10 Myths about Football that need to be questioned……Don McMahon
In this interminable hiatus between Arsenal’s FA Cup supremacy and our new season expectations, I felt that an article touching on the pseudo-reality some media and fanboys propose as the ‘ truth’ would be insightful. I will try and refrain when possible, from using AFC as an example in disproving the aforementioned myths about Football.
Myth 1 : It all evens out in the end
This little gem of counter-intuitive naivete is often mentioned by the media, the PGMOL and many supposed football ‘ experts’ and pundits as being assured and irreproachable. According to the believers in this myth, over a season, the impact of avoidable and highly controversial events tend to flatten out and reach an equitable balance, where the negatives and positives have little to no effect on Football outcomes.
My argument : Just ask Chelsea about their CL experience with this phenomena and a certain Swedish referee. Ask Mexico how this worked out for them in the last WC with a certain Japanese official. There are countless and irrefutable incidents and events where it DIDN’T work out or balance in the end……so this is clearly BS.
Myth 2 : When you make it to the top in EPL officiating, you are the best there is in the UK.
Here we have something that seems to be almost comical in its ubiquitousness and persistence. The PGMOL perpetuate this myth with such blinkered fervor and passion and the media willingly swallow this offal that even knowledgeable Football followers are hesitant to maintain an alternate opinion. As well the FA does not permit criticism or public debate of their officials.
My argument : Having been at the national level in my country and having officiated top level games in North America, I can assure you from first-hand experience that this is not TRUE. Yes, there are many fine officials at the top level BUT there is so much politicking and ass-kissing required to reach the top that far too many officials have sold their souls and ethics for ‘ success’. Walter’s referee reviews show almost the opposite picture…so this myth is clearly busted.
Myth 3 : FIFA cares about Football
Most of us used to blieve this at one time in our lives and until recently, so did the world media.
My argument : Since Haveland, it has become frightingly obvious that FIFA is an old boys cabal where corruption, graft, influence-peddling and criminal activity are a daily occurrence. The FBI and Swiss police have barely touched the surface but have caused a president to resign and have arrested top officials and administrators….proving once and for all that FIFA cares about $$$ and Football comes a very distant second.
Myth 4 : A player who leaves one club for another in order to further his career, make more money or win something is a traitor.
Watching Chelsea fans unravel when posting twitter and facebook comments about his ‘rumoured’ transfer from Chelsea to Arsenal, as well as Gooners reactions to RVP, Nasri and to a lesser degree Cesc’s departures promulgated this view and far too many fans bought into this crap.
My argument : Players careers are short and often brutal. Yes they make millions after taxes and often more millions from appearances, ads etc. But so what? They sign a contract and legally follow it until they can improve it or find greener fields elsewhere. They do exactly what every other employed person does….when offered a better job elsewhere for an improved salary or compensation package or a promotion or whatever, they consider it carefully and despite the unrealistic expectations of fans that loyalty should come before money, they react in the way that is best for them…..this isn’t treacherous but pragmatic.
Myth 5 : Buying the ‘ right’ player(s) can guarantee you success
Every football supporters’ website is replete with posts about who their team should transfer in or promote in order to win the league or the Cup or the CL, etc. There is a constant buzz just before and during the transfer windows about who is available (totally ignoring whether they actually ARE available) and who should be added to the squad to ‘ ensure’ success.
My argument : The whole is always greater than its parts and I have rarely seen a Club that could guarantee success by bring one or more players/managers into the club during the transfer window. The Spuds are a perfect case in point, as are Liverpool and City. People who don’t understand the complexities of Football tend to oversimplify the mechanisms needed to develop a successful team. A team could bring in Messi, Ronaldo, DeGea, Rooney, etc. and still there would be no guarantee that it would perform to expectations. Chemistry, managerial nous, personalities and many other factors make predicting success a risky business.
Myth 6 : Women will never play Football as well as men nor be as exciting to watch
I have seen countless comments and heard endless arguments about the gender gap in Football. As most coaches and administrators know, girls can play as well as boys up and until puberty in most instances. Once the male begins to develop an adult frame and fitness, they do surpass their female counterparts in speed, strength and aggressiveness for the most part. The chauvinists among us prefer it that way and hold tightly to the above myth.
My argument : I was one of the founders of women’s Football in my province and saw the discrepancy between men and women first hand, while officiating them and managing a woman’s club. What I saw in this current WC is that women play as skillfully as men, with no historionics or hysterical play-acting and with far more focus on the beautiful game rather than the showboating and spectacular egocentrism men so love. I personally have enjoyed watching the women play and am pleased to see that there are more female registrants than men worldwide.
Myth 7 : There is nothing special about making the CL every season
The media and many so-called supporters spout this meme when trying to justify their dissatisfaction or indifference to their own club’s failure to make the CL. Again our neighbours down the Seven sisters Road are a perpetual example of what I call the Thursday night syndrome. (Dr.Billy le chien can surely explain this syndrome). Perennial bridesmaids in the CL chase and often pipped at the post by us, they trot out this justification as if it were the truth and sufficient to excuse their failures.
My argument : The CL is supposed to be la creme de la creme of European club Football. For a while EPL Clubs seemed to have a stranglehold on the Champions League but not anymore apparently. Making this elite competition is a sign of prowess and Football pedigree that is shared by only the best clubs in their respective leagues. Being in it for 17 years running is in itself a magnificient feat, rivalled by very few clubs worldwide. If it was so unimportant and insignificant then why does every big EPL club want to win it?
Myth 8 : The UK Football scene is free of corruption and criminality and it is only them greasy foreigners who do this kind of thing
British media studiously avoid ANY mention of possible corruption in the FA, the EPL, the PGMOL, and until recently FIFA or EUFA. This myth that Britain is whiter than snow when it comes to criminal and corrupt pursuits is perpetuated by the media and supporters alike. As Tony often says, these partisans of sanctimony never ask the right questions. I wonder why?
My argument : The question that should be on everyone’s mind is as follows; why would Britain remain free of corruption and graft in Football when so many other nations and international organizations have been caught out in this web? What is it about the British character and traditions that permit such a blinkered worldview? Are you any better than everyone else in Football or in fact are you just better at hiding your heads in the sand?
Myth 9 : Success in Football is measured solely in terms of championships won, cups garnered, trophies and titles accumulated
Most football fans firmly believe this traditional viewpoint and far too many of our own supporters whine on about our ‘lack’ of trophies, etc. In other clubs it is equally common and of course the media LOVE to repeat endless chants about such and such a club failing to win anything once again. We, as modern Football supporters have bought into this illusion wholeheartedly.
My argument : Winning is always great. Winning our two FA Cups and the Charity shield were wonderful experiences. Losing sucks….and when we think of the Invincibles, and their trophies and honours, we become nostalgic and morose at the same time. However, that is the nature of competitions. Not everyone wins something. For some clubs avoiding relegation is a trophy. For some making the CL is a successful season. For some, playing beautiful and attractive Football, win, lose or draw is a noble objective among others. For some getting a new shiny stadium is true success. The list of criteria that represent success is endless and in my opinion, equally debatable.
Myth 10 : It is principally the manager’s fault if the team does poorly over a season
One of the most pervasive and ubiquitous beliefs present in modern Football and one that causes countless grief to managers and Clubs alike.
Who gets the boot when expectations of glory aren’t met by a club? Inevitably it is the manager. A fundamental part of being a manger is having prepared your luggage in advance. The media, some owners and most fans point the finger at the manager and occasionally his coaching team for their Club’s failures. Again it is the oversimplification of a complex situation and many owners are as guilty of this as anyone else. The work world seems to work on the same principle…blame the managers but never the owners.
My argument : There are certainly instances where the football manager is either incompetent, a fool or in the wrong place at the wrong time. Old ‘Arry is a case in point but we can also look at Moyes, Ancelotti, Dalgleish and others who were in actual fact pretty successful and then suddenly history. The complexity of a modern professional Club is such that the influence managers can have on the actual on field success is limited and often ephemeral. Where they seem to have more control, influence and impact is off the field. One thing for sure, we as supporters are very ill-placed to point a finger at any manager or coach, or even administrator of a professional club. The idea that because we pay good money to watch a Club, we deserve or are entitled to trophies and success is both ridiculously naive and out of touch with reality.