WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES

Wenger and the biennial World Cup

Arsene Wenger says the aversion to a biennial World Cup is emotional. The former Arsenal manager is the front man - read fall guy - for what is, by all reasonable measures, a horrendous idea. Usually a front man for an ill-fated idea needs to be able to sell the shocker of a concept fluidly and with conviction. He does neither.
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"What I'm quite surprised about in a society which is anti-discriminatory, if you ask someone in the street whether a women's World Cup every two years is good, they say 'yes, it is fantastic, it will develop the women's game'," he said chatting alongside Jill Ellis on Rio Meets on the former England defender Rio Ferdinand's FIVE YouTube channel.
Why is it bad for men then? That shows that the reluctance is basically emotional. We have all grown up in that cycle of every four years and that tradition - we want to keep it as it is.
Wenger may have asked someone in the street - singular - that question, and he may have received that answer. However, this does not constitute consensus opinion, but rather - it would seem - Wenger's opinion presented as fact. For, if he had consensus - say a poll - he would surely present it as evidence. The reason The Warm-Up can confidently predict this fact is that Wenger presented a poll with his next breath.
"We see the split in our polls that the younger generations are in favour, the generation over 50 is against."
Now, Wenger does not cite specifically which poll he refers to; neither does he cite what different age groups are for or against. This one - promoted by FIFA - states that every age group favours a four-year cycle over one, two or three-year cycles. Here are the stats from FIFA's report:
https://i.eurosport.com/2021/11/10/3251791.png
He could, of course, be referring to another report.
The 72-year-old then - apropos of nothing - informs people not to be scared (of what, The Warm-Up does not know), as the modern fan is demanding and wants quality, as below:
We don't have to be scared. The modern guy who watches football is knowledgeable, he's demanding, he tests the quality of what he watches.
"There is a demand for quality, people today are knowledgeable and informed. We have the responsibility to give them top quality."
The problem with all of this - and it is crystallised through this point - is that FIFA are attempting to apply a one-size-fits-all to complex problems across world football. There are huge variances in quality - yes - but simply increasing the frequency of World Cups is not the only solution. Setting up a new online training academy - as was announced by FIFA - is a better option to address these variances. Each federation needs a bespoke plan to lift quality if that is the aim. There are 211 federations.
The full 45-minute interview can be watched here for full context.
A biennial World Cup is a bad idea. Bad ideas are nothing new though. There are whole industries built - advertising for one - on selling bad ideas well. The issue for FIFA is that Wenger is selling a bad idea badly.

Ferdinand at end of United tether

Now, on to the subject of selling a bad idea well: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The idea of him was always better than the reality. He was the perfect caretaker manager: reset the "feeling" around the club after the toxicity of the final months of Jose Mourinho reign.
And Ferdinand also touches on that in his below opening gambit.
"From where he came in to where he got us at the beginning of this season, I think it's positive," said Ferdinand.
However, as previously stated, Manchester United have an expensively-assembled squad in need of an innovative, imaginative coach to mould them into an effective unit, and Solskjaer is an average-to-good coach unable to accentuate the strengths of his squad or mask its weaknesses, a point Ferdinand also raises:
I look at our team every week and wonder what we are going to do, tactically.
"I don't see any philosophy or an identity in the United way of playing, whatever that should be from the management. I sit here confused looking at the team. When you look at it like that with the summer transfer window we had, we were all sitting here excited, thinking 'this is where we're meant to be'.
"I go back to the point. Ole was brought in with the remit to get us back to a point, a moment where you think he's brought some foundation back. At the beginning of this season we were thinking 'yes, that's it'.
I was always deep down a bit sceptical. Could he take us on to be champions? I wasn't sure, I wasn't fully convinced, but hoped he would be able to do that.
"But the showing with the squad he accumulated to the beginning of this season and what I've seen this season, I just feel that maybe it might be the time now for the baton to be handed over to someone else who can take us on."
And yet United remain resolute: Solskjaer will not be sacked. In fairness, that is currently probably a decent decision. The selection process of any successor would probably involve heading over to Transfermarkt, searching available coaches and ordering by points per game.
#welcomechecksnotesLucasGonçalvesDaSilva

Another day, another Chelsea win

The biggest ever attendance for a women's football match in Switzerland - 12,782 - saw Chelsea hand out a seven-goal shooing to Servette. The win leaves Emma Hayes' side two points clear of Wolfsburg in their Champions League group.
Mercifully for the Swiss champions it was only seven as goals from Melanie Leupolz, Sam Kerr (2), Fran Kirby (2) and Jessie Fleming sent the London side to the interval with a six-goal advantage.
Guro Reiten added the final goal of the contest in the 50th minute of the match.
"I said to my assistants that were in the gantry, pitch-side you have no idea how quick that was. The detail on the passes, the movement, the finishes, the execution of every action - it could have been 7-0 at half-time, we missed chances," said Hayes.
"Credit to the players. They decided they wanted to go up a level. My job is just to put the challenge there to them and I thought we were outstanding."

HAT-TIP

Some have wondered whether Solskjaer’s football, which gives licence to individual flair, really suits Sancho, who is accustomed to systems, but in any case it has been a surprise to see him operate so infrequently on the right wing, the position he predominantly played in Germany.
Jadon Sancho is an exceptional player and anyone saying different does not know football. They probably also want a World Cup every three years.
Anyway, over at The Athletic, Laurie Whitwell breaks down why the former Borussia Dortmund player is collateral damage of Manchester United's wider problems.

COMING UP

More Women's Champions League and more reasons why a biennial World Cup is a bad idea. This will be brought to you by Andi Thomas tomorrow.
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