks promising considering the opposition - Aston Villa, Birmingham, Fulham, Charlton et al - all look to be at least as ramshackle as the 'Boro do. Local fans and displaced ones like sir_gareth can at least look forward to some fireworks this season, not least in the season-opener away at Newcastle.
For familial reasons, I support Sunderland, who are currently in the Second Division (known, for ridiculous reasons, as "The Championship"). We have as good a chance as ever of getting perilously close and then disappointing the fans at the last moment, which is what you want, really.
Happy birthday to mintogrubb!