Mark Hughes Favourite For Next QPR Manager

Former Fulham manager Mark Hughes is the overwhelming favourite to take charge at Queen Park Rangers, after Neil Warnock was sacked yesterday.

Just days after Warnock stated he needed another four or five new players to keep the relegation threatened Hoops in the top flight, he was shown the door by new chairman Tony Fernandes.

Warnock won the Championship last season but found life in the top flight a lot more difficult. Just one point separated his team from the relegation zone.

Welshman Hughes, who has also managed Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, was immediately instilled as the bookmaker’s favourite to take over at Loftus Road, although there are a few other names in the running.

Former West Ham United boss Gianfranco Zola was named second favourite to have a crack at managing another London club while former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Rafa Benitez is currently third favourite.

Other names mentioned include ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, who was recently fired from his post at Leicester City and Steve Bruce, sacked earlier this season by Sunderland.

Two former QPR greats can also be backed. Ray Wilkins, who previously managed the side but has been working as a pundit since departing Chelsea last season and former striker Les Ferdinand, can both be backed at longer odds.

A selection of the names in the running for the QPR job are as follows:

  • Mark Hughes @ 1.2 (Betfred)
  • Gianfranco Zola @ 6.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Rafa Benitez @ 13.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Sven Goran Eriksson @ 21.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Roberto Di Matteo @ 21.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Roberto Martinez @ 21.0 (Betfred)
  • Alan Curbishley @ 23.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Steve Bruce @ 26.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Ray Wilkins @ 41.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Les Ferdinand @ 101.0 (Sportingbet)

Explaining the reasons behind sacking Warnock, new chairman Fernandes said: “This decision has been made in the best interests of the club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that was made lightly.

“Sadly, our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change.”

Natalie Cassidy Early Favourite To Win Celebrity Big Brother 2012

Former Eastenders actress Natalie Cassidy is the early favourite to win Celebrity Big Brother 2012. The 28-year-old was the first to enter the house and was immediately issued a task by Big Brother where she had to act out “hilarious” instructions given to her by way of a hidden earpiece.

Cassidy can be backed at 3.75 (Ladbrokes) and at this stage looks a good bet for the following reasons:

  • She is a mum and will no doubt earn the sympathy vote by shedding a few tears because she is “missing” the child she abandoned to go on television in the first place.
  • Viewers will see her as “loveable Sonia” from Eastenders and if further sympathy is required, she can discuss her abusive ex-partner.
  • She seems to be a down-to-earth type and not in love with herself like other contestants.

Even after a few hours in the house, the competition is Cassidy’s to lose.

Here are the other celebrities taking part in this year’s show:

Kirk Norcross

The token entry from faux-reality show The Only Way is Essex is bound to have an army of supporters of the teenage girl variety and the odds suggest he could make the final.

Best Odds: 6.0 (bet365)

Gareth Thomas

The most capped Welsh rugby player of all time but arguably more known for being the first professional to come out of the closet and continue playing. Seems nice enough and doesn’t appear as “desperate” as other contestants.

Best Odds: 6.5 (Betfred)

Denise Welch

Will surely get the housewives vote due to her popularity on lunchtime HRT-fest Loose Women. Despite being better suited to a Saga holiday, Denise is quite the hell raiser and should be good fun when the wine starts flowing.

Best Odds: 8.5 (Betfred)

Romeo

Enjoyed fame and popularity several years ago as part of the So Solid Crew and had a couple of hit singles as a solo artist. Real name Marvin Dawkins, he’s been off the radar since his stint on reality show The Games in 2006 and appears to be making up the numbers here.

Best Odds: 9.0 (Sky Bet)

Frankie Cocozza

Desperately clinging onto his 15 minutes of fame after being booted out of the X Factor for cocaine abuse. You have to wonder what the lad, just 18, is going to do with his life when media interest in him finally runs out.

Best Odds: 11.0 (Paddy Power)

Georgia Salpa

Pneumatic Irish glamour model who must be on the show to “raise her profile”. Yawn.

Best Odds: 26.0 (Betfred)

Michael Madsen

Best known for his role as “Mr Blonde” in Reservoir Dogs, Madsen must really need the money to be doing this show. He claimed he had “no idea” what Big Brother was about and after entering the house looked like a fish out of water. Unlikely to last the distance.

Best Odds: 26.0 (Bet Victor)

Andrew Stone

Fame hungry desperado best known for his appearances on Pineapple Dance Studios. Has the potential to become very annoying, very quickly.

Best Odds: 34.0 (bet365)

Natasha Giggs

Not a celebrity. Even remotely. She’s famous because she cheated on her husband with his brother (a certain Ryan Giggs) over a period of eight years and is cashing in as a result. Vile.

Best Odds: 34.0 (Sky Bet)

Nicola McLean

Former Page 3 model who seems to be doing the rounds on reality television shows. She was in the 2008 run of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She didn’t do too well in that, either…

Best Odds: 41.0 (Betfred)

Karissa and Kristina Shannon

After Jedward participated in last year’s show, Karissa and Kristina fulfil the “twins” requirement this time around. Despite being gorgeous enough to move in with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion, they are not particularly well known in the UK and are rank outsiders to win the show.

Best Odds: 67.0 (Betfred)

FA Cup Third Round Preview

The FA Cup third round takes place this weekend, promising big matches, tales of giant killing and maybe just a little romance in the cynical world of football.

But, does the FA Cup hold any winning opportunities this weekend or is it going to be the cause of many a busted betting slip?

Friday Night Banana Skin

The bookmakers will hope a number of coupons are sunk before a ball is even kicked on Saturday when Liverpool host League One side Oldham Athletic on Friday night.

Of course, a home win should be a formality but Liverpool have been out of sorts recently. You are not going to get much better than 1.13 (Boylesports) on Liverpool which on a cold, windswept evening game against an unknown quantity playing the game of their careers, does not scream “value” to me.

One to avoid I think.

Draws Galore

A number of fixtures taking place this weekend look difficult to call, so there could be plenty of opportunities for punters willing to back the draw. Here, I have identified eight matches which could require replays. Home advantage can be a great leveller for sides playing a division below their opponents while out of form sides taking on opposition from a division below can also be held over 90 minutes.

Birmingham City vs Wolves @ 3.3 (Bet Victor)

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Millwall @ 3.6 (Betfred)

Barnsley vs Swansea @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)

Doncaster Rovers vs Notts County @ 3.4 (Ladbrokes)

Hull City vs Ipswich Town @ 3.75 (Bet Victor)

MK Dons vs Queens Park Rangers @ 3.3 (Sky Bet)

Nottingham Forest vs Leicester City @ 3.3 (bet365)

West Bromwich Albion vs Cardiff City @ 3.8 (Coral)

Predict the Cupsets

Who doesn’t love a Cup upset? It’s one reason we watch the games after all.

First of all I am going to take Gillingham to beat Stoke City @ 6.0 (Boylesports). Last season Tony Pulis’ side reached the final for the first time in their history but with the club going well in the Premier League and still involved in Europe, he may opt to rest a few key players. The Gills are gunning for promotion in League Two and if there is going to be a “huge” upset this weekend, I think it’s going to happen at Priestfield Stadium.

Charlton Athletic can be backed @ 8.0 (Bet Victor) to beat Premier League side Fulham at Craven Cottage which is a huge price. The Addicks are set for promotion from League One this season and the derby element of this fixture will see them raise their game even further. Fulham look shaky despite beating Arsenal and they could face a third round exit.

Those of you looking for an upset on Sunday may fancy Peterborough United to beat Sunderland @ 4.0 (Ladbrokes). The Posh are free scoring at home and Sunderland may go into this match a little too over confidently after winning four and drawing one out of six matches since Martin O’Neill became manager.

The Manchester Derby

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the Manchester derby and it will be viewed as a “rematch” following City’s 6-1 trouncing of United at Old Trafford back in October. United are in poor form going into this match, having lost 3-0 to Newcastle on Wednesday and 3-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers last weekend.

However, prior to those back to back defeats, they won their last four matches convincingly, scoring 16 goals and conceding just one. City are experiencing mixed form themselves. They beat Liverpool convincingly on Tuesday night but lost 1-0 at Sunderland last weekend and were held to a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day.

With home advantage, City are expected to win but they will be without the Africa Cup of Nations bound brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure.

I don’t believe City are going to have things their own way this weekend which is why I am backing Manchester United to win @ 3.6 (Bet Victor).

Monday Night Football

If you haven’t had enough of the FA Cup by Monday, Arsenal vs Leeds United is televised for your entertainment. Arsenal, are of course short-priced favourites but there could be some value in opposing them.

You may remember that Leeds held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw at the Emirate at this stage of the competition last season before losing the replay 3-1 at Elland Road. Interestingly, Arsenal have lost just one of their last 35 FA Cup matches at home under Arsene Wenger – a 1-0 reverse against Leeds back in 1997.

Can Leeds frustrate the Gunners yet again? If you think they can, the draw is available @ 6.0 (Paddy Power).

Bookmaker Specials

If you enjoy the money back specials offered by Paddy Power you will be interested to know if a red card is issued in any of the following televised matches, you get your losing first / last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast singles refunded on that match:

  • Birmingham City vs Wolves
  • Bristol Rovers vs Aston Villa
  • Manchester City vs Manchester United
  • Arsenal vs Leeds United