Tag Archives: Blog

How to beat the football betting system

So, that’s a big claim – but I kind of have the answer. Towards the start of last year’s Premier League season, I predicted the final standings. The prediction was based on a fairly simple premise; the table after 12 games is pretty much the table after 38 games. As I said then:

“I heard about the theory a couple of years ago and – give or take a bit of movement – the theory was sound. There’s normally a couple of big changes. And as I said before, you have to have an accepted error of one or two places around most teams.”

So, how did I do for the 2009/10 season? See for yourself below:

12 games / 38 games / movement

  1. Chelsea / Chelsea (spot on)
  2. Arsenal / Man Utd (+1)
  3. Man Utd / Arsenal (-1)
  4. Tottenham / Tottenham (spot on)
  5. Aston Villa / Man City (+1)
  6. Man City / Aston Villa (-1)
  7. Liverpool / Liverpool (spot on)
  8. Sunderland / Everton (+5)
  9. Stoke / Birmingham (+6)
  10. Blackburn / Blackburn (spot on)
  11. Burnley / Stoke (-2)
  12. Fulham / Fulham (spot on)
  13. Everton / Sunderland (-5)
  14. Wigan / Bolton (+2)
  15. Birmingham / Wolves (+4)
  16. Bolton / Wigan (-2)
  17. Hull / West Ham (+1)
  18. West Ham / Burnley (-7)
  19. Wolves / Hull (-2)
  20. Portsmouth / Portsmouth (spot on)

Pretty good, is my conclusion. Just five teams (Everton, Birmingham, Sunderland, Wolves and Burnley) finished more than two places away from their predicted finish. As many as six finished in the correct spot. The rest were within the expected error margin of two places.

If you’d bet on the champions, you’d have won. If you’d bet on the top four, you’d have won. You’d have lost on the bottom three bet, but only just. And that is a hard one to call, because there’s always one club that falls like a stone.

You can’t actually beat the bookie, obviously. But the 12 game system is probably as close as you’re going to get.

I-journalism and the cult of first-person reporting

“Never use ‘I’ in columns,” was one of the first lessons I received as a journalist. Oh, there I go – breaking the rule…

Still, my errant behaviour is a small ripple in comparison to the first-person obsession of modern journalism. The thinking behind not using ‘I’ is simple; the reader wants to read your opinions on a subject, not the story of your life. Few people are interesting enough to write in the first-person (God, yes. The Queen, maybe).

There’s another reason for not using the word ‘I’. You’re writing a column, so everyone knows it’s your opinion. In other words, you’re stating the obvious. And it’s boring.

Which makes the national media’s obsession with first-person accounts slightly baffling. The Mail, for example, presents a daily collection of extended rants – telling the reader how the journalist bravely gave up fish paste for Lent. Or something of that ilk.

No paper is immune. This weekend, The Guardian Magazine on Saturday splashed with one man’s story of why he doesn’t eat meat anymore (there was another cover story from the same author in today’s G2). I don’t eat meat either; can I have a book contract?

So, what’s to explain the rise of I-journalism (see Steve Jobs, I can be clever with ‘I’ too)? Probably a combination of factors: limited resources; the rise of celebrity culture, where every one is famous for 15 minutes; and the cult of the individual, where everyone believes they have something interesting to say – and everyone is meant to find it interesting.

Which begs one final question. Why am I writing this self-obsessed blog…?

New look for an old blog

I’ve been updating my blog. Well, actually I’ve done some of the updating. The vast amount of grunt work has been done by my good friend Jonny – he is a very decent egg. The end result of this updating process is that the blog has been moved from one platform (Mr Site) to another (WordPress).

I am currently uploading old content to WordPress. Re-publishing this old stuff in a backwards chronology is a bit like living your life in reverse style – dead features lists have been re-born, Wimbledon is still rubbish. And Aston Villa are still about 6th in the Premier League (again).

No more community

When I was little, community was the first word in ‘community centre’. It still is, of course – even if I no longer live in the countryside and my small world no longer revolves around a small building in the middle of a small village.

While community centres still exist (I think), the word community seems to have taken on a life of its own. Rather than just a simple adjunct to another word, like centre or rural, community is a term imbued with its own connotations.

When TV reporters head into the field (usually a place, rather than a green piece of land), they refer to the community – they talk about the ‘reaction of the the community’, ‘the feelings of the community’. With a knowing tone, we are all supposed to know what they mean – we’re supposed to feel their interviewees’ collective pain. Because in the end, we’re all part of a wider and understanding community. But are we?

I would suggest not, actually. What we actually have is rampant individualism, and what was started in the 1980s has come to a head in the consumer and celebrity-obsessed noughties. The internet isn’t (always) helpful. Web 2.0 is meant to be about collaboration and community but often becomes manifest as individualism, with everyone worried about their presence – look at my Twitter page, pay attention to what I think, please read my blog. Talking of which, please read my blog.