THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

25 August ~ Six goals? Is that all you can manage? A once-shocking scoreline can no more than evoke a shrug among jaded observers of England’s top flight. It’s the inevitable consequence of the avaricious league’s economic disparity, and Blackpool, Wigan and West Brom take their beatings in good heart, because they know their place. They’re just grateful that they had the chance to be there in the first place, like those San Marino players who can brag to their grandchildren that they once played against England at Wembley.

“It's a joy for us to be here,” said Blackpool manager Ian Holloway after his team lost 6-0 to Arsenal at the weekend. “We'll have to take a few humblings, but I'm not that disappointed to be honest.” Well, he didn’t set expectations too high when he forecast before the game that his team might suffer a historic thrashing, so why be disappointed with a mere 6-0 defeat, if you can even call it a defeat? Pretty good result, come to think of it, because as Holloway swooned, pausing only to buy a dozen replica shirts and an Up The Gooners scarf at the Emirates megastore: “Arsenal are a team full of fantastic players. They way they try and play, pass and move is an education. Some of the football Arsenal played was world class and they could have scored more.”

Wigan’s Roberto Martinez was not especially perturbed at losing 6-0 at home to Chelsea, whom he duly congratulated for their win. “I was so pleased and so proud of them [the Wigan players] in the first half. Overall, there were many positives today, and the first half is something that will allow us to build.” Yeah, but you’re bottom after two games, both at home, with a minus-ten goal difference and no goals scored. “It is not a time to look at the table,” Martinez responded breezily. Pah, mere stats! “Our aim at Wigan Athletic is to achieve our aims, and that is something we’re going to work towards.” If you aim to achieve your aims, what can possibly go wrong? Even if that aim is, according to Martinez, nothing more than avoiding relegation.

West Brom’s Roberto di Matteo had been equally sanguine about shipping six to Chelsea the previous week. “Not every team has the quality this one does,” he said of his opponents, deeming the scoreline “a bit harsh”. He noted that “you can see why they are the champions, they are strong across the team, powerful and play well”. They do, don’t they? And “on the upside, we will not be playing Chelsea every week”. There’s always an upside, and Di Matteo must already have known that in another seven days his team would be happily grinding out a 1-0 win over Sunderland. 

Not that you expect managers to stand in front of the cameras after a 6-0 defeat and start raging at the Gods, because that would only lead to headlines gleefully declaring that they’d lost the plot. But perhaps they could have the decency to look just a little bit peeved, or upset. Maybe they could refrain from openly lauding the wonderful skills of their opponents, and be a tad more critical about their own team’s performance. I’m not a fan of Blackpool, Wigan or West Brom, but I can easily picture some of them watching these interviews and feeling the rage that was conspicuously absent from managers whose players have just stood by to admire the passing skills of a competitor. A sign of fight, and a little less respect, say.

The Premier League has become a long-haul jumbo jet. A few of the elite are in First Class, then there are a handful of First Class wannabes in Business (also known as Europa Class), while the majority of passengers stoically walk by on their way to Economy, coping with a flush of envy before fighting for a bit of legroom with all the other undesirables who are making up the numbers. They’re all in the same machine, but no one’s pretending they’re equal, because what can you do? Economy Class doesn’t complain, because it can’t afford to. And, sigh, did you see those beautiful reclining seats they have up front? You’ve got to admire it, Guy, absolutely first class. Ian Plenderleith

Comments (29)
Comment by plymouthbaggie 2010-08-25 11:03:57

What a crock of s..t this article was.
Are you a Villa fan by any cahance as you obviously forgot the 6-0 thrashing of long standing Premier League team called ASTON VILLA at the hands of Newcastle but then again I don't think the article was aimed at the score lines and more as a dig at the teams concerned as you see them as teams that shouldn't grace the Premier League and are relegation candidates. So what if the managers of these clubs take it with dignity, they are realists and know on the bugets they have to work with there is always a chance this will happen, I'm not saying it should but lets see as the season goes on if it continues (I don't think it will). As for West Brom they learnt a harsh leasson in bad defending of which I feel will make them better as the season goes on. Blackpool were down to 10 men due to an over excited ref who would not have made the same decision had it been the other end and Wigan again had the ref to thank for allowing a goal that was clearly offside but as the norm in the Prem the big teams will always get the decision.
As for West Brom (as you put it and I quote) "There’s always an upside, and Di Matteo must already have known that in another seven days his team would be happily grinding out a 1-0 win over Sunderland". You obviously didn't watch the match as it wasn't GROUND OUT and could have been more had it not been for the woodwork.
So please take your crap, none researched and one sided stories and put them where the sun don't shine.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-08-25 11:07:11

While money plays a part, I think an equally significant part is uniquely English. In Italy there is just a great a disparity between the big and the small. In fact if anything the way TV rights are spread in the respective leagues means the Premiership should be more equal. However in Italy, to revert to a stereotype, they are good at playing pragmatically. In England we demand our team bravely battle even if they are likely to get stuffed. It is the hall mark of the Premiership and what makes it so marketable. It also means smaller teams will struggle until they try to make their sum much more than their parts.
At the level I watch Lincoln have been slightly chastised for playing 5 across the middle in order to nullify a strong team away from home. There is genuine "worry" they will try this at home, with players coming out to say it is necessary to head off the concerns. While in Italy this would be sensible play, using tactics to overcome personnel weakness, in Lincoln it is criticised for being boring and not "having a go".
I agree big score lines are no longer a shock as it may have been before, 5-0 to Norwich against Everton from the early 90s still sticks in my mind, but I think it is more to do with pressure to appease the fans that have far more power in the age of 606 and feedback forums.

Comment by GordonSundog 2010-08-25 11:16:30

'WSC, the half decent football magazine

Could you redirect me to the decent half section?

Comment by bearlion 2010-08-25 11:35:04

@plymouthbaggie - why do you think the author's a Villa fan? There was no mention of Villa cos Kevin MacDonald blamed himself for the defeat. Villa are obviously not in awe of their opponents, unlike the teams mentioned in the article. Touched a nerve, didn't it?

Comment by Why Bother 2010-08-25 11:51:39

So teams without the finance are now devaluing the Premier League

What a load of utter garbage.

This is obviously written by a glory hunting supporter of a top four team losing his grip on reality.
How are these Manager’s supposed to react? Look a little bit peeved? What’s the point? They have realised their less gifted players have given it their best shot against some of the best footballers in the world, backed by a multi million pound business.

This may be difficult to understand but, the football league was set up over 120 years ago to provide competition among equals. Money, greed and the subsequently lack of competition is now devaluing the premier league, not teams accepting a thrashing.

0 out of 10. Must try harder. (How about taking the blinkers off?)

Comment by The Exploding Vole 2010-08-25 11:55:03

"This is obviously written by a glory hunting supporter of a top four team losing his grip on reality."

Come on, Ian, time for a confession ...

Comment by bearlion 2010-08-25 12:01:17

But isn't that exactly what he's saying, Why Bother? These teams are praising their opponents cos they have no chance of winning for exactly the reasons you point out, hence a devalued competition compared to the original league, or indeed the league 10 years ago.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-08-25 12:03:59

Always good some new readers venting a bit of bile on here. Have a read of this by the same author to soothe your pain:
http://www.wsc.co.uk/content/view/5702/38/

Comment by ATL11 2010-08-25 12:04:17

Ian an interesting article, but could be better.

Aston Villa not mentioned and that's this season. Neither too was Everton's 6 conceded last season, or an even worse score line from Wigan's 8 & 9 @ the hands of Chelsea & Spurs last season, think Villa also conceded 7 last season?

You can't use selective results to get a point across, especially when the info missed out contradicts the article.

As a Wigan fan, I want Bob to take the positives from the result, not seem like a gibbering wreck who obviously doesn't know what's he's doing. Or even worse be too truthful it destroys the team morale, get use to PR spin.

Football is a business now and let's not forget this, it is. Avoiding relegation is what we've been doing for 6 years, it's Wigan's business plan.

So a result with 0 points with a 1-0 defeat is no different than a 6-0 defeat, next match, take stock and move forward. It’s worked for 5 years.

Good analogy of the Jumbo jet, but as we all well know, the self proclaimed Premier ‘Best in the World’ League, it has 20 teams. Of which, 4 can win (Chelsea, City, Arsenal & United), 4 who can get to Europe (Liverpool, Villa, Spurs & Everton) and then the remaining 12 who just want to avoid relegation.

Comment by jameswba 2010-08-25 12:08:04

As another Albion fan (long-distance these days, admittedly), I feel the article is fair in some respects. During Tony Mowbray's time in charge, I got fed up with limp defeats against Liverpool, Chelsea etc and Mowbray saying things like 'our destiny won't be determined against sides like these'. In fact, it's been hard-earned points against the top sides that has helped the likes of Stoke, and even Wolves, extend their stays in the PL.

Having said this, I trust the author would accept that, if Albion, Blackpool and the like ARE to give those top sides a decent game, given the disparity of resources that exists (which the article doesn't acknowledge in any serious way), it will generally mean playing pragmatically, defensively if you like, as Lincoln suggests. True, Hull beat Arsenal playing 'good football' a couple of years ago but performances like that are the exception rather than the rule these days. Yet am I right in thinking that the author of this article wrote one a while back saying how much more fun it must be being a fan of a yo-yo side like Albion, with their pretty (if ineffective)football, than having to watch the more prosaic Stoke? If so, he's being a bit self-contradictory.

Finally, I think he should have waited until a bit more than two games into the season before making these judgements. There are probably several reasons for those 6-0 results which have nothing to do with the beaten sides just giving up. And, like Plymouthbaggie, I'd ask how Villa's defeat fits your theory(?)

Comment by WarleyJon 2010-08-25 12:55:24

History re-write article, but it totally fails. 0 out of 10.

Last season alone at Stamford Bridge Chelsea beat Aston Villa 7-1, Blackburn 5-0, Stoke City 7-0, Sunderland 7-2, Wigan Athletic 8-0, Wolves 4-0, as well as the champions winning 4-0 at Bolton and 5-0 at Portsmouth.

Sides were putting out intentionally weakened sides against the top teams and accepting a good beating from them, Wolves were the most outrageous for this but plenty of others have done it.

Do you have the memory of a goldfish or are you just so prejudiced and blinkered all you want to see is a premier league of a handful of clubs (what a massive yawnfest that would be).

Where was this article then?

With a rubbish level of writing like this perhaps you should get your application in to the BBC to stand in for Lawro now, you'll probably be snapped up instantly.

Comment by ian.64 2010-08-25 13:28:39

"@plymouthbaggie - why do you think the author's a Villa fan? There was no mention of Villa cos Kevin MacDonald blamed himself for the defeat."

Imp (as Ian Plenderleith calls himself in the website proper) isn't a Villa fan - he reveals his allegiance in the latest issue of WSC - but it's the sort of article that has me just sitting back, looking at the ceiling and whispering 'for fuck's sake' through gritted teeth. There's a supreme irony in that an article appearing on a website representing a magazine whose sympathies lie with those clubs who exist within such limitations and face such problems (mostly financial) that would make a Liverpool fan, say, sweat with fear, would chide those clubs and their teams for not facing up to those rampant, oligarch and UAE-sponsored outfits who pack their sides with the kind of talent only blank cheques could accomodate.

It's completely right to question the spirit of those teams when up against a Chelsea or Manchester United (of all the flaws you wouldn't want in your outfit, a certain spinelessness rates highest), but for Christ's sake, Plenderleith, did you take thickie pills before writing your piece? Because I'm sure the Ian Plenderleith who writes for When Saturday Comes wouldn't have submitted the above article for publication. Actually, with a few tweaks here and there, it could have easily sat opposite Jeff 'Harpo Marx' Powell's page in the Daily Mail. Or in another scenario, had LOL or ROFL placed on the end of it in some unsophisticated, rarely-read blog.

But then, after all that, I'm getting a bit pissed off with seeing a media dismissively chiding West Brom for being unadventurous and reluctant to face the Premiership both financially and characteristically who'll be the same ones congratulating them for 'good financial housekeeping' if and when they get relegated.

Sorry, Imp, but your piece is the strangest I've ever seen from you.

Comment by biziclop 2010-08-25 13:43:18

So what _are_ managers of losing sides supposed to say in public? Slag their own players off and whinge like your average fan? Would that do or would they need to completely lose it and kick the reporter in the groin area?

It's much more dangerous that people attribute any importance to these soundbites born out of contractual obligation. And I have to admit that so far I've associated this behaviour with the sort of gutter journalism you get from SSN or the BBC gossip column.

Comment by imp 2010-08-25 15:00:02

I refer you to bearlion's comment at 12.01. The piece is supposed to reflect the hopelessness of the status quo, and the seemingly passive acceptance of the Premier League's repeat cycle. It's not an attack on smaller clubs and an attempt to big up the Big Boys, as some of you have erroneously supposed (because, amazingly, I’m not really part of The Media, and I do not possess a Hidden Agenda fuelled by a secret love of Chelsea FC). All the hammerings you cite from previous seasons reflect this same point. I'm dismayed, though not surprised, at the genuflecting towards the world class blah blah skills of Arsenal etc. How do I expect such managers to react? Call me old-fashioned, but I'd expect them to be too upset by such a result to speak to the cameras (and I know it's a contractual obligation these days, but you can always break the contract and pay the fine). Maybe they should be in the changing room dishing out a 45-minute bollocking. Ian.

Comment by ian.64 2010-08-25 15:09:30

"I'm dismayed, though not surprised, at the genuflecting towards the world class blah blah skills of Arsenal etc. How do I expect such managers to react? Call me old-fashioned, but I'd expect them to be too upset by such a result to speak to the cameras (and I know it's a contractual obligation these days, but you can always break the contract and pay the fine). Maybe they should be in the changing room dishing out a 45-minute bollocking. Ian."

I'm not disagreeing with you on the mild, genuflecting reaction to a thumping, Ian, but I can only look upon Di Matteo and Co's concession to such defeats with resignation. Really, what can you do? Do you choose that course, or go down the brazenly honest road of pure anger, which risks making a manager look rattishly small and spiteful in such a way that makes Neil Warnock look like the model of conciliation. I've no anger towards Di Matteo. He may have had to say all the diplomatic things that make a man look like a wet sponge, but better that than to blow his top, make it look as though he'd lost it and just make things even worse.

He couldn't win either way. You state your intentions about that piece, but I think it missed the mark a bit and came out a little bit nastier than it should, that's all.

Comment by ian.64 2010-08-25 15:10:24

I've said 'make' too many times. I'd be shit on 'Just A Minute'.

Comment by Mr Beast 2010-08-25 15:21:42

I've read this article a couple of times and the fact that people see it as an endorsement of a handful of big clubs dominating the Premier League is a pitiful misreading of what the author says.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-08-25 15:37:46

My point about managers having to appease disgruntled fans seems to cover article writers as well now. Don't upset a Premiership fan, especially not one who supports one of "the other 16", it appears they are a bit touchy to anything other that praise be it the patronising BBC sort or otherwise.

Comment by jameswba 2010-08-25 16:10:26

Mr Beast is right - it is a misrepresentation of the article to suggest that it is in favour of big-club dominance of the PL. But I guess WSC-reading fans of Albion, Wigan and Blackpool would have prefered an article that emphasises the unfair financial disparity our clubs (and others) are facing. The author does mention this but, in my reading at least, as an ironic preamble to his criticisms of the public reactions of the losing managers rather than as the main focus. If that's a misreading, whoever wrote the headline to the article is guilty of a similar one.

One other point ; in December of Albion's 'great escape' season (2004-2005) we successively lost 4-0 at Birmingham and 5-0 at home to Liverpool. The results actually seemed to lead to a 'grasping of the nettle', a realisation that change and improvement were necessary, and quickly. They were not a symptom of resignation to the status quo. Similarly, those clubs who've suffered 6-0 losses this season might react positively.

The article makes some perfectly fair points but is flawed in the way it seems to take the managers' reactions at face value (how do you know they're not issuing bollockings in private?) and because it's still too early in the season to make judgements about what one 6-0 defeat might signify.

Comment by City till I cry 2010-08-26 04:51:30

Who's the pilot then?

Comment by ian.64 2010-08-26 08:46:58

"The article makes some perfectly fair points but is flawed in the way it seems to take the managers' reactions at face value (how do you know they're not issuing bollockings in private?) and because it's still too early in the season to make judgements about what one 6-0 defeat might signify."

Which was why I was upset with the article - Mr. P can do irony pretty bloody well (and I can't argue with his sharp, experienced writing in general, both in skill and content), but I think too much 'ironic preamble' was laid on as to muddle the intentions of his piece - the managers-in-defeat were placed in a wrily-critical framework that made them look like prats for their hapless efforts against Chelsea, not just for their placatory after-match comments - the last paragraph, with its reference to 'first class and economy class passengers', just seemed to tip the whole thing into a morass of sarky disparagement. Yes, irony, thank you for telling me, but I didn't know I'd have to burrow down several levels of the stuff in order to know what the article was all about.

Actually, if anything, I found Ancelotti's attitude after such trouncings the more off-putting. It's one thing to thrash your opponents, but it pours salt on a few wounds to make it look as if you didn't even acknowledge that they actually existed at all.

Comment by Leon Tricker 2010-08-26 12:33:50

Imp / Ian P. - did you see John Coleman's interview on the BBC League Cup highlights show last night? Think you would have enjoyed it! :-)

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-08-26 13:11:20

One thing this article does show is the pent up rage lurking behind so many keyboards.

Maybe the ad hominem attacks reveal the deep frustration felt by many fans stuck in 'economy class'. (Which I didn't read as patronising, just an analogy showing how things are.)

Comment by ian.64 2010-08-26 15:04:11

"One thing this article does show is the pent up rage lurking behind so many keyboards."

Ooh, Bill Bixby had nothing on us anger-fuelled societal rejects. We're a bit like The Incredible Hulk, only without the 'Muscle & Fitness' cover look, green epidermis and clothing malfuctions.

Comment by WarleyJon 2010-08-27 13:08:48

Jongudmund.

No.

Quite the reverse.

An ad hominem attack "involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent's argument."

This is exactly what the author has employed in his article.

This is what has been used sparingly and only in few of the responses.

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-08-27 13:17:04

WarleyJon,

Are you the same WarleyJon who earlier wrote: "Do you have the memory of a goldfish or are you just so prejudiced and blinkered" and "With a rubbish level of writing like this perhaps you should get your application in to the BBC to stand in for Lawro now"?

(Admittedly the second comment was funny, but still name-calling all the same.)

Comment by enzee199 2010-08-30 00:41:04

Well I for one think It's a good article. Didn't anyone else think that after two 6-0 hammerings that the Premier League has reached a new nadir of uncompetitiveness?

I don't think it's an unreasonable assumption to make that there has been a tacit acceptance amongst those involved that the league has solidified into a 3-tier system. I remember years ago and Sheffield Wednesday were leading after the first few weeks, something like that would never happen now.

Comment by WarleyJon 2010-09-01 12:18:40

Jongudmund.

Yes.

First I said the article employed ad hominem attacks - which it does.

Then I said most of the replies do not - which they do not, I never said I did not!

Also I provided the dictionary definition of an ad hominem attack to prove my point.

With reference to that definition you seem to have missed out the phrase 'in order', I may have used insulting language but strictly speaking they are relevant as memory, discernment and bias are the issue and the flaws or actions are directly relevant. Of course it was an attack, just not an ad hominem attack.

I still don't see how the hammerings actually going down in level on last season (I quoted the relevant figures including the 7's 8's and 9) yet we are supposed to have reached a new nadir. It is a bizarre near evidenceless rant on the basis of single games that one can only assume was particularly aimed at the supporters of Wigan, West Brom and Blackpool (Villa being mysteriously exempt) and has already been showed to be foolishly adopted given the first twos more recent away performances at Tottenham and Liverpool respectively.

Comment by bearlion 2010-09-01 12:26:44

Kinel – the article's not about the fact that thrashings happen, it's about the reactions of certain managers/clubs to those thrashings. Neither O'Neill nor MacDonald overly praised Chelsea and Newcastle, hence the "mysterious" Villa exemption, which isn't mysterious at all if you read it properly.

Related articles

Mauricio Pellegrino on defensive as Southampton’s talent well dries up
Embed from Getty Images // The Saints manager seems reluctant to take the handbrake off his team despite his predecessor being sacked for...
Crystal Palace gaining confidence under Roy Hodgson and relishing survival battle
Embed from Getty Images // Despite their disastrous early season under Frank de Boer showed up Eagles’ shortcomings but reverting to a...
Outside The Box: A statistical journey through the history of football
by Duncan AlexanderCornerstone, £16.99Reviewed by Gordon CairnsFrom WSC 369, November 2017Buy the book Imagine a book, the bulk of which...