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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: who they are

Villarreal CF v SD Eibar - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Doing the Player Ratings after yesterday’s loss to Liverpool got me thinking — too often, we blame players for things that aren’t their fault. Specifically, we expect them to do things and make plays they’ve consistently shown themselves weak / not capable of making. Ainsley Maitland-Niles isn’t going to change into a precision final third passer overnight, so I’m not sure to what extent it’s fair to rag on him for that.

Sure, it’s fine to point out a player’s deficiencies, but when they’re put in a position and asked to do something they don’t do, that’s more of a manager problem. It wasn’t Francis Coquelin’s fault that Arsene Wenger kept starting him when he probably wasn’t Arsenal starting caliber. In that same vein, it’s not Mikel Arteta’s fault that he has to choose from Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, and Joe Willock for his double pivot. Each of those players is limited, and Arteta can only work with what he’s given. The blame for that lies with the executives.

I’m not sure I have a big, overarching point here beyond being more thoughtful about what we’re actually taking issue with and appropriating blame more accurately. It was just something that I realized yesterday and want to explore more today in the comments with y’all.