The Fan: The time to listen to experts

I believe experts are there to be listened to and then ignored.

US author Amy Chua in January 2012. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty.
US author Amy Chua in January 2012. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty.

The “tiger mother” woman, Amy Chua, was being interviewed the other day about her new book. She mentioned her husband, who, like her, is a Yale professor. “He hates authority,” she said. “He doesn’t even believe what the dentist or the plumber tells him.”

Not quite examples of “authority” but spot on, I thought, just like me. I believe experts are there to be listened to and then ignored. What do they know? Doctors make things up all the time – ditto lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, gas engineers. As for editors and publishers, don’t get me started: eejits, all of them.

Most experts, such as economists, tend to be good on the present, what is happening now, which they can explain, being awfully clever, but when it comes to projection and prediction, they naively believe that things will continue: they say there will be a shape very similar to the present shapes and they have facts and figures to support this.

No one believes politicians anyway but at least they don’t pretend to be experts. We know they know nothing.

The back page experts, what a mess they have made the past few weeks, getting everything wrong. Manchester City, they all told us, were the team of the year, the decade, the best in the Prem, the universe. What a squad! We have never seen their like. How fortunate we are to witness them.

Even though I know football experts get most of their expertise from reading other football experts, I nodded along with their opinions and analysis, because what do I know, where do I go? And Man City were playing brilliantly, oh, yes. Till they got stuffed by Chelsea and were held to a draw by humble Norwich.

The back pages then turned their slavering on to Arsenal: what a team, Arsène is a genius, how could we ever doubt, what a defence, surely they will win everything, including the winter Olympics.

The London Evening Standard hailed Mertesacker and Koscielny as the heirs to Adams and Keown. I always thought Keown was a lump and Adams couldn’t run, while the present pair are just better-trained lumps, but all those clean sheets must tell us something, so, yeah, they could be right: Arsenal will run away with it. Then Liverpool put five past them.

And now it’s hurrah for Chelsea, the team of all the talents, for all seasons, and it’s kissy-kissy to José from those who only half an hour ago were saying second comings don’t work – selling Mata, how stupid was that?

This raving over Chelsea should last the next two weeks, then it will be Liverpool’s turn. Sorry, just slipped out – what do I know? The event that did catch them all on the hop was the sacking of Michael Laudrup at Swansea. I have looked through the cuttings and no expert predicted it. Just a few weeks ago, they were tipping him to take over at Spurs when A V-B got the push, still lauding him for Swansea’s first major trophy in their history, the League Cup last season.

It was clear they got taken by surprise, had no idea what was going on inside Swansea, about transfer rows, the deteriorating relationship with the board, their worry about a run of poor results. Or so we were told – after it all happened.

In defence of the football hacks, they know nothing because nobody will speak to them these days. A star player gives about one interview a year, accompanied by a PR and a sponsor, whose product, video and/or good cause they have to mention, or they will never get another interview. So how can they pick up any inside gen? They don’t even get in the players’ car park or training ground any more.

So they have to rely on what they see, which they are good at, having seen so much. They do it excellently: the speed at which they transmit coherent, intelligent match reports the minute the final whistle goes is amazing. When I used to report games, shouting down the line to a bored copy-taker, I was often two hours late. “Is there much more of this?” he would ask, sighing.

But experts have to appear expert, even if it is only expert at bigging up success and fame, then rubbishing it.