Writing about Mark Lawrenson’s failings is like shooting fish in a barrel. I mean, where the hell do I begin? The man is as clueless as the world’s hardest crossword puzzle. He is as annoying as sand in your urethra tube. His analysis of football is as relevant as Jordan the model’s thoughts on Jordan the country.
Last Saturday however – even by his barometer of buffoonery – the formerly ‘tached pundit with hair like out-of-date Shredded Wheat and shirts that even Colin, the ‘wacky’ prankster from accounts, would turn his nose up at crossed a new line of incompetence.
On Football Focus, immediately following an interview with Peter Crouch, it was put to ‘Lawro’ that the Stoke City forward might be a useful asset to take to Poland and the Ukraine this summer particularly in view of Rooney’s two game ban.
A curt ‘No’ was the reply followed by an awkward silence.
The presenter Dan Walker shuffled a bit before persisting for some kind of elaboration from a supposed expert (I know) who is on hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money per year (not to mention the reported £800 a week to chauffeur him to and from his Southport residence).
‘No’ he simply repeated, his falsetto raising an octave further as desperation creeped in that someone who knows less about football than the average punter might actually be required to offer something a bit more substantial than simply act like a camp emperor giving a verbal thumb-up or down.
“Yesterday’s man,” he squeaked. “But he’s a good laugh”.
Brilliant. I’m sure the untold number of infinitely better qualified, other candidates who could – and should- be in that chair speaking to millions of football supporters on a Saturday morning discussing a genuinely pertinent topic concerning the countries imminent participation in a major sporting tournament were rendered awestruck at such an erudite, considered response. From journalists such as Martin Samuels and Henry Winter to broadcasters such as the splendid Gabriele Marcotti there is a multitude of opinionated and insightful options out there who would inform and elucidate on topics that really matter to the watching public. In addition to possessing the welter of knowledge that Lawrenson plainly lacks they also have something he quite evidently does not – a genuine love for the game.
So why do the BBC persist in employing this staggering idiot who often deploys sarcasm or groansome punnery to mask his blatant inability to provide any sort of substance to his “The thing is Gary…” wittering? Because he is cast as a Jimmy Hill figure; a pantomime villain who people tune in to boo and hiss at. They don’t care if we have our heads burrowed into our hands in despair as long as the screen in our living room is showing their channel.
The problem here is that Jimmy Hill, despite his many failings, patently knew more about football than we did. Whereas with Lawrenson the precise opposite is true.
This is proven time and again, no more so than when a player who has been storming the Bundesliga or La Liga comes over to our shores and continues his blistering form.
Ten games in for his new club and Lawrenson will openly admit to having only seen him for the first time that day. Really? You mean the player everyone has been drooling over for several years as we monitored his progress on satellite channels, delighted in his youthful exuberance, raved about him on forums, read all about him in various publications, and dissected exactly what he could offer if our club was lucky enough to capture him? That guy. How is it even possible for someone who works in football to NOT be aware of him?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. While we were doing all of the above Lawrenson probably had his nose firmly in Golf Monthly magazine.
If you want a cheap laugh imagine this clueless clutz attempting the same depth of analysis provided by Gary Neville on Sky. It would be Jeff Buckley’s final moments in HD.
And yet, due to his prominence on the iconic Match of the Day many feel genuinely aggrieved at his casual dismissals of talent and only a matter of hours after ruling out Crouch’s chances at the Euros he was doing likewise with Grant Holt.
Following Norwich’s 2-2 draw with Everton Gary Lineker pointed out the Canaries’ targetman has the second best strike rate for an Englishman this term, second only to Wayne Rooney. With this in mind did he have a legitimate claim for a squad place this summer?
“No” came the now all-too-familiar flippant response.
Again, like Walker earlier that day, Lineker attempted to press for something…anything…more than a reply a two year old learns at the sight of vegetables.
This time visible tetchiness was evident, etched across a haggard-looking face.
He looked across at his golfing buddy with clear annoyance. “Why are you trying to embarrass me Gary? You know I haven’t got the foggiest beyond Rooney, Torres, occasionally saying ‘What a goal that was by the way’ and doing my camp emperor thumbs up or down thing” seemed to be the underlying thought behind the stare.
In that brief moment we witnessed something truly bizarre; a man paid a small fortune to be an ‘expert’ in a particularly field of life utterly incapable of quantifying a basic remark on a subject widely known to laymen. Exposed once again for the ignorant buffoon he is Lawrenson repeated his negative, only more firmly. Move on or ask Hansen. At least he watches games.
There wasn’t even a casual aside to add on this occasion. Apparently Grant isn’t a ‘good laugh’.
Norwich fans were understandably furious at such disrespectful treatment of their idol; a player who has worked his boots off through the levels to become a top flight marksman of note; a player who is a potent figurehead of an attractive side, possessing a fearsome work ethic and desire yet also capable of the spectacular, the cute and the sublime. A player who has out-fought and out-thought some of the best defenders around this season.
All of this dismissed by a single word from a man who would have s*** his pants at the mere thought of man-marking him.
The furore carried on over to Twitter where fans vented their virtual spleens.
But does anyone seriously believe that Lawrenson’s opinion was bolstered on any sort of actual knowledge? Does anyone think he has seen Norwich play this year beyond the highlights clips on the very show he presides over? Does anyone think he could name a single one of Holt’s former clubs?
I suspect the real reason the worst pundit to ever pollute our screens was not keen on the idea of promoting Holt into the international set-up was that it would further restrict the chances of Michael Owen. He played for Liverpool and now for Manchester United. He’s heard of him.