Saturday, 29 August 2015

Does Mark Lawrenson even watch the Premier League?

BBC Sport football pundit Mark Lawrenson writes his predictions for the weekend's Premier League matches each week on the BBC Sport website.  Or so we're told, anyway.  I'm beginning to suspect that he actually has a machine – working to some shonky algorithm, of course – churning them out for him, so he can collect a nice pay packet without actually having to do any work.

I doubt that Lawrenson has any idea who half the teams he's supposed to be writing about actually are.  That is the only explanation for how bizarre his predictions seem to be at times.

For my team, Norwich City, he consistently predicts losses.  Whether we're playing well, or playing badly, have injuries or a full squad, make signings or not – his reasoning seems to be simply "it's Norwich, so they'll lose".  We could have Messi and Ronaldo both playing for us, and Lawrenson would still tip us to lose 1-0 to West Brom (or something), just because it's Norwich.

Which is ridiculous.  Lawrenson's prediction for Sunday's away match is that Norwich will lose to Southampton.  This is in spite of the fact that Southampton are yet to win a league game this season, whilst Norwich have, and almost all football analysts seem to agree that although four points from the opening three games is a decent haul for the Canaries, we could – and quite possibly should – have more.

Lawrenson says so himself, in his writing for this week's predictions, as well as alluding to Southampton's slow start and also mentioning that they will be fatigued from a midweek game in the Europa League.

Sure, a team who 'have not really got going yet' are
bound to beat a team who 'have looked pretty
solid' so far…  There's no flaw in this reasoning! 

And yet, in spite of all the evidence he himself has presented to the contrary, he predicts Southampton to win 2-1.  Maybe they will.  Who knows?  But the pre-match form of both teams, and their differing circumstances, do not suggest that.

Lawrenson seems to work only from the reputation a team has in his own mind.  Southampton are generally perceived to be a club 'on the up', with a growing reputation – whilst Norwich would be considered minnows in this league even if they won it three seasons on the trot.

Thankfully, it's what happens on the pitch which counts, not what happens in Mark Lawrenson's mind.

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