Beware of the “Experts”

In the age of 24-hour media and sports news, the media giants need plenty points of discussion – they also have lots of column inches to fill. How do they achieve this? Well they have a few ways and we, as sports enthusiasts, totally lap it up – even if it’s just to have a rant about it at a later date.

Sky Sports, in this country, lead the line with sports broadcasting. Their news readers have actually become celebrities in their own right. As members of a betting community I’d recommend you take most of what they say with a pinch of salt because they aren’t necessarily experts. A few months ago I saw a full discussion on West Ham’s need for a new striker, they were linked with Jermain Defoe. How did this major franchise do their analysis? Football Manager statistics, I’m not joking! I quote “yes Andy Carroll is better in the air, and much stronger, but Defoe is faster” – whilst strictly true it seems like a lazy way to do a comparison. By this logic the best teams in Europe will be offering Schalke in excess of £100 million for Breel Embolo this summer.

Speaking of laziness, my favourite (or least favourite) is when a player turns 30 years of age – “he’s in decline”. Ronaldo is in decline, Lampard is in decline, Pirlo is in decline, Scholes is in decline, Gerrard is in decline, Giggs is in decline. Are you seeing a pattern? All footballers have some kind of decline when they enter their 30s, every single player in the history of football. Dietmar Hamann recently told us that Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are in decline, it’s a pointless sentence and the fact that both players are still performing well makes the comment bizarre. Guillem Balague deserves a special mention for this, I’ve never known someone who knows so little to get so much respect from the football community.

Football is about opinions so not everyone is going to agree all of the time, I totally understand that, but I’m getting bored of listening to pundits misinterpret rules because “in my day that wouldn’t be a foul”. The BBC’s Danny Murphy, who I quite like as a pundit, slated the referee for booking Andrew Surman when Manchester United played Bournemouth in March. The incident in question was a hard tackle in which Surman won the ball, his studs were showing and his momentum carried him though Luke Shaw – that’s a yellow card offence but Murphy called the decision a “disgrace”. Any “expert” who wants to moan about the art of tackling dying out should watch N’Golo Kante. This happens every time a pundit wants to look like a tough guy to the general public. I can’t tell you how much I miss Alan Hanson’s analysis; he gave his opinion, he discussed the laws of the game and never tried to use stats to back up what he was saying – looking like a hero to everyone was irrelevant to him. Robbie Savage, another from the BBC, recently called Wayne Rooney the most “underappreciated” player in England – I don’t even feel like I need to comment too much on this, other than to say he doesn’t understand football if he honestly believes this.

BT Sport and the newspapers, like the BBC, tend to use former players to do all their work for them. If Manchester City are playing, Richard Dunne gives his opinion. If Manchester United are playing it’s Paul Scholes – they can’t string a sentence together so why are they on TV? I’m dreading the day Wayne Rooney is offered silly money to do the same, it’ll be cringe worthy. That said, these people all shine like beacons of punditry in comparison to Glen Hoddle.

I’m not saying we should ignore everything these guys say, I’m just saying trust your own intuition because pundits don’t know any more than the general public. I enjoy listening to the likes of Gary Neville, Jermaine Jenas and some of the fellas on Soccer Saturday. They don’t seem to push an agenda like the rest and what they say is usually based on observation rather than emotion – if you want to enjoy gambling this is the way to go.

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