Which Is More Important For The Big Six – Winning Or Performance?

Posted: October 20, 2017 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Managers, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
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This is a question we would like to be able to put to José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. It would also get interesting replies from Arséne Wenger, Antonio Conte and Jürgen Klopp, not to mention Mauricio Pochettino.

To be fair they all set out, at the beginning of each season, to play open attractive football. Football is, after all, part of the entertainment industry and it’s success is measured, to an extent, by the amount of people who watch the games. This, in turn, dictates the quality of sponsorship attracted which determines the money paid into the clubs by these sponsors, and so on and so on.

But how many of the big six have a plan B? That is to say that, when the other five meet Manchester City, for example, do they have a way of playing which is not their usual style in order to combat the all-out attack which is ALWAYS Guardiola’s style?

José Mourinho certainly does. He relishes the challenge of choosing a style and a formation based on the opponent being faced, particularly away from home. He doesn’t give two hoots about entertainment if he is facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in an important league game!

Whilst he accepts that there is a certain amount of responsibility to entertain, he will say that fans watch winning teams first and entertaining ones second. He also tries to make sure that United followers at Old Trafford are sufficiently happy with the team performances and have nothing to complain about on the journey home.

It would appear that Jürgen Klopp is similar in his thinking to Guardiola in that he has a way of playing which he will stick to 99% of the time. He actually tried to take the game to City at The Etihad recently and was doing reasonably well until Sade Mané was sent off.

They ended up losing 5-0 but the general consensus was that they would still have lost had they remained with eleven players on the pitch. This proves that, in general, taking on a team at the entertainment game, particularly when they are better at it than yours, is not always a good idea!

Arséne Wenger famously tried to take Liverpool on at Anfield and was another who came unstuck in the process, which maybe proves that Mourinho does occasionally have the right idea for tricky away games.

Arsenal were woeful on the day and lost 4-0 in a game where they could have conceded more and never looked like scoring. In fairness to Arsenal they haven’t been very good whatever the tactics or system they have employed so their plan A needs to be re-invented if at all possible. Stubborn old man has long been accused by virtually everyone of not having a plan B!

Antonio Conte and Chelsea currently don’t appear to know which way they are going to play. Some good results have been overshadowed recently by some bad ones and losses to Crystal Palace and Burnley were not regarded as entertaining by the Chelsea faithful, even if the rest of us were amused.

It is also not helpful when the manager continually complains about the number of games and the injuries he has to deal with. He knew all of this before he even came to England and, if he didn’t, there were enough people warning him last season that it would all be much more difficult when he had the Champion’s League to contend with.

Now he just comes across like a spoilt child who knows his behaviour is wrong but just won’t admit it or change it.

Of the six managers, Mauricio Pochettino is the least vocal and the one who gets on with his job with the least fuss. He always tries to send out his team to entertain but Spurs fans would prefer him to find a way to win consistently at White Hart Wembley than to play sexy football.

Finally, full circle back to Pep Guardiola. It has been said that Pep, in a similar way to Wenger, doesn’t have a plan B because he only knows one way to play. There is probably some truth in this as evidenced by City’s dismal showing, (by their standards anyway), last season.

Guardiola didn’t have the players he wanted and, now that he has, there is a marked difference.

So entertaining the fans is important but it is not the priority for most of the big six managers. In a game where jobs are lost on a very regular basis it is the pressure put on these coaches to produce results which has taken away some of the entertainment from this “win at all costs” world.

The supporters know this and, in the main, are prepared to accept it against big clubs in difficult games. They see no reason, however, why they should not be entertained when their team is at home to some of the so-called minnows.

There, that’s another difficult question answered with remarkable clarity if you can see through mud!

 

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