For Barney Ronay of The Guardian, in "It takes all sorts to be a football journalist – so now we're all at it," ours now is a world overloaded with opinion, especially in football journalism where the proliferation manifests in various forms. In five years, he says tongue-in-cheek, everyone will be a football journalist.
In "so now we're all at it," Ronay imagines a world where the professional milkman begins his daily rounds only to find the streets streaming with "hundreds of other people already patrolling the dawn streets on rickety box-car floats quietly leaving their own bottles of home-brewed white liquid on the shared doorsteps."
He concludes that this can't be, not in the normal world of industry.
One, of course, knows that in the normal world, it takes years to train to be a professional in any area. This very fact weeds out the field, and for those even halfway through training in any field, there comes a point when the realization dawns that any opinion must come dressed in moderation.
It is a fact requiring no defense here that the most enlightened are the most moderate because they see that issues are seldom mono-dimensional. A close study of most things exposes the deceptive nature of simple appearances.
This mitigates opinion and shows that, although free, only the most ignorant gives it free rein. Even the fiercest rider bridles the horse.
That I studied physics or mathematics or English as part of my educational upbringing does not mean I am therefore a professor in these areas, even if to an extent I may converse intelligibly in each of these fields. When I do, though, I have to qualify my opinion, since I am not, per se, an expert in these specific fields.
It is true that no one requires a doctorate degree to talk about sport. But this does not mean that everyone is therefore a coach or a manager of the sport he or she fancies, or for that matter that he or she can become one without appropriate training.
In football, the fact that one understands what a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 is and can diagram these formations does not mean that the person now possesses sufficient knowledge to manage a football team, at least not if one separates the world of fantasy football from the real one.
Even professional players take a number of licensing courses and undergo years of apprenticeship before they rise to the status of managers.
In colleges, a degree in physical education is often required for one to be an instructor or a coach.
As a fan or pundit, it is quite easy for one to sit in a comfortable armchair and draw purported "best lineup" for such and such match. While such an exercise can be beneficial in terms of conversation, to be in real earnest regarding this is to be both naive and foolish.
This is more so when one insists angrily that they know better than the manager who oversees the squad everyday, watches every player in action and training, receives reports from trainers and physiotherapists and knows first-hand each player's strengths and weaknesses, even their mental and psychological makeup.
And then there are ideas, which fans bandy around with reckless abandon.
A true manager, though, does not operate just on ideas but also on implementation. Ideas are easy. What is difficult is the implementation of these ideas and this takes time.
Although anyone with sufficient intelligence and knowledge of the game can tell you how Barcelona play football, few can implement the style.
Similarly, just as it is easier to tear down than to build, it is much easier to analyze and spot faults than to find real and practical solutions for these faults.
And no, just saying 4-4-2 isn't real solution. Were it so, every manager would win every one of his matches by simply cobbling together a 4-4-2.
The solution does not lie, either, in saying that the manager should have played that player and not that one.
To be that naive is to be the fabled stranger that cried louder than the bereaved family. In others words, it is to pretend to possess inside knowledge where one possesses none.
But this isn't to say that a person may not make suggestions or that a person may not analyze, the problem lies, instead, in being categorical.
...oh, Wenger doesn't know what he is doing...
...Wenger is picking a weak team to play Bayern Munich and this is an insult to the fans...
...Wenger does not know tactics...
...oh, Wenger shouldn't have taken off Theo Walcott...
...Why on earth did Wenger leave Podolski behind? Why must he play Gervinho?
If I studied biology in secondary school, does that make me a doctor?
The problem today is that fans have convinced themselves that they have enough knowledge of the game to be managers of the teams they support. That's why everyone feels entitled to offer unqualified opinion, and since the internet is free, why not?
It is this bewildering fact that gave birth to Ronay's opinion piece for The Guardian.
True, even print journalism cannot be said to be immaculate in all of this, but what in the world makes sports fans think they can offer unqualified opinion on everything?
It is ignorance or just naivety? Or is it delusion or the fact that almost everyone appears to be very angry these days?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!