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Mersey men can enjoy net profit

Aug 10 2007

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by Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo

IT’S the season of the hired gun. With almost £200m sunk into new strike talent alone, the forthcoming Premier League campaign promises to be more potently packed than a drug smuggler’s rump.

The South American import causing the greatest stir, however, has been Manchester United’s long-haired recruit Carlos Tevez, who has finally passed a stringent vetting procedure, despite his suspect package.

In comparison to the inflated prices his new employers have been forking out this summer, Tevez has proven to be a real Nick Nack.

In fact, the pint-sized Bond villain could be the most understated arrival in Manchester since United’s 2006/07 European homecoming bus.

They will, however, be without their most influential figure this season.

Kieran Richardson’s £5.5m move to Sunderland is tolerable, but Graham Poll’s retirement will hit them hard.

In comparison, title rivals Chelsea have been busy rummaging through the bargain bin and uncovered more cast-offs than a Southampton shipyard, while Arsenal have used the Thierry Henry purse to expand their crèche.

The most impressive summer spending however, has been on Merseyside, where Liverpool’s affluence has been matched by Everton’s astuteness.

Fernando Torres has been the headline purchase for the Reds, while the Blues’ frugal capture of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines could yet be trumped by a Yakubu/Fernandes double swoop.

And it is here where the Premiership’s golden boot will be contested.

Although United possess a deadly pool of strikers, Alex Ferguson will choose to rotate his front line at the same rate as his eyeballs.

Instead, Torres (16-1) and ever-reliable Andy Johnson should be at the forefront of the scoring charts, with the latter having the edge at 25-1 (Ladbrokes).

The other main contenders include Dider Drogba (9-2), Wayne Rooney (10-1) and Michael Owen (14-1), although the first two have fiery temperaments and Owen a hamstring also susceptible to snapping.

As for the title itself, United are 5-4 (Betfred) fashionable favourites, followed by Chelsea at 13-8. But with Liverpool’s new squad depth, could this finally be the season where Rafa Benitez isn’t left riled by under-achievement? Take up the 6-1 that nothing gets his goat.

Premiership (Betfred): 5-4 Man United; 13-8 Chelsea; 6-1 Liverpool; 9-1Arsenal; 100-1 Tottenham; 200-1 Everton, Newcastle, Villa, Blackburn; 300-1 West Ham, 500-1 Bolton; 1,000-1 bar.

Weekend Accumulator (20-1): Everton (v Wigan); Arsenal (v Fulham); Charlton (v Scunthorpe); Sheff Utd (v Colchester); Nottm Forest (v Bournemouth); MK Dons (v Bury) and Peterborough (v Rochdale).

Robson ups the Beat

NEIL WARNOCK’S decision to desert a sinking ship was Sheffield United’s best result last season, but with Bryan Robson now at the helm, expect their Premiership absence to be brief. Having recruited James Beattie to spearhead their attack, the Blades are Championship contenders and, at 10-1 (totesport), a good investment. Likewise, Nottingham Forest (4-1 SportingOdds) can make up for narrowly missing out on promotion last term by taking the League One crown. And MK Dons (9-1 Betfred) can remedy last season’s heartache by winning League Two. Bundling all three into a long-term accumulator with Boylesports could yield £3, 850 next May.


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