Why is football so unpredictable?

Football is one of the least predictable of sports.  On Good Friday we enjoyed the upside of this when our emphatic win over Crystal Palace spoilt their chance of rising to second in the table.  The downside came on Easter Monday when our loss to Wolves helped them out of the relegation zone.  Who knows what will happen in our game against Millwall; I look forward to it with a mixture of hope and fear.

One reason why there are so many upsets in football is that it is a low scoring game compared to a game like basketball.  For each scoring chance that occurs, the better team is more likely to score.  In games were there are few scoring chances, the better team might miss a couple of chances and lose the game.  In a basketball game where the better team can get 40 or more chances to score, they will miss some but score most of them so will probably win the game.

In football, as in all team sports, they are so many variables: skill, tactics, fitness, communication or lack of it, physical fitness and psychological frame of mind.  One leader on the pitch can lift heads when they are down.  One player having a bad day can affect the whole team. An official’s decision can change the result. The difference between a brilliant goal and a near miss can be a matter of inches; the woodwork got in the way of a Blues win in the second half against Wolves.

Fans who blame a loss on one person or one factor are over simplifying. For example, it is reasonable to say that Lee Clark’s choice of formation was a contributing factor in our loss but it would be going too far to say the loss was entirely his fault. It’s more complicated than that.

Fans influence games.  Fans who stay away help to create those gaps in the crowd that dampen the spirits of those who turn up.  Fans who jeer can undermine the confidence of players; fans who cheer can encourage them.  It’s interesting that our best performances this season have been at away games. I believe that the magnificent support of our travelling fans has helped the team to play well away from St Andrews. I’m afraid that our lack of support at home has not helped. So next time you are apportioning blame after a game, stop and ask yourself if any of it belongs to you.