The IFFHS – Where Spurs & Liverpool Are Ranked Higher Than Arsenal

Extremists. They get right on my nerves. The worst ones are those who don’t recognise that they’re at the end of the spectrum, the outlier in the statistical analysis, they think they’re in the middle as one of the reasonable majority.

When it comes to Arsenal (in fact most things) I’m in the middle. Despite the name of this blog I represent the reasonable majority. I get annoyed about things when they’re not done properly, when I can see that improvements could be made. That’s why I criticise Arsène Wenger – because he’s not perfect. And the Arsenal Board – they’re not perfect either. Nor is David Dein, nor Alisher Usmanov. Nor was Danny Fiszman. I’ve criticised all of them.

Whoever I criticise, some people at the end of the spectrum I’m criticising overreact and jump to the conclusion that I’m at the other end of the spectrum. If I say Herbert Chapman was Arsenal’s greatest manager (he was), extremist Arsène fanatics leap up and say I must hate Wenger! AW is clearly the greatest manager of all time in their eyes (and Coach of the Decade 2000-2010, remember). So if I don’t love him unreservedly I must hate him and want him sacked!

I criticise the Arsenal Board: I must love Usmanov! I must want to sell Arsenal’s soul to a dodgy mafia-linked Russian! But I criticise Usmanov too: Shock! I love Stan! I’m in the pay of the club and we’ll never win anything with that tightfisted moneygrabber in charge!

I could take the easy option and not criticise anyone. Just be relentlessly positive about everything to do with Arsenal, and overlook any obvious errors the club makes. Always expect things will turn out just fine. I call this the ‘@10Akhil Option’. (It’s okay, I love Akhil, and he’s happy, Good for him.) But it’s not in my nature to do that. It’s in my nature to take a critical look at things and see if they can be improved. Even if they’re okay, can they be better? Here’s the thing: they usually can. Even when they’re being run by experts. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Here’s something decided by experts. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) – the same people who awarded Arsène Wenger Coach of the Decade, rightly or wrongly – do a poll for World’s Most Popular Footballer. They’ve been doing this since 2006. Here’s the list of winners, courtesy of Wikipedia:worlds most popular footballer

Stevie G, yes I’ve heard of him. More recently there was, umm, who’s he again? And him? And the guy who won it twice? Ummmm.

Now obviously some people have heard of these players, particularly in their own countries or the countries they play in, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in the world who hasn’t. I can save them the trouble of a poll, though: the most popular footballer in the world is an Argentinean called Lionel Messi. Short fellow, scores a lot. Very popular.

Before him it was David Beckham. You may have heard of him also – not as good as Messi, but immensely popular. Phenomenally so.

You’d think after eight straight years of definitely picking the wrong guy the IFFHS might give up, but no – they’re experts you see. Their way must be right.

Also according to the IFFHS rankings, Liverpool are the 25th best club in the world, while Tottenham are 37th. Guess where Arsenal are. Actually don’t bother because I don’t know – they don’t appear in the top 40. I read it eight times to be sure.

So should Arsène be Coach of the Decade? Just because everything else the IFFHS says looks like a load of rubbish doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong about that. Arsène’s best placing in Coach of the Year was second in both 2002 and 2004. Meanwhile Fergie, second in the ‘Decade’ race, was winner for the year once and runner-up once. Jose Mourinho, third for the decade, was Coach of the Year four times. Here’s the trophy count for the three:Coach of the decade trophies

I’ve got to say the case for Arsène to be number one is not hugely strong on those statistics. For the period up to 2005 he’s right there, but since then, not so much. It doesn’t mean he’s not a great manager, but look how much the others have won. ‘But look at the restrictions Arsène had to work under!’ say his supporters. ‘Who could have done a better job with the resources?’ Well we’ll never know if anyone could. Maybe someone could; maybe no one could. Nevertheless, Arsène extremists hold the Coach of the Decade title up as proof positive of the genius of Arsène, even if it was handed out by an organisation who have given World’s Most Popular Player to a succession of people I’ve never heard of.

I’ve largely wandered off the subject of extremists, so more on that tomorrow, if I have time.

Follow me on Twitter, meantime, if you don’t already: @AngryOfN5

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56 thoughts on “The IFFHS – Where Spurs & Liverpool Are Ranked Higher Than Arsenal

  1. Do you represent the reasonable majority? Or just yourself? Your own opinion maybe? The great thing about placing yourself in the middle is that it permits you to claim that anyone who doesn’t share your opinion must be outside of the middle ground. But for the same reason that it’s ok to criticise anyone involved with the club because they’re not perfect it’s probably ok to criticise you because you won’t always be perfect either.

    To understand these IFFHS rankings you first need to take a look at the methodology used and not simply criticise the rankings because you don’t understand them. If you haven’t followed the methodology you have no chance of making sense of them. Wenger’s rankings as a coach are as a consequence of his consistency even if that hasn’t always ended in a trophy and from that aspect makes sense. You still don’t have to agree with them but it helps your criticism if you explain the flaws and limitations in the methods employed. Criticising something because you haven’t taken the trouble to understand them and simply don’t like the results could be seen by some as extremist.

    • very good response. I was hoping to see an examination of the methods of the organization as to how they arrive at their choices for world’s most popular footballer. I’d be interested to know. That would be an interesting blog. But Phil just dismisses the validity of the results because he’s never heard of the players’ names. He’s probably right but that’s no way to judge the merit of the survey.

      • Apparently they got people to vote in an online poll – cos there’s no way that would be rigged, is there??

    • Wenger’s rankings as a coach are as a consequence of his consistency even if that hasn’t always ended in a trophy and from that aspect makes sense…pls could you explain what type of sense this makes? Consistencies in making top four without trophy or consistencies in making top four with trophies? Also, people mentioned financial constraints. Real Madrid have proven that you use money to generate money even though some will say the Spanish government help them, Chelsea came and threw money in and now bigger than Arsenal in terms of merchandising. Man City is also growing faster than Arsenal. Man United was plunged into twice as much debt as Arsenal stadium debt yet far far bigger than Arsenal.
      Like the blogger I’m not an extremist but I think Wenger and the board in the past decade have stunted Arsenal growth due to internal war with Dein probably.

      • This is a lot of rambling. If you race horses, they are handicaped. How much was Wenger spending? It’s there in black and white – read it. The financial disparity is staggering.

        I’m all for making judgments – but actually take some time to understand what you are judging. And if you dont know what you are looking at, just say so.

        But I can tell you that even a 10 year old can probably grasp that there is a gulf between -4 and +500. You don’t even need the additional six zeros to understand the scale difference.

        What next, will you start drawing direct architectural comparisons between terraced houses in Essex and the multimiillion million pound ones in Kensington Gardens? Ludicrous.

      • Black and white you say? Is this the ‘well documented’ stuff about the stadium you still haven’t found documented anywhere?

      • @ziontrain: Wish it’s as trivial as we all try to make it look but it’s not. One thing I know for sure is that the waiting list at the Emirates is at lower scale than it was at the beginning of 2004 season.

      • Did you just mention a “waiting list”? At a club that hasn’t won a trophy in eight years?

        Chew on that for some a while ….my guess is it will take some time for you to connect the dots. But I can tell you that “coaching failure” is the polar opposite of the headline story that a half decent journalist would come up with from that raw material.

    • Are you saying Wenger was more consistent from 2000-2010 than Fergie? He clearly wasn’t. Obviously he was working on a lower budget, but so were Liverpool managers, for example.

      • He was more consistent in getting members of IFFHS to award him points for his performance as a coach in their annual poll in the period 2001 to 2010. You can wonder what such an arbitrary practice tells you, as you may well do with votes for things like player of the year, but the fact that he was seen as influential as he was for such a long period of time needn’t be compromised by the fact that others won trophies using the resources they had.

  2. I enjoy that you said the extremists that you hate most are those that think their in the middle and then went on to describe yourself as not an extremist but in the middle, how do you know your not the extremist you say you hate?

  3. You use facts to support your theory or point of view, that are not always accurate…. if ever.
    The truth is that you have never worked inside of a football club, and have no idea of the ins and outs, and every day running of a professional football club who are competing towards the summit of European football
    And I can come to that conclusion just by reading your posts.
    And yet you continue to post inaccurate or misleading information to the public as if its gospel.
    And its all for your own Ego when you really think about it, you’ve develo

    • Yeah it wasn’t clear which of 2000 or 2010 they were including, if not both. I could’ve checked further, but that would’ve ruined my reputation for making stuff up as I go along.

  4. If you want to claim to be an objectivist, then be just that: objective. Don’t post a cockeyed, half-baked “analysis” masquerading as objectivity.

    Ask yourself how credible you would find a restaurant “review” that tried to compare a 300 quid dinner at the Fat Duck or one of Gordon Ramsey’s expensive joints to the 30 quid one at the Thai restaurant in your neighbourhood.

    How much was spent on getting those results you posted? Well this is the data up to 2011:
    http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2011/08/24/sale-of-nasri-makes-arsenal-a-net-selling-club-over-a-decade-24080/

    Don’t cry or trawl our the usual whinge that pointing such gaping flaws is an “extremist” action.

    • The real best coach of the decade wouldn’t have let players go nor would they have wanted to leave if he really was the best coach. How many players actually wanted to leave UTD for higher wages in the last 10 yrs Fergie was there? Let me help you, ONE!

      • Your comment doesnt even pass a ba f2f ic reasoning text but in any case why would players want to leave Man U for wages – they pay huge wages: Hernandez and Wellbeck on 75k per week, Ashley Young on 120 per, Phil Jones and smalling make 60k per week on the bench. Go think about it.

  5. With all due respect for Herbert Chapman, I think he will be disgusted at the amount of money spent in football today. I think he will give Arsene Wenger a thumbs up for continuing the world class attitude of Arsenal Football Club through all bad times and the good times. And with that being said I think Chapman will without doubt resign the crown of the greatest Arsenal manager of all time to Mr Wenger (I dreamt it………ah maybe not)

    You see, you are only 1 person out of 7 billion people, so you might not know who is the most popular footballer. Speaking for others does not make sense as you have not asked more than 5 people who is the most popular footballer.

    P.S… Critising is a way of trying to so-called “help the team”, right? But have you ever thought possible transfer targets might be reading your article and that star player you crave and keep asking Wenger to sign, might think twice about joining our club as they see people like you downgrading a strong institution with strong history like Arsenal.

    So stop complaining and support the team whatever decision it makes. We are Arsenal, Total Class!! Start showing it!!!!!

    • Without wishing to take anything away from Chapman, have you seen how much money he spent at Arsenal? A fair chunk of it was well spent (Buchan, Jack, James, Hulme) but he also spent big on players that didn’t work (Halliday, Dunne).

      • Chapman’s place in history is quite rightly assured but he also went 5 years without winning anything and Wenger has won more. Which is the contradiction in Phil’s argument in that he can assert that he thinks that Chapman was the greatest manager of all but the suggests that Wenger can’t be considered as a great manager because he hasn’t won as much as some others! The flaw in making that argument is pretty obvious but like Wenger Chapman shouldn’t be judged only on how many trophies he won. He also helped build the club from its iconic kit to the renaming of the local tube station. The worst extremists who don’t recognise that their arguments are selective.

      • This was not a post about proving Chapman was a greater manager than Wenger – to be honest I’d have thought that anyone other than a Wenger extremist would realise that by now, without me constantly having to justify it. However, Chapman won as much as anyone else in his era and built two great sides at different clubs before his untimely death cut off the possibility of further comparison. Arsene has won a lot less than Fergie in his era. If you’re not a Wenger extremist you can probably see that he has also been regularly outwitted tactically by the likes of Fergie and Mourinho in recent years – or is this an extreme view?

      • He spent a lot of course, hence Arsenal’s nickname as the Bank of England club. But his genius extended far beyond spending to win, Andy, as you well know.

  6. You make a good case for being “reasonable” and criticising everyone, but you make no mention on why you are qualified to do this.

    Just because you are even handed in your criticism doesn’t mean you are right. You could be more wrong than people who criticise Wenger 100% of the time. Unless he is perfect (I agree he isn’t) they will at least be right some of the time.

    Then you take “The most popular player” poll made by IFFHS and claim that it is obviously flawed, because Messi didn’t win. I don’t think they are wrong, because I bet that very few Real Madrid supporters picked Messi. In fact, I doubt if he is even the “most popular” player in Spain, with such a huge section of the fan-base against him.

    Now given that you are so obviously wrong about this and don’t know what the hell you are talking about, I’m going to have to discount everything else you say as rubbish. You can’t blame me, it’s what you would do!

  7. An article basically about yourself lol.

    And it’s a total lie! A self-indulgent, self-important, deluded series of misfired excuses for your incessant desire to wind people up with angry criticisms of the club you claim to adore. Don’t get me wrong, I still read your blog. Because I am an arsenal nerd of the worst variety and I have way too much time to pee away of my not so interesting existence lol. I find you amusing. But as an example of the worst kind of spoilt, egocentric, simple-minded representative of the modern football fan.

    And when you give up trying to excuse yourself and go back to winding everyone up with your poorly-reasoned, wilfully controversial and forthright opinions. And everything will be back to normal.

  8. Being militant about being ‘in the middle’ or being as part of the ‘reasonable majority’ (mobs are so reasonable as a rule), is also a form of extremism. Some of your work on this blog has been tremendous, innovative, and interesting. Which is why I keep coming back. Maybe it’s because I’m only a casual reader that I have this impression, but the impression I had of your blog has been completely sullied in the past few months. You seemed genuinely reasonable before, but maybe I am wrong about that (either about you being reasonable before, or being unreasonable now)

    Everything can be improved on as no one is perfect. This much I think we can all agree on. But then doesn’t that mean you will always be criticising others? There is a difference between being critical, and criticising.

    None of Arsenal’s errors can be termed ‘obvious’ by someone who isn’t privy to their internal goings on. Unless you choose to believe that conventional wisdom is inherently correct, and that by going against the grain somewhat (and perhaps by simply being unloved by the shapers of opinion), Arsenal are thereby obviously flawed. But even that changes with a change in the time frame. In the longer term, Arsenal are doing exactly what conventional wisdom dictates, and has done for years.

    I think part of the reason it’s so tough to respond to you is because you never really open yourself up to giving an opinion that doesn’t rely on slating someone, either at Arsenal, or the person commenting on your blog. Basically, I know what you are critical off. (Everything) But I have no idea what you actually believe should have been/be done.

      • If you think I would bother commenting on a typo you obviously haven’t seen some of the other comments people have put on previous posts!

      • Sigh. One. I’ve seen you do it before. But that’s not what the sigh was for. I sighed because ultimately my correction became self defeating by becoming the distraction instead of the original error.

      • With all due respect, bullshit. I have made comments where people slag me off in language that borders on illiterate, but I don’t bother with simple typos. In fact, if I need to approve the comment (when it’s a first time commenter) I often correct typos to make people look less stupid.

      • Fine. Bullshit it is then. But apparently you do think typos mean the person writing them is stupid. Maybe that was reflected in some of your comments? In any case, if I was wrong, I apologise. Regardless, my idea was not to score points over you. I’d hoped you’d draw something other than the typo (or the correction of it) out of that comment.

      • No, typos are typos, but I sometimes object to being slagged off by people who are clearly either making no effort to write properly or are too stupid to do so. And I’m not talking about those whose first language is something other than English. If you think I point out typos for the sake of it, find me an example. Otherwise perhaps stop talking about it so I’ve got time to read your first comment.

  9. I am a Spurs fan but this is neither an anti Arsenal comment nor anti Wenger. He is undoubted a great manager but his only weaknesses are his refusal to sign really big players and his inability to understand the defending side of the modern game. Considering his spending over his time at Arsenal has been lower than all the big clubs and that includes Spurs he has done a wonderful job and no one should be in any doubt at his ability or value to Arsenal. Maybe it is time for him to allow someone else to take charge of the defensive side of the club and then Arsenal will again challenge for trophies but until that is sorted the leakage at the back will be the torment of the Emirates. Also he should get a grip on some of the stupid comments made by both the players and himself as these are embarrassing and a source of mirth especially for us at The Lane. On the other hand as a Spurs fan I hope nothing changes as I fear a resurgent Arsenal much more than Chelsea or Man City.

  10. “This was not a post about proving Chapman was a greater manager than Wenger – to be honest I’d have thought that anyone other than a Wenger extremist would realise that by now, without me constantly having to justify it. However, Chapman won as much as anyone else in his era and built two great sides at different clubs before his untimely death cut off the possibility of further comparison. Arsene has won a lot less than Fergie in his era. If you’re not a Wenger extremist you can probably see that he has also been regularly outwitted tactically by the likes of Fergie and Mourinho in recent years – or is this an extreme view?”

    The mistake you’re making there is to suggest that I’m claiming that Wenger is a greater manager than Chapman. I accept that Chapman was the best of his era and that for roughly half his tenure he was able to usurp his fellow managers (though by implication for the first half he was regularly outwitted tactically by others based on your logic). The point isn’t whether Chapman or Wenger are the better manager – both are great in their eras though we have no way of knowing for sure whether Chapman’s methods might have been as successful in the modern game as we could probably expect Wenger’s to be in Chapman’s era. The extreme view though is one that tries to argue that it is possible to say that one is really greater than the other and then pretend that that would be the conclusion of a ‘reasonable majority’

      • Not daft – it’s a bit extreme of you to claim so 😉 – you just haven’t bothered to try to understand it as a member of the reasonable majority might. Chapman won nothing for the first 5 years of his tenure as manager so presumably was outwitted by some of his peers because he didn’t at that time win anything. Your criticism that Wenger has been regularly outwitted by those peers of his with greater resources is founded on the same principle that he hasn’t won anything.

      • No, I’m talking about being tactically outwitted when playing the teams managed by Fergie and Mourinho. How many times have we beaten Man Utd in recent years? Not many.
        Herb was rarely, if ever, tactically outwitted, and if he was he did something about it.

  11. My god! How dare the author have an opinion eh. While I don’t agree with some of it, i don’t feel the need to pick holes and try and show myself as being am all together better human like some posters. Any of you having a go because he’s questioned the “most popular player” list are f’cking nuts. In any currency that list is full of sh^t and leaves me wondering if anything else they put together is worth looking at.

  12. Was Wenger regularly outwitted tactically by Fergie and Mourinho or just outgunned by clubs with greater resources? It would certainly be the mark of an extremist to ignore that probability?

      • That’s another pretty extreme, and rather defensive response that totally ignores the core point. Maybe you haven’t watched as many games or if you have you’ve merely watched but not seen?

      • Are you going to keep banging on about this? I really wouldn’t have thought it’s a point worth arguing about.

  13. You were the one to invite the opinions! If you didn’t want hear anyone’s else’s then you shouldn’t have asked the question. It doesn’t seem like an action of someone representing the reasonable majority to ask a question and then petulantly object when someone attempts to answer. 🙂

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