Following the tragic and untimely death over the last week of Paul the prediction octopus, arguably the most entertaining aspect of this summer’s World Cup, it must be asked, what is the point of trying to predict football matches, scores and scorers?
BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson regularly wrongly predicts matches every weekend, he still keeps his job, he still gets the opportunity to make incorrect predictions the next week and occasionally gets some right, sometimes with perfect scores. Should the pundit when he’s wrong put his hand up (or in this situation, tentacle), or when he is obviously guessing? More to the point, what is the point in predictions?
In a world where a pundit sat in a glass tank can correctly predict the outcome of the world’s most important football tournament, the question must be asked, do we really need predictions? Or was it so obvious that Spain’s possession style of football would emerge victorious, that even the late Paul could see that they would end their long wait for a world crown?
Sometimes predicting scores is a largely futile exercise. It seems the Premier League winners can be picked from only two teams (regardless of how much money Spurs and Man City spend and regardless how good Arsenal look at this stage of the season), so it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that most scores will go the way of either the better team, the home team or the team that has spent the most money.
Paul the Octopus didn’t give many media interviews but I’m sure if he did he would’ve stated his belief that England would ultimately have not been good enough to win the World Cup despite them looking convincing in qualifying, would probably have gone out to Germany or some technically better and more creative team, probably after the first round group stages after being outclassed, would have either been robbed of glory by injuries, poor decisions or penalties and would have returned home being accused of being passionless prima donnas, being overpaid and being not good enough despite having the best domestic league in the world.
The question now, is who can take on the mantle of the oracle, a position vacated by Paul. As Paul lies on that Great Seabed in the Sky, do we really need someone to tell us how this season will go, who will win the next major tournament, which English star will next be accused of infidelity or will hand in a shock transfer request, despite kissing the badge in his last two matches?
Maybe all Paul wanted to do was sit in his box and watch as the World Cup passed him by. Well, if it was good enough for Wayne Rooney…