#WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING
By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
It’s all over bar the prayers of the hopelessly optimistic and even they’re going to be few and far between if Manchester United extend their lead to 18 points this afternoon, even if it is just for a couple of hours. Roberto Mancini has stuck the fork in Manchester City’s hopes of making it back to back titles, telling the world:
If we finish runners-up and win the FA Cup it would still have been a good season when you consider all the problems we have had this season.
Even if we use the liberal calculations you normally only get from Jimmy Carr’s tax advisor, United can’t mathematically wrap up the title this weekend, but that hasn’t stopped punters piling in to United to record league win number 25 out of a possible 30. A whopping 94 per cent of bets have been for a United win.
Yes, the sizeable cushion and distraction of an FA Cup tie with Chelsea less than 48 hours later could give misfiring Sunderland the chance of upsetting the champions elect, but that’s not a view supported by too many people. Just two per cent of bets have been for the Black Cats with a stalemate proving to be twice as popular, claiming four per cent. The mocking jeers of the Stadium of Light faithful as United found out that Sergio Aguero had snatched the title away from them in the dying seconds of the final day of last season will provide the United players with enough motivation to turn in a performance in a game of little consequence to their season.
It’s all about Wayne Rooney in the First Goalscorer betting. On one hand that’s good news because it’s a validation of his skills, but on the other it’s not becuase Fergie has decided to give him a day off. With the abundance of chocolate eggs around at this time of year, that’s possibly not the best decision we’ve ever heard. Robin van Persie is the second most popular choice even though his prolific goalscoring form has dropped like the volume of Brasso required at the Emirates since about 2005. With Rooney’s absence, he’s only going to get more popular as kick-off approaches.
There’s been some money for Sunderland players, which may be a surprise to see anyone who has seen them win precisely none of their last seven games. If Danny Graham wanted fans to forget his ‘I hate the Mackems’ style comments after he joined Sunderland, he needed to start banging in the goals pretty sharpish. That’s been about as successful as Martin O’Neill’s attempts not to leap excitedly into the air everytime his team score a goal, but Graham is still being backed to open his account by being the first goalscorer today.