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Wright and Shearer lose the thread, Wright apologises, but neither really gets it

By Tony Attwood

Context, logic, breadth of analysis, overview and detail, evidence…  the sort of things I learned when studying science and the scientific method, and then later psychology.  I wasn’t a particularly brilliant student, and certainly not a brilliant scientist, but I think I got the thread.  You know things by gathering evidence, making hypotheses, and then testing them out.  From that you get a theory.

I know I bang on about it over and over, bore people stupid, give up, start again, and nothing much changes.  Day after day we get the comments that “You clearly think that” (from people who have no access to the inner workings of my brain thankfully) or as we have yesterday, the accusation that I had no interest in what the media had to say (which really made me laugh – which is not what I should be doing with the sort of heavy cold I have at the moment. I started me coughing and I took five minutes to recover).

To me it seems that day to day football journalists and pundits just say any old thing they like, and then demand to be taken seriously, and it is the second part of this that particularly frustrates me.   These people give personal opinions, some of which can be seen to be true, some of which are palpably untrue, and almost all of which is just opinion which can’t be proven or disproved.  That’s fine, if that’s what they want to do but they should never then expect to be taken seriously as analysts.

In the latest furore Ian Wright (who I am told by people who have met him and spent time with him is a thoroughly likeable and decent chap) wrote “Why am I seeing so much blame being attached to MOTD pundits about Arsenal not getting credit for 33 shots and 70 odd % possession! What are we supposed to say about 5 players rushing to close down Pogba, leaving Valencia free? Just asking. Maybe the refs fault.”

That last sentence, as you might know if you are a regular reader of correspondence on Untold, is a phrase adopted consistently by those who oppose Untold’s view, but who lack the wit or wisdom to construct viable logical arguments against our position.   It’s a throwaway line of the type that script writers who are running out of time in writing TV dramas throw in, in a desperate attempt to fill up another two seconds.  “So it’s all my fault is it?” she screams at him, and he says, “No, what I am saying is…” and she says “Just shut up for once will you?”

(I know that is sexist writing the he and she that way around but that’s how these writers – mostly male – do it).

Reducing a complex debate to a phrase never helps clarify anything, especially when the phrase is deliberately a misrepresentation of the proponent’s position.  It serves only to heighten tension.

Ian Wright did have the sense and decency to apologise, heightening once again the notion that he is actually a reasonable bloke who just gets carried away – which of course is how he makes his money as a broadcaster.  “As a player I wore my heart on my sleeve & that hasn’t changed as an ex-player. I apologise unreservedly for my unfair comments which I made in anger after receiving an untold amount of stick.”

Shearer was far less able to cope however, writing, “This is my last word on #ARSMNU. It’s pretty simple. 33 shots & 1 goal is a terrible return. Your forwards were not good enough. Conceded 3 goals at home. Your defence & keeper had a very bad day. Still you’re saying how great @Arsenal were. Do me a favour man! No bias. Fact.”

But the reality remains that reducing complex issues to a handful of words never brings light to a discussion.  What’s more, it is generally impossible to work outwards from a single example and get a viable theory.  Three facts and a number of opinions are not very illuminating Mr Shearer, although your inability to see that this is what you have offered, is quite illuminating.

However although it is not part of the scientific analysis, the fact that the phrase “Maybe the ref’s fault” and variations upon that has become such a major part of the “argument” against analysing refereeing in depth, is just one more tiny suggestion that we are on the right track.  In my experience people only resort to silly little phrases like that when they are totally lacking in evidence and the other side is getting close to the truth.

What perhaps is the most interesting element in all this is that Shearer reacted so strongly.  It suggests (nothing more – it just suggests) a man isolated in a bubble, removed from the everyday world of his audience.  And that is not how it should be for a man preaching his version of reality.

I am encouraged by the emotional reaction of broadcasters against analyses of football at all levels.  Not just the silly “Maybe the ref’s fault,” but also Shearer’s reaction and recently Jeff Spelling screaming abuse at the notion of expected goals, rather than engage in any form of logical analysis.  It suggests to me that logic and analysis is leading us closer to an uncomfortable truth concerning what is going on in football, because in my experience that is when we start seeing more hyperbole and emotion from the other side.

Logic and reasoned analysis always ultimately leads to the truth, and those who oppose it (the flat earthers, the believers in dragons and the lack) always end up becoming more and more frantic in the pursuit of their beliefs.

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13 comments to Wright and Shearer lose the thread, Wright apologises, but neither really gets it

  • Chris

    Tony,

    do not forget that we live in a world where in what many see the most evolved country in the world has part of it’s people and elite clamouring that that chap Darwin was a nutcase and the world was created out of the blue 5000 BC. They have universities teaching that and laws making sure it is required to teach that. Their elites are thus being brought up to ‘un-believe’ science. No wonder they do not believe that climate change is a fact. And someone cannot be guilty if he/she says : I did not do it – who needs a judicial system after all ?

    Other countries are bringing their elites up in considering humans as merchandise and human rights as a failed/bad/please-forget-it idea introduced by some french revolutionaries 200 and some years ago.

    So in this context, what we are witnessing in terms of behaviour around what many would call a frivolous activity/spectacle is just a reflexion of our times.

    Elites are tweaking the system so they win, referees are tweaking the rules so a specific team does not win, fans just hope that their team will profit, and all who do profit from this perverted system (because they are actors in it and get their minutes of fame and figures in the back account) just want it to keep going.

    Just keep at it, at some point this is all going to explode.

  • colario

    OT
    One billion pounds just to grow potatoes! (spuds in football terms and England English)
    http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/12/04/spurs-new-stadium-costs-top-1bn-expensive-ever-uk/

  • Jax

    I didn’t know Wrighty had apologised. Good for him. Lineker was also involved in his typical smug manner.
    Surely people who have Twitter & Facebook accounts (and to a lesser extent comment on blogs) can’t complain when people want to have an exchange. It’s what social media’s all about.

  • Tony,
    Your perspective is spot on. Getting off that gravy train is going to be heart wrenching for many of them and the more the shenanigans of the ‘Oink’Mob gets exposed the more desperate they’ll get to keep that train on track. This is not time to let up

  • WalterBroeckx

    I watched MOTD for once and I couldn’t stop laughing when Shearer said: MU was too good going forward for Arsenal. In fact 2 goals were completely gifted by Arsenal defenders from being under no real pressure. Shit happens and it was big shit in a few minutes time.
    But to underline his statement Shearer showed…. the 3 goals again. As that was almost all MU had to show.

    Now I might be a stupid foreigner of course but I really can’t understand if MU was sooooooooo good at going forward then why was there not even a handful of oh soooooo great attacking to see? MU finished on around 75 % of their chances. Yes that is great finishing. But if a team was so great and good in attack then I would expect them to attack a bit more than MU did.

    But the good thing is that I again know why I don’t watch MOTD any more. Clattenburgs slip confirms my decision to no longer watch the PL. I only watch matches of Arsenal, a bit of Bundesliga. And who knows I might even start watching Italian football…. have you seen that pig fly???

  • Gord

    Shearer has headed the ball too many times.

  • Gord

    When you search for news to read, you should send a message at the same time. For example, if you hate the attitude of the BBC and the Telegraph, you could search for something like:

    _football arsenal -bbc -telegraph

    If enough people do this, eventually the BBC and/or Telegraph will realize that people are deliberately avoiding their websites. Then it is up to them to change or not.

  • Gord

    OT: Positive change from the north?

    https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/sport/football/blackpool-fc/fylde-coast-councils-leading-the-way-for-football-reform-1-8893644

    I hadn’t seen anything like this article. I wonder how widespread this is?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    She said / he said – a perseptive –

    A woman gets cheated on by her husband.

    Devastated, she doesn’t know how to continue to live her life. She hears that there’s a very wise monk who lives up in a mountain, and decides to go there to consult him.

    After few days of traveling, walking, climbing, she reaches the top and meets the wise monk.

    “I have spent my whole life with him, my youth was dedicated to support him, take care of him. And now he has left me for a young woman. My life is stolen, and I’m left with nothing. I don’t know what to do”.

    The monk gives her a cookie and asks her to eat it. After she finishes eating, he asks: “Was the cookie delicious?” “Yes”- she answers. “Do you want another one?” “Sure, please”. The monk looks her in the eye and says “Do you see the problem now?”

    The woman thinks for a while, and then slowly speaks. “I guess human nature is greedy. You got one, then you want more, maybe a new one, bigger one. It’s never enough. And nothing lasts forever, everything is impermanence. We should be aware and not disappointed by that”.

    The monk shakes his head. “No, I mean you are too fat, you should eat less.”

    Not all posts have a spiritual lesson . Some are just meant to see thev funny side of life !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry ….perspective ..

  • Gord

    OT: Institutional Racism in Football

    RFI (other places?) has an article about the possibilities of becoming a manager or coach in football if you are not Caucasian.

    http://en.rfi.fr/sports/20171205-lack-black-managers-proof-football-institutionally-racist

    No mention of the institutional racism in officiating in the article.

  • Andy Mack

    Wrighty may be a very decent guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s clever enough to understand anything more about football than the fans in the stand (and we know many of them don’t have a clue about football tactics), apart from possibly knowing the skills of being a top striker. Even then he may not understand the reasons he was a top striker, it may just have been an innate talent, in the same way a number of top musicians can’t read music but can play by ear.
    As for Shearer, he proved that he has little understanding of the game from his brief time in management…
    Really, anyone that believes a word the pundits say should immediately be banned from ever watching football ever again.
    They do occasionally get things right, but that works on the same basis as the ‘1,000 monkeys in a room with 1,000 typewriters will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare’ theory, i.e. if you keep saying words, one day you’ll come up with a sentence that makes sense…

  • para

    Gord “Shearer has headed the ball too many times.” 🙂

    Chris
    ” elite clamouring that that chap Darwin was a nutcase and the world was created out of the blue 5000 BC”

    I understand that the elite funded and projected Darwin’s nonsense.
    I understand that the “world(people)” have been here long before 5000 BCE at least Man was, but Mankind(a sort of man, (i.e. hybrids)) were not.

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