Mark Lawrenson says ‘it is all good fun’ getting stick off West Ham supporters for repeatedly predicting their side will lose, so as Newcastle fans we are not alone…
When the BBC pundit does his weekly predictions he very rarely selects Newcastle to win either.
Mark Lawrenson says he has been pleasantly surprised as West Ham have bounced back to be real top six/top four contenders, their midweek win at Bournemouth taking them above Manchester United into fifth place.
Lawrenson thought the Hammers would fall away just as they did last season under Sam Allardyce but he was missing two crucial factors – West Ham have a far superior manager now in Slaven Bilic, whilst in the returning from injury Dimitri Payet, they have a class player who has taken them to another level when he plays.
Payet started his first Premier League game for two months when he scored and made another in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth, plus he scored and ran the game when the Hammers comfortably beat Newcastle in September.
Hopefully the addition of the likes of Shelvey and Saivet can finally make the centre of Newcastle’s midfield more competitive and diminish Payet’s influence.
As for Newcastle, Mark Lawrenson believes recent games have seen Steve McClaren find a formula to ‘get a response from his players’ but that response clearly has to turn into wins, sooner rather than later.
As for the outcome on Saturday, Lawrenson has gone for a 1-1 draw which would arguably be of little use to Newcastle as they have only seven home games remaining after this one, plus a tough set of fixtures coming up.
All points gratefully accepted though when you are at the bottom.
Mark Lawrenson speaking to BBC Sport:
“After the stick I’ve been getting from West Ham fans over my predictions, I should probably go for them to win 8-0.
“In the past few seasons I have annoyed Southampton and Swansea fans by tipping them to lose, but I have never had supporters chanting my name over a prediction before, like the Hammers fans were doing at the end of their win at Bournemouth on Tuesday.
“It is all good fun and I am really pleased they have continued to prove me wrong.
“I thought their results would fall away after their good start, much like they did under Sam Allardyce last season, but they have picked up after a wobble where they did not win for eight games from the end of October.
“I thought they would slip down the table but instead they have won their past four games in the league and FA Cup, and I have to take my hat off to them.
“Newcastle were a bit unlucky not to get a draw at Watford in the FA Cup and stuck at it to pick up a point against Manchester United on Tuesday, so it seems Magpies boss Steve McClaren has found a way to get a response from his players after their poor form over Christmas.
“Taking all of that into consideration, probably the only way I can upset anybody this time is by saying it is going to be a draw, so that is what I’m going for.”