“Postecoglou and De Zerbi are the future and British football will be better for it”



By Tony Attwood

There was recently an article in the Daily Telegraph under the headline “Ange Postecoglou and Roberto De Zerbi are the future and British football will be better for it” which reads,

“A couple of hours after their magnificent bunfight of a match had finished, the group of Tottenham Hotspur fans at White Hart Lane station were still glowing in the result.

“That was proper Spurs,” one said. “We’re back to being who we should be.”

Obviously, the anonymous supporter was not talking about the season overall, [unless he really does think that fourth is Tottenham’s spiritual home] but presumably about this one match.  Which is ok in that Arsenal fans want to talk about their last match too.

But Tottenham’s results over their last five games are just two wins, two draws and a defeat.  Which is not bad, but compared to Arsenal with four wins and a defeat, it’s not so good.   And there is a point about goals scored: Arsenal have scored 16 goals in those five games,  Tottenham have scored nine.

But “Ange Postecoglou and Roberto De Zerbi are the future and British football will be better for it,” says the paper.

Postecoglou, we may note joined Tottenham in 2023, and Roberto De Zerbi joined Brighton the year before.  Which raises the question, why did it take Tottenham in particular, with its magnificent new stadium of which we read so much, so long to find him?  (Interestingly Wiki still has Ryan Mason as the top man).  Changing managers regularly, as we have seen before, tends to make life more difficult for a club, and although it can result in success eventually, it can also result in a lot of ups and downs along the way. 

And it can take a new manager a long time to sort out some of the problems.  Arteta certainly took a couple of years to get Arsenal moving (although he did win the FA Cup during that spell).

Meanwhile Tottenham we should note have let in 36 goals in the league this season – which is four more than Everton.   So on that basis the future of British football will be lots and lots of goals – although not always at the end you want.

Indeed in their last six league games Tottenham have conceded 12 goals  – two per game.  Whereas the three teams battling things out at the top of the league have each let in just around one per game.  (Arsenal and Liverpool slightly under, Manchester City slightly over).

Now you might think, just one extra goal a game – does that matter?

But in fact in every Premier League season except five the winning team has let in fewer goals than the number of games played.  The five exceptions were all in 38 game seasons and the number of goals conceded by the champion was 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45.   That is the goals against were 1.08 and 1.18 – still nothing like two or more.

As things stand the Premier League table reads


Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 24 16 6 2 55 23 32 54
2 Manchester City 23 16 4 3 56 25 31 52
3 Arsenal 24 16 4 4 53 22 31 52
4 Tottenham Hotspur 24 14 5 5 51 36 15 47


Now it is immediately self-evident that in terms of points Tottenham are five points behind the pack of three at the top.   But there is more to it than this, which the article did not delve into, for their defence has conceded 11 more than Manchester City and 14 more than Arsenal.   So their goal difference is half that of the top three.

But even more than this, while the top three are meeting the criteria of fewer than one goal against per game, Tottenham are on 1.5 goals a game against.   Now we must be fair and acknowledge that this is way better than the 1.66 goals against per game last season.  

However, looking beyond these numbers, what we really have here is a perfect example of “distraction journalism” of the type that Vikrant Dogra mentioned in a comment yesterday.  Ignore the main point and pick up on a bit of trivia – like two guys talking while waiting for a train on WHL station.

Indeed distraction journalism is exactly what we are being fed day by day – deliberately moving our thoughts away from interesting issues such as why some referees favour home wins, and others away wins, why some clubs are getting twice as many yellow cards as others, why Tottenham are fouled 52% more than Manchester United (according to referees).

And hese can be important points, for it was through following them we were able to expose the way the Leciester City were a few years ago allowed to tackle with impunity.  (A summary of the Leicester research is here).

Some of these questions we can guess the answers to (such as why Chelsea had got twice as many yellow cards as Arsenal this season) but still it would be nice to have a bit of analysis from the media.

But analysis is there none so it is up to us.  Why are Tottenham fouled 52% more than Manchester United: that will be one of our prime questions as we work through these issues.

9 Replies to ““Postecoglou and De Zerbi are the future and British football will be better for it””

  1. Why not forget about your obsession with Tottenham and enjoy Arsenal’s fantastic form. Why does an article praising two other teams annoy you so much that you want to write about it? Aren’t journalist allowed to write about other teams and games and praise managers for playing a certain brand of football. The two managers are the future as is Arteta, Pep, Alonso etc. Let’s hope no one writes an article praising Tottenham next week or you’ll need to write another pointless blog

  2. As Big Mal said. Naturally Angie has had more than six months to transform Spurs while Arteta has had a mere 3 yrs+ to work his magic at Arsenal so clearly Postecoglu has fallen way behind. Not sure why the Spurs blind hatred has extended to De Zerbi. He’s actually an interesting case, a manager picked to play the same way as the man he replaced rather than to change things as Angie has done. Of course if Alonso takes over at Liverpool it may turn out he’s the future of British football.

  3. Big Mal

    The question being asked is what have Spurs, or rather what have Postecoglou and De Zarbi done to get the telegraph to suggest THEY are ‘the future of British football’, specifically it seems when it comes to attacking football?

    Spurs are only equal 4th top scorers.

    Spurs are only 4th in the table.

    Spurs have only the 5th best Goal difference.

    Spurs are only 7th for expected goals.

    Spurs do not lead in a single attacking parameter. In fact nowhere near leading in most cases.

    Which again begs the question, why would a journalist make that claim when clearly there is no evidence to support it?

    You may be enjoying what you are watching at Spurs. That’s fine. But it’s subjective. You may dislike how Arsenal play. I love it. But again, it’s subjective. What isn’t subjective are those stats above, which clearly show Spurs are nowhere near the most attacking side in the Premier league.

    For a start Arteta is ahead of them in every single one of those parameters. Is he not ‘The future of British football’ then?

    Anyway, as I read it, it is not a pop at Spurs, but at the journalist for what he believes is “distraction journalism”.

    A form of journalism that makes often trivial, fictitious claims, at the expense of much more important issues, such as have been highlighted on this blog over many years.

    Talking of which, as you are here, on this Arsenal blog, why not take a look around at past articles which actually dig into a lot of the big issues regarding, not just British, but European and World football. They tackle subjects that these ‘Distraction journalists’ wont go near.

    One last point. I find it odd you criticize an Arsenal blog for commenting on Spurs, when you’re here on said blog commenting on Arsenal, as welcome as you are to do so?

    Surely you can see the irony?

  4. Nitram. You guys have got it so bad. You really did type all that. Stop obsessing about Tottenham and enjoy what’s going on in front of your eyes or just get some help. If a journalist thinks that 2 managers are the future what’s the problem. It doesn’t mean that Arteta isn’t. Btw who do you think I support?

  5. Jim White is an outstanding journalist and author. He has chosen to write an article praising two managers for the way they set their teams up and encourage them to play football. Someone has then written an article about why, in Tottenham’s case this is not true although there is no mention of Brighton which in theory suggests that in their case it is true. The writer of this blog has the audacity or arrogance to suggest that this isn’t in fact an interesting article about a game of football, but ‘distraction journalism’. It has simply been written to distract us from what we should really be discussing – whatever that is. So presumably no journalist can write an article about something as trivial as a game of football or share an opinion about 2 managers. If you re-read this blog and actually give some thought to it, it is one of the most ridiculous articles I have ever read. That’s why I commented. I was looking forward to reading some views about Arsenal’s scintillating performance against West Ham but I’m fed up with distraction journalism and will wait until someone writes about real issues like why Tottenham get fouled more than Manchester United and Chelsea get more yellow cards than Arsenal. Now they’re proper issues that Jim White should be writing about having watched Tottenham v Brighton. Why on earth would he watch Tottenham v Brighton and comment on the game and the managers?

  6. @Big Mal,

    I just don’t get it. The guy writes a piece about 2 managers who are supposed to be the future best of the League. Yet nowhere do we see them having succes (as per having a shot at winning the league). I don’t think that their teams play bad football, as a matter of fact, it is the opposite in my view.

    I don’t care about the article, but just blending out 18 other managers, 2 of them fighting it out for the PL title (the 3rd on his way out end of the season), is just not journalism. It is a PR stunt for these 2 managers, who may have many qualities but are far from alone.
    So I don’t understand the piece from an information or analytics point of view. Just glorification of 2 nice chaps managing a PL team. It sure ain’t some 360 or even 180 degree analysis of managers and their possible impact on the future of the PL. Like it has been written here, we are looking at ‘Distraction Journalism’.

    Why does the journalist NOT raise the issue of how Tottenham are outliers in terms or fouls and basically are being ripped off by PGMOL ? Is there some purs blog raising the issue ? Not that I am aware of, but I may be wrong. Fact is the only place where this specifically Spurs issue is being raised in Untold Arsenal. So yeah, we may not be fans of Spurs – or any other PL team as a matter of fact, but we are fans of facts and as level a playing field.

  7. I think Big Mal should reread the article from the Telegraph. It is not such a glowing piece on Poste and Zerbi as its made out to be.

    To say they are the future of football because they may take over City/ Liverpool as managers based on reckless setup is a joke.

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