By Tony Attwood
The Telegraph, now in its hour of desperation at seeing the Tinies demise, quickly got Arry the Red on the blower, and out of his vague ramblings concocted this headline today…
Arsenal are lucky to finish second – they need to spend this summer to get anywhere near Spurs
Here’s what they say.
Pocchettino’s late-season slumps are nothing new. The same pattern has occurred in all but two of his eight seasons in management. Put it down to fatigue from a fast-pressing style inherited from Marcelo Bielsa, blame it on a failure of mental fortitude, but the unavoidable truth is this: Pochettino, once hailed as Tottenham’s redeemer, is in fact even ‘Spursier’ than Spurs…
Pocchettino’s appointment catalysed Espanyol’s transformation from relegation candidates to mid-table stalwarts, starting with a 2-1 win over Barcelona. But as his tenure continued, a pattern began to emerge of weaker finishes each season.
They go on to point out how after a run with Southampton taking them to third, they dipped down.
They then go on to talk about how…
A small dip at the end of last season went unnoticed, but the decline this time around has been far more dramatic. Pocchettino’s young squad, built around tyros like Harry Kane and Dele Alli at the expense of older rejects like Roberto Soldado, flopped at the last. Draw with West Brom and Chelsea were followed by a loss to Southampton, who, under new manager Ronald Koeman, finished the season in fine form. Still, all they had to do was avoid defeat at Newcastle.
Now this is all most amusing in the aftermath of St Tot’s Day but we should not really read too much into this. After all this sort of thing is what Arry and all his aaa followers say – Arsenal / Wenger always flop at certain times, bottle it, can’t attack, can’t defend, can’t go a whole season…
But there is something else that I hadn’t quite grasped. Tottenham also dropped 20 points from winning positions. But they are fighters. Nine players booked against Chelsea was an all time record for the Premier League. And there is another point. Tottenham got 70 points, two less than in 2012/13 when they came fifth. This century’s points totals for the Tinies makes interesting reading….
Now the table above shows the history of Tottenham in this century and the points for Arsenal year by year in the last column. You can see that in the last four seasons twice the difference has been one point and once the difference was 11, and once ten. Go back through the years and once the difference was 45 – that year Arsenal got twice the number of points of the terribly tiny totts.
So what did Match of the Day make of it? Here is the commentary among the “experts” (I use the word lightly) after the showing of Tottenham’s 5-1 defeat.
“Penalty was a dive, it kind of killed the game, it was a turning point, not a turning point, Newcastle played well, it was the end of the game for Spurs, I hate seeing that…”
The meaning of this is hard to disentangle (I promise I did take this down word for word), but in essence I think the argument is that Newcastle cheated although evidence to this effect is missing.
To do his regular bit of showing, in an utterly unconvincing manner that he is not biased, Lineker then asks one of his hapless experts, “What about Spurs capitulation over the last few games of the season, was it inexperience a little bit?”
To which we get this reply…
“Partly, disappointment, yeah I also think when you lose Demebele and Alli, in the middle of midfield you lose the legs you lose the power, the stat alone shows the win percentages when those two don’t play what and I think they have been a big miss, but in other games as well I remember watching the game at West Ham but overall lets get to the bottom of it, Tottenham supporters must be overjoyed they’ve got themselves in the champions league and they’ve now got a brilliant young squad.”
To which Lineker nods sagely and says, “The future is bright despite today,” and they all nod.
Now what is interesting here is that after the game of the extraordinarily tiny Totts they showed the Arsenal game, and the commentator pointed out that this was Jack’s first start of the season, and Santi’s first since November. And yet no one on the show picks up that just as the Tinies have lost players of importance, so have Arsenal. So has every team. The implication is that it just happened to the Tinies, and is their absolute, utter and total excuse. I suspect that is the media story this year, but in fact that is a total media falsehood.
So in the closing moments of the “debate” (of course it wasn’t, it was Arsenal bashing, but let’s call it a debate,) the question is put,
“Is that enough to placate the Wenger critics?”
to which comes the reply.
“No I will repeat what I said last year and the year before that they’ve got ability yes but they lack heart and a tough mentality.”
Now this is in response to a situation in which apparently Tottenham conceded a penalty “which was a dive” and then collapsed to 5-1. But Arsenal lack “heart and a tough mentality”.
Let us not forget that all the very very very tiny totts had to do was get a draw, and we were gone down to third place, but the team with no heart and no tough mentality, won 4-0 while the tinies were suckered by a penalty call.
This is, by any reasonable judgement, insanity. It calls on the curse of injuries (next we know they’ll be saying Tottenham get more than anyone else), and praises the Tinies mentality and heart in coming third, and throwing it all away at the last.
It is the sort of gibberish which has no recourse anywhere to any evidence or logical deduction, which I have been fighting all season to try and stop in the commentary section on this site. Indeed were and Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer and their expert poodle to comment on Untold, we would probably put them into permanent moderation, and warn them that if they were to comment again they would need to put a bit of evidence into what they are saying or else they would be banned for life.
Indeed the situation is clear. The BBC’s leading commentators are not coherent or logical enough or evidence based enough to comment on Untold, but they are the lead commentators on the BBC. In fact I suspect that if I watched the programme again, I’d find that Arsenal were relegated and Tottenham came second this season.
So perhaps we should just go back to the Telegraph’s analysis of the manager’s inability to manage the run to the end of the season. Mental fortitude wasn’t it?
But don’t tell the BBC. They’ll only get Savage in to say “Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic.
- HINDSIGHT OR BLINDSIGHT
- Savage calls Arsenal fan “pathetic, pathetic, pathetic” on radio for celebrating victory.
- guess what…?
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood set around Arsenal FC in 1910.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page