By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Every Friday we leave the office thinking we’ve come up with the type of ‘hot favourites banker accum’ that’s going to make us rich to the point of telling the boss where to advertise his newly created vacancy. And then every Monday we return meekly to our desks and begin another week of trying not to get fired.
One day it’ll happen, but for the moment, let’s just vent our spleens about the teams who let us down at odds-on prices over the weekend.
Ajax – 1/6
Opposition: ADO Den Haag at the Amsterdam Arena (Eredivisie)
What went wrong?
If you did include Ajax in your mega ‘get rich quick’ weekend accum, then this morning you should be sending abusive letters. The first of which should head in the direction of Ajax defender, Niklas Moisander, the second towards the linesman who didn’t award them a goal for a shot that looked to have inched over the line and the final one to the rest of the Ajax team who, not for the first time this season, couldn’t turn possession and more attempts on goal into a successful leg of your accumulator.
Finnish international, Moisander got the afternoon of groans up and running by providing the assist for Den Haag’s opener, picking out Tjarron Chery with a wonderful pass. Yes, Chery had a lot of work to do and the finish was exquisite, but it’s so much more fun to berate someone than praise someone. After that, the linesman and referee contributed by not giving a goal that if it wasn’t actually over the line, gave a pretty passable impression of being over the line (see below). After that, the hosts squandered chance after chance until Lasse Schone popped up five minutes from time to provide the equaliser with a neat little volley from the edge of the box. After PSV were beaten in their match with Feyenoord, it meant Ajax missed the chance to go level on points with the league leaders. They’re probably kicking themselves for that. And missing.
AZ Alkmaar – 4/9
Opposition: NAC Breda at the AFAS Stadion (Eredivisie)
What went wrong?
Even though they’re just above the relegation playoff zone (the Dutch are soooooo alternative) and they’d taken one point from a possible nine in their last three league outings, European competition regulars, Alkmaar were the big odds-on shots to beat NAC Breda, That’s not without foundation because NAC aren’t especially good either. Cut through the hype and slightly out of date belief that AZ should be further up the table however and you’re left with some very uneasy favourites.
NAC made that point early on with a sweet sixth minute goal from Serbian youngster, Nemanja Gudelj. The hosts tried hard to get back into it, but it managed all the success of one of the Spice Girl’s solo careers. They had chances to get on terms, but they were far from dominant with the visitors threatening to extend the lead more than once. The equalisier never came, consigning the hosts to a February with no league wins and more importantly, bringing down any accums they were ill-advisedly featured in.
Swindon – 4/6
Opposition: Preston North End at the County Ground (League One)
What went wrong?
The dust is only starting to settle at
Harchester United Swindon after a dramatic few days of claims, counter-claims and flamboyant hissy-fits. The fallout from Paolo Di Canio’s resignation is still being felt and although the Robins were odds-on to beat a struggling Preston side, backing them should come with a health warning for the time being.
The Italian had got his team in a great position to claim a second successive promotion in what is becoming a thrilling race for the League One title, but for the moment we can’t tell if that’s down to Di Canio’s managerial brilliance or a quality squad that any self-aggrandising egotist could manage. The lingering speculation of a post-takeover return to the club for Di Canio hasn’t helped.
The early evidence suggests a boost for Di Canio’s ego as the hosts dropped two points they weren’t expected to. They fell behind to a Will Wayhurst goal, and despite having the bulk of possession, chances and nearly nine minutes of Fergie time, all Swindon could manage was an equaliser from ginger wizard, Adam Rooney. The dropped points mean they surrender top spot to Sheffield United, but that’s not nearly as important as all the accumulators they knocked down.
Alloa – 8/11
Opposition: Arbroath at Recreation Park (Scottish Division Two)
What went wrong?
With Queen of the South joyfully romping to the title like Prince Harry joyfully romping around a Las Vegas penthouse, Alloa are very much playing for second and a place in the promotion play-offs, so it’s not as if this defeat hurt their title aspirations. It may have done damage to their hopes of a second successive promotion, particularly if Brechin manage to win most of their ridiculous four games in hand.
There’s also some damage to the ego as this was a game they were meant to win. They went into the game unbeaten in five and hadn’t lost at home since the middle of September. Against a team who have the league’s joint leakiest defence on the road, the three points were there for the taking. They went behind to a Derek Holmes goal just before half-time and their quest for an equaliser was continually thwarted by the type of clinical finishing even Fernando Torres would sneer at. The teams met again on Wednesday in a rescheduled game and the Wasps need to hope their strikers have found their shooting boots by then.
Brentford – 4/5
Opposition: Walsall at Griffin Park (League One)
What went wrong?
A cup run and glamour tie is a bit of mixed blessing. Yes it can help fill the coffers and ensure financial stability, but it also has the potential to leave you as distracted as George Michael at the wheel of a Range Rover. Going into the first Chelsea game, Brentford lost just once in their previous 12 games and we’re on course from a Playoff spot. Since then, they’ve lost two of their last four and dropped out of the top six places.
That’s an admittedly skewed stat because one of those defeats was the replay with Chelsea and they have got a couple of games in hand to get themselves back into the promised land of milk and doomed optimism that is the playoff places. On Saturday, they created enough chances to win those couple of games in hand, but met with the staunch resistance of Irish Under 21 international, Aaron McCarey in the Walsall goal. Afterwards, Bees’ manager, Uwe Rosler tried to distance himself from the disappointment by subtly shifting the blame to his players:
Overall it is two points dropped and disappointing as we did many things right but we didn’t score despite me playing an offensive team
That not especially skillful example of blame avoidance will only be of slight compensation to Brentford backers.