By Tony Attwood
We have been told by many correspondents that it is quite possible to measure the success of Arsenal’s transfer window activity. You know the old story. Arsenal scored two goals fewer than Chelsea last season, and that is why we didn’t win the league, so we need to buy a new goal scorer.
Even saying it like that you can see it is rubbish. Goal scoring was not the problem last season. But still it is said that it was, over and over and over and… ok you get the idea.
I am currently writing a rather long piece, or as it will be, a couple of pieces, about how TV and the press, manipulate the way people think about football, to protect their own audience figures. This has nothing to do with what actually happens in a match, but rather, how it is presented, and the definition by the media of what they want people to think is important.
So we have been told that Arsenal needs a new centre forward, and that the fact that the goalscoring difference between ourselves and the champions is not worth mentioning.
And we are told that transfers are important, because this is what the press talks about all day and night – and they do that because the story is free. Make up the name of an Spanish newspaper, make up the name of a correspondent, make up a transfer that the correspondent (who doesn’t exist) writes about in a newspaper (that doesn’t exist) and suddenly the transfer is on – and if it isn’t it is because Arsenal are to blame.
That’s the essence of the piece I am working on (so if that sounds as boring as hell you’ll know to avoid it when it pops up on screen).
But while writing it I began to think, what about every other club? How does their investment in new players turn into points in the league.
In the theory that transfer activity is the key thing, if we took the cost of the squad (as kindly worked out for us by Talk Sport, so it needs to be taken with a pinch of sprout but actually isn’t too far off the figures that other people have worked out) that should tell us the league position.
Because transfers are everything. The more you buy, the higher up the league you will be, right?
So I’ve listed the details – where the clubs are in the spending table (column 3), their league position after four games, how far off the place they should be they actually are (the “Deficit” column) and the number of points scored.
This should tell us if it is true that transfers are everything. We already know we can say a lot about the league table after four games, in terms of who should be sacked because the media and their allies on the blogettas were doing this after three games. So that side of the evidence is valid.
Right, let’s have a look.
Here is the table.
|Club||Team cost||Spend pos||League pos||Deficit||Points|
Now we know that no club in the Premier League has been winning more league games this calendar year than Arsenal. But clearly this is not a valid statistic because no one mentions it, and instead people focus on this season. So four games it is.
If spending on players was a direct line to success then the spend position should be equal to the league position. Chelsea spent £100m more than Arsenal so should have quite a few more points than Arsenal.
But everyone apart from Man C is achieving a lower position in the league than their spend position predicts. Why is that? Of course the theory that spending money brings success can’t be wrong, so it must be our figures.
However while we are working out where we have gone wrong, do have a look at the table.
Chelsea and Tottenham are doing worst, both 10 places below where they should be in the league. Arsenal are closest to their position predicted by their spend, other than Man C.
So maybe we can’t predict how well a team is going to do after four games (even though the press told us that this was possible after three games).
Or maybe we can’t predict how well a team is going to do, based on how much it spends.
Or maybe both.
Confusing isn’t it?
From the anniversary files on the home page
- 9 September 1981: Norway 2 England 1 in the World Cup stunned the nation leading Norwegian journalist Bjørge Lillelien to say, “Your boys took a hell of a beating” which became internationally famous. Sadly Bjørge died in 1987 aged 60 from cancer.
- 9 September 1987: Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong was born in Cameroon. One of 28 children, at 16 he moved to France and signed for Bastia becoming part of the team after one season, and was selected for France Under 16s.
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal