Friday, 29 May 2009
The league doesn't lie. Or so we are constantly told, and while one can't argue with the absolute truth inherent in this obvious platitude, there is surely an argument for decrying the logic of the league table as being a hideously over-simple distillation of the subtle nuance and shifts of dramatic action that occur during what are months and months of a specific sport's competition. The current obsession with league placings and indeed the modern cult of silverware, was not always so prevalent as it is today, and in a time when the teams within a league were more evenly matched, a good season might be considered one in which your club had a good cup run, and won most of their home games. It is with this in mind that the end of season comments of the army of professional Arsenal haters, they actually call themselves pundits sometimes, must surely be taken. The Stan Collymores of this world would have us all believe that Arsenal are in crisis, a club that is going backwards, whatever on earth that means, and that they are content to finish fourth. What these astute and highly regarded commentators on the game don't seem to realize, or perhaps don't appreciate, is the logical extension of their argument. Is the end game then, that everyone wins the league? Surely that is the only way for all the clubs to avoid incurring the wrath of the British punditry. Or maybe the clubs just have to show the ambition to win the league, which it would seem can only be quantified by the amount of money lavished on a swathe of world-class superstars to come into the club and usher in a new era of world domination, as Chelsea have done. Oh wait, Chelsea ended up third, and losing semi-finalists of the Champions League as well. The thing to focus on is this; someone actually has to finish fourth, as they do second, third, and indeed, last. But this mathematical truism seems lost on the intellects that are paid to provide us with the sort of insight that can only come with years and years of experience of playing the game, managing, or writing the same cliché-ridden tripe season on season for the past decade. And while realizing that Arsenal were off the pace this season, and not as close to United as last term, when they were, let's not forget, very close, some acceptance of the fact that only one team can win any competition and some respect for Wenger trying to find another way of doing so, would surely lead to some more incisive, original thought out there in the journalistic netherworld.