That question of negative runs: Klopp, Tottenham and who has won what

By Tony Attwood

I was fascinated by a newspaper comment today that read “Klopp who has over-achieved. But he has also now lost six successive finals,” as it took me back to an issue we recently debated.

Wenger in his 22 years at Arsenal lost three League Cup, one FA Cup and Champions League final.  Three of those finals were in succession: the Champions League final and the League Cup finals against Chelsea and Birmingham.

So what does that tell us, if anything, about either man?  Do such runs count for anything?  Do they mean that the individual concerned is a serial loser?

Mr Wenger as we know has won more FA Cup finals than any other person in the history of football – even taking into account the men who managed back in the 19th and early 20th century when winning the FA Cup could mean winning just two or three games.   Klopp has won just one final in his professional managerial career – the 2012 German world cup.

In a sense this notion of “runs” in football is the same as I was trying to debate when I raised the issued of Arsenal’s home and away form this past season, in order to put forward the view that simply to say “we were shocking away, therefore the defence needs replacing” is not the complete argument.

The fact that at home the club did so well when compared with our three league titles under Mr Wenger suggests to me there was something else going on.  That might still reflect a problem with the players (for example that they simply didn’t know how to adjust between home and away, or it might be the fault of the manager, or it might be a psychological issue) – that the run of bad results influences how the individual players react when facing the next away game.

It’s impossible to tell; the only point of the question is, what can be done about it?   If the feeling with Klopp is that it is just “one of those things” – a set of coincidences, something that will even itself out in the end – then in fact there is nothing to be done.  Nothing needs to be changed.  But if there is something wrong with Klopp’s approach to finals, or if there is something wrong with Arsenal’s approach to away games, or indeed if it is all psychological in its causation, then there is something to be done.

One can also look at Tottenham’s eight successive defeats in semi-finals and wonder about the mentality issue there.  That can’t be the players and managers – because obviously they have changed over time as the run started in 1993 with a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.   And it can’t be argued that they have always played top clubs – in 2010 they lost to Portsmouth 2-0, for example.  Nor can those defeats be said to be by small margins – only three of them were by the odd goal.  The worst defeat was in 2012, 5-1 to Chelsea.   In fact in those eight games between 1993 and 2018 they have conceded 22 goals – quite a few when so many semi-finals are won by the odd goal.

I don’t have any absolute answers about runs such as Tottenham’s cup semi-finals or Klopp’s finals except to say that I suspect strongly that once a run starts, perhaps by chance, or perhaps just by being the likely result because of the nature of the teams playing, they do start becoming part of the equation in themselves, as much as the result being caused by one team being better than another.

Anyway, recently I did a little analysis of which clubs have won what – it couldn’t be completed because the season wasn’t over.  Now it is, here is the update covering the past five seasons

Club League Lowest FA Cup Lge Cup Europe Total
Man C 2 4th 3 5
Chelsea 2 10th 1 1 4
Arsenal 6th 3 3
Man U 7th 1 1 1 3
Liverpool 8th 0 0
Tottenham 6th 0

I’ve given Arsenal third position, above Man U on the grounds that Man U’s lowest position was worse than ours, and anyway I am obviously biased.

As I said at the time, looking at this I wondered if lots of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham fans are consumed with the same sort of angst that some Arsenal fans have, over not winning the league a lot in the last five years.

And then the second table to cover the whole of the Wengerian era from 1996/7 through to this season, using the same bunch of figures.

Club League Lowest FA Cup Lge Cup Europe Total
Man U 10 7th 3 4 3 20
Chelsea 5 10th 7 4 2 18
Arsenal 3 6th 7 0 0 10
Man C 3 22nd* 1 3 0 7
Liverpool 0 8th 2 3 1 6
Tottenham 0 14th 0 2 0 2


Gives a bit of perspective.




18 Replies to “That question of negative runs: Klopp, Tottenham and who has won what”

  1. Tony, whilst having a run is important, and both the points won at home & goals scored at home would have put us second in the table, the goals against at home are mid-table. So although the defence doesn’t necessarily need replacing, it does need something done to correct that stat.

  2. Concerning both Klopp and Poch, there’s little doubt they’re both good managers but until they start winning some silverware (whilst also matching the league position we’re slightly envious of in the last 2 years) they’ve really achieved very little more than some extra club income.
    Whilst Poch has done that on an extremely limited budget, Klopp has spend a decent amount and inherited quite an expensive set of players as well.
    Can they improve going ahead?
    Who knows?

  3. FA cups are worthless. Due to the change in the modern game. Champions league football is now worth far more than an FA cup and is a far greater prize at the end of the season. Arsenal won 3 out of the last 5 FA cups and for the last 5 years wanted their manager out. How many arsenal fans would swap Spurs last 5 seasons with theirs? Truthfully most of them, if not all of them would. Why? Because spurs have progressed and arsenal have regressed. If an FA cup is the measure of a successful season then Conte wouldn’t be about to lose his job. To say that Chelsea have had a better season than Spurs or Liverpool would be ludicrous!

    If you wanted to produce a more relevant table then I would suggest a points system using the following criteria:
    1. Champions league winners
    2. Premier league winners
    3. 2nd place
    4. 3rd place
    5. 4th place
    6. FA cup winners
    7. Europa league winners

    You can try and argue about trophies but the truth is the fa cup had become worthless and a higher league position far more valuable and far more of an achievement. If it were not, arsenal fans wouldn’t have wanted Wenger out and Chelsea would be offering Conte a contract extension

  4. @ Tony,

    I believe that you have forgotten to include the 2000 UEFA Cup final
    that Arsenal also lost, unfortunately, during Arsene’s reign as our

  5. In my opinion all this is typical bubble gum thinking.
    (Just chewing over some same old simple thinking.)

    We all know that just because a coin thrown in the air lands on the same side three times doesn’t mean it will land on the same side the fourth time

    The media bubble gummers loves statistics such as

    ‘Manure have played five times on a Thursday at home and all of them resulted in 1-0. Will it be a sixth time tonight?

    As if the present Thursday game has any connection or can be related to matches that took places seasons ago.

    Of course writing information about the game to played requires brain power, all our media (I include most – not bloggers) has for brains is bubble gum.

  6. According to Wiki Klop has won the German League cup.

    Breaking the hold of Bayern not once but twice surely means he has the ability to produce teams that play winning football.

    I am no fan of loserpool but my heart goes out to their fans for what happened on Saturday.

  7. colario
    27/05/2018 at 7:08 pm

    Of course writing information about the game to played requires brain power, all our media (I include most – but not all bloggers) has for brains is bubble gum.

  8. Your on a pretty good run yourselves, and it’s all downhill at the moment ………

  9. For me you have to look at the individual matches in those runs before making a conclusion. For example, if klopps failures included losses at Dortmund to Bayern and losses with Liverpool to man city and real Madrid, all situations where they might be considered to have overachieved to be in the finals in the first place and were underdogs in those finals themselves, I’d be less likely to consider the man a serial loser. Rather I’d think placing him to manage a better/ bigger team would be in order. However when the losses, like in Tottenham case or arsenals away form case, if those losses were to massive under dogs a good chunk of the time, I’d query the mentality of the team and tag them underachievers

  10. Tommy, you’re right on that one.
    We went one whole season without winning a trophy.
    That’s a real bad run, Lets hope it doesn’t run into 2 seasons because that would be appalling. That could become 3,4,5,etc but that would stop beyond 10 years as obviously any club that hasn’t won anything for over 10 year cannot call it’s self a club…

  11. #AndyMack
    Are you saying that until the last few years, chelski and mancstateaid were not clubs until recently and spuds and looserpool are not clubs. All four know relegation Arsenal don’t.

  12. @Lewis. Same set of fans lampooned Wenger when he said 4th place is like a trophy. It is always very easy to change the narrative when the die is cast.

    No trophy in zilch years became no major trophy since 2004. Now the FA is not as good as the top 4 position in the Premier League. Spare me.

    According to your analysis, only Manchester City and Chelsea have done better than Arsenal in recent years which cannot be said to be a bad thing considering how much money both sides have spent within the same period.

    Tottenham and Liverpool for all their progress according to you, got nothing to show for it.

  13. Lewis “How many arsenal fans would swap Spurs last 5 seasons with theirs? Truthfully most of them, if not all of them would.” – Wow.. I don’t even know where to begin. Judging by that painfully ignorant comment, I’m guessing you must be the next incarnation of Leon/PTO/Zam.

  14. @ Lewis, that’s explains why Spurs haven’t won anything. Luckily Arsenal want to win every trophy available under the sun.

  15. IMO, there is still something special about the FA Cup. The amateur sides, the draws, every region of England being involved. Personally, I think 1 of England’s 4 Champions League spots should go to the FA Cup winner. As for the League Cup…I’ve never understood why it exists.

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