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June 2021

After the first suggestions that referees might not be ok, will the media turn on the pundits?

By Tony Attwood

Of course we need to be clear here: referees have been protected by the media for years because of the fact that the media will always put their own self-interest ahead of the need to report reality.

Thus ever since the 1970s TV has been in the business of promoting football as being exciting and entertaining (with only a few exceptions) in order to keep its audience up.   In that decade there are several instances of the newspapers actually criticising TV companies for the way they falsely reported football, but gradually as the newspapers’ own influence has waned the press have adopted a totally meek attitude to football.   “All is wonderful, it’s very exciting, Arsenal are rubbish, and any fans who say otherwise are demented.”   That (to bend the phrase) sums the media all up.

But just recently, with newspaper audiences falling faster than a rock dropped from 50,000 feet (which as I am sure you will know will fall at 32 feet per second per second), and with TV doing nothing to help the newspapers shore up their crumbling empires, publishing moguls have been looking around for ways to stop the rot.

And thus slowly, very slowly (and charted, if I may be so bold as to say so) by Untold (and virtually no one else) the newspapers are changing.   And from that the tiny bloggettas who of course do little other than make up a headline and copy a bit of text from a paper, have started to follow.

Thus throughout this season we have had articles commenting negatively on referees (although, of course, never asking why the ref might be this bad).   And now we are starting to see the second front.

Shock horror.

Wait for it.

Criticism of pundits.

Paul Merson continues to get his predictions spectacularly wrong

is the bold claim in the Telegraph, carefully hiding the fact that Telegraph pundits don’t do that well either.

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Of course Paul is a bit of a soft target since the dear old lad does ramble on a bit, and has the old Tony Adams school of thought, which reads, “he’s foreign, what does he know about football?”   Paul’s latest demise in that regard came about with an attempt to make a prediction about the success or otherwise of Marco Alexandre Saraiva da Silva (I think Paul calls him “that foreign guy”) at Hull, which, on the grounds of him not coming from Harlesden, was thought to be about less than 1%.

The attack on Paul in that regard is a bit unfair since his fellow Sky pundit, Phil Panellist, was just as “countryist” (we can’t really call it racist since I don’t think being Portuguese is normally called a race), and their concept that only English managers can make a success of the Premier League does not take much scrutiny.

Hull had won one league game in the previous 16 when the new man came along and has since won three, drawn two and lost three, which is a fair old improvement.

Of course there is a great danger in criticising a pundit from elsewhere because it can all come round and bounce back, but still there are some tempting idiots out there to hit.  Take R Savage for example.  He did a long spout on radio about how video replay facilities for referees could not possibly work because the games would go on all night if replays were introduced – unaware that they had already been tried out in a Fifa tournament a month before his wild rant, and had been acclaimed by everyone to be a great success.

Until now Savage has been given column space on the BBC’s website to defend himself, which has done by careful editing of his rants and a new twist on reality, but now it seems the time might be ripe for other outlets to pick him up.

The fact is that much of the time most pundits get things very very wrong when they make predictions because most of their predictions are basically saying, “same as last year except Arsenal will do worse”.  Even with very simple predictions like the top four, only about 25% of them get it right.  At most.

Of course if you make the same call often enough your prediction will eventually happen, but it is hard to find anyone who predicted Chelsea’s demise last season, or Leicester’s rise.  Nor the inability of Man U to make the top four since Sir F Word’s departure.  Nor Man City’s inability to win everything even when supported by 10% of the world’s gas supply.

And yet, they go on and on and on and on making predictions.  Just like the media in general has, until just recently, gone on and on and on and on suggesting that there is nothing wrong with refereeing, when we can all see it before our very eyes, and any serious analysis will show, that the opposite is true.

Just like the media go on and on pretending that their transfer rumours are actually going to happen, that players transferred generally make a difference in the first season, and that a change of manager generally improves things.

And just as they have for years and year soaked up the totally fabricated story about Arsenal injuries, and only gave up when we started publishing the injury tables every week.

So could this be the moment we will look back on and think – the spring of 2017, when amazingly the media stopped publishing unmitigated gibberish as predictions and hit the reality button?

Wouldn’t that be nice.  Evidence based football punditry?  You never know!

This season the refereeing of 160 PL games was analysed in detail with video evidence. This is what we found.


23 comments to After the first suggestions that referees might not be ok, will the media turn on the pundits?

  • Goonermikey

    I only hope you’re right Tony. Evidence based football reporting would be amazing……no breath holding recommended!

    I must admit I’m constantly amused by the BBC “football expert” (their words, definitely not mine). He manages to stay slightly ahead of an array of rappers, boy band members, athletes, American footballers etc etc with his predictions (hence, presumably why the BBC think he’s an expert!)

    However, one only has to scratch the surface of Lawrenson’s predictions for evidence of his ineptitude. The “football expert” hasn’t once predicted a loss for Liverpool! this season……..some expert lol

  • Goonermikey

    I also note that the BBC, among others, isn’t saying a word about the fact that Rojo stamped on a player a couple of nights ago in an almost identical (and perhaps more obvious) incident to that for which Mings received a 5 match ban.

    I now can’t decide whether this was so as not to draw attention to it prior to the FA considering it or merely to keep up the post incident pretence that their beloved Man U are perfect in every way. In any event, it’s certainly same old, same old.

  • Tommo

    All rather strange. You don’t like the pundits because they don’t praise arsenal enough, and you don’t like the media because they don’t question referee decisions enough.

    Now you’re expecting the media to start criticising pundits for what they have to say?

    What do you expect of the pundits? I just see it all as one big gimmick and don’t take it serious. They are now part of the entertainment. Merson for not being able to speak the English language or pronounce any names. Savage looks a prat. Michael Owen and McManamhon are awful. That’s the WWF side of things, and then you have the more serious faced ‘expert’ punditry like Keown, as drab and as interesting as watching paint dry.

    Its one big circus, with ex refs even getting involved. The coverage of the game is going the way of WWF, but you want it run and reported like the 10 o’ clock news. If you can’t get on board with the new format without it upsetting you, best off turning the TV off.

    Pundits get paid a good wage for talking b0llocks, which is exactly what it is. We all know it, but why it’s so upsetting I really don’t know.

    So here’s hoping the media start ganging up on the pundits for getting their predictions wrong.

    Then you’ll be hoping the pundits will start criticising the media for what they have to say too.

    Then we’ll all be able to sleep at night, and live happily ever after.

  • Hunter13

    yes ok tommo but when those bollocks influence the fan base and you have cretins trying to drive wenger out outside the stadium he built for them (lol) then it becomes a serious problem. no?

  • Hunter, he built the stadium…?with his bear hands no less…interesting article all the same….news flash, team changes the manager, who can improve teams, take them to the next level.
    Ahh, if only we can get to the next level, “the promised land” is the promised land is the promised land…..what’s it like there Leicester..

  • Norman14

    I think Mings should take the FA and PGMOL to court. I think he stands a very good chance of proving a lack of duty of care and loss of earnings caused by either incompetence or corruption.

  • MickHazel

    It just goes to show the depths to which things have fallen when an idiotic moron who compares Wenger to Mugabe attains celebrity status thanks to the media reporting and repeating his rubbish and when a solitary fan in the USA holds a Wenger out banner up at an MLS game and it gets covered in The Telegraph and other mainstream media outlets.
    Absolutely pathetic and a sad reflection on the state of the media today and the brain dead public who appear to lap it up.

  • At least Arsene wasn’t compared to say, Brian Clough, Shankly, Paisley, lLlorente, hitzfeld, Cruff, Trapattoni, Rijkaard, …which manager from that list is the odd one out..

  • Norman14

    We’ve got Swarbrick on Saturday.

    Tony: Dean has got Bournmouth for the SEVENTH time this season!

  • Genorm

    No, matey – its Oliver and Liverpool 7 times.

  • dan

    Well city out!

  • The mighty Leicester, who’d have though, wonder what the mathematical formula is, y =mc2….Arsene knows?

  • Knobby

    Donations near £3,000 as Arsenal fans plot Wenger Out plane stunt at West Brom.

    Wow that’s 3,000 fans donating a whole pound coin…

  • para

    Both Wenger and Mugabe are hounded by the media, falsehoods told about them and they are both seen as “not with the program” so a comparison is well in order.

    It should be clear to most now that the “baddies” reported by the media are in fact the “goodies” because the media is in the hands of the real “baddies”.

    Don’t be fooled by the character assassination of these two people.

  • Menace

    Sometime there are idiots & then you get Klis one t short of a dildo. Hands without implements are bare not bear, but then with flat batteries a dildo is useless.

    para – you seem to have got involved outside your depth.

    Norman14 – Mings would not be allowed to play football if he tried court. The FA decide everything about football.

    Hunter13 – your wasting logic on the ‘care in the community’ candidates.

  • Gord

    OT: Diving (a site in Sweden) has an article dated 2017 03 15, about second division club Osters IF (missing diacritical marks). They will ban their own players, if they are caught diving. Not necessarily on the first offence, it has to be blatant. And this only applies to their first team.

    But, its a start.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    FACT –
    ‘A man’s body has 7 trillion nerves , and only the wife knows how to get on every one of them !’

    Apparently they are some of ‘them’ on here that are really trying very hard to emulate them , but instead end by tickling our funny bones !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A collage class was told that they had a short story in as few words as possible , The instructions were , the story had to contain the following four things –
    1. Religion
    2. Royalty
    3. Sexuality
    4. Mystery .

    Below is the only A+ story in the entire class .
    ‘Good God , the Princess is pregnant ! I wonder who did it ?’

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Now boys and girls , using the above format , write a very short but true story using all of the following words
    1.’ them ‘
    2. Brains
    3. Anus
    4. Interchangeable .

  • Hi Menance, give credit to Leicester, don’t forget we beat them home and away last season, so by playground logic ( your specialist subject), we are the league champions and in the QF of the Champs league…enjoy, don’t let reality distort your little world…

  • WalterBroeckx

    We sure must give credit to Leicester for having 3 points more than the team in place 18.
    So who would you prefer to support? Leicester in de QF of the CL but risking to go down to the championship or Arsenal currently 5th in the league, semi final of the FA cup?

    I fear that the qualification for Leicester might be the start of them getting relegated. They can’t cope with the extra games as they have proven the whole season.

  • Gord

    Lately in the science news, it was said that all the spiders of the world consume about 800m tons of insects every year.

    That’s about the same as TalkSport does. And the rest of the sports medja and muppets, consumes about another 800m tons.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Gord -17/03/2017 at 1:42 am – I’m quite sure that most of those insects are inadvertently ‘consumed’ by the open mouthed captive audience of that particular talkshow !
    And probably more than those doomed by car headlights , windscreens and motorbike helmet visors !