Predictions are pointless.

Gary Lineker.

So Alan, kick off just minutes away. Final thoughts, what’s the score going to be?

Alan Shearer.

Well Gary, I’m glad you asked. Based on the three thousand five hundred and twenty three predictions I’ve got completely wrong on this very show I’d have to say…2-1.

Predictions are pointless, leave it to the punters.

Asking football pundits to predict the score is the epitome of everything wrong with the way in which we are forced to consume football coverage. It adds nothing, is based on nothing and results in nothing. Does anyone watching really care?

Earlier this week the SkySports punditry team were asked to give their thoughts on who would finish in the top four.

Gary Neville summed up what a pointless exercise these predictions really are. After giving his crystal ball top four he made the following statement:

“But if you think I know what I’m talking about, I really don’t have a  clue.”

Forcing ex pro’s to try to predict outcomes that are based on so many variables only sets them up for failure. Unless they get lucky, they’ll get it wrong and look like fools (Aka Gary Lineker in his Y fronts).

The truth is, no one could predict the exact score or league standings and tell you there was any science to it. If they can, and you know this hypothetical person please get them to contact me… I’d like to take Bet365 to the cleaners. Have a bang on that.

Of course predicting the score is a bit of fun. Geoff Stelling and his merry band of men do an excellent job, because we all know they’re just having a laugh. No one should look to Kris Kamara as a football guru. He can’t tell you the scoreline during the game, let alone before it’s even kicked off.

Gillete Soccer Special simply mirrors the typical conversations you’ll hear in pubs and up and down the country. For some strange reason watching a bunch of middle aged men staring at screens and gasping at missed chances is as, if not more, entertaining than the games themselves. Paul Merson and co are simply having fun and it’s infectious.

Ford Super Sunday, Match of the Day and Monday Night Football take themselves a little more seriously. Taking yourself seriously is fine, but not when you resort to the same reactionary comments and pointless predictions. Redknapp et al just do it in shinier suits with a nastier and more judgemental tone of voice.

Why is Graeme Souness still angry about absolutely nothing? Why  does Alan Shearer still find the same misplaced pass he sees every-week so unbeleivable? And why does Jamie Redknapp insist on saying you can’t do that when the player clearly has done it?

That isn’t to say that these guys don’t make the odd interesting comment, they are capable of providing real insight. It’s just that they’ll often fall back on cliché ridden  drivel that adds absoloutely nothing to the entertainment.

The return of Gary Neville is a God send. G Nev brings something different, as he treats punditry like a craft. In an interview with Ed Chamberlin (see below) he explained how he’ll go home and analyse his performance as a pundit. The result is a show where you feel like you’re being told something you might not have nessescsrily known.

Hopefully the challenging experiences Neville has had with Valencia and England will only add to his already considered approach. He tends not to focus on individual errors, which are part and parcel of football. If there were no mistakes every game would end 0-0. Instead, he makes insightful points from the perspective of a professional. He avoids the obvious captain hindsight clichés and challenges the audience and his colleagues to think more.

Pundits don’t need to be fortune tellers. Their role should be to entertain and inform in equal measure. Let’s hope this season is the start of a something a little more informative. Unfortunately, I highly doubt it will be. In fact, I predict that it’ll be even more nasty than it was last season…

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