Stan Hey: 6-5 Against
Saturday 01 August 2009
If summer didn't seem over already the return next week of the Football League signals shortening days and other darkness – administration, managerial dismissals, and the dashing of fans' expectations.
The dread will be most keenly felt at St James' Park, already in mourning for Sir Bobby Robson, as Newcastle United try to clamber back into the Premier League with a diminishing squad and as yet unknown manager.
The bookies make them favourites to win the Championship, as short as 4-1, but it requires blind loyalty to back them. The relegated Premier League sides – West Bromwich and Middlesbrough – often bounce back but how damaged are these clubs? Ipswich Town under that volatile perfectionist Roy Keane, are the bet – £10 at 10-1, Ladbrokes.
In League One, Leeds are 7-2 favourites, uninviting given last season's failure. MK Dons, with Paul Ince back, look more plausible – £5 win, 10-1, Totesport.
League Two revolves around the pairing of Sven Goran Eriksson and Notts County, which has made the oldest club 4-1 favourites. I'm with Bournemouth, survivors of a points penalty last season – £5 win, 16-1 generally.
Phil Mickelson returns in the Bridgestone Invitational, next Thursday. His heart will be lighter but, with the 50 top-ranked players present, competition will be tough. Tiger Woods still looks out of sorts. Tentative selections are Luke Donald and Nick Watney.
*Hampshire landed the bet in the Friends Provident but Roaring Forte was blown away at Ascot. But rain could yet be the winner at Edgbaston.
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