Tony Gillan: Mark Lawrenson is wrong yet again - about Sunderland and Ellis Short

Mark Lawrenson.
Mark Lawrenson.
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Saturday was Sunderland’s best day of the season so far.

They came from behind to gain a draw and had a rare piece of luck when Patrick van Aanholt scored from a mis-kick. Meanwhile none of their rivals could manage a win.

It wasn’t a great weekend, but it wasn’t terrible either, which, as I said, made it the best day of the season so far.

They managed not to lose, so it could be a start. Hurrah. Will there be even better days ahead in the coming weeks?

Good grief, I hope so.

As usual, all they can do now is take the positives from the West Brom game then carry them into the next few matches.

That’s about the limit of mine or most people’s suggestions. Mercifully then, David Moyes has über-pundit Mark Lawrenson to dispense his fabled wisdom.

The failed manager was burbling (at our vast expense) on the BBC about what has gone wrong at the Stadium of Light and obviously thinks SAFC are for the chop.

I suspect that if Sunderland are relegated he will be keen to remind everyone that this was exactly as he predicted; although he’s rather more reticent about the litany of wrong predictions he has made about the club over the past decade.

We might not like what Lawrenson says, but Sunderland fans can take solace in the sheer volume of piffle that has evacuated his over-used mouth over the years.

Last year he was predicting an England career for Jack Colback and a tenth place finish for Newcastle in 2015-16. He also said that Kenny Dalglish’s job at Liverpool was safe; the day before Dalglish was sacked. Space precludes a more comprehensive list.

Everyone is wrong now and again. But Mark’s wrongness isn’t just regular, it’s pretty spectacular too.

He can’t even be relied upon to know all the laws of the game. For example, he has said on radio that it is within the rules of the game for a player to deliberately lie with his stomach on the ball (it’s actually obstruction). He also witters about the “mandatory” 30 seconds that he thinks should be added for a substitution. No such law exists.

Maybe you too thought that such a law existed. But assuming you aren’t being paid as much of our money as Lawro is for such “expertise”, then that is entirely forgivable.

It isn’t entirely flippant to allude to his recent appearance on Pointless Celebrities (make your own jokes), when it transpired that he thought Alaska was a country. It isn’t nice to say, but the man’s a bit thick.

And so to last Sunday when he said of Ellis Short, with nothing like evidence: “I think the owner has lost a great deal of interest.

“I don’t know how he got Moyes to sign his contract, but I’m sure there were promises that haven’t been met.”

Is he really “sure” about that defamatory statement. Or is it more taxi driver-type blind guesswork masquerading as punditry? Ellis Short is personally owed £58m by the club. For that reason alone it’s unlikely that he “has lost a great deal of interest”.

Then we had Mark’s 7,812th failed attempt at being funny on television when he described Sunderland’s “Poundstretcher” transfer policy. Tee, and furthermore, hee.

This was despite the club having the summer’s tenth highest net spend despite. Nor did he seem to know about the enormous outlay of the past few years (how well it was spent is a another, well-worn topic), the vast wage bill and the ensuing £141m debt.

But again, to speak of such things would be the work of someone who actually knows what he is talking about and can see all sides of the argument.

Lawrenson also came out with the facile point that Sunderland have been through many managers in the last few years. He reckons that’s why they struggle. It’s that simple.

Obviously it is preferable to have stability, but when a manager is at a club for many years it’s because he has made that club successful – and not the other way round.

Of the eight managers to leave Sunderland in the past decade, four did so of their own accord. The four who were sacked, Bruce, O’Neill, Di Loonio and Poyet would have taken the club down had they not been relieved of their duties.

So do easy-answer peddlers like Lawrenson think it better to stick by a manager, but in a lower league? Apparently this would be long-term “thinking”.

It only remains for us to thank Mark for his forthright, considered, qualified and highly helpful comments.

Or something.