We like to hear things that reinforce our opinions.
We agree with those that have the same opinions as us and argue against those who have opinions that differ. Of course we do. Why would we not? I have yet to meet someone that thinks their opinion is wrong. If they did they would change it. So everyone thinks their opinion is right.
The problem starts when we argue against someone with superior knowledge of a subject and refuse to entertain the idea that they are more likely to be right than we are.
The problem with football is most people believe they have a great knowledge when in fact, in most cases, mine included, it’s nothing more than a basic layman’s knowledge. Then someone comes along – let’s say someone like Gary Neville – and says the same as you. Now Gary clearly has better than a layman’s knowledge so you hold him up as evidence that not only were you right, but you know as much as him, because you have drawn the same conclusions.
To me though, this a a bit like feelling unwell and wanting the opinion of a consultant to confirm your self-diagnosis; instead you speak to a nurse and because he/she confirms your thoughts, you are happy to accept this opinion.
What are pundits though?
As a rule they are either ex-footballers that were good at kicking a ball and not much else, serially failed managers or shock-jock second-rate journalists. They are employed for their entertainment value much more than their football nous.
As a rule they are “paint by numbers” in their thinking. They stick to the formula of how the layman sees the game. How many times do we hear “the United way, the Liverpool way or the Arsenal way” with pundits insisting that managers should stick to a sometimes 40- or 50-year old way of playing, because that once brought that club success. They pick the moment in time where the club had its greatest success with its greatest team and players and insist that is the template.
In the case of Arsenal that’s The Invincibles.
Arsene mixed that formula, it brought unprecedented success and he should stick to it.
Well that might well work if the game had not moved on, if pitches had not improved, if the technical excellence of top players had not improved or perhaps if players as good as those from the previous era are now available to be bought and kept.
However, if you attempt to stick to that formula with lesser players, in a different environment, the chances are success will not follow.
If you are playing Dembélé, Schneiderlin and Remy for Vieira, Gilberto and Henry (because they are the nearest you can get or afford) then will it work? I would suggest not.
If you do what many clubs do and follow the formula of buying the best player you can afford, in the accepted mould, you will finish behind clubs that follow the same formula but can buy better players.
A player like Santi would never see the light of day in mid-field.
It might be that we can’t win the league with diminutive technical players like Santi, Jack, Ozil and Rosicky, but I suggest we have a better chance than with second-rate players that fit the accepted mould.
Pedantic George @Blackburngeorge