This column is all about finding value. The wager which gives us a warm, cozy feeling because we reckon, we know more than the bookmakers who have priced up a team on wooly thoughts and rickety rationale.
It doesn’t have to be a sexy bet. Or one that involves a household name. It has to be value. And it has to have a better chance of copping than the oddsmakers say. Well, that’s kinda the point of value betting but it’s worth drumming home.
So let’s take a look at the League One relegation market. Yup, that’s right – the third tier of English soccer. This is where teams who are more famous for things other than soccer reside. Portsmouth, for example, is the home of the British navy. But they’ve got a footy team. Blackpool have a sparkly tower by the sea. But they have a football team. Oxford is the home of one of the most famous universities in the world. But they have a footy team.
And that’s where our value is folks. Excuse the pun but we have studied Oxford long and hard this summer and reckon they are a corker of a bet for the drop at +2000 with William Hill.
Oxford? Aren’t they on the upward curve? So an aficionado of this level might say. Well, they were promoted the season before last, have been to Wembley two seasons running and just missed the play-offs last term.
But they are a team in decline. Serious decline. The architect of their success, Michael Appleton, the coach, left to be No 2 at Leicester City. Now, losing your manager could be considered unfortunate. But since then Oxford have lost their captain, top goalscorer and failed to retain Conor McAleny who banged in ten goals in just 1,289 minutes.
Have they replaced the manager and those key players? They have a new coach. Pep Clotet is the former assistant at Leeds United and is highly regarded. But he is completely unproven as a manager, which makes him a strange choice. He could be brilliant. Or not. Nobody actually knows.
Xemi, a Barcelona B team player, is the replacement for skipper John Lundstram, who has left for Sheffield United. Again, utterly unproven. But the goals from Chris Maguire (bury) and McAleny are missing. They have, by and large, recruited ageing pros and injury-prone players. It smacks of a team cutting costs and hoping for the best.
Oxford may well be very organised and tough to beat. But William Hill rate only four teams less likely to go down than them, which just seems crazy. Arguably they are a +14000 chance. Which means we have to steam in. Remember four teams go down from this section and by our reckoning, only five teams seem to be in more strife than Oxford.
One of those is Walsall at +300 with Betonline. That is another very good price about a team who have struggled to cope after the loss of the coach who ensured they were punching above their weight. They are a season ahead of Oxford probably in their decline.
Another bet to gobble up is the +163 (Skybook) that Oxford finish in the bottom half. That looks one of the bets of the season.