After the weekend action, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) and Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) were eager to pass on the betting notes they made. This is the Weekend Debrief.
The Long Term Feel-Good Factor Of Promotion
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article for the Weekend Debrief that detailed the poor performance of relegated sides in this new campaign. At the time of writing (and indeed still now), 8 of the 10 relegated sides playing in the Football League were in the bottom half of the table.
On the flip side, promoted sides from last season are excelling in their new harder division. Of the 10 sides currently playing in the Football League who tasted promotion in 2013/14, 6 are currently in the top half of their division. Only one Football League side promoted last season is currently in the relegation zone and that's Scunthorpe. Russ Wilcox's side seem to replicating their 2012/13 campaign in League 1, which ended in relegation.
The top promoted side so far this season are Chesterfield. Paul Cook's side were widely tipped for League 1 relegation, yet incredibly sit sixth in the table after just one defeat in 7. Luton are back up in 7th in League 2 while big respect also goes out to Wolves (8th in the Championship), Rochdale (9th in League 1) and Brentford (10th in the Championship).
So, what's the lesson? Well, it appears that habits are hard to get out of. Like we're seeing with Tranmere, Fulham, Cardiff etc, a long losing run won't necessarily shift despite a divisional drop, and similarly promoted sides, like the teams mentioned above won't stop picking up three points despite the stiffer challenges. Bear that in mind when promoted sides are priced up at big odds. CG
Derry Working Wonders At County
Forgive me whilst I indulge in a bit of Shaun Derry loving. Well someone has to… the silver fox has been largely ignored by mainstream media for the role in which he’s played at Notts County and it’s time to rectify that.
Taking over in November with County rock bottom of League One, it was a tough introduction to football management. But a stunning final nine games saw the Magpies climb from seven points adrift of safety and apparently doomed, to a Houdini-like escape act having collected 19 points and six wins in those final fixtures.
His task of recapturing that end-of-season form in time for the 2014/15 campaign appeared near impossible having been faced with a huge rebuilding job at Meadow Lane. Last season’s loan stars Callum McGregor and Jack Grealish returned to their parent clubs and Jimmy Spencer’s pre-season injury robbed Derry of 36 goals worth of talent from the previous campaign.
They weren’t the only departures. Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Alan Sheehan and Bartosz Bialkowski also left the club, leaving fans and pundits alike fearing another basement battle would be on the cards. Bookmakers made County a 4/1 shot for relegation – hardly a ringing endorsement of their prospects.
However, following Saturday’s win against Gillingham, Derry has guided the side to just two defeats from 11 and into eighth place. The Magpies are in the midst of a six-game unbeaten run, have yet to lose a game in five on the road and boast the division’s best defence (including five clean sheets).
Whether they can sustain such a promising start is up for discussion. BetVictor and SkyBet make the Meadow Lane club 13/8 shots for a Top-Half finish, which is probably about right. But delve into the Top Midlands Club market and you may find some value – County have been chalked up at 7/1 to finish above Chesterfield, Coventry, Walsall, Port Vale and Crewe with BetVictor. Chesterfield are rated 1/2 to be top regional dogs which looks grossly underpriced when you consider the Spireites are only a point better off than Derry’s charges. MOH
Shrewsbury’s Away Day Blues
New manager, new squad, new division but the same old problems are holding Shrewsbury back. Micky Mellon’s expensively assembled side slipped to their fourth successive away day defeat at Plymouth and even more alarming, all four losses have come without troubling the scoresheet.
Having taken 13 points from a possible 15 on their own turf, the Shrews have now picked up only two points from 18 on their travels and it’s nothing new. In their previous two seasons (albeit at a higher level) Shrewsbury had lost 22/46 away, winning only seven!
So, at least in the short-term, don’t be tempted to back Salop at short prices away from home. In the long-term? It’s almost impossible to get excited about the current best of 11/5 with Boylesports that the Shrews win promotion back at the first attempt. MOH
Celtic Continue To Suffer Euro Hangover
Another promoted side who are having an incredible year are Hamilton Academicals. Sensationally, the Accies are currently top of the Scottish Premiership after suffering just one defeat in their 9 games so far. On Sunday they achieved their greatest result in recent times by beating Celtic 1-0 at Parkhead. That 12/1 win for Accies highlighted a worrying trend for Celtic this season – their inability to balance the Europa League and Scottish Premiership.
Despite languishing down in 6th and real concerns over new boss Ronny Deila emerging, Celtic have a perfect record in the league when they're not playing directly after a European tie. 4 games, 4 wins. Those wins included a 6-1 destruction of Dundee Utd and a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen. Impressive.
But as my colleague Mark O'Haire mentioned two weeks ago, the European effect is harming most clubs. Celtic, though, look to be the most stricken in this department. In their 4 league games after a European tie the same week, Celtic have failed to win on any occasion. Sunday's loss to Hamilton was preceded by a loss in Inverness and draws against Dundee and Motherwell.
Breaking it down, it looks like this:
Celtic's league games the same week as a European tie: P4 W0 D2 L2 F2 A4
Celtic's league games with no European tie the same week: P4 W4 D0 L0 F13 A3
The next matches to fit the European criteria are:
Oct 26 – Kilmarnock (h)
Nov 9 – Aberdeen (a)
Nov 30 – Scottish Cup 4th Round match
Dec 14 – St Mirren (h)