Reading the game: why do journalists always know more than managers?

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal are of course not the only team that has had an upset of late.   Bayern Munich were knocked out of the Champions League by Villareal managed by… well since you ask, Unai Emery, so recently removed from Arsenal.

Now Bayern are a fairly strong team, you might recall.  They have won the German League for each of the last nine years.  In 2019/20 they won the German League, the German Cup and the Champions League.  Last season it was just the League.  This season they will probably do it again, given the state of the league table…  Six points clear with a game in hand, 17 points clear of the club in third.

Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Bayern Munich 29 22 3 4 86 29 57 69
2 Borussia Dortmund 30 20 3 7 76 43 33 63
3 Bayer Leverkusen 29 15 7 7 68 42 26 52
4 RB Leipzig 29 15 6 8 64 31 33 51

So why did Bayern Munich go out of Europe when everything else was going to plan – and what does this have to do with Arsenal?

Well, that’s not too hard for a journalist to answer for just as with Arsenal, everyone except the manager seems to know what’s wrong.  Julian Nagelsmann we are told (if we read the European press) is too young to be the manager – he’s only 34, and his pedigree in football isn’t right.

And he’s making the same mistakes as Pep Guardiola.  Yes honest.  The legendary mistakes of Guardiola, the man who has a certain involvement with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.   Mistakes that people who have never managed the under 10 team of their local school can see which the manager of Barcelona etc etc can’t see.

I mean what has Guardiola actually won?  Apart from La Liga (three times), the Champions League (twice, once runners up), the club world cup (three times, with two different clubs), the Bundesliga (three times), the Premier League (three times), the FA Cup.  Hardly a pedigree at all, more like mixed blood.

Yep these losers are guys who make the tactics more complicated than necessary, just because they can, and just to annoy those giants of intellectualism, the journalists.  It’s something that newspaper scribblers for can tell at a glance.

So a bit of a vindication for Unai Emery, who was kicked out by PSG for not winning the title, and by Arsenal for… well let’s have a look.  Here are his last five Premier League games with the other results around those matches added in.

Date Match Res Score Competition
21 Oct 2019 Sheffield United v Arsenal L 1-0 Premier League
24 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Vitória Guimarães W 3-2 Europa League
27 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Crystal Palace D 2-2 Premier League
30 Oct 2019 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-5 League Cup
2 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wa D 1-1 Premier League
6 Nov 2019 Vitória Guimarães v Arsenal D 1-1 Europa League
9 Nov 2019 Leicester City v Arsenal L 2-0 Premier League
23 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Southampton D 2-2 Premier League
28 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt L 1-2 Europa League

Nine games, one win, three draws, four defeats.   If we just take the Premier League results and ignore the Europa League and the League Cup,  it was two Premier League defeats and three Premier League draws in the last five games.  Three points.  Five goals for, eight goals against.

Which compares with four Premier League defeats and one Premier League win in the last five games achieved by Mr Arteta this season. Three points.  Two goals for, eight goals against.

We’ve changed managers and each time ended up with one doing worse than the one before!

On the day of the Emery sacking Arsenal were eighth in the league, having played 13 games.  We had a points per game (PPG) ratio of 1.38, compared with Chelsea who were in fourth place with a PPG of 2.00 and Liverpool at the top of the league with a PPG of 2.84.

Today we are sixth in the league with a PPG of 1.74, compared with Tottenham Ho in fourth who have a PPG of  1.78.

To make this clear we are currently 0.04 points per game behind the fourth-placed club.  When Mr Arteta arrived we were 0.62 points per game behind the fourth-placed team.  Now we are 0.64 points per game behind the top team.  That is progress.

The problem Mr Emery had at Arsenal was that he is skilled at getting players to perform above their level.  So what is Mr Arteta skilled at?

After he took over, the biggest achievement Arteta had was stopping Arsenal being the club that got the most yellow cards, while taking them up the league.  It was a remarkable achievement, and he did this by and large with the defence he inherited.

Except then he got rid of that defence and brought in a new one.   And maybe this new defence, next season, will be better than the defence we had with Mr Emery.  If so it will a remarkable defence.  The best, or at least second best, defence in the league.  Which suggests that all we need is an attack to go with it.

An attack that scores 0.61 more goals per match – that would put us at the same level as Chelsea.

5 Replies to “Reading the game: why do journalists always know more than managers?”

  1. Our ladies are out of the FA Cup losing 0 – 2 to Chelsea.

    Started well but failed to capitalise on some very promising positions early on. Remained the slightly better team throughout the first half without managing to trouble the Chelsea keeper.

    The second half was finely balanced until we missed a sitter after about 60 mins, and 2 minutes later Chelsea took the lead. We never really looked like getting backin to it from then on.

    Sadly much like the boys the finishing was not there, failing to hit the target once during the match.

    They never gave up it just wasn’t to be.

  2. Talking of Chelsea.

    Harvertz has been booked for one of the most blatant dives you will ever see, yet hardly a word of criticism from the commentators. Apparently he anticipated a challenge that never came. So that’s alright then ?

    Isn’t funny how some players are slaughtered and shamed for a dive, never being allowed to forget it for the rest of their careers, where others see it passed over as a mere irrelevance.

    Depends who you play for I suppose?

    It will be interesting to see if he gets any criticism at half time.

  3. Nope not a word. It’s as if it never happened.

    I’m sure if it was Xhaka they would of ignored it as well !!!

  4. If the Chelsea dive was against Arsenal,a penalty would probably have been given and the nearest defender given a yellow or even a red card (like David Luiz)

  5. John L

    It’s a perfect example of how it is the media that sets the agenda. How it’s the media that make the heroes and villains.

    As happened to Pires. Making so much of his dive against Portsmouth never left him through his entire career. Not only that but on the back of that one dive it lead certain people, Mick Mills in particular, labeling him as the guy that introduce diving to the premiership, despite Klinsmens efforts preceding him by some years, not to mention Francis Lee at Man City.

    Eduardo suffered similar derision that stuck with him for what remained of his short career and that despite being shown to not even of dived.

    But today not a word. It’s as though it never happened. Will Harvertz have this dive hung around his neck for the rest of his career? It certainly doesn’t look like it does it ? In fact it doesn’t seem like it hung around his neck till the end of the match.

    And this is how the media set the agenda.This guys a diver. This ones a cheat. This ones a thug. They pick who should be watched.

    Makes me sick.

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