Can one truly understand what is causing the supposed demise of Arsenal

by Anthony Hamaker

Untold Arsenal has recently questioned reasons for the apparent cause of Arsenal’s current demise and asks the question “What does the club do now?”

This follows on from a Guardian newspaper article which suggests that the Arsenal transfer policy must be considered to be one of the main reasons contributing to this apparent demise. Poor business and poor decision making have been the consequences of the transfer policy. (This, no doubt from a so-called sports journalist, sitting at home in-front of a computer, during Covid lockdown, similarly to myself writing this article for Untold Arsenal).

A number of Arsenal blogs have also suggested similar reasons. Some though have criticised the current manager and his tactics, whilst others have been supportive of the current manager; some  have criticised the owners for not investing enough money in the club. (Evidence suggests that money has been invested but the return on the investment has been poor. Hence the Guardian suggestion!)

What is interesting for me is that many commentators and observers have highlighted possible reasons for the so-called demise as ‘actual causes’, when in fact it is correlations that are being made. Correlations are not causes! Indeed very few actual reasons are supported by hard evidence as to causes since complete analyses of the so-called Arsenal demise has not yet appeared either in blogs or in the national media as far as I can perceive. This is not surprising since correlation effects and cause and effect are often seen as the same thing.

Spending lots of money shows a positive correlation with winning more titles and awards for a club like Manchester City. However, it is not necessarily the cause of why more trophies are forthcoming!

For instance, within the last few years Manchester City has been taken over by new wealthy owners; Manchester City has  appointed a new manager; Manchester City has invested much money in transfers; Manchester City has invested in buying a number of football clubs around the world.

Manchester City’s new manager has a specific view of football tactics and strategies. The manager has gathered an experienced coaching staff together. The manager himself has a vast experience in a number of different football domains. The senior management of Manchester City contains a number of experienced operatives within such a large capitalist economic organisation. etc…….

Now, which one of these individual variables is responsible for Manchester City winning trophies and titles? Is it a simple direct one to one correlation or must one not analyse the inputs of each variable before being able to find possible cause(s) as to the successes and failures of Manchester City?

I have made such a submission in a previous UA article, when considering the type of thinking required to deal with multi variable systems. Understanding positive, negative and no apparent correlations, is not easy but then confusing such correlations with cause and effect is often then the case within the national media and blogs of all kinds. In a similar way to the notion that “I see so it must be the truth” is often made, especially when commenting on football matters. That is all the evidence that is needed! Our observations, our further correlations! That is our analysis….!

A football club such as Arsenal is now a huge economic organisation, controlled by owners who employ a large number of people both on and off the playing field. There will be a host of management scenarios both within and external to such an organisation, influencing and leading to successes and failures of

Arsenal football club. Just consider the behaviours within such an organisation. There will be behavioural issues involving and affecting – decision making; communication; leadership; motivation; group interaction; personality etc. I have simply listed six factors that may be important in any organisation. Each of these six factors can be regarded as a specific variable which will itself be underpinned by other factors affecting the outcome of each of these variables.

As an example,  consider the variable ‘decision making’. It is very important to have adequate and accurate information about a particular situation for ‘decision making’ to occur and be effective, otherwise the quality of the decision will suffer. It must also be recognised that individuals have certain mental constraints, which limit the amount of information that she/he can adequately handle.

Less information is as dangerous as too much information. Some, so-called, authoritative individuals do make decisions on the basis of comparatively less information when compared to more so-called conservative decision-makers.

Often, prejudice and bias can be introduced into our decisions by our perceptual processes and may cause us to make ineffective decisions. Perception is highly subjective, meaning that information gets distorted in order to be consistent with our pre-established beliefs, attitudes, and values and that we only accept what we want to accept, and hence only a type of information filters down to our senses.

For example, if a football manager’s preconceived idea that a given individual within the football club is an honest or deceptive person, is a good or poor source of information, is a good or poor player in a particular position and so on, it can have a considerable effect on the objective ability of the decision-maker ( the manager) and the quality of the decision he/she makes. Now, consider how other factors mentioned above could affect decisions made by this manager.

Arsenal is a big economic and social organisation, underpinned by a plethora of factors (variables), many of which are totally unknown to outside observers such as myself. Trying to understand the cause of the so-called demise is virtually impossible because there is a deficiency of information emanating from the Arsenal organisation in the first place and the way that such information that is available interacts with other factors is difficult to determine.

Thus, my point in writing about the apparent recent demise of Arsenal is to suggest that an extremely difficult analysis is needed before one can reach a particular conclusion. Without all of the relevant data, it is virtually impossible to investigate the cause and effect of this demise, apart from investigating a number of correlations which may or may not be helpful in trying to add to the general debate.

I am not suggesting that people should not make comment about a particular issue that arises, only that their comments are moderated until all information becomes available for further analyses. Something that the national media no longer seems interested in doing.

From the archives: What do Arsenal have to do to win the league?











2 Replies to “Can one truly understand what is causing the supposed demise of Arsenal”

  1. Totally agree Tony, and this is what many of us have said over time. Developing a successful team has a lot of pieces of the puzzle that has to be in place. Money is just one of them, you also need ownership that has and is willing to put in the money in the first place. A good fit manager though ticks a lot of boxes. Because he is responsible for quite a number of the other ingredients needed such as selecting the right players, taking care of the tactical aspects, motivating those players etc

  2. ALL information is never available! You have to make a decision with the information available at the time. Waiting to get ALL information is the worst strategy ever.

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