The 10 really important topics people never talk about in football.

By Sir Hardly Anyone

1: Why the results of games owe as much to who is refereeing the game as to the qualities of the two teams.

In simple terms, the percentage of home wins that each referee in the Premier League oversees, varies enormously depending on the ref.  From 65.2% for Jonathan Moss to 37.5% for Paul Tierney.  And it’s not because the former is generally given games where the home team is much stronger and the latter the reverse.

Indeed, from a statistical point of view the answer has to do with the home bias that many referees suffer from.  But that too is never mentioned.

2.  Why so many media predictions of football transfers are wrong, and no one seems to mind.

For something like ten years we have had a bit of fun each summer, recording all the predictions relating to which player is moving where during the transfer window.  And last summer the accuracy rate lept to an all time high of … 3%.

In most jobs and indeed in most amateur activities, an all time high success rate of 3% would mean sane people would just pack up and do something else, but not in football journalism.  And remember 3% was the record.   Previously we have seen success rates at around 1.5% and 2%.

3.  Why footballing organisations can make such dreadful mistakes and then suffer no real punishment, and that is not a major story.

I’m thinking here of Uefa and its organisation of the Champions League final, and the FA and its organisation of the Euro final.  In the normal world when organisations screw up there is a consequence.

Take football management as an example.  A manager does not meet or exceed the expectations of the board of directors and is invariably sacked.   But when the FA screw up in the biggest way possible by not foreseeing the chaos that could ensue at Wembley for the final against Italy, and none of the FA board are kicked out.

Of course if the FA had any decency the whole board would resign, but I suppose they have got away with it for so long, and they know the media will never attack them, they just expect to get away with anything without being held to account.  And they do.

Uefa is  the same.  They had a superb case against Manchester City’s overspending but failed to put the details in to CAS in time at the appeals hearings, and so lost.

4.   Why clubs and fans continue to believe that changing managers works.

It is just about the one and only response to a team doing badly: change the manager.

The notion is that the fans can see what is wrong, and the media can see what is wrong, and yet the board of directors, and the senior officials within the club can’t.  This is illogical both at the level that clearly the fans and media don’t have all the facts, and that really if fans and media can see it all so readily, why don’t they just get a job in football?

Consider the huge losses caused by sacking Wenger, hiring Emery, buying Emery focussed players (Pepe for example) and then sacking Emery and hiring Arteta.  And we’re still not back in the top four.

Why changing managers and changing players doesn’t help, and yet fans and pundits keep demanding it.

5.  Why statistics are shunned – except expected goals.

The expected goals stats has become quite popular, and it does give an interesting bit of information about the level of build up and the accuracy of strikers, but not much more.

Yet there is so much more data available.  Take for example Arsenal’s transformation from the club that was getting the most yellow cards in a season, to a club that right near the bottom of the yellow card table.  Never mentioned in the media.

Or how two seasons ago Arsenal were 15th in the first third of the season, and 2nd in the last two thirds of the season.  That wasn’t mentioned (except here) and so wasn’t analysed.

6.  Why VAR is such a mess and yet continues as before.

The delays, the repeats, the accuracy, the whole sheer performance.   It is just a horrible time delaying mess.  And has not been put right.

7.  Why there are not more referees in PGMO

It is one of our oldest beefs – we are showing that referee behaviour is weird on the issue of percentage of home wins.  And obviously increasing the number of referees and decreasing the maximum time any referee can oversee matches of one club must be helpful.  So why not do it?

8.  Why football journalists claim they know best?

Day after day they  insist they know more than managers and yet don’t move over to the much better paid job of being a football manager after which they could come back and write about it as a journalist.  Yet day after day they write about what the manager ought to do.

9.  Why we are out on a limb

Why the view from Europe is so different from England has been a constant topic here, with English journalsits ignoring issues concerning Fifa, Uefa, and CAS while the rest of Europe continues to take such matters seriously.   Yet football in England is ruled by CAS, Fifa and Uefa, so surely it is of interest.

10.  Racism

One of the big stories in Europe as I write is the racial abuse of Xhaka while playing for Switzerland.  It has caused outrage in the European media, but here?  Nothing.  Why racism is so rampant across Europe, and seeminigly getting worse?


One Reply to “The 10 really important topics people never talk about in football.”

  1. Didn’t Unai Emery want Wilfred Zaha and got Nicholas Pepe instead thanks to Raul and his connections, in fact I’m not really sure that Emery ever got any of the players he actually wanted.

    I guess that one day we’ll find out what actually went on during the time that Raul was our Director of Football?

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