Sticking With It

Whoda thought? As we enter the penultimate month of the season the Premier League title race is a three way fight. Not much surprise in that perhaps but how many pundits predicted Liverpool would be one of the main protagonists at this stage? And how many others would have put Manchester United in a very distant seventh place, straining hard to keep their noses in front of, erm, Southampton?


Well, I’m sure if you trawled enough Internet sites you’d find a fair few people taking credit for having such insight before the season got underway. That’s the beauty of the net, right? All life is there. All opinion is catered for, and you can lay claim to the most outrageous of things via the medium of your keypad. All well and good then (and fair’s fair, we’ve all done it, cough, cough). When it comes to footy punditry if you’re Johnny No-mark you can jump on and off bandwagons as you see fit. Let’s face it nobody’s going to waste time trawling the archives to check exactly what you were or weren’t saying all those months ago, or even if you were saying anything at all.


But it’s a curious thing. Of late I’ve noticed the pundits who exist at the more exalted end of public opinion, those ex-players and tv talking heads we all love to hate, are suffering a kind of reverse of this phenomenon. In short, when put on the spot about the very things they’re being asked to opine they’re keeping their counsel. A typical exchange might be:

“So Alan, who do you think will win the title?”

“Well, Liverpool look unbeatable at present, don’t they. I can’t see anyone stopping them.”

“Ah, interesting, you’re going for them then?”

“Not necessarily, no. They have a great chance, but …”

“What do you mean? Give me a yes or a no.”

“Hmm, it would be foolish to write them off, but the other two teams have a great chance too.”

“So, do you fancy Man City or Chelsea then?”

“I think Man City are the best bet to be honest.”

“Ok Alan, you’re going for City then.”

“Well, no. I said Chelsea at the start of the season so I’m sticking with them.”







And this, ladies and gents is what we’re paying our tv license money, satellite telly direct debits and newspaper bills for. Time after time, be they tired old journos, radio guff spouters or anodyne telly cliche vomiters, we’re being spun the same drivel. As if it wasn’t bad enough they’re all using the same phrase too, namely: “I said (insert name of club) at the start of the season so I’m sticking with them.”

It’s as if changing one’s opinion on the basis of fresh and contrary evidence was somehow forbidden. Imagine then if this was general policy for all of us in our daily lives. “Yes I know it’s raining but I said yesterday it wouldn’t rain so I’m not taking an umbrella…” etc etc. We should expect then that if Liverpool spurt seven points clear with two games to play these guys will still be plumping for Chelsea or City because it’s best they stick with it.

What lies behind this nonsense? Oddly I think what we may be witnessing is an unforeseen consequence of the Internet age. These high profile pundits are now so wary of having every single utterance pored over they’re becoming scared to say anything that might come back to haunt them. Changing opinion is not an option. Once you’ve nailed your colours to the mast then that’s it. There’s an unpleasant Twitter troll sitting at home waiting to pounce with his cut and paste keys should you say anything that remotely contradicts what you may have said nine months ago. Pedantic Internet nazis won’t give any talking head a moment’s peace. Perhaps that’s as it should be, I don’t know, but we’re all paying for it now.


The only guy I’ve seen who seems willing to buck the trend (and God knows I hated his guts when he was a player) is the BBC’s Robbie Savage, and for that I applaud him. He does what any right thinking, open-minded football lover should do and blows with the wind. He’s all over the place but at least his views reflect the game as it is at any given time, and Twitter trolls be damned. Whatever he thought last month, well that was weeks ago, so sod it. Ok, there’s a fine line between this and sounding like a total air-head who can’t make up his mind from week to week but for now I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure he’s a man sensible enough to take an umbrella with him when he goes out even if the sun’s out, just in case.

As for me, I said back in August that Manchester United would finish above Southampton, see if I didn’t. I feel I should stick with it. Anything else my friends is in the lap of the gods.

The Puma

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