THERE’S a phoney war going on with selected statistical snapshots being used to prop up positions that are more based on faith than fact. And I’m not talking about the election.
No matter how much you point to the data, the numbers, there is very little science about how individuals will perceive them . Those double-edged things – ‘facts’ – are all very well if they reinforce your own prejudice but can be easily dismissed by the entrenched opposing camp if they prove too awkward to square. They can be routinely countered with predictably scripted sound-bites and mantras.
That’s just like the on-going well rehearsed debates among football fans and the time-honoured tension between the opposite poles of perspective.
After all the spin pre-match power balance is “too close to call.”
If you tell some people – let’s call them pessimists – that Boro have won both their Championship fixtures against Brentford this season and argue that it may just give them an edge they will rebuff that with a snort of well practised ‘realist’ derision and respond that is irrelevant and in these games the form book goes out of the window.
But they will still be perfectly happy to refer to precedent over the course of the campaign and point to brittle Boro’s frozen failure at Bournemouth and Watford as evidence that the team will inevitably struggle at Brentford.
After all they will say, with a ring of historic certainty, this proves Boro ALWAYS bottle it in away games against tough opponents.
And when optimists respond by pointing to the wins under pressure against rivals at Derby and Norwich (on indeed Brentford) that will be rebuffed too: ahh, but Boro ‘struggled’ in those games, ‘were under the cosh’ in those games or were “lucky” to get away with it.
As if that was reflected in the league table or other teams had won all their points cleanly.
The optimists are quick to discount some data too. Both sides know the script. Boro’s away form this year hasn’t been great. They didn’t just flop at the two promoted sides. They lost at Sheffield Wednesday and Forest and Fulham too during the run-in.
Again, the facts can’t be disputed – but they can be mitigated by history. The optimists will set aside those defeats either as integral to the season and budgeted for – “we ALWAYS lose at Wednesday and Forest – or exceptional freaks. You can’t take any lessons from Fulham as it was ‘crazy’ … and besides Boro came from two down with 10 men and almost snatched a point – or three – and that probably showed positives of spirit and bottle.
As with political propaganda, the play-off build-up banter it is not really about presenting killer facts to trump the argument or win over floating fans. It is about pressing emotional buttons to reinforce your own position.
The truth is that we are all powerless now and no matter how passionate or well informed we are in presenting the balance of power going into the games, we can’t influence the outcome. The pre-match build up will be an intense war or words but it will count for nothing once we start to file into the ground. And it doesn’t matter what the balance of power is when it comes to the prevailing opinion. This one is too close to call.
The future of the club in the years to come will be down to Aitor and the lads now. But whatever happens, its going to be lively in the spin room afterwards.