There’s a lot of misinformation in the world, especially in football. Rumours, speculation and tabloid apologies hidden on page 27 two years after a story – it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t sometimes. But more prevalent are the generally held beliefs about certain aspects of our game. Here’s some beliefs I consider to be untrue. So that means that they are.
The Championship Is The Hardest League To Get Out Of
Surely it’s as easy/difficult as any other league? After all, three teams have to go up, so how can it be harder? It would only be harder if every other league had four or five teams going up. For this reason, the Conference is probably the hardest league to get out of, as fewer teams go up. Of course it depends on where any particular team’s journey has taken them prior to being in the Championship. Those teams relegated from the Premiership stand a better chance of getting out of the Championship (via promotion) because of the parachute payments they receive. If you’re promoted from League One, then you’ll probably be looking to consolidate. But then this is true of any league really – those that have come from the division above will probably have the better players and resources for a promotion push. Not that Southampton are struggling that much to try and get out of the Championship this season….
Tottenham Hotspur are the great entertainers
No, no, no. Nyet. Nien. Non. Nae. No. Of course it depends on your definition of “entertainers”, but the fact is that for the last two seasons they have scored fewer goals than Manchester City in total, and also split down have scored fewer goals at home and fewer goals away. They have conceded more too, both in total, and home and away, so maybe this counts as part of being great entertainers. Their record against the rest of the “Top 6” is terrible, their goal difference is 27 goals worse than Manchester City’s, 16 worse than Manchester United’s, they’ve scored fewer goals than “struggling” Arsenal. And yet journalist after journalist proclaims that they are playing the best football in the country.
There’s no doubt they are an entertaining team, due to their pace, and width, with a number of flair players who are comfortable on the ball. They are great entertainers – they are not THE great entertainers.
Decisions even out over the season
They don’t. It’s random. By pure chance your team’s decisions may even out – but the odds suggest they won’t, one way or the other. There’s no magical being, no football god that looks over matches to make sure teams get justice after a wrong-doing. There’s a devil in Sepp Blatter looking over us, but he doesn’t like the one thing that could even things out, namely video technology.
The various myths of the co-commentator (due to a fragile grasp on the rules of the game)
These are all wrong: contact means it must be a penalty; raised hands mean a red card; the referee should apply common sense; red cards ruin games; handball means a penalty; last man, so has to be red; he got some of the ball, therefore can’t be a foul.
Steve Bruce is a (remotely) good manager
Or many of the various other managers that come off the Old Trafford conveyor belt. Playing under Alex Ferguson does not naturally mean you’ll be a great manager. It does mean that various chairmen will think you are though, and continue to employ you whatever your track record. See also Bryan Robson and Roy Keane, to name but two.
Manchester United are stronger over the second half of the season
Well strictly speaking, there is some truth in this. But not as much as you might think. Since football began in 1992, United have averaged 40.5 points in the first half of seasons, and 42.3 points in the second half of seasons. So there is an increase in the second half, but it isn’t much really, under two points.
What this tells us more than anything perhaps is that they are consistent. And as much as they may or may not improve at the “business end” (yuk) of the season, it may be as much a case of them keeping going whilst those around them often falter (I’m looking at you Kevin Keegan). Of course you must also factor in points lost due to dead rubbers at the end of seasons, so there is an improvement, but it’s not a huge swing in form.
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Good player on Youtube = good player in real life
With skilful editing, even Two Pints of Lager And A Packet of Crisps can look good on Youtube. OK, maybe that’s stretching things, but Georgios Samaras certainly looked the part.
Denis Law’s backheel goal relegated Manchester United in 1974
It didn’t – they were going down anyway, due to results elsewhere – but that doesn’t scan as well, sadly.
The Leeds side under Don Revie were a dirty side
A friend who would know far better than I (a kind way of saying he’s much older) says they were very much maligned, and not as dirty as often made out. The Chelsea side of that era however…..
Revie’s team were lazily labelled “Dirty Leeds”, a tag that still stirs resentment in Yorkshire. “It was amazing that Leeds kept a reputation in the rest of the country as a very hard team,” says Lord Harewood, the club’s president to the Telegraph’s Henry Winter in 2009.
“They tackled hard. They played to win but they were also tremendously good footballers. There were very few better players around than Allan Clarke. Or Johnny Giles. Or any of them really. Don resented the notion that Leeds were a dirty team. They were tough but not dirty. “
The Premiership Is The Most Exciting League In The World, Ever!
As the excellent Arsenal v Spurs match reached its climax, Gary Neville said: “You just don’t get games like this in La Liga, Serie A.”
Ah yes, the myth of the most exciting league in the world. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It probably isn’t.
Either way, this season, Real Madrid have come from behind to win 6-2, 5-1, 4-2 and 4-1, AC Milan came from 3-0 down to beat Lecce 4-3, Juventus came from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with Napoli (thank you football365.com). And the day before Neville’s comments: well, there was the small matter of Lyon 4 PSG 4. PSG equalized in the 90th minute by the way. The co-commentator was heard to say, “You wouldn’t get this score in the Belgian leagues….”
Newcastle fans love a number nine.
I’m sure they do. But then so does everyone else. Have Newcastle fans really worshipped their star strikers more than any other club in the country? No, of course not.
The North East is a hotbed of football
I’m sure it is – but no more than some other parts of the country. There’s quite a lot of interest in football in our capital city too, and the middle section of the country, and I hear that there’s a mild smattering of good football in the north-west of England. Some of the fans are quite passionate about it too. But not as much as in Middlesbrough obviously.
Away goals count double
They really don’t. Ever.
Mario Balotelli never let off fireworks in his bathroom (his friend did). He didn’t really drive round Manchester dressed as Santa Claus, handing out presents. He hasn’t really had 2000 parking tickets either. He probably hasn’t done a lot of things you think he has, crazy as he might well be. So the next time you see a crazy story about him, be it paragliding over Old Trafford dressed as Bananaman, or driving his car up the spirals at the Etihad stadium for a laugh (in reverse), statistically there is only a 27% chance it actually happened.
If Celtic and Rangers were in the Premier League, they’d struggle to stay up
They wouldn’t because they’d suddenly be a lot, lot richer, and as we all know, money brings success. Though considering Rangers’ current plight, maybe I’m being a bit presumptuous. Celtic and Rangers are potential cash-cows, but suffer somewhat because of poor television and commercial deals because they are big fish in a small pond. In a bigger pond they’d probably double their income in no time, and whist it would take time to build the team up and compete, I have little doubt they would be competitive in the Premier League before too long. Their home records would be pretty handy too.
And finally of course – ManchesterCity have killed football.