Biggot Brotherhood

Last updated : 26 January 2007 By James Olley

There is a fair degree of irony that in the same week Jade Goody faced the nation's wrath over racist comments that look set to at least truncate her career, a football manager who faced a similar charge returned to work for the first time.

Big Ron Atkinson became director of football at Kettering Town this week, two-and-a-half years after making a rather unseemly remark about Marcel Desailly when he thought he was off air after a Champions League semi-final.

Kettering is where it all began for the ‘man from Orange' some 36 years ago, and there is a delicious full-circle feeling about his return. Having hit the heights of managing Manchester United and Aston Villa, Big Ron became the best thing about ITV's football coverage until his career came to an abrupt halt.

Having served his time – partly in the form of some appallingly awkward ‘Ron meets black people to prove he isn't a racist' programmes – he has gone back to where he began to forge his career.

The difference between Atkinson and Goody is that the former gained notoriety for his success as a manager, while Goody is a fatuous bint who became rich from people gawking at her stupidity.

I have never understood her appeal, but if it was that she was a normal woman whose naivety struck a chord with the great unwashed, her racism should break her in the same way who candid manner made her.

Big Ron's outburst, albeit unwise, was no more than an aside when he thought he was off-camera. Goody knows how Big Brother works, and knew her comments would be treated with such magnified resonance.

Atkinson paid his dues and has returned to work where he started – if Goody follows the same route, then surely she should return to the ignominy and anonymity from which she came.

Turning to betting matters, the FA Cup returns to the fore this weekend, and the possibility of a major upset looks remote. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all face home games, with the latter looking a tasty 10-11 to win to nil.

United were just seven minutes away from producing their finest clean sheet of the season before a freak ending to the game at Arsenal.

The character of this United side has been in evidence throughout the season and they look a good bet to make their point felt against Portsmouth. United have won the league fixture at Old Trafford 3-0 both this season and last, while Pompey's poor 1-0 reverse to Charlton leaves them vulnerable at the Theatre of Dreams.

Elsewhere, Chester were unlucky not to knock out Ipswich in the last round, dominating the first game but failing to score, before succumbing narrowly in a replay.

Although Swansea faced a depleted side, their win at Sheffield United came without key players of their own, and a small wager at 5-2 could pay dividends. In addition, I would imagine readers of this website would not mind profiting from a Tractor Boys defeat.


3pts Man Utd to win to nil v Portsmouth 10-11 (Paddy Power)

1pt Swansea to beat Ipswich 5-2 (portlandbet)

Staking Plan

Min 0.5pt

Max 5pts

*Last week's results

If there was a market on picking postponed matches, we would be quids in. For the second week running, one of the advised bets involved a game that was subsequently called off. The heavens opened at Burnley meaning Norwich will have to make the trip to face Ade Akinbiyi et al on another occasion.

Elsewhere, Liverpool scuppered the draw bet by smashing two past Chelsea in the first 25 minutes. Jose Mourinho bemoaned his lack of centre-halves – if the richest club in the world are unable to make sure they have enough cover in their squad then who can? Paulo Ferreira and Michael Essien cost more than £30m, but apparently you have to pay more for players who are not physically scared of a long ball. They would never have made it under Sven Goran Eriksson.

Paul Scholes had one of his quieter, workmanlike afternoons in the Manchester United midfield as Arsenal struck with two late goals to deny the Old Trafford outfit a nine point lead at the top of the Premiership.

In all honesty, he never really had an opportunity to repay those who took the 9-2 (Coral) about him scoring at any time. Damn the ginger wizard.