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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Rooney's future unlikely to be away from Premier League

Football experts answer the week's big questions

Wayne Rooney (left) celebrates with Ander Herrera
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Alan Alger Betway
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Chester are playing some good attacking football in the National League. Their defence has let them down in recent weeks though – albeit in hard games (four of last six against sides in top eight, one a derby, the other on a 3G pitch).

But opponents Southport present their easiest fixture in a while, so take advantage of prices based on the away side’s form in tougher fixtures of late.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Tottenham have a superb home record in the Premier League. But I wouldn’t want to be taking prices in the 2-5 range after Thursday’s Europa League exertions and exit.

Where’s the value in the EFL Cup final?
With clean sheets in five of their last six games, I’d be interested in Manchester United to win to nil. Keepers often do well in the man-of-the-match reckoning for this fixture so United’s starting keeper will be worth a look in that market.

Where will Wayne Rooney be on the first day of next season?
I find it hard to believe anyone can match his wages, other than in China which he’s already turned down. I guess he stays at Manchester United.

Were Leicester right to sack Claudio Ranieri?
No. I’m trying hard not to sound like a ‘football was better in the old days’ curmudgeon. But if ‘rush to judgement’ internet journalism and social media didn’t exist, I think he wouldn’t have been sacked. Everything was better before both of those things.

Give us a winner on the midweek coupon
Improving and well-organised Gateshead to win at Macclesfield in the National League.

Nick Goff Racing Post columnist
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Reading have ridden their luck to find themselves where they are in the Sky Bet Championship table, but perhaps it has run out as they have won just one of their last four. I’m happy to back Brighton at a price which may at first glance look a bit short.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Several. At current prices I’m happy to be against three odds-on home sides in England – MK Dons, Doncaster and Mansfield – and three more, Hibs, Livingston and Arbroath, north of the border. 

Where’s the value in the EFL Cup final?
Whatever Mourinho was thinking when fielding such a strong team in Europe on Wednesday when already 3-0 up, it backfired with injuries to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick.Southampton have been inconsistent in the league but their best is a match for anyone and they’re the value for this.

Where will Wayne Rooney be on the first day of next season?
I don’t think he’ll move to China for all the tea there, never mind the money. MLS clubs aren’t throwing money at hasbeens like they used to and no top European side are going to match his current wages as he no longer warrants it. For those reasons, perhaps the answer will be Manchester United.

Were Leicester right to sack Claudio Ranieri?
No. Leicester’s results have been awful, but performances haven’t been quite as bad. When that’s the case it usually leads to an upturn, so we may have expected improvements anyway. If that happens under a new manager he’ll be credited for the turnaround. Ranieri would probably have done the same, and should have been afforded the chance to do so.

Give us a winner on the midweek coupon
Exeter are playing some excellent stuff and are almost as comfortable on their travels as they are at home. They have a strong chance of taking care of business at Crawley in League Two on Tuesday.


Didi Hamann Champions League winner
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Crystal Palace. Middlesbrough are dealing in draws at the moment and it’s just about keeping them afloat. That they’ve won the fewest games in the division but aren’t in the bottom three, which tells you all you need to know. They can’t score goals and sooner or later their luck is going to run out, possibly starting today at Palace. I see a big finish coming from the Eagles.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Everton look too short at home to Sunderland. The Black Cats were well beaten by Southampton last time out but before that there had been two excellent efforts against Spurs and Palace, yielding four points. Everton are going well under Ronald Koeman but they’ve been frustrated by Stoke and Boro recently and Sunderland are battling for their lives.

Where’s the value in the EFL Cup final?
A draw. No goalscorer is also tempting. Southampton are all about organisation and work ethic and given that, on paper at least, they look weaker, Claude Puel is going to set them up to be hard to beat. Had Michael Carrick been fit I may just have erred towards United – he’s a huge loss – but Saints will be well prepared for what’s set to be a close contest.

Where will Wayne Rooney be on the first day of next season? 
Manchester United. It’s interesting that the idea of a move to China was discussed but it never really felt like the right fit and I’m not surprised that it came to nothing. Rooney still has something to offer at United even if he’s no longer a regular and with the lure of leading England into the next World Cup, he could do with staying at Old Trafford.

Were Leicester right to sack Claudio Ranieri?
Yes. On the outside it might seem harsh but a club’s owners have to make a decision on what they see in front of them, not what happened a few months ago. They have taken the view that Leicester have a better chance of staying up with someone else in charge other than Ranieri. I’ve got no qualms about that. It’s business.

Give us a winner on the midweek coupon
Manchester City to beat Huddersfield by one goal. Pep Guardiola will make changes and while that in itself doesn’t suggest a close encounter, any help in team selection will be taken by the Terriers. Huddersfield are a good team, proving it time and time again, and they weren’t flattered by the 0-0 draw in the first game.

Matthew Ireland Racing Post Sport
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
If Bournemouth continue on their current downward spiral, it won’t be long until they are embroiled in the scrap for survival. The Cherries have conceded at least three goals in six of their last seven away games and look vulnerable at West Brom. The Baggies have been excellent at home this term and look a cracking wager at odds-against.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Ian Holloway is beginning to get a tune out of QPR and if they can perform as well as they have done in recent weeks I can see them getting something at Preston.

North End are a solid outfit but they have won only two of their last seven and look short enough in a game between two evenly-matched sides.

Where’s the value in the EFL Cup final?
Anything around the 4-5 mark about Manchester United looks a fair enough price. Jose Mourinho is a master of triumphing on the big occasion and with Southampton still struggling with injuries, everything points to a Red Devils victory.

Where will Wayne Rooney be on the first day of next season?
Rooney has said he intends to see out the season at Old Trafford but all the signs point to him not being at Manchester United after the summer.

It’s often said that players should never go back but I think he could end his career at Everton rather than take the easy option of the Chinese Super League or MLS.

Were Leicester right to sack Claudio Ranieri? 
No. It’s a sad end to a what has been a remarkable story. Results, especially since the turn of the year, haven’t been good but if anyone deserved a chance to turn it around it was Ranieri and looking at the betting for his replacement, not many of those towards the head of the market have experience of a relegation fight. 

Give us a winner on the midweek coupon
Tuesday could be a pivotal day in the Sky Bet Championship title race with Newcastle travelling to rivals Brighton. The Seagulls are tremendous on home soil but I have a suspicion Rafa Benitez will rest players against Bristol City today and arrive at the Amex with his first-choice squad raring to go. 


Ian Wilkerson Racing Post Sport
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
It is a tough coupon this week but I’m willing to go for Burnley in the draw-no-bet market at Hull.

The Tigers have improved under Marco Silva and the Clarets have claimed just one point on the road this season, but Sean Dyche still has a progressive team and it is realistic to expect an improvement after their FA Cup embarrassment against Lincoln.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Crystal Palace have found the net in just one of their last five matches and may struggle against Middlesbrough. It is no ringing endorsement of Aitor Karanka’s charges but they have been difficult to break down on the road, conceding just 13 away goals. It is a crucial relegation clash where both teams could covet a point.

Where’s the value in the EFL Cup final?
I wouldn’t be in a rush to back Southampton. Despite their impressive success over Liverpool in the semi-finals, they have been blowing hot and cold. I expect United to get the job done. Zlatan Ibrahimovic can lead from the front by scoring the opening goal.

Where will Wayne Rooney be on the first day of next season?
A lack of playing time at Old Trafford points to Rooney being surplus to requirements next term, but I would be surprised if he went to China. He doesn’t need the money. Close friend Steven Gerrard’s relatively unsuccessful spell in MLS would maybe guard him against a move to the States so a return to Everton may be more attractive to him.

Were Leicester right to sack Claudio Ranieri?
Probably not. The best thing that happens to a club is always the worst thing that happens to a club because it raises false expectations. That said, they could have pushed on but everyone banging on about the fairytale storyline has not helped and some players have let him down. He was at least owed the chance to dig them out of trouble.

Give us a winner on the midweek coupon
Millwall are making steady progress towards the Sky Bet League One playoff picture and after six straight clean sheets, Neil Harris’s side should have the better of Peterborough. Posh have claimed seven away victories this season but only one of those was against a team in the top ten of the division and they could prove to be vulnerable.

 

I don’t think he’ll move to China for all the tea there, never mind the money. MLS clubs aren’t throwing money at hasbeens like they used to and no top European side are going to match his current wages
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