Another pundit going against the trend



By Tony Attwood

In the Mirror Michael Owen has given his tips for the top four this season: Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United, thus like other pundits ignoring the fact that the top four rarely repeats itself.

Last October with 10 games (ie one quarter) of the Premier League already played he predicted the final top four as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool.   He was unsure about the final spot adding, I’m going to say Liverpool, but how can you leave Tottenham out of the top four when they are playing particularly well as well?”

Manchester City and Arsenal as we know were indeed first and second.  But Liverpool ended up fifth, eight points behind the third place he predicted and Chelsea 12th, 27 points behind the fourth spot at the end of the season.

So even having the benefit of the first quarter of the season already played, the pundit could still only get two of the final top four right, and in one case he was 27 points and eight places out.

Now to be clear I am not saying my predictions would be any better, but once again I am making the point that in this forecasting there is no reference back to how well (or normally how badly) the pundit did last season, nor is there any apology for the wild inaccuracy of last season’s predictions.

And remember last season Owen made his prediction with a quarter of the season gone.

Of course I don’t expect the pundits to get it right – making predictions like this is very difficult, but I do wish they would admit their errors after – and maybe apologise too.

What we can say for Mr Owen is that he doesn’t pretend to have used a supercomputer as the Sun repeatedly does when it makes wildly inaccurate predictions.

Mikael Silvestre’s predicted top-four for 2023/24 has meanwhile turned up in the Metro

  1. Arsenal (2nd last season)
  2. Manchester United (3rd last season)
  3. Manchester City (1st last season)
  4. Liverpool (5th last season)

So once again we have that tendency to pick the top clubs from last season and say they will do it again.  And of course that might happen.

And you may recall that in our post on the first of this month we took a look at how clubs do from one season to the next and that showed that the top four does not stay pretty much the same season after season.  And just in last season was an oddity, we did it for the season before, and once again we found that the top four of one season does not indicate the top four of the next season.

Now it is true, that occasionally there is a spot of stability in the top four from one year to the next, but it is rare, and this is what made Arsenal’s constant appearance in the top four from 1997 to 2016 so extraordinary.  It wasn’t that Arsenal were just doing what other clubs did – they were doing much more than that.  In fact, it was the longest run in the top four of any English club, and the second-longest continuous set of appearances in the Champions League of any team anywhere (only Real Madrid have exceeded Arsenal’s run).

But of course, the media could never accept that Arsenal were special, so what they have done is adopted a view that the top four keeps repeating itself.   And yes very occasionally three of the top four are in the top four the next season, but it is very rare.  Indeed it is the absolute inability of the pundits to grasp that incredibly simple fact that tells us a lot about the people employed as pundits.

Of course this season might just be one of those few seasons where the top four is similar from one campaign to the next, but if so, it will be the exception.   So having sorted that let’s throw in one more

A “supercomputer” (ie a man with a laptop) from SBK certainly thinks so. In the summer of 2022 it made this prediction for the end of the 2022/23 season – and remember this is an alleged supercomputer – the type of computer that monitors the world looking out for any worrying moves by countries thought to be our enemies and protects us from attack.

For the final column showing the size of error a plus sign means the “supercomputer” over estimated how high the club would finish in the league and a minus sign means the club did better than the computer expected.  Thus +9 for Chelsea means that the supercomputer estimated that Chelsea would finish nine places higher than they did.   One can only be glad that these supercomputers are not real, but are figments of publishers’ and journalists’ imaginations, and that the real ones are indeed left guarding our country from attack.

Of course in any other line of business, people making errors of this magnitude would be dismissed at once.  But in journalism and publishing, it seems they can just carry on.

Predicted position Club Actual final position Error size in places
1 Manchester City 1 0
2 Liverpool 5 +3
3 Chelsea 12 +9
4 Tottenham Hotspur 8 +4
5 Manchester United 3 -2
6 Newcastle United 4 -2
7 Arsenal 2 -5
8 West Ham United 14 +6
9 Leicester City 18 +9
10 Aston Villa 7 -3


Journalists eh?  What scallywags they are.

8 Replies to “Another pundit going against the trend”

  1. We may disagree with a pundit, but wanting people to apologise for an opinion being wrong is in itself just plain wrong

  2. Whether anyone wants it or not I’m going to give you my take on this prediction lark, and it’s this.

    First and foremost I think they want to please. They want acceptance. They want want validation. And as such I think they are no different to your bog standard fortune teller. We all know they are frauds, usually praying on the vulnerable, but what they have in common is the desire to please.

    So you walk in the tent and basically they tell you want you want to hear, or at least what they think you want to hear.

    In the case of Gypsy Rose Lee it’s that you will find love and live happily ever after. Job done. £10 and your future is sorted.

    In the case of a pundit, they similarly get paid a Kings Ransom to tell the public what they want, well maybe not what they want, but more over what they expect to hear, which is usually that Man United will do well, Liverpool will do well, Chelsea will do well, Spurs will do well and Arsenal will do poorly,

    It sells papers.

    There is no logic, science or reason behind it, let alone a ‘super computer’, it’s just what they think the ‘general punter’ expects to hear, and of course what they are paid to say.

    Why would they apologise for saying, a) what they are expected to say, and more importantly b) what they are paid to say.

    It’s all b***ocks. We know it, are more to the point, they know it.

  3. Regarding the above, I forgot to mention something I saw once on TV that shaped my view on this sort of thing, many many years ago.

    Some of our older British readers will fondly remember a very odd and ancient quiz game hosted by Bob Monkhouse called the Golden Shot. It aired back in the 1970’s, right in the middle of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

    I clearly remember one Sunday afternoon they had a Fortune Teller on as a ‘Special Guest Star’ and he claimed the tealeaves, bones, stars, or whatever it was, had told him that “By this time next year the troubles in Northern Ireland will be over”. And guess what? A standing ovation. Of course it was, yep you’ve guessed it, complete and utter b***ocks. But he got his standing ovation. Did he have to answer for, apologise for, that utter drivel? Of course not.

    How many other times had he made similarly ridiculous, but ‘popular’ claims that earned him similar standing ovations?

    And that’s the point, it doesn’t matter how much b***ocks you talk as long as it’s the b***ocks people want to hear, that’s all that matters.

  4. I don’t think it’s apologising but being honest, point out the chances of them being wrong is high. People make bets based on these idiots advice. Generally these same idiots have sponsorship from betting companies. This explains why they so wrong ALL the time. The supercomputer is just plain lies. Sun should be stopped from doing it. It reflects their reporting accurately though.

  5. To be fair predictions are not that easy. As Arsenal fans we obviously follow Arsenals performances very closely, and as such going in to last season we knew just how well we had performed during the final two thirds of the season before, and on that basis our expectations were generally higher than the average fan that just saw the final table. We were in fact the 2nd best performing team over that final two thirds, and on that basis untold predicted a 3rd place finish. I myself had a punt we would finish top 2.

    If you look at the last two thirds (26 matches) of last season this is how they finished.

    Man City 60 points

    Arsenal 53
    Man Utd 52
    Liverpool 51
    Newcastle 50

    So believe it or not, using that same rule of thumb, the Suns Super computers, Ah Hem, prediction of

    Man City

    Man Utd

    Is not a million miles off, based on the final two thirds.

  6. The octopus was quickly cancelled after the pundits’ union objected on the grounds that its members were in danger of losing their livelihoods.

  7. seismic

    Personally, I thought the Octopus method of prediction had legs! I’ll get my coat!!!

  8. Bet that the fans , at his other old club , Newcastle , are not too impressed with his choices ?

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