“I can’t stand here as an England coach and say England shouldn’t do anything but win on Friday. Nobody can,” said Gary Neville earlier this week.
Ignoring the confusion of a triple negative there, the message is clear – Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley is not a matter of how but how many.
That’s reflected in the odds. William Hill make England 1/100 (1.01) to pick up points five, six and seven of their qualifying campaign.
The draw is at a whopping 16/1 (17.00) and the San Marino win is at 100/1 (101.00). Given that they’ve only won one previous international – and that against Liechtenstein – it’s not exactly tempting.
It’s a challenge to find any kind of big returns in the win markets with even England HT/FT at 1/16 (1.06). But there’s more fun to be had exploring the identity of England’s scorers.
Picking Roy Hodgson’s team is a little trickier than normal with some rotation expected given the more challenging fixture in Poland on Tuesday. But Danny Welbeck can expect some action.
The Manchester United forward is 2/5 (1.40) anytime goalscorer with William Hill and that’s an industry-best price that could pay off here.
But does Welbeck have the hunger to pepper the San Marino goal in a game like this? It’s difficult to be convinced.
This looks a job for less shot-shy striker and it’s Defoe and Rooney that best sum up the hungry goalscorer in this England squad.
The pick of the bets is to back both to score at anytime at 8/15 (1.53) with William Hill. If one doesn’t start then all the stake is invested in the other man at the anytime goalscorer price.
As for the actual scoreline, the expected result appears to be 5-0 or 6-0 with both at 9/2 (5.50).
That makes sense but if you’re a more pessimistic Englishman and doubt whether Hodgson is a man to throw caution to the wind then the industry-best price of 16/1 (17.00) for a modest 2-0 win may be of interest.