9 times pundits were made to eat their words: Carra, Neville, Hansen…
Football pundits are often made to eat their words after events on the pitch and the likes of Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Alan Hansen have been caught out in the past.
With their views reported widely and dissected on social media, our leading pundits have rarely been allowed to forget it when their judgements have proven to be incorrect.
We’ve identified nine occasions where pundits have been made to eat their words after their initial judgements proved off-target.
After joining Manchester United last summer, Martinez was the subject of doubt from Jamie Carragher after his first two appearances ended in humbling defeats.
‘[5ft 9in] that’s small,’ Carragher told Sky Sports. “That’s small for any player on the pitch in some ways now, really.
“You think how big and powerful players are. I haven’t seen that much of him, but he must have a really good spring to play centre-back in any league.
“When you think of how that could affect Man Utd set piece-wise, if one of your centre-backs is really small, you’re relying so much on the other centre-back to deal with things aerially coming into the box, so I think that could be a problem.”
But, after six months of stunning performances from the Argentina international, Carragher has finally admitted his initial judgement was wide of the mark.
“I think he’s been brilliant,” he said on Sky’s Overlap programme. “To be that small and play centre-back, you obviously have to be a special player, a good player.
“Now, I didn’t think someone of that size could cope in the Premier League. But he has coped, and he’s been brilliant.” Fair play.
🗣️ "I'm convinced this can't work!"
Jamie Carragher is convinced Lisandro Martínez can't play in a back four at Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/k3RmPhYQas
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 15, 2022
Eyebrows were raised when Manchester United paid £60million for 30-year-old Casemiro last summer, but the former Real Madrid midfielder soon silenced the doubters after transforming the United midfield.
“I thought Casemiro was a panic signing at the time,” said Chris Sutton after January’s Manchester derby. “I will hold my hands up – he has been brilliant.”
“Messi the other night – he was walking around the pitch,” Gary Neville said during the group stages of the 2022 World Cup. “I said at half-time ‘people don’t fear him anymore’. They don’t! When he’s on the ball now, people go and take it off him, go and tackle him.”
Seven goals, numerous assists and one World Cup trophy later, Messi had firmly put the former Manchester United defender in his place.
“You’ll never win anything with kids”
You’ll all remember this one.
After finishing runner-up with both the league and FA Cup in 1995, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson sold experienced camapigners Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis and replaced them with… nobody.
Little-known youngsters like Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and David Beckham came into the first-team, but that didn’t stop United receiving an opening day pasting at Aston Villa.
Speaking on Match of the Day that evening, Alan Hansen infamously said: I think they’ve got problems. I wouldn’t say they’ve got major problems. Obviously, three players have departed. The trick is always buy when you’re strong, so he needs to buy players.
“You can’t win anything with kids. You look at that line-up at Manchester United today and Aston Villa, at quarter-past two, when they get the teamsheet, it’s just going to give them a lift, and it’ll happen every time he plays the kids.
“He’s got to buy players, simple as that.”
United won the double in 1995-96 and Hansen has never been allowed to forget his comments.
Just an entire season of badly judged takes from Sky’s leading pundit.
READ: Everything Gary Neville has said about Arsenal & Arteta in 22-23
Liverpool’s quadruple push
Another retreat from Neville, this time as Liverpool maintained their push for all trophies last season deep into May.
“I thought Liverpool were in decline,” the former England defender said after the 2022 League Cup final. “In decline from a very, very high place.
“They were one of the best teams that you’ll see in Premier League a few years ago when they won it.
“What I think they’ve done is dip off that level a little bit, but now it feels like they’re coming back and they could have an incredible season this year.
“They could go on to win the Premier League, they’re still in the Champions League, they’ve obviously got a trophy to play for today – I think the winner of this trophy today will be in good stead for the rest of the season.”
Admittedly, Neville may have ultimately been proven right this year but we’ll ignore that for now.
Many thought Chelsea’s decision to replace Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel in January 2021 was an extremely sensible one, but Micah Richards remained sceptical until Chelsea won the Champions League that year.
I was critical of when Tuchel came in, because I didn’t think he was the right man for the job, maybe my allegiances were to Frank at that time,” the former Manchester City defender said.
“What he’s done has been astonishing. This, there’s no hesitance about it, this is the best counter-attacking team in the league and Europe.”
🗣"I did not think he was the right man for the job, but what he has done has been astonishing." @MicahRichards reveals he thought Thomas Tuchel was not the right man for Chelsea and has been proven wrong by his start at the club pic.twitter.com/N353guPEmo
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 8, 2021
Reflecting on Xhaka’s displays earlier in the season, Arsenal legend Ian Wright admitted the midfielder has proved him wrong with the level and consistency of his performances.
“For me, Granit Xhaka is a player that we’re finally see play like he does for Switzerland,” Wright said on Match of the Day in September 2022.
“He’s playing in a position that suits him, playing more offensively. He’s playing with real authority and confidence.
“Lately he’s been able to find space and from there he can be really dangerous because, for me, he’s got easily one of the best left-foots in the Premier League.
“I’m really pleased for him because I was one of his staunchest critics. But now we’re seeing the best of Granit Xhaka.”
Many observers thought Arsenal’s title challenge would be derailed by the injury to Gabriel Jesus at the World Cup, but Eddie Nketiah has stepped into the breach marvelously over the past few months.
“I honestly thought that the loss of Gabriel Jesus to injury would have a devastating effect on Arsenal’s title chances,” Garth Crooks after Nketiah scored twice against Manchester United in January. “I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“Jesus was in sparkling form before he got injured at the World Cup but from the day Eddie Nketiah came into the Arsenal team to deputise for Jesus, he has been in blistering goalscoring form.
“His goals-per-game ratio has been off the chart. The striker has scored seven goals in his past seven games and would have added to that tally had it not been for some brilliant goalkeeping by David de Gea on Sunday.
“What Arteta does when Jesus is fit is anyone’s guess but if he were to play 4-4-2 with Jesus and Nketiah up front as a partnership, it’s game over.”
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