Players: 44 out of 49. Points scored: 165. Highest score: 8 (John Collins, Mark Young). Average score: 3.75. Prediction of the Week: England 0-0 Macedonia (Norman No Mates).
Results: Bulgaria 1-1 Holland (4); Cyprus 5-2 Republic of Ireland (0); Denmark 0-0 Northern Ireland (1); England 0-0 Macedonia (1); Hungary 0-1 Turkey (5); Italy 2-0 Ukraine (10); Scotland 1-0 France (0); Sweden 2-0 Spain (3); Wales 1-5 Slovakia (0); Germany 2-0 Georgia (9).
England 0 Macedonia 0. Scotland 1 France 0. Cyprus 5 Republic of Ireland 2. Wales 1 Slovakia 5. Of this week’s 39 players, only an extra-perceptive Norman No Mates saw one of those results in his crystal ball (England 0 Macedonia 0, of course): 176 predictions, one correct score. We should all be grateful to Italy and Germany, whose 2-0 wins bumped up the weekly average to a mediocre 3.75.
Another low-scoring week is great news for Hope Arnold, who steers her Manchester United charges to five points, extends her lead at the top of the Predictorship to six points and now, rather neatly, has an average weekly score of exactly seven this season.
Is there any hope (the last pun, I promise) for the rest of us? Nick Watson (Ipswich Town) is the latest predictor to take up the challenge of bringing Hope back down to earth, moving into second place with 43 points, hotly pursued by Haresh Mirani (Bengal Mumbai F.C.), Pete Yoder (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dave Taylor (Chelsea), David Roberts (Watford) and Nicola Savage (Winchester City), who are all on 42 points.
The real stars of the show, however, are John Collins (Millwall) and “Baggies Boy” Mark Young (West Bromwich Albion), who climb 16 places to 9th and 14 places to 16th respectively after bagging eight points apiece, all the more remarkable as only Saleel Sathe (Liverpool Reserves) managed to score more than five points this week. John had the Hungary, Italy and Sweden results spot on and Mark added a “bonus selection” – the firing of Wales manager John Toshack. We shall see …
Through no fault of his own, Michael Whitty’s Bunch of Losers are now at the foot of the table, with Stuart Claxton’s continued absence from the Reading dugout propelling him up the league.
The Predictorship gets a little bit more comprehensive this week with the introduction of a correct scores tally. In the results section above, the number in brackets after each score shows how many people correctly predicted the exact result of the match in question. So, for example, nobody (surprise surprise) went for a 5-2 win for Cyprus against the Republic of Ireland, but four players did mark their card with a 1-1 draw for the Bulgaria v Holland encounter.
And finally, here’s another tea-time teaser: Who am I? I am a Premiership midfielder who scored my first international goal last weekend. Not unlike Chelsea shot-stopper Petr Cech (although the spelling is slightly different and he’s not called Petr Czech Republic), I have the same surname as the country I play for. Answer next week …
“International football is one clog further up the football ladder” – Glenn Hoddle, England manager (there’s a theme developing here), 1996-1999