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23/11/2007 No.8
rendspotting Football
Dan Roebuck
Friday November 23, 2007
  O'Neill and Mourinho are favourites with Capello coming up on the rails

Those who, at half-time in England's 3-2 loss to Croatia, took the 13-8 William Hill were offering that Steve McClaren would be sacked within 24 hours may have been able to collect their winnings at around a quarter to nine last night but that will be scant consolation for punters and bookmakers alike who have now been deprived of a home nations side at the European Championship finals..

With England and Northern Ireland following Scotland and Wales out of the competition, all firms are certain to see the amount gambled on the action in Austria and Switzerland fall. "At this stage we don't know how much England's absence will affect turnover next summer, as the football betting landscape has changed dramatically in the years since England last missed out on a major tournament," said Coral's David Stevens. "However, it would be naive to think there will not be some shortfall, as we won't have the custom of the patriotic fan that likes to back England whenever they are in action."

Coral were convinced McClaren's tenure was over immediately after Wednesday's defeat, issuing odds of 1-40 that the former Middlesbrough manager would fail to last the year in the job. That price disappeared overnight as it became clear his position had become untenable.

McClaren's departure has led to a flood of interest in who will be the next head coach of England, with Martin O'Neill and Jose Mourinho the two names that have caught the punting public's eye. "We have a lively two-horse race on our hands at the moment" said Graham Sharpe of Hill's. His firm have seen a "stream of three-figure bets" on the current Aston Villa manager, and one client has staked £1,000 on O'Neill, forcing Hill's to cut him to 5-2. Elsewhere, 4-1 was available.

Other firms have shortened up Mourinho. Sky Bet's PR director, Dale Tempest, said: "The phones are hot this morning with customers clamouring to back the 'Special One' for the job." Sky Bet offer just 5-2 whereas Coral and Paddy Power were also fielding calls wanting to back the former Chelsea manager. Boyle Sports were best at 9-2 yesterday afternoon.

After that, Fabio Capello, who apparently declared an interest, is 6-1 (general), Luiz Felipe Scolari 20-1 (Hill's), Alan Shearer 20-1 (Coral), Marcello Lippi 25-1 (Betfred), Guus Hiddink 25-1 (general), Harry Redknapp 20-1 (general), Stuart Pearce 25-1 (general) and 33-1 bar those.

You may have noticed six of the first seven names in the betting are not English. Although there was a clamour from sections of the press to employ an Englishman following the announcement that Sven-Goran Eriksson would leave after the 2006 World Cup, it seems unlikely that that will happen again. Taking the 4-7 Totesport are offering that the FA appoints a foreign coach could end up paying dividends.

Whoever you fancy, it is worth remembering three runners (McClaren, Scolari and O'Neill) traded at odds-on the last time the England job was up for grabs and three others (Sam Allardyce, Hiddink and Alan Curbishley) were backed at 5-1 or shorter. With the FA set to take their time about an appointment, do not expect to get paid any time soon.

VC Bet have issued a market on McClaren's next job. They offer 11-8 he will become manager of a Premier League club. Two of the last three England coaches (Eriksson and Glenn Hoddle) returned to football by taking charge of a top-division side, so McClaren's chances make those odds worth a look. And while you might have to wait a while to collect, there seems little reason to suggest McClaren will not get a chance sooner or later.

As for England, Totesport offer 8-11 it will be another 40 years before they win a major trophy. Hill's go 5-4 they win a home nations tournament should one arise next summer, and England are 10-1 (general) fourth favourites for the 2010 World Cup.
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