By Tony Attwood
If ever Arsenal needed a boost before a game the result of the women’s match last night should surely provide that, with a staggering 1-5 away win at Lyon. Indeed we can be reminded of just how staggering this was with a look back at Arsenal.com’s preview of the match which read,
“Over at the Groupama Stadium, we have the small task of tackling the reigning European champions on their home turf. Historically the most successful team in women’s football, Lyon have long attracted some of the biggest names in the world to their side and their latest host of household names will be facing off against us at 8pm.
“Lyon are the most successful club in Women’s Champions League history, winning the title a record eight times. Between the years 2016 to 2020, they were an unstoppable force both in Europe and domestically, scooping the Champions League trophy five times in a row.”
Indeed. I’m hoping Andrew might have a report for us shortly.
And if that were not enough to start the day with a smile, there’s a headline in the Telegraph today which reads Dominant Manchester United sink miserable Spurs. Since the media’s pre-season predictions universally had Tottenham as a top-four team this season (and Arsenal most certainly not) it would be nice to have a fulsome explanation of what has gone wrong so far.
But this is now officially, “Let’s talk up Man U” time – Manchester U being another team that none of the pundits thought would make the top four this season. Perhaps we’ll see a raft of journalistic resignations – although breath-holding is not being suggested at the moment.
What last night’s results mean is that the Big Seven as we called them during the pre-season write-ups, are now occupying the top seven spots in the premier league, although perhaps to keep some realism in mind we might also note that Tottenham and Newcastle have each played a game extra, and that Liverpool are 11 points behind Arsenal with a quarter of the season gone, so not exactly challenging.
And the Big Seven are looking rather secure at the moment since if we reduce the league to the last six games played it is still the same clubs that are listed in the top seven. Although this does make the point that Tottenham H are slipping a bit. But of course, it is early days.
The key point about Tottenham’s performance according to the critics is that, “it was a performance that will fuel concern and questions over the head coach’s defensive tactics will only be asked more and more.”
But the main talking point is managerial responses to refereeing decisions, and I suppose that given there is an absolute veto within the media on ever talking critically about refereeing and how refs are so deeply influenced by the crowd, that is a step forward. But the fact is that managers know (even though the media utterly refuse ever to mention it) that many referees are hugely influenced by the crowd, and that the vagaries of refereeing in the Premier League can be more powerful than what the teams do on the pitch.
The overall media point is that “There is no doubt Jurgen Klopp was in the wrong. But then so, to a lesser extent, were Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag and even David Moyes. Yes, there were some poor refereeing decisions but there were also some very good ones and in Klopp’s case in particular the intimidation he tries to bear on the officials has to stop.”
Which puts managerial behaviour down to bad manners and poor upbringing I suppose. But there is a much more valid alternative explanation: if you missed it there are details on How it was proven that PL referees are unreliable, and this season’s figures
So the Telegraph’s suggestion is that the League Managers Association should tell the Liverpool manager that he has gone too far. Personally, if I was involved I would be telling him he has not gone far enough. Until clubs unite in telling PGMO that their ludicrous performances and match-fixing has to stop, we aren’t going to get any progress at all.
But it is a typical piece of PGMO – media management. Statistics relating to referees show there is something seriously wrong with a lot of them so the media’s response is… “let’s ignore it and criticise a manager instead.”
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