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October 2016
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No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader of Untold you must be sick to death of me referring back to the article I wrote five years ago about why England is so rubbish as an international football team.

I refer back to it because it is evidence based, it shows in clear stats what English football does wrong, and no one has contradicted it since.  Indeed the Telegraph actually took my figures and re-ran the article to reach the same conclusions without acknowledgement two years ago.  And just because other people without any evidence keep coming up with different explanations that does not reduce the effectiveness of the original analysis.

Here’s the latest from the Telegraph:

The clamour for Premier League success and obtaining Champions League football means the best teams in this country are damaging the chances of the national team. Developing English players is so far from their priorities these days.

As Gary Neville noted after he and Hodgson had sat down to make their squad selections last week, they had only 61 starting English players to look at over that weekend. That equates to around 27 per cent of the Premier League.

Now you don’t have to go back and consider my original article to see why that is nonsense.   In the era before the Premier League almost all English players played in the 1st Division, and we had very, very few overseas players or managers in England.   And aside from the one occasion when England got the chance to play every single World Cup match of their entire and total campaign at Wembley, we didn’t win anything.

So who is at fault?  Is it the FA that has so utterly and totally failed to invest in coaching, just as it has absolutely failed to invest in grass roots football?  Or is it Arsenal?

No.  It is Arsenal’s fault.  Because as  wrote in the Telegraph a few days back, “Over the past five seasons, Arsenal have handed only 17.6 per cent of the available Premier League game time to English players; a lower proportion than any other ever-present club.”

Now there’s a spot of irony here, because following the failure of FA, in terms of wasting money on bidding for a fixed world cup, kowtowing to some of the most corrupt and unpleasant men on the planet, bowing down to Platini and offering him the FA’s unconditional vote to become Fifa President, all while making a huge number of people in the FA redundant because of their own mismanagement of funding, the Premier League are being asked to step up and basically pay for grass roots football.

And now the Telegraph has the temerity to suggest that we should bias the teams in favour of English players!

Interestingly the FA are not asking (via the government) the Premier League to pay for running the England team – but then, if the FA don’t have to worry about anything else, and can slosh money around the Fifa camp as much as they like, they don’t need the Premier League.

Except as something to blame for the failure of England.

So, being always ready to kick Arsenal any time the opportunity turns up, the Telegraph, in the form of Tweedale published this concept:

Percentage of mins played by Englishmen – Premier League last 5 seasons
Watford 13.0
Arsenal 17.6
Newcastle United 21.8
Manchester City 23.0
Chelsea 23.8
West Bromwich Albion 29.4
Stoke City 29.8
Swansea City 32.0
Tottenham Hotspur 36.0
Leicester City 36.9
Sunderland 36.9
Everton 37.7
Manchester United 38.2
Aston Villa 38.8
Liverpool 40.8
Crystal Palace 40.8
Southampton 42.3
West Ham United 46.3
Norwich City 48.4
Bournemouth 65.5

“That rate is at its lowest this season, with just over a tenth of Arsenal’s minutes played by Englishmen,” bellows the misled and misleading Tweedale.

Now Tweedale has the grace to admit that “Arsene Wenger has shown increased faith in Theo Walcott as his lone striker” but then adds “the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are really struggling to find a way into the first eleven.

“The highly-rated Calum Chambers, too, has seen his playing time extremely limited this season, while injury continues to scupper the progress of Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.”

So that’s it then.  Wenger is anti-English.  He probably personally crocked Jack and Danny too.

And that’s why he keeps playing Ozil, when he’s so utterly rubbish, and only gets into the PL team of the week by mistake?

The writer known as Tweedale continues …

“This season Arsenal’s English contingent have played for just 844 minutes, equating to less than 10 full appearances. Only Newcastle (828 minutes) have given less time to players available to Hodgson.”

Mins played by English players – Premier League 2015/16
Team Eng Min Pld English pos Lge pos.
Arsenal 844 19 2
Aston Villa 3082 5 18
Bournemouth 5187 1 15
Chelsea 960 18 16
Crystal Palace 3902 3 4
Everton 3914 2 7
Leicester City 2131 12 5
Liverpool 2996 7 10
Manchester City 1169 13 1
Manchester United 2551 9 3
Newcastle United 828 20 20
Norwich City 3201 4 13
Southampton 1419 14 9
Stoke City 1350 15 14
Sunderland 2328 11 19
Swansea City 2042 13 11
Tottenham Hotspur 3068 6 5
Watford 1027 17 12
West Bromwich Albion 2188 10 17
West Ham United 2801 8 12

Now according to the Telegraph’s perverted logic

That Theo Walcott has not become England’s first choice striker in the nine years since Wenger urged Sven-Goran Eriksson to take a 17-year-old Walcott to the 2006 World Cup hints that the Arsenal manager has not developed him enough.

You might want to read that through twice.

Now go back to the table above.  There is no relationship between the position a club holds in the “Englishness” league table and the position in the actual league table.  Man City are top of the league, and 13th in Englishness.  Bournemouth are top of the Englishness table but 15th in the league.

On the other hand some clubs manage to get a similar position in the Englishness table and in the league table.  Chelsea are 18th and 16th respectively.  Palace are 3rd and 4th.  Tottenham are 6th and 5th.

It is all random.  There is there is zero relationship between the number of minutes an English player gets in the league and the club’s position in the league.  Clearly something else is happening.

Maybe it’s… oh, what could it be?

Managerial Talent?  Investment by sponsors?

But of course the Telegraph’s motto is never to let reality and the facts interfere with a good story.  Although to be fair they add that Man U lost the title having given English players 44.6 per cent of the campaign, then regained the league 12 months later with English players on the pitch 38.6 per cent of the time.  The paper then publishes this table

% of minutes given to English players by top six

(Note that is obviously the top six last season.  Chelsea clearly don’t qualify this season, snigger snigger).

Premier League season Arsenal Chelsea Liverpool Man City Man Utd Tottenham
2011/12 13.6 31.3 41.2 36.2 44.6 32.5
2012/13 22.1 25.3 45.3 27.6 38.6 42.5
2013/14 15.8 23.5 40.2 13.8 37.9 35.9
2014/15 20.2 17.4 36.9 15.9 33.2 32.5
2015/16 10.7 12.1 37.8 14.8 32.2 38.7

And the Telegraph concludes…

There is an obvious and worrying trend of decline amongst each of last season’s top six clubs, as the above graph shows.

The home-grown quota encourages teams to select players eligible for England but ultimately just drives up their transfer value and dissuades managers from choosing to purchase them.

And at last we have a newspaper saying what lots of us have been trying to establish for ages.  That the quota system (the fact that English teams have to have a certain number of home grown players in the “25” squad) doesn’t actually encourage the playing of English players.  All it does is drive up the prices of English players and so reduces their chances of getting a transfer.

True enough, except the Telegraph then spoils it all by saying,

It is not clear what the solution is,

at which point I ran out of the room screaming.   Eventually I came back and said “the point is, drop the ’25’.”

At least until I read

Those in charge of the biggest clubs in England retain a duty to develop the best players and aid the progress of the national team.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, etc.

Arsenal has a duty to its shareholders and supporters.  To the people who keep the team running.  To you and me as Arsenal supporters.  It has absolutely NO duty to the national team nor international football in any regard.

This sort of trivial gibberish is what has led readers of Untold and many other supporters of the teams near the top of the league to call this week the “interlull”.   It is a boring and horrible interruption to our entertainment, which we invest in by watching football personally, or following in on TV.

The fact that the press still hasn’t got our utter disdain and dislike of international football reflect primarily on their intellectual prowess and then on their ability to do market research.

Anniversaries from the early days…

  • 10 October 1896: A 5-1 home defeat to Millwall Athletic showed that even three years into their league career, Arsenal were not automatic top dogs in the area.
  • 10 October 1903: J G “Tim” Coleman set a club record in scoring in each of the first 6 league matches – getting nine goals in all.

Arsenal in the summer – 48 tales from the Pre-Season files.  Here are the latest…

The Untold Books



27 comments to No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

  • finsbury

    Perhaps if the pgMOB had provided better protection, similar to the amount given to say Costa, to the outstanding English Footballers at Arsenal: Jack Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott not forgetting Welbeck’s record with the national team, then perhaps they might have fared batter at the 2014 WC.

    The application of pgMOB Rules Football code has been a disaster for the national team.
    Fortynately Walcott didn’t follow FAlcao’s agent’s advice on his return from injury and he may have missed out a lucrative loan or two but at least England had a player on the pitch last night who knows how to score and assist. I think Greg Dyke’s annointed saviour of English Football, the blessed Harry Kane, did he come on as a sub in the second half?

  • Justin Richards

    The journalist fails to realise that the Premier League is a far greater spectacle than any National competition and as long as our English players play alongside great players like Ozil and Sanchez this can only improve them

  • fan

    English press always finding a way to protect their overhyped average players.
    look at their league.

    Who is the best striker?- definitely not English

    Best defender, best mid, best goalie? not one English player. Hart comes close the rest are just mediocres

  • colario

    Father Tony, to quote the words of the famous book – ‘Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’.

    Except that they do know what they are doing – feeding their pockets and feeding their egos at the expense of those who love the game of professional football.

    Do it to the despair of those who want to see skillful football and not the thug football as played in England and applauded by commentators and pundits who trivialise the arts of commentating and reporting.

    Whether or not the FIFA pyramid of corruption that is beginning to crumble down into dust and hopefully history will bring down England’s own football corruption remains to be seen.

    Let’s hope it does.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    There is a finite number of top drawer English players for various reasons (lack of investment in grass roots structures both physical and human (coaches and players)) and the quota system means that the Premier League teams have to scramble to get them. Clearly the richest clubs will pay the most and probably get the top players. The teams just below them in terms of money but aspiring to compete on the pitch are left in a quandry. They can’t get the top English players but need them to compete domestically and in Europe or else risk having a smaller squad. Their way out is to play younger players, hopefully developed by their own academy or snap up those developed by other English clubs. The lower level teams, perversely, don’t have this problem because they aren’t competing for the top positions nor do they play in Europe, so they can make do with a smaller squad and with good rather than excellent/international level English players. They can spend any windfall from TV on 1 or 2 excellent foreign players and can punch over their weight.

  • Naj

    Why always Arsenal is used as a scapegoat for someone else’s failure. I don’t know if this is a love-hate relationship but I couldn’t agree more with you all. No no no no no no no no no no no no no and no to this prejudice

  • Jerry


    Thanks for calling out Tweedale! It’s amazing the lengths they go to blame Arsenal for the national team problems.

    I find interesting, that out of the top 6 teams for the latest round of matches:

    Arsenal supplied 3 players,
    Chelsea – 1
    City- 2
    Liverpool – 4
    United- 4
    Spurs- 4

    So 18/25 players were supplied by only the top 6 teams, but Arsenal played them the least percentage of minutes, yet supplied 3 players. They certainly got a lot of bang for their buck considering that’s only 1 less player than the 3 teams that provided 3 times as many minutes.

    Even more incredible if you add Wilshere and Welbeck who would most likely be included to the team

  • Goéland

    that passage about Walcott you highlighted… It just beggars belief. So on the one hand, Wenger doesn´t know anything about football because he hasn´t bought a “true” striker for years, and on the other hand he should have played Walcott all the time! The media will say anything and then its exact opposite not even two minutes later, as long as it furthers their preestablished narrative, which in the case of Arsenal is slandering everyone connected to the club and especially Wenger. We already knew that, granted, but that declaration is still so jaw-droppingly stupid it rendered me speechless. Impossible to become inured to these things, as there is no depth of fallacy and absurdity to which these hacks won´t sink.
    Besides the factors you´ve mentioned (lack of investment in grassroots football and coaching presence), I honestly wonder if some of the difficulties of the English national team aren´t due to the press itself? Because while sports journalists aren´t really good in general anywhere I know of, I do think their impact is structurally outsized in England.

  • insideright

    Half a century ago, when I first started to watch Arsenal, Englishmen made up only about a third of what we would now call the first team squad. Most were Scots or more likely Irish. The Englishmen (one of whom was Joe Baker who spoke with a broad Scots accent) struggled to get into the England team that was being put together for the 1966 World Cup. Maybe that was because Alf Ramsey was an ex Spurs man who was anti-Arsenal but I doubt it.
    Changes to the first eleven as a result of injury were pretty rare even though the pitches were appalling and much of the tackling would be now deemed highly dangerous.
    Spin forward to the present day and we find immaculate pitches, improvements in tackling regulations (a move towards interceptions rather than tackling in fact) and relatively massive squads that are rotated on a regular basis.
    All clubs put out a team at least 40 times a season and some nearer 60 times – all largely from a squad of a couple of dozen. In other words they choose from a couple of players in each position.
    If England have 60-70 players to choose from in the PL then they have, on average, five or six players in each position and those players have to be exceptional to be in the PL in the first place as clubs can pretty much choose from anyone they want in the world.
    In a recent England squad Arsenal provided six players from a total of seven at the Club -including one out on loan. Two are currently injured and another is being ‘re-trained’ as a centre back rather than a full back which is where he has played for his country.
    Players like Gibbs and Chamberlain are actually more likely to be available to play for their country by dint of being rested and given less ‘pitch-time’ than others who are run into the ground and available to be given a kicking (often by other Englishmen) when on club duty.
    As far as England is concerned we know that the problem is coaching but those who are complicit in covering it up strew the place with red herrings rather than admit it.

  • laos gooner

    Yes yes yes yes yes, etc. This is the kind of reporting we need. Why any journalist might miss the fact that the National football association has a responsibilty to develope players for the national team is anyones guess.
    We still have the media mighty quiet about the changes to grant funding at the FA whilst serving up the propoganda lines of their £15M per year added to an existing previously secured amount and parading it as £260M. Why is the focus not towards the failings of development at grassroots level to find suficient players? We don’t often see much in the way of kick arounds happening in the park any more. We could go into some serious social issues. We may have to examine roles within government and particularly sports minstry involvement. So it is much easier to recycle the same arguments as ever in a hope that no one reads the articles with any kind of understanding of the real issues. Why are there fewer English players reaching Premiership standard? I am sure many other teams produce through their academies. Why are the lesser teams able to go buy international players? There is so much to be asked and then they gave so little. Could it be they are to prove themselves very, very, very, very boring with this?

  • Jerry

    Just for comparison, the Journalist mentioned Spain and Germany, the German national team has 16 players from 6 teams in the Bundesliga, but also called on 7 players that are spread out through Europe.

    3 from 3 different teams in La Liga,
    3 from 3 different teams in the PL
    and Podolski in the Turkish league

    So Germany picked 23 players from 13 different teams across 4 different league (3 Top European leagues).

    The England team picked from 12 different teams, where all of them play in the PL except 1 (burnley in the championship).

    The question Tweedale should ask is, How come there isn’t such a vast pool of English talent available or spread across the top leagues in Europe?

    England does not develop enough skill players due to the incompetent FA.

  • Steve Vallins

    @ Insideright
    Having watched Arsenal / football for approx same time as you the thing l noticed in those late 1950s games to the creation of the EPL is the speed of the game much slower along with the heavier ball
    One of the first real fast players I recall was Trevor Francis Birmingham and Notts Forest always injured
    Agree with you it was harder to be left out of a Alf Ramsey England squad than get in it

  • GoingGoingGooner

    So…what does England do well outside of sport? How do these sectors develop competence? Is it possible to look at English success stories to improve football management and global competitiveness? A general example of skill management being transferred across sectors was how hospitals have started to copy the aviation sector’s use of checklists to reduce avoidable errors and ultimately deaths in surgery. The general consensus is that this has been successful. Surely something can be done to either copy competitors or borrow from the neighbour down the road to improve England’s output of top footballers.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    I think Tweedale should give Kudos to Arsenal rather to have blamed them. For Arsenal have provided the England manager, Roy Hudgson, 5 top quality English players whom he has always invited to camp and played them in his games. It is not the quantity that matters but it’s the quality that counts. Having used the Gunners trio yesternight, Roy Hudgson should follow the exemplary action of the Portuguese national coach, to release Theo Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs to come back to Arsenal to start preparing for an important assignment for next Saturday and a crucial undertaking the Tuesday night’s that followed. I will not be against the FA decision to slam a must have 5 English players out of the 25 man 1st team squad of each Premier League club. That’s rule has become necessary because the top English players don’t to go out to play in different leagues abroad to make rooms for other English players to develop. Nonetheless, that rule translates to 5*20clubs=100 English players that should be available for selection for any England coach. But the root of the matter is, are those 100 English players getting sufficient game time in their various clubs?(very delicate question) In this wise, Arsenal have tried as they have given sufficient game time to their 5 English core players last season and are in the poceess of still giving the available ones game time this season. Because non of the 3 available to play English players at Arsenal this season have not been played up to 3 or more times so far in this early season. So, why is Tweedale blaming Arsenal for the sins that are not theirs?

  • Shakabula Gooner

    But you asked for “fact based” football journalism and now that you got one, you are busy crying no, no x 50. Make up your mind please!😎
    Seriously though, it seems that the only thing worse than “no facts” journalism is stupid, ignorant and irrelevant facts journalism as it leads to stupid, bad, irrelevant and obfuscating conclusions as exemplified by The Telegraph’s piece.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Off topic: Have you noticed the red carpet treatment from the press accorded Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool? The Guardian even expects his impact at the club and upon English football to be as epochal as Wenger’s. The same Wenger that they delight in rubbishing week -in, week -out.

  • nicky

    Having researched the subject at some length, I’ve come to the conclusion that the crafty French, who have never forgiven us for Waterloo (not the Station), quietly eased Arsene Wenger into Arsenal plc purely to stifle the selection and progress of English-born players.
    For instance, how many of you realise that not a single Englishman in the first team when Wenger took office is still playing for Arsenal. They have all been secretly weeded out. Even Steve Bould is not allowed to move from his seat during matches.
    People will say that I know nothing but I tell you I know damn all. 😉

  • Andy Mack

    The bottom line is that the 61 players Hodgson had to choose from are at a higher level quality-wise than the top 61 English players he would be able to choose from if we had non English player quotas.
    That wouldn’t necessarily be the case if the FA got their finger out and started training coaches properly at ‘grass roots’ level.

    And obviously Tweedale is an idiot!

  • Andy Mack

    nicky, you’ve let your guard down there and shown your true colours. Now we all Know that you’re a newspaper journalist really. You’re impeccable logic proves it!

  • Pat

    Gabriel on says that his home town in Brazil has neighbourhood pitches and even neighbourhood academies. A lot of schools in England don’t even have a playground any more. Might be one reason why we don’t have more good English footballers.

  • nicky

    @Andy Mack,
    Government Service (Retd) my passport says, which should explain a lot. 😉

  • soglorious

    The unbeatable stupidity of the English Press regarding the calamity befalling the English team is mind blowing.
    Truth be told, England does not have much exceptional players. They are just hyped. How many of them plays oversea? How many of them can get into the German, Spanish, Brazilian teams? Now let’s ask that question the other way round. I bet England’s FA will move mountains if its possible to get Aguero, Ozil, Sanchez, Neymar etc in their team.
    I believe the FA should return to grassroot football development rather than blaming every tom, dick and harry for their incompetence.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    In 1974, Don Revie became the England manager, succeeding Alf Ramsey and caretaker-manager Joe Mercer. And….. attempted to build a relationship with the media, and also invited 81 prospective and established England players to a meeting in Manchester to make everyone feel included……

    How did that work out ?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Quote from- . Has a few other eyebrow raising facts too.

  • Menace

    It is not an issue when it comes to English players. The issue is English officials! They have 100%. They are the root cause of failure to progress in international football. They need to be disbanded & a new approach to officiating in English football needs to brought in. A fair transparent & responsible non racist system of officiating.

  • Chris

    Can’t wait until the weekend, hate international breaks, they should be banned!

    Lets face it, England are bottlers in big games, even when we had an amazing team (Beckham, Lampard, Terry, Gerrard, Owen and some others lol) u know what I mean, Euro 2004, World Cup 2002, we balls it up either on penalties or by some freak goal.
    I cba with it anymore, I used to love England football but now it just pisses me off as it means 2 weeks until I get to see Arsenal play again.

  • Micko

    Here’s another stat – Arsenal players have scored 12 of the 31 goals England have got in the Euro qualifiers.
    Probably would have been a lot more had Walcott & Welbeck not spent so much time out injured.