From pundits and managers to players and owners, no one is expecting those involved in football to be totally spot on with every piece of insight they give. But we also don’t expect them to be so despairingly daft either. Here are some of our picks of the worst footy predictions.
“You can’t win anything with kids.”
More than 20 years on and this still haunts ex-Liverpool stalwart and defending enthusiast Alan Hansen. Admittedly, this proclamation didn’t seem too farfetched. Manchester United had sold key players in the summer and their comparatively youthful side had just been beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa. Yet, despite table toppers Newcastle opening up a 12 point lead, the Red Devils came roaring back to clinch the title on the final day of the season. It thrust the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers into the spotlight and sent Hansen’s reputation into the mire.
“An African nation will win the World Cup before the year 2000.”
An undoubted legend of the game, Edson Arantes do Nascimento –known as ‘Pele’ to the common man – and his penchant for footballing predictions didn’t hold a candle compared to his prowess on the pitch. One particular mishap was in 1977 when he stated an African country would triumph at the World Cup before the turn on the 21st century. Alas, not a single one has come close, with Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana only making it as far as the quarter-finals.
“He’s the new Pele.”
And while we’re on the subject of Pele, this was said by pretty much everyone who heard the name Freddy Adu. He became the youngest USA footballer ever to sign a professional contract and appear in the MLS after making his debut aged just 14.One has to feel a degree of sympathy for the fella with so much pressure on him from such a young age. Unfortunately, Adu was unable to match the hype and has become a footballing journeyman. Still only 27, he’s now on his thirteenth club and has played in eight different countries.
“Have a flutter on us climbing out of relegation trouble and into Europe.”
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley isn’t exactly held in high regard by the Toon Army. And that’s being polite. This bold statement in the match day programme against Liverpool at Christmas 2008 would have sent their affinity for the Sports Direct owner lower than a limbo champion. Sure enough, Newcastle’s form failed to improve and they were relegated the following May after a limp 1-0 defeat at Villa Park.
“I have no doubts whatsoever that Germany will quite clearly thrash England.”
You couldn’t blame former West Germany international Uli Hoeness for putting his neck on the line ahead of this World Cup qualifier in 2001. England hadn’t beaten Germany away for over 100 years and had already suffered a 1-0 defeat to them at the old Wembley’s last ever game. So he, along with virtually everybody else watching, would’ve been staggered by the Three Lions thrashing the old enemy to the tune of 5-1. How off was Mr Hoeness? Even Emile Heskey scored.
“I detect a shift in the balance of power in English football to us.”
So said Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger after the euphoria of winning the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2002. This included going undefeated away from home and taking the title in Manchester United’s own backyard. The reality? The Gunners have won only four major trophies since while United and Chelsea romped to 12 each. If only finishing top four was rewarded in silverware.
“We should be alright here… they haven’t got the proper kit.”
England skipper Billy Wright made this fateful comment upon seeing the Hungarian player’s lightweight boots before the sides kicked off at Wembley in 1953. To say this came back to haunt him would be putting it mildly. England were thumped 6-3 and Wright in particular suffered at the hands – or in this case feet – of Ferenc Puskas and co. He had such a torrid time that he was described by Times journalist Geoffrey Green as being “like a fire engine going to the wrong fire.”
What appalling football predictions have you heard? Let us know below.