By Aidan Elder | Chief Sports Writer
It’s time for our weekly look at the odds-ons shots you were cursing into your cornflakes about this morning. Here’s our round up of the shorter priced teams you may have included in your weekend bankers accum who ended up being more disappointing than Police Academies 2 to 7.
Barcelona – 3/10
Opposition: Real Sociedad at La Anoeta (La Liga)
What went wrong?
The fact that Barcelona basically steamroller everyone these days is pretty much what went wrong. They looked to be cakewalking their way to an 11th consecutive away win in this season’s La Liga after Pedro put them 2-0 25 minutes in. Possibly thinking too much about Harlem Globetrotting their way through the next 65 minutes using an array of flicks, tricks, ladders and slam dunks, they let the Basque side into it. Two goals from Gonzalo Castro got them back into it, before Imanol Agirretxe took advantage of some defensive daydreaming to score the injury time winner.
If his taking of Shakira’s hip gyrations off the market was enough of a reason to hold a long distance grudge against him, then Gerard Pique’s silly red card might just do it. He got his second yellow card on 56 minutes when Barca were 2-1 up and the rest is a little bit of history. Barca only managed three attempts on target, so it wasn’t even a case of the Sociedad goalkeeper having the game of his life. A huge shock for the La Liga leaders and a huge kick in the nuts for anyone who included them in their accum.
Newcastle – 8/11
Opposition: Reading at the Artist Formerly Known as St. James’s Park (Premier League)
What went wrong?
We all know Newcastle have struggled like America struggles with Cheryl Cole’s accent in recent weeks, but surely a home game against hapless relegation fodder, Reading was the beginning of a turnaround. Victory would at least give Alan Pardew some breathing space and more time to insist he knows what he’s doing, but what he got was the biggest Geordie disappointment since Joe McElderry’s career.
With Cheik Tiote at the African Nations Cup and Shola Ameobi sadly not, this was always going to be trickier than it looked, but still, it’s Reading. Yohan Cabaye put the Magpies in front thanks to a superb free-kick, but Brian McDermott introduced ‘not-super-but-moderately-successful-sub’ – one Glenville Adam James Le Fondre. The man with Stockport’s poshest sounding name worked wonders, first introducing the ‘sliding chest’ to score the equaliser and then providing a more orthodox striker’s finish six minutes for what turned out to be the winner. The Toon Army are well and truly in a relegation scrap now and that will seem like a fair punishment to anyone who backed them.
Blackburn – 9/10
Opposition: Charlton at Ewood Park (Championship)
What went wrong?
Since parting company with Henning Berg at the end of December, Blackburn had gone on a run of four games without defeat. With Michael Appleton taking over the managerial reins, hopes of enjoying that vague ‘new manager bounce’ phenomenon were high. Combined with Rovers’ good home record against Charlton, backing the Ewood Park outfit looked like a logical call but as it turned out, it had ‘making Henning Berg dance to a Michael Jackson song at the Christmas party’ levels of success.
Charlton came into the game with some good form of their own and that became apparent when they took the lead after 26 minutes. Jordan Rhodes equalised for Roves, but Yann Kermorgant put the Addicks ahead once more and then Blackburn pretty much rolled over and had their bellies tickled – a point implied by Appleton’s scathing post-match verdict on his players.
I’m not sure how committed they were once we conceded the second goal, which was a disappointment. There’s no time to shirk your responsibilities. We’re professional people, whether you’re manager, coach or a player. You’ve got to take the responsibility that goes with it.
Punters probably won’t be so quick to take responsibility for backing Rovers in future.
Hibernian – 7/10
Opposition: Dundee at Easter Road (SPL)
What went wrong?
With the SPL’s two horse race reduced by 50%, Hibs have briefly looked capable of being the also-rans closest to grasping at Celtic’s coat-tails. Pat Fenlon has turned around the relegation form of the latter part of last season and even had them topping the table. Form has been patchier since, but they were still expected to dispose of the SPL’s worst team with ease.
Going into this game, Dundee had taken just one point out of a possible 21 from their last seven league matches. Coming out of it, they’ve now taken just two points out of a possible 21, but that minimal improvement was enough to send a few accums down the toilet.
Dundee brought a touch of the Barcelonas to Easter Road with their goal, a one touch passing move finished off by John Baird. The Hibees equalised through Leigh Griffiths, but a lot of huffing and puffing couldn’t get them a winner and if anything, the lowly visitors were the ones with the clearer chances to snatch all three points. Hibs, Dundee and favourite-backing punters – none of them won. It’s disappointment all round, which could work as the tagline for Scottish football in general.
Malaga – 8/13
Opposition: Celta Vigo at La Rosaleda (La Liga)
What went wrong?
The Malaga owner not wanting to spend any more money and Roque Santa Cruz now being seen as the team’s attacking threat is pretty much what went wrong. The Paraguayan wasted a couple of good opportunities with a couple of unexpected bouts of unselfishness. Twice in the space of a few first half minutes, he did everything you’d expect of a quality striker to create chances for himself, but when the moment came to pull the trigger, he attempted blind passes to on rushing Malaga team-mates who actually hadn’t bothered their arses to on-rush.
As you’d expect from a Champions League team taking on plucky relegation battlers at home, Malaga went 1-0 up thanks to a goal from Demichelis late in the first half. They showed the silkier skills for most of the game, but they still looked vulnerable defensively however. Celta cracked their marshmallowy rear-guard was cracked 14 minutes from time. Malaga defender, Wellington decided to deal with a not especially threatening through ball by passing it to Augusto Fernandez who slotted it in from about nine yards out. It cost punters who had them in their accum. Maybe not the price of a world class striker, but it cost them.