This won’t be a shocking revelation to anyone but sometimes teams and players can play badly and sometimes they can play well. And while judging a player on their reputation isn’t always a good idea, if a player has a good reputation but has not managed to reach the heights expected of them at a club you are perfectly entitled to wonder why.
It could just be that the player was overhyped but it could be that they’re being played out of position, haven’t ‘fully integrated with the team’ yet, the player’s attitude isn’t right or the coaches and manager aren’t managing to motivate them effectively.
For example, at a club like Newcastle, they have players who have come from around Europe with fantastic reputations; players who have won young player of the year-type awards in some cases. And yet, people still consider them a ‘poor team’. I think there’s a distinction to be made between a poor team and a decent team playing poorly, the latter being what I believe Newcastle to be at the moment.
You can see this kind of thing with any team. Tottenham currently have a fantastic group of players who, you feel, would absolutely destroy any opposition if they were playing at their best, or even just somewhere near their best. Arsenal have the same side that were prompting Arsenal fans to call for Wenger’s resignation as last year with the addition of Özil but are playing much better, a team that’s more than just a sum of its parts. Newcastle, I’d argue, are playing like they’re very much less than a sum of their parts.
If you measure how a team, or a player, has been playing out of 100, the average performance might be around 60-70. Sometimes they’ll have a bad game and it’ll be more like 30 but sometimes they’ll have a terrific game and score a 90. Sometimes they’ll go through a bad spell of lots of 30s in a row and sometimes they’ll go through a good patch of form and hit several 80s and 90s in a row. Generally, though, this balances out and they, as statisticians like to say, ‘revert to form’ (ie if they’ve been playing awfully they’ll recover and start playing normally again. Essentially, no-one goes through bad form forever).
Another example. England have had the capabilities to perform well for several years. However, they can often underperform and, as a team, score a 30. They’re capable of better, they’re not a poor team, but they’ve just played poorly. They might consistently play at a 50, which is below-par, and occasionally hit an 80.
The point of this is that there is a difference between a poor player/team and a player/team playing poorly. Anyone who has played any sport, or has partaken in nearly any activity, will know this. Sometimes, be it in football/tennis/an essay or report for school or work, we underperform and know that we can do better. Sometimes we have a blinder, and produce something way above our usual standard.
So, basically, before you just simplistically say a player is rubbish, think. Are they rubbish or did they just look under-par? Are they a poor player or a player playing poorly? The same goes for all of you who are quick to hype a player after a good match. Is the player really as good as you’re making them out to be? Are they a good player or just a decent player playing well?
What do you think? Agree? Disagree?