By Tony Attwood
Most people who watch Premier League matches do so on TV – and the TV companies make much of this. Back in the early part of the 21st century Man U v Arsenal games were hyped as the “most watched on the planet” and Sky spoke of global audience of 1 billion.
Of course the numbers are fantasy and the fact that the talk of Liverpool! v Mourinho U being the biggest game on the planet with an audience of 900m in the Telegraph doesn’t mean numbers are down. They are all made up anyway.
But because the majority of people watching the PL watch via TV, how the media presents the games is important, and clearly has a huge impact on how newspapers, blogs and bloggettas then report the game and how those not at the match feel the game has gone.
This struck me with the Swansea match, for having watched it in the Ems, last night (having got utterly bored with Liverpool and Man U) I turn the live game off and watched the recording of the game which Sky show for Saturday matches at 10pm that evening.
What struck me in watching the hour long showing was that there was only one off side event shown, and no commentary on the fact that there were a lot of offsides. Indeed I wished I counted them. There was also considerable booing as offside after offside was waved – and I wasn’t really sure all of them were right.
Of course the TV companies would argue that offsides are boring so why show them – I would argue, because it was an inherent part of the game and there were so many of them. It is Swansea’s new tactic. And Swansea through using them, are boring.
So as far as I can see anyone who used that TV programme as a way of getting a feel for the game would be thoroughly misled.
I thought of this again as I turned back to the Monday night game – played on Monday night because it involved two teams that have in the past year have proved themselves (again) not to be good enough to be in the Champions League. A strange recipe for the biggest game on the planet. Presumably bigger than the Champs League final then.
But watching the opening, and then the end I had a real déjà vu experience, and realised that I too had been wound up by the hype. I was watching this in the expectation of excitement, but I know full well (because I know a little of football history and stats – especially the stats that the media like to hide) that much of the time games between these two are games with only one or two goals in them.
The media made much at the end (by way of excuse) that you had to go back to Mediaeval times to fine the last 0-0 between these two, but failed to mention that four of the last nine games involving them have ended up with neither side getting more than one goal. Now with this result it is five out of ten.
Here’s the list
|01 Sep 2013||Liverpool v Manchester United||1-0||Premier League|
|25 Sep 2013||Manchester United v Liverpool||1-0||League Cup|
|16 Mar 2014||Manchester United v Liverpool||0-3||Premier League|
|14 Dec 2014||Manchester United v Liverpool||3-0||Premier League|
|22 Mar 2015||Liverpool v Manchester United||1-2||Premier League|
|12 Sep 2015||Manchester United v Liverpool||3-1||Premier League|
|17 Jan 2016||Liverpool v Manchester United||0-1||Premier League|
|10 Mar 2016||Liverpool v Manchester United||2-0||UEFA Europa League|
|17 Mar 2016||Manchester United v Liverpool||1-1||UEFA Europa League|
|17 Oct 2016||Liverpool v Manchester United||0-0||Premier League|
Want a prediction for this match? Only one goal.
The game did have another interesting stat – in terms of possession Mourinho United had the lowest percentage (35% possession) in a PL game since 2003. Quite possibly earlier – we only have statistics from 2003.
There were four shots on target in the entire game, again making this probably the most boring PL game in a number of years. Mourinho said after, “How many shots on target did Liverpool have on target today? Two. Two shots on target with 65% of possession, you have to be critical of Liverpool. It is their problem, not our problem.” Actually they had three. Man U had one. I think that is both team’s problem – and Sky’s.
- Lost to Man City
- Lost to Watford
- Won against Leicester
- Drew with Stoke
- Drew with Liverpool
Even Sky’s website had a problem of what to say and eventually came up with
- De Gea makes two fine saves
- Zlatan misses best Man Utd chance
The Sun called it a “drab night at Anfield” while the BBC called it a “a goalless and uneventful stalemate on a disappointing night at Anfield.”
Of course Mourinho is always the great fantasist (he probably he still thinks he did nothing wrong vis a vis Eva Carneiro) and some of the papers lap this up as in “Mourinho hails Man Utd players for controlled performance: We were always comfortable” (Daily Express).
In the end it took the New York Times to tell it as it is:
An Anticipated Meeting Between Manchester United and Liverpool Falls Flat
|3||The Tiny Totts||8||5||3||0||13||4||9||18|
Recent tales from Untold and the Arsenal History Society