Roger Wolfson, Foolish Notions and Life’s Foibles

The great writer Roger Wolfson gave a speech last year abut how writing is very much in the details and playing on the foibles and nuances of people’s lives. In showcasing the absurdity of some beliefs which we have, Roger have an example from the world of soccer, about the seemingly ‘dangerous’ 2-0 scoreline, pointing of course to the fact that being 2 goals up is a good thing which we try to paint as bad, something which he tries to incorporate into his comedy writing.

Is Roger right in his thoughts about this analogy? Well There have been some who have disputed whether or not this is just a cliche which is put forward by football pundits, or whether in fact the 2-0 scoreline is as dangerous as many think it is. Let’s take a look then at exactly why this is viewed as a dangerous scoreline.

Nearly There

The first thing to mention is that this is not considered a dangerous scoreline after 80 minutes, at that stage it is expected that the winning team will go on to be victorious. Earlier in the game however it can be a tricky scoreline and much of that is down to opposition managers. A manager of a team losing 2-0 will look to motivate and inspire their players by telling them that all they need is a goal to get themselves back in the game. A single goal reduces the deficit down to 1 goal, which gives them belief.

Power of a Goal

Goals do not mean the same thing when they are scored, for example a goal scored to put a team 4 goals up instead of 3, is worth less, mentally speaking, than the goal to move from 2-0 to 2-1. At 2 goals up a team can feel pretty comfortable, and quite far ahead, especially as they are yet to concede a goal. If however they then concede a single goal, it shortens that gap and puts players into panic mode, knowing that if they lose another goal that their 3 points are very quickly going to turn into 1.


If a team does come back from two nil down, they are going to be in a much more positive and a much more optimistic frame of mind than the team who had it all, then let it slip. We have to remember that the key behind why this scoreline is dangerous is mentality, and that is why if the losing team brings things back and sets the scoreline at 2-2, there is a very strong chance that they will then go on to win the whole game.


Another dangerous aspect of this scoreline is that players may very well relax somewhat and take their foot off the gas when they are two nil up, which of course is something which could play into the hands of the opposition. An early two goal lead has shown many times that the players slow down a touch and that is what lets the opposition back into the game.

It may look a good scoreline, but in football it is considered one of the most dangerous, perfectly representing the point which Roger was making about the fears that people have about risk, and how they play on details to mitigate it, when in reality everything is alright.

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