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21/09/2007 No.23
Dan Roebuck
Friday September 21, 2007
  Time to cash in on the Mourinho effect

Jose Mourinho's dramatic departure from Stamford Bridge has lengthened Chelsea's odds in every competition. Bookmakers cannot give the Blues away and already fear a Chelsea defeat at Manchester United on Sunday after heavy support for the champions.

Ladbrokes' Robin Hutchison said: "This has had a hugely adverse affect on Chelsea's immediate future." The FA Cup holders, 7-4 at the start of the season to win a third Premier League title in four years and supported to evens after taking 10 points from their first four fixtures, are now generally 7-2. This is a full point bigger than the best price they were on Monday after the latest league fixtures, including their 0-0 draw against Blackburn.

Another draw followed, against Rosenborg on Tuesday, but that result did not have as much impact on Chelsea's odds of winning the Champions League as Mourinho's exit. Available at 8-1 to win the European Cup on Wednesday morning, 24 hours later Ladbrokes and Sky Bet pushed last season's semi-finalists out to 10-1. That price looks too big, as you will almost certainly be able to lay them off at shorter odds on the exchanges should they qualify for the knockout stages.

There were certainly no suspicious betting patterns before Mourinho's departure. On the eve of the season he was 33-1 with Ladbrokes to be the first Premier League manager to lose his job and on the final whistle against Rosenborg the price was cut to 10-1, but Paddy Power said there had been minimal interest in the Special One leaving this week.

The question, however, is whom Mourinho will manage next. The early money has come for the former Porto coach to guide the Portuguese national side. Initially available at 14-1 with Coral, Mourinho has been backed into odds-on, with Ladbrokes offering only 4-5 about him taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari. The layers make Mourinho a general 5-1 chance to coach Tottenham and he can be backed at 25-1 (Paddy Power) to be the next England manager. VC Bet does not expect him to take up any position soon, offering 8-13 he will not be in another managerial job before January 1.

More important, perhaps, is how the Blues perform under Avram Grant. The former director of football will be in charge for the foreseeable future, though not all bookmakers believe he will be manager at the start of next season. Hill's has Grant as 4-7 favourite, but Ladbrokes goes 5-2, making Juande Ramos 2-1 market leader. The Sevilla coach is 9-1 with Hill's; Guus Hiddink is 5-1 with Ladbrokes and Didier Deschamps 8-1 with Coral.

United have been backed into odds-on (from 11-8) with most firms to beat Chelsea on Sunday - Betfred a stand-out 11-10 - and the Blues have drifted to 10-3 (Bet365). The draw is best at 9-4 with Boyle Sports and VC Bet.

There has almost certainly been an over-reaction to Mourinho's departure when it comes to this weekend's match. But the bookmakers had to cut United's price, with punters likely to pile into Sir Alex Ferguson's team at any price. The champions, however, are not playing particularly well, with four unconvincing 1-0 wins coming into this game. Grant will make his team hard to beat at Old Trafford, so the advice is to lay United at 2.1 (11-10) or shorter. Backing under three goals in the match has been profitable in five of the last six meetings between these two sides, so it could pay to do so again.

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