Mark Thomas Lawrenson (born 2 June 1957 in Penwortham, Lancashire) was a key component in Liverpool’s greatest ever defence, but he has overshadowed that achievement by becoming one of football’s most universally unpopular pundits.
Lawrenson started his career at Preston but eventually arrived at Liverpool via Brighton in 1981. The dour defender’s signature coincided with a period of invincibility at Anfield and Lawrenson became half of English football’s meanest defensive partnership alongside the still dourer Alan Hansen. Liverpool won everything in the 1980s. Their supremacy was so complete that they only conceded six goals all decade. Lawrenson racked up five League titles, an FA Cup, a European Cup and three League Cups (when it was still a proper competition).
Republic of Ireland
Like so many thoroughly English men, Lawrenson opted to play for the Republic Of Ireland due to some distant relative. It was a costly decision, as Eire were pig shit during the 1980s while England were just pretty bad. The choice has also left Lawrenson permanently confused as to his nationality and he will refer to both England and the Republic of Ireland as ‘us’ – a habit that is particularly confusing when the two nations meet.
Not much at management
Lawro had a half-arsed crack at being a manager. It’s hard to imagine now, but he briefly led Oxford United and Peterborough United. He was no great shakes at management.
While working for the BBC, Lawrenson was given the role of defensive coach by Newcastle United when goal-loving Geordie idol Kevin Keegan was in charge. It was a divvy idea and it didn’t work.
These days Lawrenson is an increasingly haggard stalwart on BBC’s Match of the Day and Football Focus.
With his awful hair looking like a thatched cottage and his wrinkled face twisted in a permanent sneer, Lawrenson is the most sarcastic and abrasive of the BBC’s self-satisfied line-up.
Annoying things Lawrenson does:
- Like Alan Green, he will write off games, and indeed tournaments, after a matter of minutes. Lawrenson dismissed the 2007 FA Cup Final after just 19 seconds as ‘a waste of time’. This proved to be correct, but the situation wasn’t helped by inflicting 89 minutes of sighs and sarcastic comments on the viewers, who were already suffering enough as Chelsea and Manchester United conspired to turn the season’s climax into a soporific non-event.
- Lawro has far too many set-pieces that he will use when he’s on duty as a summariser. If the commentator in any way stumbles over a name, Lawro will immediately interject with ‘easy for you to say’. If the commentator describes a ‘speculative effort’ he will often spit ‘that’s one word for it.’ It’s awful, amateurish stuff.
- If he’s in a bad mood Lawrenson will spend a full 90 minutes belittling the commentator by disagreeing with everything he says. John Motson was reduced to tears on several occasions during the 2002 World Cup and insisted on having a relationship councilor present for the latter stages of the competition after tearily sniffing his way through Cameroon v Ireland.
- He begins far too many sentences with ‘I tell you what…’
- Most seasons Lawro will make a silly little bet with a ‘forfeit’ and presume the viewers are interested. For example in 2003 he bet that Sam Allardyce's Bolton would be relegated and pledged to shave off his moustache if they weren’t. They weren’t, he shaved it off, but nobody gave a flying fuck.
- Lawrenson provided some truly miserable commentary for Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. It made John Barnes’ Football Night look like an Oscar winning performance.
Stupid things Lawrenson says:
Over the years Lawrenson has produced more than his fair share of howlers. Things Lawro has said include:
- “If anyone can get Newcastle out of trouble, it’s Alan Shearer. He’s got no experience of management.”
- "Michael Owen isn’t the tallest of lads, but his height more than makes up for that.”
- “It's sometimes easier to defend a one goal lead than a two goal lead.”
- “These managers all know their onions and cut their cloth accordingly.”
- “To be a great game, one of the teams has to score first.”
- “There won't be a dry house in the place.”
- “Gary Neville was palpable for the second goal.”
- “The number of chances they had before the goal they missed...”
- “Fulham needed those three points because they were slowly sinking towards the bottom very quickly.”
- “He calls himself a keeper? He couldn't keep bees.”