Why are some clubs so unsuccessful. Chairmen and journalists are ignorant




By Tony Attwood

In part one of this series (linked above) we gave three reasons why, if the factors of how to build a successful team are known, so many clubs simply seem to ignore the approach.  In that article the three points we considered were that

  • Football is about power at every level.
  • Players are paid a huge amount of money but are not necessarily bright or co-operative in terms of how they should behave in their position.
  • Information about performance is not widely mentioned.

So now we move on…

4: Chairmen don’t necessarily know about football, but they are used to getting their own way – just like players and managers.

Players and managers who are asked to join a Premier League club are undoubtedly used to getting their own way as many move up from less successful clubs or lower league clubs, or indeed clubs in countries other than England.

But at the same time, Chairmen (or those who act like chairmen) in Premier League clubs are equally used to getting their own way.  Which is why so often when a new manager joins a club there is a clash rather than a case of the new man hitting the ground running.

Wenger and Arteta are examples of managers who did indeed hit the ground running, and in both cases it has been clear that they were very familiar with the club and its players.  In Wenger’s case that was because he was familiar with all of football, as witness the fact that while he was still in Japan seeing out his contract, he told Arsenal to buy Vieira.  Indeed when Vieira came on for his first appearance as a substitute, Wenger was still in Japan, and was directing the Arsenal actions on the phone.

I was at that first Vieira game and still remember the incredible impact the utterly unknown Vieira made on coming onto the pitch.  (My suspicion has always been that Wenger gave Vieira’s his instructions in French on the phone, by-passing Pat Rice, as Vieira, on arriving in the centre of defensive midfield could clearly be seen to be giving instructions to the rest of the defence on where they should play.

Now obviously David Dein was also there helping to run the show, as he makes clear in his autobiography, so everything was in place for a successful takeover by the new manager who already spoke fluent English.  But it reality it rarely happens like this.  

Quite often managers arrive without a knowledge of the club, and its players, and quite often it seems without the knowledge of how English football works in terms of media activities, refereeing, etc.  And because the media and directors are often unaware of what concerns the fans, they can get their relationship with the fans wrong too.

5: Journalists certainly don’t know – but have to pretend that they know

And we might add to that headline, directors try to suck up to journalists, pretending to be a source of knowledge even when they are not, because they want to be seen as being important.

This must make life incredibly difficult for clubs because they are bombarded daily with statements in the media about things that are happening to their club, which are utterly untrue, but which are often believed by fans, and sometimes may have been red to the media by out of touch directors, disgruntled plaers etc.  Arsenal, we are often told, could often buy players x y and z who would solve all their on-field problems, but are too slow or try to get a lower price, and so miss out on the player.  Such stories as we saw last summer, at 97% untrue.

That sort of situation does not arise in most other businesses.   Indeed the only disputes I can remember in my time running a plc were about details within the VAT Act.   It turned out that Revenue and Customs were employing young graduates who didn’t know the rules, and so the battle was fought, and we won each time.  But Revenue and Customs would not give up – they fought the same case with different examples three times over a 20 year period.  So maybe ignorance or stupidity at the top of an organization is more common than is generally imagined.

The series continues…

2 Replies to “Why are some clubs so unsuccessful. Chairmen and journalists are ignorant”

  1. Tony,
    I agree that chairmen and/or others running football clubs very often don’t know much about football. Isn’t their area of expertise, is it? The smart ones hire football people to run the football side. The rest persist in thinking they know something about football. I’m looking at you Daniel Levy.
    I’m going to do something I rarely do, along with most Arsenal supporters. Compliment Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. They’ve brought in Edu, and Arteta to run the club. Given them quite the pile to spend as well. The results thus far as obvious.
    As a sports holding company they’ve done quite well recently with this model. Their Los Angeles Rams football team recently won the Super Bowl and Denver Nuggets won the championship of the NBA just a couple of nights ago. The Kroenkes stay out of the sport side of things while growing their portfolio.
    Their teams have won 4 trophies in the last 18 months. 4 trophies in 4 different sports using the same model. Arsenal may be the next Kroenke Sports & Entertainment team to win a championship. They are set up to succeed.
    Man. City is formidable but perhaps fatigue and a few injuries (I don’t actually want anyone to get injured, it just happens) might cause them to slip a bit, This Arsenal team is young and hasn’t peaked. They can still grow. COYG!!!

  2. goonersince72

    “I’m going to do something I rarely do, along with most Arsenal supporters. Compliment Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. They’ve brought in Edu, and Arteta to run the club. Given them quite the pile to spend as well. The results thus far as obvious.”

    In that you are correct, but there were some of us who had much more faith in them than others. I have posted on here quite a few times my support. The following are extracts from an article back in may 2021 where I did just that. They have always struck me as decent owners that know what they are doing.

    I’m quite proud to say that I could see it a long time ago. Why others couldn’t is for them to ponder.

    Anyway here’s a couple of examples of how I expressed my support for them over 2 years ago:

    “As for our own Club and the owners. Now I’m not saying they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Untold has pointed out many a fault in the way they have dealt with certain situations at the club, so I get how they have upset fans at times. But regarding the self financing model they operate, it is exactly what they said would be in place way back when the Emirates was first built. They have never changed their position on this since day one.

    It is a model I agreed with then. It is a model I agree with now. I absolutely understand and accept the restraints it puts on us as a team when it comes to competing for titles, and I accept it without hesitation. For years I have said I give zero credibility to anything achieved by Chelsea or Man City because if the money pumped into those clubs had been pumped into say Everton and Aston Villa instead, (NB: For that, now read Newcastle of course) it would be those 2 clubs, along with Man Utd, that would of been winning around 75% of all the domestic trophies over the last 15 years, and not them.”

    “As for today. Yes prices are high but it’s a business. A very expensive business. You have seen how much these players cost and get paid haven’t you ? Either way you don’t have to go, buy a shirt or eat one of their pies, not yet anyway, but that’s another story.

    But that’s the point isn’t it. Fans want all that. They want the best players. They want to win trophies. But they don’t like paying for it. No, they don’t want the owners to just be that, owners. Not even good ones. No they want THEM to pay for everything as well.

    As I say, it ain’t going to happen, and thank god for that.

    As far as I can see it’s the tv companies, the PGMO, the FA and the lying, complicit media that are taking the p***, not our owners.

    No they’re not perfect but personally I think they do okay.”

    So that is what I had to say about our owners 2 years ago, and I had said similar many times before, and I stand by every word today.


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