Media predictions for 2014/15. The Untold Bonkers Award and Gold Star for Predictive Accuracy.

By Tony Attwood

Head of the Bonkers Award Committee.

It is either a brave or foolish football writer who makes firm predictions about the season ahead, but the English media is never one to hold back in the summer from predictions, largely I suspect because they consider the average attention span of their readership to be little short of 2.3 seconds.

So it was that last night, after returning to the Midlands from the final day at the Ems of the season, the Committee assembled in my sitting room, and we contemplated how some of the scribblers had got on with their pre-season predictions of one year ago.

In general terms, most of the writers we looked at got the eventual top four right, and quite a few even got it in the right order.  At the bottom of the table however it was all Gilbert and Sullivan topsy-turvy land. Most had Burnley to go down, but otherwise they were way out.

Even so if we look at the detail we find some interesting points.  Matt Gatward, for examples who is in charge of all sports coverage for the Independent and its associated papers gave us a top four of

Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton

and a manager of the season prediction off Roberto Martinez – and that was a foretaste of what was to come.

Inevitably some publications clearly had had an overdose of something of dubious provenance when writing their predictions, as with Caught Offside who got rather excited with the headline

Arsenal To Finish Seventh, Liverpool Fourth! Final 2014-15 Premier League Table Based On 260 Expert Predictions

When you read a headline that talks of “expert predictions” in football, then you know you are in trouble, and Caught Offside was certainly in trouble.

Their “expert” had a top seven of Chelsea, Man C, Man U, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton, Arsenal, with Arsenal closer to relegation than the top of the league.

However knocking Arsenal that far down was only to be found in the lunatic fringe (or perhaps in the case of Caught Offside the lunatic fridge) but promoting Merseyside to beyond the clouds is the disease that swamps the media.   Given that realism is not available in bottled form on the NHS, I don’t actually know what newspaper editors can do about it, but at least as the Merseyside Madness unrelentingly continues in the prediction markets, we can at least have a chuckle.

Phil McNulty the chief football writer of BBC Sport had a dose of it, and last summer placed Liverpool in the top four beating Arsenal into fifth, but it was only a dose, and nothing compared to what some got up to.

But by contrast, and although given the way he has spoken of Arsenal through the season you might not have anticipated it, Paul Merson of Sky got the top four right, although Man C and Chelsea the wrong way around.  He was also one of the few who noted what was blindingly obvious to most of us: that not playing in Europe this season just ended would help Man U.

Of course most of these outlets now shut up about what they said last summer, but Forbes, the business magazine, is one of the few that have actually come out and compared their predictions with what happened.

And you can see why.  Forbes not only picked the top four as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United (just one position wrong) they also got Chelsea’s final points right.

Beyond that they predicted Tottenham would get 65 points (they got 64), and Stoke would get 54 (as they did).  They were also only one out with Villa.  They had Hull and Burnley to go down – only getting Leicester wrong.

But even Forbes slipped into the same error as most others: over-estimating Liverpool.   Forbes gave Liverpool ten more points than they would get, and predicted Everton would get 14 more than they did.

Perhaps not surprisingly Amy Lawrence stood out particularly in predictive ability when looking at Arsenal and she wins the 2015 Untold Award for Predictive Commentary, not least for one comment in her summer 2014 article on Arsenal that really resonates…

Although the squad looks to be stronger, there is more to the Arsenal refurbishment than transfer activity. One potentially crucial arrival this summer will not kick a ball for the team. He will, though, attempt to address the fitness problems that have made the treatment room frustratingly busy over recent seasons. Shad Forsythe, a fitness expert who worked with the Germany team in recent years, has been headhunted in a bid to put an end to the spate of regular and complex injuries.

It took a while, but it seems he got there.  We raise a glass to Amy.

Her colleagues in the Guardian however didn’t always do so well, and the Guardian was not immune to a bizarre and stunningly overwhelming inability of many scribblers to understand the not particularly complex issues surrounding Liverpool.

And so The Untold Bonkers Award, is what we now turn to…

Andy Hunter in the Guardian was by no means the only one to go all dewy eyed when writing the word Liverpool, but his exposition serves as a fine example of the media’s utter inability to see realism once they head north of the Mersey and west of Warrington.

Mr Hunter (that is the Guardian’s man, not the fictional TV soap character – although Mr Hunter does, as it turns out, write fiction) proclaimed last summer…

Several weak spots Rodgers identified when he arrived as Liverpool manager in 2012 and which undermined the team’s thrilling title challenge last season have been addressed, so too the squad’s depth with a four-season absence from the Champions League over.

Comparisons have been made with Tottenham Hotspur’s scatter-gun spending of the Gareth Bale money but do not stack up…. Integrating several new faces will naturally take time and not all will settle instantly but that does not apply to three recruits from Southampton. As Rodgers said, with a dig at the club he rejected owing to constant managerial upheaval at White Hart Lane: “It’s a different club and different vision we have here. At Liverpool there’s a strategy behind what we are doing.”

OK, this is painful and embarrassing writing, and Mr Hunter really ought to be hiding now, but he seems still to be in his job.  He went on…

Rodgers has rebuilt around the Suárez void, increased creativity and energy in the final third through Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic, added Emre Can’s strength to central midfield, competition for Glen Johnson’s right-back role in Javier Manquillo, a different option up front in Rickie Lambert and, most importantly, a more authoritative presence at centre-half in Dejan Lovren.

Now that little commentary ought to be stuck up on a wall in the Guardian offices as a reminder of what you get when journalists are given free reign to write about Liverpool.   The comment on Can might be ok, but Lambert, Lovren…

There’s of course a picture with a player (oh, it is Lovren) holding a Liverpool “you’ll never walk” scarf, and the comment below…

With Daniel Agger’s future in doubt, Brendan Rodgers’s signing of Dejan Lovren might prove to be his most important. 

The view from fairyland continues:

Rodgers has greater options, his squad appears stronger and the team’s outstanding performances last season should instil a confidence…

OK, we can all make bloomers, wild predictions and the like.  But this is a national newspaper supposedly giving us not a fan’s eye view but a balanced consideration of the future.  Try this for size on Sturridge, printed with fawning approval…

“I think you’ll see Daniel go on to another level again this season, with the confidence of a full campaign last year and scoring the goals he did,” Rodgers said.

Liverpool in the end spent £117m, £36m more than they got on sales.  And comparisons with Tottenham’s approach on getting the Bale money?  Hmmmm….

Overall it is strange.  By and large football journalists can see what the rest of us can see, and in predictive terms they get it fairly right.  Of course at the start of the season you can’t predict injuries, nor the impact that a change of manager can have on a club half way through a season.  So getting a lot right is tough.

But it is clear that when it comes to Merseyside the media tends to go bonkers, totally ignores the signs, and proceeds to give players, owner, fans and manager alike god-like status, something that some among the players, manager, owner and fans appear to think they deserve.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time of late meandering around the subject of Liverpool, and I know that this annoys some readers (but thanks always to Liverpool supporters who come on here and boost our audience figures).

But I keep coming back to it not because I have something against the club in particular, but because I am continually puzzled at why it is that while much of football is fairly clearly reported, when it comes to Merseyside, journalists seem to go a bit bonkers.


We’re also on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

The books


33 Replies to “Media predictions for 2014/15. The Untold Bonkers Award and Gold Star for Predictive Accuracy.”

  1. Would have been very nice to get 2nd but can’t complain with third as long as we win the cup, even though we have less points than last year I’d say it’s been a much better season.

    We’ve really got to push for the league next year though, haven’t really got any more excuses, we’ve got a great squad and have to make those key additions early this summer, no Champions League Qualifier or World Cup hangover or Stadium Debt excuses anymore, we have to go all out now.

  2. In all my years of reading the sports pages of a myriad of newspapers, (i.e. Untold wasn’t then even a gleam in Tony’s eye), I soon realised that the good and bad I was reading was merely the opinion of the writer…nothing more.
    The rubbishy forecasts in ALL sports are clear evidence of that.
    And what is worse is when the writer blatantly displays his preference for one team and thereby his reporting for the whole season is biased.
    We readers simply have to sort out wheat from chaff. The problem though is that most of the reporting and virtually ALL of the forecasting is pure chaff. 😉

  3. ask yourself this simple question…

    If all the sports journalists at the major papers stopped writing about football would you miss them?

    I answered that question myself about 3 years ago. I haven’t bought a newspaper since

  4. Blacksheep63

    I think many have stopped reading the propaganda our beloved press would have you believe, alternative media is the only way.

  5. So with all things being equal ( and they rarely are), the top three was more or less as predicted, United and Liverpool vastly underachieved, Spurs got their usual 5th and surprise package Southampton came a creditable 7th.

  6. dan & Blacksheep

    Like you I have not bought a paper for some years – why should anyone waste money on anti Arsenal fictional writers?

    To answer the question – some of our aaaa parasites (who cannot think for themselves) seem to absorb and regurgitate the journalistic rubbish – and continue, like the journalists to make idiots of themselves!

  7. Maybe these journalists get help from the so called experts who were saying the Tories and labour were neck and neck.
    As you allude to….just what is it with the media and Liverpool? Some sort of romanticism for days gone by? Works similar, but not as extreme with Spurs. Or is it just a desire to see Arsenal out of the top four?
    I think this years top four has been one of the most predictable going. Utd were always going to be ensured a place in the top four, whatever the cost, I still believe back in the autumn, we were the intended to give up our place to them, until Liverpool stepped in with their silly three central defenders.Interesting Amy predicted a Shad effect, also interesting to see Jack and Theo acknowledge one of the other medics yesterday, a guy apparently departing to Bath rugby team.
    But back to Liverpool, think things could get worse, the UK media will not be a pretty sight if they get Klopp, it will be a love in only seen in their chemical attraction to the specialist in eye gouging.

  8. Martinez…..another AAA /media darling. Lost count of the number of articles and posts suggesting he should take the place of our great man.
    His team finished the season on 47 points, quite a few behind Mr Wengers outfit

  9. Reality does not depend on the predictions of the press, and we have God to thank for that. They can eat their hearts out, but we are in the mix for the CL, AGAIN…. How Liverpool and at least 10 other BPL clubs wish they can trade places with us.
    Let them say whatever they will, we are a solid club making good progress and champions in the making. We have a great team, a choice manager, and a huge potential to win any of the cups on offer. I look forward to next season with great anticipation. It is going to be awesome.

  10. dan, there’s plenty of drivel on ‘alternative media’ as well. Too many coming up with ‘click-bait’ headlines and making emotional comment rather than calm considered comment.
    Like Blacksheep63 I haven’t bought a paper in over 10 years, although I will pick up the free papers and have a look at other peoples occasionally. But I now look at them knowing that they’re written by people with agendas or loyalties which rarely allow themselves to actually consider the facts.
    Mostly they should be treated as though they were comics (roy of the rovers style).

  11. I’ve no problems with the what I read in the media ( i exclusively read online which is just a free version of purchased media ) and decide for myself what’s acceptable. It’s a matter of choice, and if I read obvious rubbish I reject it, but sometimes a good journalist ( David Conn, Oliver Holt & Amy ) can do justice to the subject. Having said that nobody comes close to the late Ian Woolridge for journalistic excellence.
    But I do get a laugh out of the rumours & gossip sections of most newspapers.

  12. “But I keep coming back to it not because I have something against the club in particular, but because I am continually puzzled at why it is that while much of football is fairly clearly reported, when it comes to Merseyside, journalists seem to go a bit bonkers.”


    I have said many times that I have a rather grudging admiration for the way the fans seem to stick by there team no matter what dross is served up in front of them.

    They start every season believing that ‘this is there year’, the year they will finally win a title after all these years.

    I have admitted to being envious of the way nearly every ex Liverpool player that works in the media fawns and dribbles over there very existence, and finds it almost impossible to criticise them without bursting into tears, which is of course in stark contrast to our miscreant band of ex Goons who just cant wait to stick the knife in, with an ever widening grin, the deeper it plunges.

    But these ‘journalists’ are supposed to be experts, no?

    They are supposed to be above that kind of mindless fanaticism aren’t they?

    Surely they are in there jobs in the first place on the basis of there ability to judge and analyse football teams, and players, with expertise and impartiality, are they not?

    But as you say, when it comes to Liverpool it seems for so many of them, any connection with reality has been lost, long ago.

    Frankly, they’re like a bunch of pre pubescent One Direction fans swooning at the very thought of there Heroes.

    I know we don’t know what will happen in the transfer market, but unless something really freakish happens, surely this coming Summer has to be different. I may be wrong but I think Liverpool are in trouble.

    I cant see another foray into the dreaded Europa Cup being a draw for players, possibly quite the opposite. Even there glorious past is becoming a somewhat watered down attraction for the modern player. United, Chelsea and City, not to mention are good selves, are a far more attractive proposition.

    I think if Liverpool don’t have a spectacularly good Summer on the transfer front I think mid table is a definite possibility. They also have the financial restrictions caused by the expansion of Anfield looming on the Horizon.

    I believe Liverpool are at a very very tricky moment in there history and if it doesn’t go well they could, I mean could, be on a very slippery slope.

    What I do know is if anyone predicts a top four finish for Liverpool I will be amazed, but I still wouldn’t put it past some of them.

  13. What is ‘alternative media’? Anything that isn’t in printed format? A lot of the smaller websites don’t seem to be any better, if anything they have less accountability. Or just listening to people’s opinions without them pretending that it is special insight and hoping that what they write stands by itself? Does such a place exist?

  14. Today I ploughed the telegraph’s website articles 20 best buys and 20 flops. As I was reading these poorly argued articles I wondered did we see this type of article in the Telegrpah before the arrivial of the internet? I think not.

    We have in the internet a marvellous way of communicating with each other only to find that what we regard as serios newspapers use the internet to trivialise almost every subject they write on.

  15. The truth is that the sports journalists support one team or another and will never write something bad about their team even when it’s obvious. We always support Arsenal and Wenger and we are keen to defend the club and coach at all times because of the emotional attachment involved.

    Journalism should however be devoid of emotional attachment and this is where they get it wrong. They should be like referees (not in the EPL) and be unbiased. However this is not so.

    Anyone can make a prediction but to be an expert, a lot more knowledge about the game is required. However, most journalist and pundits have shown that they DO NOT know more than the average soccer fan due to their comments and it’s so sad. I sometimes see myself doing a better job that they are.

    Arsenal unfortunately is not in their good books hence they use any necessary means to unsettle the club including aggravating some fans into seeing doom for their club.

  16. FIF put out an article suggesting some of the newspapers , and for that matter, the England manager are in the hands of agents, or one agent in particular , with the Guardian getting quite a mention in despatched for their relationship with Agent John Colqhuon ,whether you believe FIF or not, it is clear that the press and pundits are far from objective, with clear agendas in place.
    Doesn’t explain the Liverpool thing though.

  17. Silent stans moustache

    “no Champions League Qualifier or World Cup hangover or Stadium Debt excuses anymore”

    -Man United will spend more than us this Summer, on top of around a £273 Million Net spend over the last 5 years already.


    -Man City will spend more than us this Summer, on top of around a £328 Million Net spend over the last 5 years already.


    -Chelsea will spend more than us this Summer, on top of around a £278 Million Net spend over the last 5 years already.


    Even with our 2 record signings our net spend over those same 5 years is around £96 Million. That’s just over a third of United’s spend, and under a third of the other 2.

    You make it sound like where are now financially up there with those 3. WE ARE NOT.

    As we all know, we ARE at least in a better position to compete, and we can at least try to make up some ground, but you make it sound like all we’ve been doing is making excuses and now there is none and we should be winning the league.

    Well thanks to Wenger and his genius we might well be in there with a shout, as we would of been this had it not been for our dodgy start.

    But if we are it wont be because we SHOULD be.

    And it wont be because we have ‘no more excuses’.

    It will be because, despite being at a still significant financial disadvantage , Wenger is a miracle worker.

    All this, what we now SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be doing seems to completely ignore what Man Utd, Man City, and Chelsea should be doing, which given there financial clout, is far more than us.

    Silent….. I can tell you’re passionate and pretty positive, I just think you are caught up in this warped prognosis, that now we are a little less restricted, and have a bit more cash on the hip, we are somehow on an equal financial footing with United and the Oilers, and should be fighting with them pound for pound, but that simply isn’t the case.

    It is still going to be very very difficult to overhaul those three.

  18. Nonny

    “The truth is that the sports journalists support one team or another and will never write something bad about their team even when it’s obvious”.

    Can I suggest you read John Cross in the Mirror.

    8 or 9 years ago I wrote to the Mirror complaining about there ‘Anti Arsenal’ journalist ‘John Cross’ only to receive a mocking reply informing me he was an Arsenal ‘Fanatic’ !

    You could of fooled me.

  19. Blacksheep63, me too, me too long ago.

    We have to be careful about so called “alternative media” too. Remember the trick of “betting on both horses” in a two horse race?

    Jambug, you are so right.
    I also think we have reared a bunch of soon to be world class players(at least in the eyes of the world, as Arsenal supporters know what we’ve got already 🙂 ).

  20. Since I travel to Arsenal with Blacksheep and then have a drink and quite often a meal with him, and then travel back to the Midlands with him, I do hear his argument about the press, from time to time. (Although to be fair, it is only time to time, we each try not to bore each other stupid).

    But, there is the counter view that the media still has a lot of influence and I still retain the view that exposing the media’s nonsensical approach, and the way certain clubs use the media to their own end, is worth the effort.

    My view is, you don’t have to read the press – I’ll do it for you and let you know the latest tricks they are playing.

  21. PS: I still think the Guardian’s article pointing to the importance of Arsenal’s new approach to injuries was really good, and worthy of our award.

  22. And then to think that Liverpool has already bought (last summer in fact and loaned him back to Lille) the WC flavour of the last world cup in Origi from Lille (playing for Belgium). He scored 8 goals (3 in one match) in the whole season and was put in the worst XI of the French league.
    This is what happens when you buy players based on their best 5 minutes….

  23. The reality is always questionable as Arsenal are always at a level above most of the league despite the robbery of points by cheating officials. Look at this season with the number of ‘points robbed’ & suddenly Arsenal are top.

    It is not a scientific study that is needed just a reversion to honest officiating. 50+ year old officials in a country that has so much access to Europe to source quality young qualified officials. This is the premier league not an international competition so nationality of officials should not be an issue.

    There needs to be a concerted effort in getting a new batch of officials with the PGMO being ditched. There should be at least 2 suppliers of officials with sufficient officials to prevent the choking of sporting chance by the methods currently employed.

  24. Roughly 40 years ago a big red bandwagon from Merseyside rode through the football landscape and the hard of thinking glory hunters jumped on it 🙂

  25. Jambug
    To answer your questions to silent stand mustache ;

    Man City’s excuse next season might be that they are only in the first year of Carlo Ancelotti’s regime, Man U’s excuse might be that they are in the second year of a total rebuilding job, and Chelsea won’t need any excuses while they win another double.

  26. Hmmmm?

    PL and League cup is now a ‘double’ is it?

    Well lets keep our fingers crossed we can complete our own double on Saturday then, as anything seems to count now.

    As for Chelsea winning it next year? You may be right, but anyone who spends/loses an average of £50 Million on transfers every season for 10 years should win the PL, the CL, the FA Cup and the League cup, don’t you think?

    And as Man City, and Man Utd pretty much, have both also spent that amount there’s our excuse right there.

    But now that Wenger has at least a bit more cash to work with, though in reality hardly making a dent in the £600 Million Chelsea have lost on transfers, he at least has a sniff.

    And unlike some, who shall remain nameless, I will support Wenger and the boys no matter what, and in the full knowledge that they will all of done everything they can to over come the vast gulf in finances created by the oil money.

    I just wish that those that love and admire Chelsea and there oil rich owners so much would just go and support them and be done with it.

    Not you of course Tom, because I know how much you love Arsenal and support them to the ends of the earth no matter what. Isn’t that so?

  27. Jambug
    I think those who love and admire Chelsea and their oil rich owners already support them.
    And no, that’s not me.

    I suppose according to your logic, Martin Keown, and other ex Arsenal players turned pundits who predicted Chelsea winning the title , all support Chelsea?

    Here’s my point though.
    I think you are being overly sensitive at times to other posters’ comments on here.

    I read silent stans mustache post and there was nothing in it suggesting Arsenal should win the title next season and if they don’t ,they will be considered a failure.

    Also, there can only be one league winner and as you keep pointing out , we are going to be outspend again by other contenders to the title.

    This , however , doesn’t mean that we can’t improve in all areas to be more competitive next season.

    If I’m an Arsenal player, coach, physio,or any other employee, I would rather people around me adapt silent stans mustache attitude towards next season than yours ,to be honest.

    Let’s not worry what others are going to spend or who they are going to buy, but rather do what’s necessary to make sure we can start the next season as ready for a fight as we can, and if we come up short in the end so be it.

  28. Tom

    Silent Stans mustache said:

    “We’ve really got to push for the league next year though, haven’t really got any more excuses”

    You said:

    “I read silent stans mustache post and there was nothing in it suggesting Arsenal should win the title next season and if they don’t ,they will be considered a failure.”

    I think you should learn to read Tom.

  29. Jambug

    No need , I had a friend read it to me, then he explained it to me real slow and then he said you were still wrong and a bit of a prickly character.

    Don’t worry though, I straightened him out and told him nothing could be further from the truth.

  30. Tom

    I responded to Silent Stans post because he was obviously inferring that the citing of injuries, and the oilers obvious financial advantage was, in his words, just an EXSCUSE for not winning or challenging for the PL title.

    He then suggested that because we have a bit more money to spend “we haven’t really got any more excuses”

    I think this is a flawed and inaccurate assessment of the situation because:

    a) Citing the oilers money, and our injury’s, is not an ‘excuse’, it is a valid and very understandable REASON as to why we haven’t closely challenged for, or indeed won the PL.

    b) To infer we are now on a level playing field with City, Chelsea and United, as he has by saying ‘we really haven’t got any more excuses” is, in my opinion, a poor assessment of the situation.

    None of this means I don’t believe Wengers genius could bring us the title, I just don’t believe we need ‘excuses’ if we don’t.

    This is how I concluded my original post to Silent…

    “Silent….. I can tell you’re passionate and pretty positive, I just think you are caught up in this warped prognosis, that now we are a little less restricted, and have a bit more cash on the hip, we are somehow on an equal financial footing with United and the Oilers,”

    All I did was disagree with his post and point out why.

    Don’t really see why you felt the need to stick your nose in. You don’t agree with my views so why bother? I’m sure Silent can stand his own corner.

  31. a bit late to this, but I truly admire your persistence, Jambug. Such underhand, snide remarks deserve a good calling out.

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