Fergie Evens to win Manager Of The Season 08/09

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The sale of Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios and the injury to Antonio Valencia may have weakened the Wigan side that travel to Villa Park this afternoon but the Latics showed against Liverpool midweek that they remain the most resilient of sides and Steve Bruce would, alongside Martin O'Neill and David Moyes, be my choice for potential Manager Of The Year.

Our traders at Stan James disagree with me though and make Sir Alex Ferguson the Even money favourite to be crowned Manager Of The Year.

Who will be Manager of the Year 2008/09?

  • Sir A Ferguson Evens
  • M O'Neill 6/4
  • P Scolari 6/1
  • R Benitez 9/1
  • 50/1 bar.

Villa are 4/6 to maintain their, seemingly, irresistible push for a Champions League slot with the draw at 13/5 and Wigan at 9/2. Villa are now 8/11 to finish in the Top 4. Curtis Davies was flagged up here to score first against his former Club when the Baggies came to town earlier in the month and Emile Heskey is 6/1 to follow up Tuesday night's match winner by grabbing the first against his former Club today.

Wigan striker Amir Zaki (8/1 first goalscorer) has cooled after a fine start to the campaign but new signing Hugo Rodallega (9/1) showed enough against Liverpool to suggest that he will be a threat to Premier League defences between now and the end of the campaign. I have also been taken by left back Manuel Figueroa and don't expect him to be at the JJB in September. Now who might be looking for a left back?

Blues continue to frustrate but at least they returned to winning ways midweek. They are still 8/11 to win promotion this season (automatic or Play Offs) but 11/8 to win on their travels in Yorkshire this evening. If there has ever been a better name for a striker than Carlos Costly I can't remember one but the Honduran international will be as cheap as chips if his goals help fire Blues back to the Premier League. The Owls (7/4) have lost only two at home all season but they have only won two of their last ten in all competitions and can hardly be described as being in a rich vein of form.

England begin Ashes year with the 1st Test against West Indies in Jamaica on Thursday having been on the receiving end of a hiding against West Indies A on the first day of their final warm-up match in St Kitts. Skipper Andrew Strauss must be concerned that a second-string XI could score 343 for 2 although the attack lacked the control that Monty Panesar brings. England are 4/7 for the 4 Test Series with the hosts 10/3 and a draw at 10/3. On home soil I believe the W Indies will take some stopping and think England are a ludicrously short price.

We have a number of cracking specials for the Series and I think a couple are of particular interest. Matt Prior is 13/8 to take a stumping in the series and I think that's too big. Historically the Caribbean tail-enders have always treated spinners with little or no respect and I can see a number of them giving "Monty" the charge. Prior should do the rest.

I also want to be with Monty taking a catch in the Four-Test Series at 5/6. Slow bowlers ought to get leading edges and mistimed drives and Monty isn't as bad a catcher as some would have us believe (still a terrible fielder mind).

England v West Indies: latest prices from Stan James:

Series winners:

  • England 4/7
  • West Indies 10/3
  • Draw 10/3

1st Test:

  • England Evens
  • West Indies 5/2
  • Draw 9/4

Top England Series bat:

  • K Pietersen 2/1
  • A Strauss 7/2
  • A Cook 4/1
  • O Shah 9/2
  • P Collingwood 7/1
  • I Bell 8/1
  • A Flintoff 10/1
  • 14s bar.

Top West Indies Series bat;

  • S Chanderpaul 11/8
  • C Gayle 3/1
  • R Sarwan 10/3
  • X Marshall 10/1
  • D Smith 10/1
  • D Richards 10/1
  • B Nash 12/1
  • 33s bar.

Will Alistair Cook hit a 6 in Test Series?

  • Yes 4/1
  • No 1/7

Will Matt Prior make a stumping?

  • Yes 13/8
  • No 4/9

Will Monty take a catch?

  • Yes 5/6
  • No 5/6

The forecast cold snap should not prevent a wonderful weekend's racing and I fancy Killmackilloge can cause an upset in the Doncaster feature due off at 3.00 today. The lightly-raced Skippers Brig can maintain his unbeaten Chase record at Wetherby whilst Celestial Halo can get the better of last year's Champion Hurdle runner-up Osana at Sandown.

Be lucky