With football, we are completely inundated with stats coming in from a thousand different angles. If for example, you want to convince someone that Mesut Ozil is the best midfielder in the Premier League, you can probably find a bunch of stats to tell a compelling story. If you want to convince someone he’s pants, you can do exactly the same. I’m sure there’s a stat which would suggest that Tom Huddlestone is faster than Hector Bellerin over a certain distance, weather conditions, footwear and food placed at the finish line.
However, sometimes I feel like the stats which would put a lot of arguments to bed are often suppressed in the media. It’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, but let’s say for example I had a stat which would categorically tell you who is the best winger in Europe and left little room to debate, then what would people fill their columns with? I’m not saying I have a stat that definitive but I do think there are some stats around which I’ve seen which simply do not get the air-time they deserve.
A good example…..
People often debate who the best managers are. Arguments like “Is Pep better than Mourinho?” or “Is Wenger better than Fergie?” have been debated in many a boozer. So people often bring out stats about how many trophies they’ve won in their careers, and use that as a major basis for their argument. It’s an easy stat to use because stats like that get published a lot.
However, why do we never see the stats in the mainstream media such as Stefan Szymanski’s model showing a clear correlation between wages and trophies? There’s significant evidence to suggest that in general, the team that pays the highest wages, wins the league. In some publications, I’ve read that up to 85% of the time that stat holds true. Think about it, 85% is an astronomical percentage.
Is the reason why we don’t see that stat or derivations of that stat published because it basically suggests that it could be pointless arguing about who’s a better manager at winning trophies? I’m sure that the smartest “top” level managers only go to clubs where they are capable of at least competing with any other club in terms of wages should the player they want come available (Mourinho – Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Madrid, Man Utd tells a good story. Pep – Barca, Munich, Man City another).
Perhaps the better stat to judge a manager is an analysis of their league positions as a ratio against how they ranked in terms of wages. I imagine Wenger ends up looking ok in that compared to the other “top” managers in the world. Maybe that’s why some of the clubs that our fans ironically wish we could have ambitions like (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG) have frequently asked for Wenger’s hand in marriage over the years? That being said, I imagine there are other mid-level managers who could look even better. There is the argument however that some managers are just better at managing at the top level with big budgets than others regardless of how effective the other managers may be with smaller budgets. It is complicated, and I do think some very talented managers just can’t do the big jobs as well as they can do smaller jobs, and vice versa.
So if I put the Arsenal lens on it now specifically, can we really complain that Wenger isn’t truly “competing” for the big trophies if Arsenal have never been the highest wage spender in the league? I guess we can if he’s the reason why we haven’t been spending big on wages but I do genuinely doubt that it’s all him. However, it does add fuel to the argument that whoever comes into manage Arsenal after Wenger is unlikely to bring trophies to Arsenal unless he is allowed to offer the same level of wages as his title rivals. I mean why are we having the debate of whether we should get Allegri, Tuchel, Mancini, Pardz etc if we still won’t let them spunk out £200k a week on a world class player like our rivals are doing? Surely we’ll just end up in top 4 battles again at best. The stats suggest that could be the case.
I tell you a stat I’d love to see though. Surely there’s a critical point where a manager’s chances of winning a title at a club diminishes after spending x amount of time without winning the title at the same club. So what I mean is, say if a manager goes one year without winning the title at a club, I imagine statistically they still have a good chance of winning it the next. However, if a manager goes three years without winning the title at a club, what do the statistics show around how often they have managed to win it again in that tenure? I imagine it’s very small. Surely if anything, this statistic would be a compelling one in the Wenger In/Out argument.
Sorry to be boring guys but I think if we want to foster ambitions of winning trophies then we kinda just need to spend some f*ckin money and stop worrying about who our manager might be. Also, apologies to anyone who read the title of this article and thought it was about whether paying employees at a trophy store higher wages will result in the production of larger trophies.