My View On Big Sam’s England Appointment

After a week of waiting for the inevitable, Sam Allardyce was finally confirmed as England manager. A lot of people are happy, a lot of people are angry, and a lot are feeling indifferent. While I probably fall into the latter category, I think he was the only serious contender. It’s a decade later than he’d have liked, but Big Sam’s time has arrived.

The main concern for most people seems to be whether England will play attractive football. They won’t, but did they ever? Since Allardyce was interviewed first time around in 2006, England have played well against decent opposition on just two or three occasions. In tournament football, we’ve been awful under both Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson, so I can’t see how Big Sam’s style can be any less attractive. Personally, those fears on philosophy don’t panic me in the slightest.

Moreover, I think Allardyce will almost certainly take the country back to where it should be. We’ll probably be quarter-finalists before losing to one of the world’s better teams. With a little luck, we could potentially reach a semi-final too. Meanwhile, having read Sam’s book, it seems that his progressive thinking could aid the development of future generations too. If I was to sum up my expectations in one word, it would be improvement.

But that’s also my main issue with the appointment. There’s a ceiling to what Allardyce can achieve. The old ‘Allardici’ stuff shows that he is probably more capable of building an England team that won’t crumble defensively, which is a must after the last four years. However, even the most optimistic Englishman would concede that winning the World Cup in 2018 is virtually impossible. For me, it’s a sad day when a new era of English football begins with no real hope.

I do think Allardyce will do a good job, but we should be expecting great. At this time, however, the alternatives of Steve Bruce and co would have been almost laughable.

Allardyce hasn’t evolved much as a manager, his success at West Ham and Sunderland was relatively similar to the job he had done at Bolton. I do believe he is the best man for the job. However, I don’t understand how he supposedly wasn’t the right fit 10 years ago, but is suddenly considered the FA’s right man. If he wasn’t good enough to beat the wolly with the brolly to a job, then it’s quite worrying to think he is now England’s premiere football manager.

Essentially, my opinion is that Sam will take us forward. But only so far. Still, I’ll be right behind him once they start their road to Russia in about six weeks time.

Come on England!

Is Pogba Worth £100m?

It’s the summer saga that keeps rolling on, but there finally appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. While his agent has suggested otherwise, it appears that Juventus and Manchester United are on the verge of agreeing a world record deal. Paul Pogba could be on his way back to Old Trafford.

The reported fee: €120m. Yep, that’s €20m more than the cost of the Italian club’s swanky stadium, and is considerably more than the fee Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale too. So the real question is simple: is he worth it?

If the club are prepared to stump up such a large amount of money for a player that was allowed to leave on a free just four years ago, Jose Mourinho must be a big fan. My main worry would be where the Frenchman fits in. But the gaffer surely has a plan. Otherwise, it would be a huge waste of money.

For me, Euro 2016 underlined that Pogba needs to play in an advanced role. Sitting alongside Schweinsteiger in the middle would be a waste of attacking flair. But what would that mean for Wayne Rooney, who Mourinho has said will play in the No.10 or No.9 role.

Does the skipper get benched? I can’t imagine Zlatan Ibrahimovic would’ve agreed to a fringe role so it can only be assumed he’ll lead the line. Maybe it’ll be two up top, but that seems very anti Jose. In my mind, the only option would be to play Pogba in that holding role.

However, playing a world record signing out of position just wouldn’t make sense. Besides, the player left first time around because he was playing. Now that he has evolved to the point where he could be the first £100m+ player, it’s safe to assume he’d demand playing in his preferred role.

It’s a move that would raise a lot of questions. On the other hand, it could be the one to confirm that Manchester United is still one of the world’s greatest clubs. To sign the world’s most sought after player in a season where Champions League football isn’t on the menu would be a huge signal of intent.

Moreover, at 23, Pogba could become the linchpin of Mourinho’s squad for years to come. He certainly boasts the star quality needed for a team to built around him. If other players can be pieced around him, it could be one of our most important signings.

Assuming a deal is finalised over the coming days, I’ll be reserving any judgement until January at least. There’s certainly plenty of positive and negative aspects to consider, but it has to be a risk worth taking. Alongside the arrivals of Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the attacking unit would look far more dangerous than the shower seen under Louis van Gaal in 2015-16.

Is it a risk? Definitely. But it’s probably one worth taking. Pogba left a boy but could return a man; it’s just a shame we’ve paid through the nose to see Juventus encourage that evolution.


Stop Everything. The Greatest First Goalscorer Bet Of All-Time Has Been Won

Remember Bet Victor’s Million Pound Goal promo? If you’re anything like me, each of your predictions were ruined as soon as Cristiano Ronaldo went down injured. I’m not gonna lie; I was gutted as CR7 left the pitch. But, after seeing Eder score the game’s opener – in injury time no less – I realised that anyone predicting that one deserved the million quid.

But I never though anyone would’ve actually done it! Daman Chick: well played.

I read this morning that the 32-year-old plumber from Birmingham correctly predicted that the Swansea flop, who started on the bench, would open the scoring in minute 109. Apparently, the odds were over 14,000 to 1. But for a free bet, earned by placing bets on the previous Euro 2016 games, the lucky f*cker has won one million pound.

Let me say that again… The bloke is now a millionaire from the sake of a free bet. Whether skill or luck, you’ve got to take your hats off to the bloke.

The fact he apparently didn’t even know he’d won until the bookmaker actively started searching for him suggests it was the latter. Still, what a brilliant bet.


If I Could Remove One Thing From The Gambling World…

Now, as a casino manager, I probably shouldn’t admit what I’m about too. To be honest, the thing I’m about to slate is probably the greatest moneymaker in any betting shop while they go a long way to boosting the casino’s profits too. However, if I’m truthful, I think they’re a menace to society.


The acronym stands for Fixed Odds Betting Terminal. To you and me, they’re the computerised roulette and fruit machines. All gamblers have seen them at some stage, and 99% will have played them at some stage. And it’s a very worrying situation.

FOBTs suck the enjoyment out of gambling. It’s not like watching a football match and willing your team to score. It’s not like going for a night out down the casino where fun is the priority and winning money is a bonus. This is literally a 20 second wager where you either win or lose. In most cases, it’s the latter.

And that’s because the clue is in the title. The fixed odds means that you will eventually lose. The machines are literally fixed to payout less money than is pumped in. This is not a game of skill; it’s complete luck. Now, there are occasions where a punter will walk away with serious money in their pocket. More often than not, though, it all ends in tears.

It tends not to happen in the casino, which is something I’m pleased about, but I’ve seen many young lads literally crying inside the bookies: broken men slumped over a machine that has essentially eaten their wages. A whole week of hard graft evaporated in a minute. I don’t think I could wish that on my worst enemy.

Aside from being fixed, the main problem is that it sits on a screen. It doesn’t feel real. It’s just numbers on a screen until it’s too late. The FOBTs are highly addictive, and highly dangerous. Whether you’re a casual gambler or a problematic one, steering clear is advised.

In the casino, you literally have chips in your hands. You soon notice when those physical piles are diminishing. Likewise, you can appreciate when you’ve won. And as every gambler should understand, knowing when to walk away is the key to enjoying a positive relationship with gambling.

As a casino manager, of course I love earning money. However, we’re not heartless. Quite frankly, I like the casino to be no different to a bingo hall. We offer an evening of entertainment. Everyone will go home happy, and some will go home with a lump sum of cash.

FOBTs don’t offer that enjoyment. Instead, they turn people into problem gamblers that learn to chase their losses. And that can’t be healthy for anyone.

Take it from me; sticking to the physical tables and sports betting is a far safer option. If I had my way, we’d get rid of the machines altogether.


UFC 200: Brilliant But Boring At The Same Time

First off, I’ve gotta say that big UFC nights are a godsend for the casino. Punters flock, and we tend to rake in the big money. My casino always goes the extra mile to make it a great atmosphere – after all, I know that people could just buy a fight pass or watch it on BT Sport. But by offering a great night out, those nights often see our takings at the bar double compared to a standard Saturday. Most of the time, it also leads to more profit on the tables, although not always.

Anyway, the big night from Vegas promised so much. But while there were flashes of brilliance, it delivered so little.

Brock was back, and he won. Sadly, though, his fight against Mark Hunt didn’t develop as expected. The was a more disciplined Brock, which was great for him as he won by a unanimous decision. But most fans expect the beast to obliterate opponents (or get caught). As a fan of Brock, it was a great result. It was equally fantastic to see him in the octagon again. Nevertheless, this wasn’t a great fight.

Being at work, I caught a glimpse of the pre-card and undercard. To be honest, everything up until he big four fights was tame. Then Jose Aldo beat Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision, and then mentioned the possibility of a rematch against McGregor. There was a palpable sense that the event would’ve been far more entertaining had the Irishman not had his little sulk a few months earlier.

The next fight was another UD as Daniel Cormier overcame late replacement Anderson Silva. It’s hard to say the Brazilian shouldn’t fight as he’s one of the sport’s greatest ever. Whether it’s age or repercussions of that horror leg break, the 41-year-old has now failed to win any of his last five. Personally, I thought he added very little to the night.

I don’t want to be sexist, but having a women’s bout as the main event at UFC 200 was the biggest mistake of all. In fairness, it was the only big fight that ended with the killer finish fans crave. But nobody can seriously say that women can compete as well as men in the octagon. Of course, they deserve a place on the card and are great athletes too. I just think that the biggest match in the company’s biggest night could have been so much better.
For all the hype, UFC 200 wasn’t all that. Yet somehow, it still felt like a big event. I guess leaving punters happy even when the quality isn’t that great is the hallmark of a truly successful events company.

Having said that, I can’t wait for McGregor’s return.