Deposing the king of detrimental simplisitude. Arsenal vs Piers Morgan

By Dr Billy the Dog McGraw, senior consultant in the psychological study of football support, University Hospital of the North Circular Road.

I was struck by the comments made by two hedgehogs on a blog that was quoted on Untold the other day, in which the writers said they were thankful that Giroud was not playing in a forthcoming match – the implication being that he is a disaster.

The figures – even the most simple figures – of course show exactly the opposite; that in terms of goalscoring on a game for game count, he’s on a very similar trajectory to T. Henry.

The response to this analysis from one quarter was “you can prove anything with figures” and yes, to a degree that is true.  You can also manipulate the news any way you wish as the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Oborne reported this week.  He resigned as chief political commentator of the paper over its coverage of the HSBC bank scandal (the one in which the bank aided and abetted the Very Rich to avoid tax.)   The paper’s coverage of the tale has been odd to say the least – and highly influenced by the advertisers who support the Telegraph, and the Conservative Party whose members and ministers are affected by the scandal.

This is complex stuff of course – as politics often is.  But then so is football both in terms of on the pitch, and in terms of its economics, the way it is reported, and what happens beyond the pitch.

But in all cases – be it football or politics or economics or the teeth of limpets (a big news story in Britain this morning for the science community) such stories can be reduced to simplicity if that is what the newspapers and pundits want to do.

And this is where Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan (born Piers Stefan O’Meara but generally known, for reasons that will not become clear at this point, as Piers Morgan) comes into the equation, because he is the man who likes to simplify things more than anyone else in order to prove that everything has gone wrong and will go wrong.  He is thus the king of detrimental simplisitude – a most serious psychological condition.  It is “detrimental” because it is seriously harming his own mental health and incorporates “simplisitude” because it can be stated (and has to be stated) in just a few very, very simple words.

Here, Morgan is at one with much contemporary journalism: the reduction of all ideas to simplicity.  And accordingly it is now a major task of psychology to ask why?   Why does everything have to come down to the simplest level even when it is patently obvious that this results in a lunatic distortion of the real world, and as a basis for prediction is as useful as throwing a turnip up in the air and seeing if it comes down heads or tails.

To get an insight into what is going on one might look at the various stories from around the blogs today.  Here are four headlines…

  • Wenger eyeing free signing as Prem star wanted by Arsenal
  • BLOW as Arsenal bid has been REJECTED by La Liga club
  • SHOCK MOVE as £40m PSG megastar set to SIGN for Arsenal.
  • Arsenal WILL NEGOTIATE shock £15m deal in the coming weeks!

And so recently I, and my colleagues at the University Hospital of the North Circular Road have been studying is the effect of saying that everything in life and football can be reduced to simple headlines – when quite obviously life and football is a lot more complex than that.

So when people trapped by this simplicity go into the real world beyond their computer and TV they find themselves in an alien environment that does not meet their everyday expectations.  They feel let down, and cry out.   And although Piers Morgan is not a patient of mine I feel fairly sure this is what has happened to him.

Of course some kinds of rampant megalomania have their attractive sides – Genghis Khan for example wrote some fine lullabies – but Piers Morgan does not share this attribute.  As when he tweeted “How on earth did Ramsey just given (sic) a new 5 year contract.  Unbelievable” followed a year later by a claim that he had always seen Ramsey’s talent and ability. He later returned with “What does Wenger see in Ramsey? A complete and utter liability.”

As I say, not the vision of a balanced mind, nor actually a particularly intelligent one (as when for example he ordered his journalistic staff to follow Ian Hislop around and dig up all the dirt they could on him).  For Morgan there is dirt everywhere, and I suspect that as a result he quite possibly does take his own delusional ravings seriously.

So what can we do for such people?

Basically nothing, although pointing a finger at them and laughing is said by many psychologists to help.

But what we can do for ourselves is look at the complexities of football, and reflect on exactly how people like Morgan are missing what is going on.

While Morgan wallows in his sorrows and his simplistic view of reality, football clubs have (for example) been introducing player tracking systems.  However while doing this they have also been recognising that if they used the same technology as other clubs that would mean no advantage at all – each would instantly nullify the other.  Arsenal therefore started looking at approaches that will predict the predictions and assumptions of the opposition, as well as help them find the right players for the Arsenal team.

Meanwhile, most helpfully, quite a few clubs are still in Morgan mode of raving about individual players and short term issues. Arsenal on the other hand have gone a lot further forwards.

Thus while wild ranters like Morgan complained that Arsenal started the season with only five senior defenders Arsenal knew that given the chance Bellerin would come good, and would be a double bonus for the club in that he would not be showing up on other team’s statistical analyses.   Further if Arsenal bought a player to leapfrog Bellerin, then Bellerin would be lost – something that would be harmful to the chance of Arsenal securing other talented young players (something that Morgan revealed as being of no interest to him – as he reported he had no idea who Gnabry was when he played last season).

Likewise Coquelin.  The faith in him was there and he was on the bench for most of the early games, but still needed to play.  A short loan, and the stats showed he was ready.   Monreal too was making strides forwards – but this again was not being picked up by opposition analytic systems – which gave him an extra boost.

And behind all this Arsenal bought StatDNA, the company that has turned the analysis of football upside down and inside out, and which only reports to Arsenal.   It searches for meaningful patterns not only in Arsenal’s play but in the teams Arsenal will play, and it analyses there is now a team that works the data.

Of course in my line of work I have to search for meaningful patterns in people who like Piers Morgan wallow in detrimental simplisitude.

I fear that there is little that we can do for such fellows.  I have suggested rounding them up and putting them in a field will, if nothing else, help keep the grass down, but I fear my ideas in this area are, as is so often the case, a little ahead of the game.

Untold Arsenal


40 Replies to “Deposing the king of detrimental simplisitude. Arsenal vs Piers Morgan”

  1. Morgan is an utter idiot and should be completely ignored. I had the misfortune to be listening to 606 of BBC 5-Live recently, after a defeat, when Morgan rang in. I just turned the radio off there and then. Simple.

  2. LOL I like the idea of treatment proposed by Dr. Billy. 🙂

    Piers Morgan the Claude of the big world…. sigh

  3. Piers Morgan should buy the other side of north London, and prove what the hell his talking about.

  4. Piers Morgan? Who gives a hoot? Let him wallow in his delusions while sensible people think of meaningful contributions to make towards making Arsenal better. Meanwhile, maybe Dr Billy’s ideas should be given real thought. But who will bell Piers Morgan?

  5. In Piers’s eyes we should have the God given right to beat Tottenham everytime. This suggests that he may be under the delusion that we should treat the NLD as our cup final and the pinnacle of the season in the same way that they do.
    What makes this blowhard, with no footballing experience, think he could not do a better job than Wenger?
    The man is an embarrassment to the fanbase of a great club.

  6. I got to know Piers and watched him on America’s Got Talent then on CNN, then following him on twitter and reading some of his twits, I was so disappointed I had to unfollow. For a “celebrity”, he is an absolute disappointment and not worth the time waisted on him.

  7. A thought came to me.
    If these sort of people did not do what they did then others who try to be, what i call “human” would not recognise their own humanity.
    Now to recognise one’s humanity is ok, but one has to refrain from going too far out become unbalanced by looking down on the others.
    It is great to condemn their actions, but not the person, for i am sure that many of us have been in that same position ourselves.

    Everything seems to be connected is such a way that the age old comment of “ripple of butterfly wings causing a storm on other side of world” does hold some validity.
    OK, Ok, i’m off philosophising again.

    What i really wanted to comment is, that Arsenal has for me, (once i had taken a look at the bigger picture), become a Club that plans for it’s future while staying competitive in the present, not just in direct football issues, but in the disciplines surrounding football too, and is growing into a force.

  8. @Nonny

    Like you I followed and then unfollowed Piers Morgan on Twitter. I then went further and blocked him. I no longer have the energy to deal with the negativity.

  9. Ian Hislop has regularly ridiculled Piers, as well as the owners of The Telegraph ( the Barclay twins ) who keep their money offshore to avoid taxation, so it’s no surprise that the Telegraphs’ editorial policy is to be soft on tax dodgers.
    Good for Peter Osborne, and I hope he finds suitable employment soon.
    The Barclays are inclined to be litigious over people who even mention their name, so I hope we don’t get sued over my post.

  10. Utterly brilliant and spot on; badly needed saying. Well done. Your articles are a beacon of sanity in a crazy world.

  11. Trouble is with Piers is that he can easily needle you if you’re having a moment where you are susceptible to being needled. For years I let him get up my hooter because of my own prejudices towards his breeding and the places he worked at and the influence he extolled at those places. My first comments on UA were about him when Anne was still running the media watch.

    Then I saw him on Gooner tv, and he seemed just a bit simple really, he loves Arsenal, and he wants them to win. Hes a very bad loser and hes a Tory who doesn’t believe in development and seems( although I cant prove it)to be jealous of the financially doped teams, Im sure he thinks being a Tory, that that is the way, but when you look its all a bit hollow and a kind of insecure bullying way of operating in a sporting contest.But the Tory view as Billy points out, is rather simple, employ sack, employ sack.It doesn’t give the chance for anyone to grow. This is our world, at least for a short time longer.If the Jam were recording today, “This is the Modern world” would have got them dropped from Polydor, quite simply.Would have Henry been able to develop in our time?

    I think that even if Arsenal won all their games again Pier be the kind of person who would still be unhappy with something, and even if Arsenal did the quadruple, plus won all their games 20-0 with the most beautiful football ever, he would still have a problem somewhere even though Im sure he would be happy to a degree. But Piers insnt alone, its in all of us, to lesser or greater degrees.

    I personally dont see how logic can be transferred to football(in the way Piers does) there are to many seemingly chaotic or random elements in the game plus the endless permutations of how the game is being played out and psychological reactions to these elements, all in an instant.

    But Piers does, Im not sure if he played to any degree but anyone whose played to a certain level knows how hard a game it is to play, and knows what its like dealing with a tense or angry or frightened crowd, you can easily absorb those tensions. Emotions and logic dont get on as logic is the ideological set of impositions shoved on emotions, as we all know logic cant always supersede fear and panic.

    But Piers like all right wingers(in my own personal experience) tends to be up front about what he thinks, its a bit basic really, the only real problem is that hes a media celebrity and for some reason( even in the age of secular intellectuals) we still seems to award him some kind of authority. Thats the key point, why are we awarding him authority to be challenged? Erm because hes posh? Because hes on the telly? Duh. Posh people arent always so smart as the First World war proved.So hes on the telly, so is Keith Lemon and who gives a ackiwongengruber what he thinks.Sorry if you happen to like Keith Lemon, in more ways than one.

    Once I saw that Piers is just a plain, simple Tory hes easy to deal with. For me it was watching him on Gooner tv after that he seems a bit harmless really, just another ranting twitter holic who doesnt really have anything to say other than,good, not good, Wenger out,- the blokes obviously intelligent, but seems a bit basic really via his attitude to understanding the game and lets face it is probably after click bait or another billion followers of twitter but its just the old polemical laws at play, and he knows it. But I do understand how he can irritate the crap out of you. Good article Billy, cheers!

  12. Kenneth – are you sure Morgan is a Tory? I thought he was Labour? Or perhaps his personal views/values/principles are so malleable he doesn’t know himself!

  13. Pete, he doesnt seem too left wing to me, mind you Labour havent for a long time either.

  14. Paddy O’Meara – so that is who Piers really is. He does seem to reflect the idiot that Irish comedians pick on. His opinion on guns is admirable though very dangerous in red neck country. He has as much wind (or maybe more) as they pump into a ball. Lord Sugar (who incidentally thinks Wenger is the best manager in English Football) takes the mickey of him in most things football.

    His humour can be hilarious but then his stupidity is just as funny. He follows Arsenal but supports himself.

    Paddy O’Meara – what a dope.

  15. Dr.Billy……..your definition “detrimental simplisitude” is brillant and there are a few sub-elements to this mental aberration you’ve identified:

    1) Reductio ad absurdum…..or Piers (and the aaa’s)ability to reduce reality to absurdity. The actual definition is “Disproof of a proposition by showing that it leads to absurd or untenable conclusions.” but in Piers’ case, he disproves his own argument by being absurd.

    2)Narcissistic self-absorption: Piers (who is an aaa saint)is navel gazing with such intensity and focus that he actually eats himself for breakfast!

    3)The aaa disease which is being so anally and abysmally antithetical (thus aaa) to anything positive about the Arsenal regardless of reality, actual events or obvious evidence.

  16. LOL ! A big Like from me for the article and most of the AKBs’ observations !

  17. Piers Morgan is a typical celebrity fan who latched onto Arsenal during the early Wenger success years and he can’t cope with what is the norm that Arsenal fans have enjoyed over the years. However a Tory he is not. He was editor of the Daily Mirror hardly a right wing broadsheet.
    He is about as right wing as Ed Milliband.

  18. “I have suggested rounding them up and putting them in a field will, if nothing else, help keep the grass down,”
    Surely all that bullshit will only serve to do the opposite?

  19. Piers Morgan is a dick. It upsets me that he claims to support Arsenal as he is nothing but a fickle man-child glory hunter. He also sucks baboon ass as a journalist. Watch him in the clip below as he goaded the multi and super talented Seth MacFarlane to knock Jon Stewart in the most blatant and shameless manner. Seth, my good man, never took the bait though, making Piers look like the hateful moron that he is.

    Click and watch:

    Piers Morgan is a dick with that peculiar “please-punch-me” face.

  20. Pier’s sucks. Heck bring him back to North America and put him in the Bay of Fundy (largest tides in the world). He can probably suck enough to keep the water from leaving the bay.


    But, that isn’t the topic I wanted to talk about. I’m 55, and started cooking at age 5. Sure, other kids do that. Cooking things that neither parent can do, is not common.

    Jack Wilshere is getting stick (from Ox) about cooking. There are lots of people who can’t cook.

    Easiest cooking recipe I know of. I will use “peas” in what I write, but there are lots of different vegetables which would work just as well.

    Starting ingredients: 1 pound bag of fresh frozen peas, 1 heaping tablespoon of sugar (doesn’t matter what kind), a small handful of fresh mint leaves. Note: if you are picking the mint leaves from mint branches by hand, your fingers will probably turn black. You might want to wear gloves.

    Cut the mint into a reasonably fine size. What’s reasonable? Biggest piece is smaller than 1/8 of a leaf?

    Break up sugar into granules (sp?).

    If all your frozen peas are a solid lump inside the bag, let the bag warm up a bit and then break up the mass so that you mostly have individual peas.

    Put 3 quarts (or litres, about the same) of water on the stove in a 4 quart/litre pot to boil at high heat. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Add the sugar and mint leaves, stir to dissolve the sugar.

    When the sugar is almost all dissolved, add the frozen peas. Wait about 45 seconds. Strain peas from water with a collander. Serve.

    The nutrition is nominally the same as plain peas, the sugar/mint only puts the barest coating on the outside of the peas. If you don’t want to throw the sugar/mint water out, wait for it to cool and use it water plants. Deer apparently don’t like the mint family, so it may keep deer from munching on your plants.

    As the stove is off when you add the food, you can’t burn it. As the food is in the hot water just long enough to get it up to temperature, you can’t over cook it.

    Anyway, if you wanted to see his brushetta, here is one article. It does go one to show Jack practising football.

    The media are doing their story telling in large part in the article.

  21. A most enjoyable read. But be careful, the aaa sites tell us that wenger doesn’t do things like scouting, and monitoring other teams, they must be right after all

  22. Piers Morgan spends too much time being anti wenger, for his own sake , he needs a new project……how about him getting Kevin Pietersen back into the England cricket team?

  23. I normally like to thank particularly Tony and Walter for their posts but in this instance I can only say “dross”.

    Piers Morgan is an irrelevant egotist and not worth time reading or listening let alone commenting.

    The political and media comments again not worth comment.

    However tucked at the end and frustratingly as an allusion rather than a real comment was very interesting throwaway comment regarding StatDNA and here we have the germs of a post that would be fully up to Untold standards of research, interest and informative.

    More on this please whenever you can raise yourself back above the trivial and irrelevant.

  24. Vintage Gooner,

    Because I don’t necessarily enjoy all Untold articles, I can understand why some pieces my not be your cup of tea, but can you please tone down the condescending, and in my opinion, over the top criticism of this column? Dude, the writer is not your student or your boy to be so flippantly talked down. The topic is not worthy of a column, we get it but you need not insult the writer who has taken time and effort to put it together.

    Here is an idea, since you are the arbiter of what is what should and shouldn’t be written about, why not write a column on the topic of StatDNA that you consider worthy and send it to Tony for publication?

    I am appreciative of Tony and Walter’s effort in writing articles everyday even if I don’t enjoy everything they write. I believe that they deserve a lot more than the disdain that you have shown here.

  25. Mandy Dodd – February 19, 2015 at 12:31 am – I would rather that Piers face a few more ‘bodyline ‘ balls to see if he could weave and weasel his way out of harm’s way ! Am sure a few here would relish the chance of bowling a few no balls in the attempt to ‘beamer’ him ! Well ,Brett Lee was the lucky one !

    And it being the ICC Cricket WC, here’s an oft repeated on ode…..


    Come all ye fair young maidens and harken unto me,
    Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.

    Randier than a sailor who’s been six months at sea,
    Never let a cricketer’s hand an inch above your knee.

    First let’s take the paceman, pure speed from first to last,
    My darlings do be careful; his balls are hard and fast.

    Then there’s the medium pacer, his balls swing either way;
    He’s really most persistent and can keep it up all day!

    And watch for the off-spinner, girls, another awkward chap.
    If you leave him half an opening, he will slip one through the gap!

    Then there’s the wily ‘slowly’, pure cunning is his strength;
    He’ll tempt you, then he’ll trap you with his very subtle length.

    So ladies, do be careful, your mothers would agree.
    Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.

    And what about the opening bat, his struggles never cease!
    He has only one ambition, to spend all day at the crease.

    The number three is a dasher, he seldom prods and pokes.
    When he goes into action, he has a fine array of strokes..

    And do beware the slogger, not content with one or two;
    When he arrives at the crease then only six will do.

    Then there’s the real stonewaller, girls, he knows what he’s about;
    And if you let him settle in, it’s hard to get him out!

    We come now to the last man, I hope this will not shock,
    He doesn’t mind if he’s last man in, as long as he gets a knock.

    So, darlings, do be careful, and be well warned by me:
    Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.

    And watch the wicketkeeper, girls, he’s full of flair and dash;
    And if you raise your heel, he’ll whip them off in a flash.

    If you take the field with the captain, you had better know the score;
    Or he’ll have you in positions that you never knew before!

    The cricket commentator is a nasty sort of bloke,
    He watches all the action and describes it stroke by stroke.

    Even the kindly umpire, who looks friendly as a pup;
    You’ll quickly find you’ve had it, when he puts his finger up!

    So, darlings, please remember and repeat it after me:

  26. How To Live & Die – Khushwant Singh

    I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happy—what one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

    1- First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

    2- Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into millions, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreation—eating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

    3- Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

    4- Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarreling all the time.

    5- Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

    6- Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

    7- Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfill you—gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully.

    8- Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

    9- Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.

    10- Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a man without any regret or grievance against anyone.

  27. Vintage:

    I can’t imagine anyone enjoys everything we publish – as you may have noted we now have published over 5000 articles on this site. But life would be all the more boring if everything in one publication, in one film, on one TV channel was to one’s taste. Even my favourite authors have written some dull stuff in my view.

    But I do think the notion of the name “Untold” is worth cherishing, and that means exploring all sorts of areas that others don’t venture into. One of them indeed is the statistics and analysis issue, but that area is very, very, very secretive, and until I can find a statistician who can help us all decipher some of the ways statis and analysis is now being used in football, I’m not sure how much further we can go.

    Overall I do think the aim here is to live up to what we have proclaimed on the front of the site, live up to the name, and be as informative and insightful as we can, as often as we can. But recognise that not everything is going to be to everyone’s taste, and indeed some ventures (not necessarily this one) will not really do what they set out to do.

    We can but keep trying

  28. Well its our Poldi. Got these two so happy that they now want to screw each other. Well they’ve fallen in love.

    Back to Paddy O’Meara aka Piers Morgan. He was on Celebrity Apprentice USA with Trump. Piers had been having a spat with an African American woman opponent. She kept insinuating that he was gay. During the task, Piers ‘whupped her arse’ by making a huge amount for the ‘wounded soldier hero’s charity’ with the help of Sarah Ferguson & Simon Cowell. She kept having a go at Piers & Trump offered Piers the opportunity to respond. Piers walked into the studio where his opponents were grabbed one of them (a big Texan Cowboy) kissed him on the cheek and walked out.

    The Cowboy couldn’t figure what had happened. Trump was in stitches as was Lennox Lewis who was in Piers’ team. It was so funny & spontaneous (proper English humour).

  29. a quote from Piers Morgans biography by Emily Herbert:

    “their*political views were broadly similar too,despite the fact that Piers would go on to edit the Suns rival and opposite number on the political spectrum:Kelvin was extremely right wing and Piers mildly right wind.Both made waves and both got what they wanted,even outside the narrow world,both were often talked about.And Piers was well aware of who he had to thank for his success:”I owe it all to Kelvin””hes always been their for me”.

    *( this is relating to kelvin Mackenzie the editor of the Sun,where Piers worked and whom was the protege of. Piers would go on to be the editor of the NOTW.

    a bit more a few pages on:
    “Another aspect of the job he hadn’t had to address before was politics. As editor of “bizarre”,Piers had mainly concerned himself with pop stars, but now the country’s leaders were getting a look in too.And so he began to contend with one of the more curious leaps in the difference between his personal beliefs and professional stance,one that would stay with him for years to come: Piers is basically a Tory who supported Labour,and at that stage The Conservative party still ran the country.”

    (skipping on)after he mentions meeting Blair and being impressed:

    “(But) yes I do vote Tory.Im from true Blue Sussex.I’m conservatively orientated and its my family’s way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *