By Tony Attwood
How does an expert become an expert? And how long does he stay an expert for?
Doctors have about six years training. Solicitors also have six years. Teachers have four years. And all have a set retirement age.
And football journalists… well none.
Football is full of self-appointed experts so that overall the notion arises that they are experts because either they have managed, or because they have played, or both. It’s rather like me being able to call myself a doctor because I bandaged my daughter’s finger when she cut it as a child.
As a result, there is no such thing as an expert on football only a load of biased opinion givers. And there is a second problem…
For among these self-appointed experts there is a silent agreement that certain issues should never be talked about.
Indeed we used to have this in the UK over all sorts of issues that could never ever be discussed in a newspaper or on broadcast news. Thus there could be no suggestion of any sort of scandal concerning any member of the royal family or the prime minister. Even certain members of the House of Lords were able to have things kept quiet.
But gradually all this has faded away. The private life and multiple children sired via different women is openly reported in relation to our prime minister. A member of the royals being involved with some extreemly unseemly people in the United States is often mentioned.
So the world of debate has relaxed in most areas of our lives – except football. Which when one comes to think about it, is weird.
Football reporters and commentators in the media crawl over all sorts of issues and stories, with little or no regard for any concept of truth. “Mikel Arteta told its probably the end ahead of crunch Arsenal clash,” suggests the Mirror. “Joe Cole fears Mikel Arteta will be sacked if Arsenal fail to beat Norwich City in their next Premier League outing,” they continue.
The point is that personal opinion has replaced factual report. Arsenal have indeed lost three of four games played this season – that’s a fact. “Cole believes the end could be near with another bad result,” that is the reporting of one man who in no way is at the heart of the matter or with any inside information.
So anyone can say and suggest anything… except that very weirdly, while the news in general has no boundaries (see examples above in relation to the royal family and prime minister) football still has massive no go areas for journalists.
Most obviously there is never any reporting of a problem with referees. The table that we published on last season’s refereeing of Arsenal, showing that Arsenal were most often given the referees who hand out the yellow cards, while rarely getting the referees who are sparing in their use of cards, has never been mentioned.
The fact that Tottenham could commit 73 more fouls than Arsenal in a season but pick up two fewer yellow cards is never got an airing.
Nor indeed is there mention of Liverpool’s strange position this season where thus far they can commit 33 fouls before they get a yellow card. With Tottenham the number is 2.89.
|Club||Tackles per game 2021/2||Fouls per game 2021/2||Yellow cards 2021/2 per game||Tackles per foul||Tackles per yellow||Fouls per yellow|
|West Ham U||18.00||8.67||0.33||2.07||54.00||26.27|
These are early days of course but even so the variation is enormous. Of course it could be put down to there only have been three games per club – were it not for last year’s figures. Or those of the year before.
The simple fact is that Chelsea get away with twice as many tackles before a foul is called than Manchester United. West Ham and Liverpool can tackle as much as they like before getting a yellow card.
But above all we can see why Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are utterly changing the way football is played by cutting down on tackles to avoid having more than half their team unavailable on occasion through multiple yellow cards.
Of course there may be valid explanations – that is not my point. My point is that no one apart from us ever debates this variance. Nor the way PGMO allocates certain referees over and over again to certain clubs, either ensuring a free ride or multiple yellow cards for clubs depending on which ref you get.
Nor indeed is the issue of the influence of the crowd on referees, proven last year through academic research, ever mention – save when the issue is denied (utterly contrary to all the statistics).
Still, maybe it is all pure chance, and the ineptitude of the defences of Tottenham, Arsenal and Man U. Except these clubs had the sixth, third and fifth best defences last season.
Funny ol’ game.
The statistical enquiry of 2021 that the media totally ignored
How the media created an alternative story that Arsenal failed in 2020/21, when in fact Arsenal brought about a revolution
- Which PL clubs foul the most and which are fouled the most?
- Behold: The dirtiest teams in the PL last season; and the one that were fouled the most
- Making up statistics about Arsenal is ok… until someone bothers to check.
- New fouls and yellow card data suggest refs are reacting to club ploys.
- 2020/21: The key data tables
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.
- Injuries Time to sack Tierney according to one part of the media
- Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules
- The huge bias of referees is proven. PGMO and media fight back.