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October 2016
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Next season’s line up as commentary remains in the days of witches and Enlightenment is as far away as ever.

By Tony Attwood

In the old days – the very very old days – there were myths – stories of giants, gods, magicians, demons and the like.

Then in the not quite so old days these stories were codified into more coherent stories which became known as religions.  They contained stories of simple changes to one’s personal behaviour (such as not being gay, not committing adultery and not entering a church while wearing a shirt made from different clothes on pain of death – as per Leviticus in the Christian Old Testament) leading to avoiding the nastier side of life, and ultimately entering heaven.

(These summaries of whole tracts of the passage of civilisation are of course nothing more than snippets – but I hope you can stay with me because there is a point in this).

In the 17th century we had the age of reason and the introduction of scientific explanations of how the world worked.  Explanations that relied not on giants, God, gods, magicians and the like,  but on issues that could be explained rationally.  The age of Enlightenment, Galileo, Isaac Newton (in his more logical moments) and the like.

Of course football didn’t exist then, but if it had, I suspect commentators on this change towards Enlightenment  would have taken no notice.

By the 19th century we had modernism – the notion that the old ways didn’t work in our world any more, and the quest for finding ways of combining the new industrial era with better living conditions for all.

But from about the 1950s onwards there was a slow growth in the notion that modernism hadn’t delivered on its promise, and the post-modernist view which emphasises that we live in a state of unresolve, emerged.  No matter what we discover there is more to be discovered.  There is no one correct way, but many ways.  Just because something is new doesn’t mean it is better than what went before.

And what you will be asking (assuming you haven’t hit delete already) does any of this have to do with football in general and Arsenal in particular?

That is what I want to explore.

At the moment, in football criticism as expressed in blogs, on radio phone ins, on TV and in the press, we find for the most part explanations of simplicity.  The problems are simple (the club isn’t winning) and so the solution must be simple (the manager is no good, the player is no good, we can judge matters over a very short period of time etc).

It is a bit like the explanation for the failed crop.  We haven’t sacrificed enough virgins to the great gold of rain, sleet and snow, so he is angry, and has sent more bad weather to make us hungry.  Quick, let’s find a few more virgins.  (Actually that is a bit difficult in Islington, so that might be the problem after all).

My view is that in many senses we are still in the first age with football – the age of myths and sacrifices (although probably not of virgins).  A few commentators have moved into the second age (of religious certainty) and have picked up on certain messiahs who can solve it all.  Mourinho, Guardiola, Klopp…

Untold however has been trying to take supporters into the third age – Enlightenment, in which one looks for evidence, asking questions like

In what percentage of occasions does a change of manager lead to a long term improvement?

How often does the signing of a very famous and expensive superstar lead to an improvement in the first season?

How often does the appointment of a new manager and the bringing in of new players lead to major success, and how often does this lead to failure and a reduction of money available for the next manager?

What evidence is there that referees are fair and even handed in the Premier League, and why is PL refereeing arranged in a manner that is unique among major leagues in the world?  Why does it have so few referees leading to danger should any of them not be up to their jobs?  Why is it so averse to innovation?

Incorporated into this desperate attempt to lead football forwards into enlightenment (and we aren’t even thinking about modernism yet), is not a sense that the old ways just are not suitable for our world any more, but a sense that they are as appropriate to making change as building Stonehenge is as a way of changing weather patterns.

But that is still where we are.   Cause and effect is not a part of the world for most football commentators.  Instead they live in a world in which they make up the notion that Arsenal players get more red and yellow cards than anyone else, and that Arsenal suffer more injuries than anyone else, and then look on and think – wow it must be true, everyone believes it.

It is a world in which the old myths (such as the fact that the number of foreign players in the Premier League affects how well the national team does) live on, rather like believing that lots of women are witches and are carrying out the work of the devil.

It is a world in which people believe just by chanting a couple of catchphrases, a proposition can be shown to be dismissed.  Just as 18th century clerics saw steam locomotives as proof positive that the Devil stalked the land, so 21st century commentators feel that any suggestion that something is wrong with the world of refereeing is a “conspiracy theory”.   That phrase becomes their 21st century equivalent of the wooden cross held up in front of the railway train in order to stop the Devil.  Each (the cross and the catch phrase) is as effective as the other in such circumstances.

Clearly for most people involved in commentating on football, we are still in a world of myths, with mindsets that have not yet reached the footballing equivalent of the start of the age of reason.  Football commentary is still in the Dark Ages – the time of myths and legends, of ghosts, divine punishment, and belief in magic.

This is why any attempt here to introduce a certain amount of evidence into the debate as to whether Mr Wenger should be sacked or not seems doomed to failure, with commentators more inclined to hurl abuse or give simplistic one line non-evidential analyses, rather than engage in seriously attempting to understand what is going on in a scientific modern (let alone post-modern) way.

Thus the purchase of no outfield players last summer placed Wenger as a character to be treated as the 17th century Puritans in the Civil War treated witches, with various people such as Piers Morgan setting themselves up as the Witchfinder General and the crowd at Stoke, the media, the aaa, etc as Witchfinder Privates.

17th century debate did not allow for any type of logic or reason because scientific logic and reason had not been introduced by then – we hadn’t yet had the Age of Reason.  And this is why, given that we are still in the 17th century when it comes to debating football, we are reading today that, “Arsene Wenger is planning his squad for next season after agreeing to spend big on transfers in the summer, according to reports [after] it was claimed earlier this week that Wenger had been told he could be sacked if he doesn’t start splashing the cash on big names.”

That was in the Metro, a true Witchfinder newspaper if ever there was one, and it was quickly followed up in the Daily Mirror (which one might at least have thought had made it to the 19th century) with a claim that they know next season’s starting XI.

It goes like this


Alexis Ozil Welbeck

Kroos Wanyama

Monreal Koscielny Stones Bellerin


58 comments to Next season’s line up as commentary remains in the days of witches and Enlightenment is as far away as ever.

  • laos gooner

    The Untold banner is not shown because of witchcraft, come on that’s obvious or will become so if I repeat it often enough

  • Peter Kemp

    I do wish the majority of sane, rational Arsenal fans made a little more noise to say that the few ‘alleged’ fans who exist in a world of everything happening instantly DO NOT represent the feelings of the majority.

  • Saadman

    It is not too farfetched to assumed that some of these wobs believe that arsene Wenger is an evil magician who is using devils to keep the members of the board possessed and making them bend to his will so that he could execute his well devised plan of destroying the club once and for all with his consistent 4th place finishes

  • para

    What ever the line up is, we’re behind you Arsenal, but it probably won’t be that one though.

  • upp

    Lol @untold the crusader for football enlightenment.
    But I just have a few points. .
    1. I may be wrong but I haven’t seen an article by untold showing that England has significantly fewer refs than elsewhere in Europe, without such information your constant attacks on pgmo seem hollow.
    2. Untold can hardly take the moral high ground when it comes to objective, truthful reporting. The site’s refusal to accept it was wrong after publishing articles like proud kev’s and the series about rvp’s goodbye tweet, show that the site is as entrenched in its agenda as the persons the site attacks are in theirs.

  • colario

    Congratulations to Ozil. German international player of 2015.

    He received the award before the start of the friendly between Germany and England.

    Surely makes him world champion player of 2015.

    So what do our ‘football know all experts’ who tell us that ‘Ozil’ is not worth the money know about skillful football at its best?

    Every time they pontificate on football they reveal their ignorance.

  • omgarsenal

    UPP….your contention that you may be wrong is incorrect….YOU are wrong! there are a number of articles in the UA archives about comparisons between the PIGMOB and other European countries, including Walter’s reference to Belgium.
    UA has never refused to accept that it makes mistakes, Tony famously apologized for being taken in by the vapour transfer rumour about Higuain two years ago….but you are ill placed to talk about the mmoral high ground!

  • upp

    Yeah Tony was a big fan of higuain. Lol. But I don’t think that has anything to do with my accusations. Tony being convinced that higuain was coming and the young man eventually not coming is hardly worthy of an apology. Accepting he’d been conned by the media hype is enough.
    However, accusing the media of an elaborate scheme to impersonate rvp and cooking up conspiracy theories to prove it is worthy of an apology

  • upp

    Oh and OMG, could you help me with a link to an article that compares pgmo to other European league ref organisations? I’m interested in data that untold uses to rubbish the pgmo like number of refs. I’d appreciate if the article has sources too

  • Gord


    learn how to use a search engine, or pay someone to do the searching for you.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have written the article you asked for.
    But to search it between the more than 6000 articles is something that is not easy to do to be honest.
    But you can always look the numbers up yourself like I did.
    You just go to the different websites of countries like Spain, Germany, Holland, France, and compare them with the numbers of the PL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    La Liga has 20 or so referees and a serie A has more than 20 (22) with almost the same number doing a couple of games to get seasoning. The Bundesliga has 22. The premiership has 18 but three of them have done 5 or fewer matches.

  • upp

    Thanks for the numbers. I’d say from those numbers, there’s no sigsignificant difference in number of refs in the various leagues then

  • upp

    I think the epl has 19refs

  • upp

    Same number as the Belgian jupiler league

  • upp

    The eredivise has 16

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes there is as in the PL some refs only get 1 or 2 matches and in other leagues refs get more refs and more and more spread over those refs.
    At one point at the start of this season and halfway last season we only had 12 active PL refs in the PL because of injuries.
    Even the more serious media reported on that at the time because of some former refs making noise about it

  • WalterBroeckx

    Upp in the Jupiler league in Belgium we have 19 refs but there are only 16 teams and 8 matches each weekend. With 19 refs who have an even work load.

  • WalterBroeckx

    So that is very big difference I would say

  • WalterBroeckx

    8 matches = 19 refs
    10 matches = 12 regular refs and 4-6 who do only a handful of matches…

    Big difference

  • upp

    EPL -19
    Belgian JUST -19
    Spanish PL -20
    French L1 -22
    German BL -23
    Italian SA -30
    Eredivisie -16
    Scottish PL -15
    Turkish SL -36
    Russian L -16
    Greek SL -32
    All figures from soccer I’d say apart from the Italian, greek and Turkish leagues (funny that untold always says these leagues are corrupt) the number of EPL refs doesn’t seem to be significantly less than it’s peers(and yes I know the Eredivisie and Belgian league have less teams).on the other hand, leagues like serie A and the Greek league that untold brands corrupt have much more refs

  • upp

    It’s unfair to bring number of matches into the debate, because in other leagues too all refs don’t do the same number of games and the newer refs generally, expectedly should get less matches

  • Dazza64

    Upp are you just trying to pick an argument? The point is that PGMOL refs exhibit odd behaviours when Reffing AFC

  • omgarsenal

    Why are we wasting precious time on UPP?

  • Jerry


    Perhaps you should look at other some other sites for more referee information such as world and then you’ll be able to see a big difference in how the amount of matches are spread out evenly between the officials in the respective leagues. For example, you list Spain with 20 refs, but have you seen their even workload? 19 of the 20 refs have done between 14-16 matches, with 16 the highest. The PL has Atkinson with 27 matches and only 5 of the 19 refs have done more than 22 matches, so clearly not evenly distributed. I’m sure you’ll find a much more even distribution among the refs from other leagues as well.

    Also, it was not Untold that said Italy and Greece were corrupt, it was their respective governments/football associations that charged them with match fixing. The reason Italy has so many refs now is because it was implemented to reduce the chance of match fixing occurring again in their l league, in essence a safety measure.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Good post.
    Upp pls open your eyes.Refree bias against Arsenal is so obvious.

  • Jerry


    And to further prove how wrong you are in regards to the distribution of matches in other leagues compared to the Pl. I have already mentioned Spain and how the Pl has only 5 refs that officiated within 5 matches compared to the ref with the highest number (Atkinson 27, 5 refs > 22 matches).

    The highest number of matches officiated by a ref is 14 in Germany and Italy, but Germany has 18 refs that officiated between 9-14 matches and Italy has 22 refs that officiated between 10-14 matches.

    You can compare the other leagues yourself.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A peach of an article , Tony . Most people don’t ( nor can’t )think for themselves , and today totally depend on tweets and whatsapp messages and latest updates to keep them ‘informed’. The more famous the twit , the more gullible ,….. sorry more informed they become .
    Yeah right – keep them in their perpetual stupidity and stupor most likely !

    I’m just so glad that I never , ever , have to talk or interact with these clowns . Just ignoring ‘them’ and enjoying the ride is what it is all about . Just as I enjoyed the above article in full and digesting it , without reading the stupid comments by ‘them’. I did not waste mt precious time at all .

    As I also don’t read the papers and listen to the experts in the media , and not having watched yesterday’s game , are England now the favourites to win the Euros ? After all , the scorers were all from the top two clubs in the EPL .

    Ozil, the German international player of 2015 ? Who knew ? What will they think of next ?

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Where is Proudkev ?
    Missing his posts

    Tony,Walter feel no offence please he writes better than you people.

    Doesnt he?

  • fabrechenko

    @upp, perhaps you could come upp with an article that there’s an even distribution of refs officiating matches in the epl as against what has been posted here several times by the untold, then we’ll compare both articles and make deductions. you can’t just make arguements based on someone’s inability to produce and analyse data for you to generate a hypothesis. come upp with something….upp.

  • fabrechenko

    third line should read ‘that *shows* there’s an even distribution’

  • nicky

    The first step towards attaining integrity in match officialdom must surely be the early introduction of video technology and an appeals system. Then, too many corrected decisions are going to root out the officials who are corrupt and/or inept.
    The way will then be clear to apply even further technical aid, yet to be
    discovered. The PGMOL’s days are numbered.

  • John

    Beautiful article tony absolutely super duper…I don’t know why you bother upp ,you could blow every argument out of the water and the cult followers would still go against you. All 10 of them who know better than the rest of the world, especially the tramp omg and the lovely menace.

  • John

    In fact im surprised you haven’t been banned already for not conforming to the cults ideas.

  • porter

    I can’t agree with you nicky , whilst I agree that a citing system could be used and should be for post match inspection of foul play an appeals system during the match would put us on the rocky road to time outs and a complete disruption to the ebb and flow of the game.

  • John

    Tony and walter will you please answer me one question before im barred. Why are the likes of menace and omg still allowed to post on this site after calling posters names like twxt and cxxt and other posters get banned and moderated because they offer a different argument to yourselves??You will have seen their posts yet you fail to act accordingly. Is it because they constantly drool over your posts and think Wenger is great!!

  • serge

    Tony recently offered a complaints system for reporting slagging, and that is to email him directly with the evidence etc. You’ll find his details on the home page.
    Best of luck, but don’t hold your breath to long.

  • nicky

    Rugger doesn’t appear to be unduly disturbed, neither does cricket.
    Something must be done to rectify the most appalling errors and blatant bias which go on week after week.
    Are you saying we must put up with it?
    If not, what do you suggest.

  • upp

    This site discourages statements made without evidence(except when it supports it’s agenda it seems) so get with the program

  • upp

    I think John’s response will do

  • John

    Serge what more evidence do you need when some of the posts in question are comments made on walter and tonys blogs. The posters in question are untouchable due to their die hard love of our manager.

  • upp

    @walter,fabrechenko & jerry
    I think you guys are guilty of shifting the goal posts. I only picked on the topic of number of refs bcos Tony keeps harping on that. Using it as a stick with which to beat pgmo, I never heard any of you reply that the pgmo has similar number of refs but the number of games they ref is not even. Now that I brought it up you’ve all gone into defensive overdrive. Well I hope you got your facts right this time, because it seems every time I make effort to cross check claims made on this site, the facts don’t stack up.

  • Rich

    Will one of you who routinely comes here to complain about the site please give me a little insight into what keeps drawing you in for more.

    Provide some, and your credibility will get a boost in my eyes.

    I just can’t put myself in your shoes as a long-term visitor to a site I fundamentally disagree with. There was a period when I often replied to the trash of Adrian Durham in the Mail but i had the self-awareness to understand early on that it was a pointless exercise and eventually recognised the stupidity of my actions in trying, and that the whole thing was unpleasant to boot, so i stopped bothering naturally.

    Even that,though.. I see Durham as a special case, the extreme end of things, and that was what motivated me to try address the absolute shite he prints. I absolutely detested how he operates and that was what kept me from following good sense earlier and ignoring him- is it a similar story for you here?

    So what’s your story, guys? Do you get enjoyment from disagreeing with people here, or are you driven more by a sense of justice to try fight perceived wrongs? Do you hope to persuade others or just to battle others? Is it voluntary for you or more like a compulsion?

    It would be the best contribution you can make to the site if you can try answer with a bit of detail.

    I’ve asked a few times in the past and either been completely blanked or received answers to different questions to the ones posed.

    I can’t speak for Tony, Walter or anyone else but maybe they’ll give you direct answers to your direct questions (they probably have in the past plenty of times i expect) if you are willing to do the same.

  • Al

    I hope you guys answer Rich’s questions, coz im curious too to know why someone will keep doing something they don’t agree with.

    I don’t want to rekindle this argument, as serge already pointed Tony spelt out the complaints procedure should one be offended by someone. But i just want to say I’m staggered that John is complaining that Menace and OMG haven’t been banned for calling people tw*ts, when same John called someone a [nationality here] cesspit! And he is still here, unbanned. Yet he expects others to get banned for lesser stuff, and complains of favouritism if that doesn’t happen! You couldn’t make it up 🙂

  • Dazza64


    I still don’t’ get your point at all, it just reads like you are are contradicting for the sake of it, and btw tellling someone to get with the program is condescending.

  • Th

    The WOBS are more like atheists who are steeped in their conceited parochiality, thinking they can explain all the mysteries of the world with their loads of empiricism and when the religious people offered same statistics of evidence as to existence of Divinity they twitch their noses upward and refuse to acknowledge.

    Dawkins was asked why Jews win so many Nobel Prizes; hr confessed he doesn’t know. The Jews believe in Torah and God and it worked for them.

    Idiocy is when you believed you know it all.
    WOBS and atheists are kinsmen

  • Jammy J

    @ The Apologist – I would be willing to bet that a large portion of Untold regulars are atheists, so please leave that narrow-minded, ignorant attitude at the door. Honestly, the connections you have made with your comment are truly baffling.

    @ upp – Your whole argument here to debunk the theory of corruption in the PIGMOB, is that the only argument put forward by Untold, was solely down to the number of referees. Whilst the number of referees may be similar to what they have in the other leagues, one of the points put forward, is that the game distribution is not even in the slightest. Compare this to the other leagues and the games are for more evenly distributed between all referees. What’s the point of having these extra refs who get 5 games, whilst others have 25+? The two sets of numbers have everything to do with each other, so you absolutely cannot say “oh but i wasn’t talking about that, i was talking about this”.

    A few people have pointed this out to you, but your only response to them was an insult. Very clever of you.

    This point is always included in Untold articles, so don’t act like it’s never brought up, because i see you commenting on almost every article (which is curious, considering 50% of those comments consist purely of you complaining about something on this website). That’s not to mention the countless referee reviews, that present some very strange results. But you’re completely correct; we’ll just ignore literally all of the evidence, because the PL has roughly around the same amount of refs as other leagues. Genius!

  • porter

    Nicky :- Cricket is a stop start game and really with the time taken over line outs and scrums so is rugby so like tennis and American handball sorry football they are more suited to t.v replays. Football is a moving game and we already have the sometimes baffling interpretations as to when advantage is given or the game pulled back . If you want the game to flow then you have to bear with the decisions at the time but draconian punishment for diving and off the ball incidents would soon stamp it out if individual players were banned without pay and clubs had to suffer points deductions.

  • Upp is to far up inside to ever am it he is wrong and only here to start an argument so leave well alone. People mostly know what the media are like and their agenda right across the board so I leave well alone as I gave up comic books along time ago.
    As for religion each to his own, I believe in God and Christ and that is my belief.

  • WalterBroeckx

    LOL Upp, so why should we not consider the amount of games each ref has done? Because it doesn’t suit your argument?

    In fact the PL has only 14 (fourteen) refs this season. The 5 other refs have done a total of 15 refs so on average 3 matches per ref this season of the 300 (more or less) matches that have been played. Or a total of 5% of the total matches. If you want to call them full time referees in the PL…. well LOL… okay then..

    The 14 I have mentioned have done more than 10 matches each and can be considered full time PL referees. The others is to fill up gaps when nobody else was available because…. maybe because the PL didn’t have enough referees???

    And yes we should count the number of matches played each weekend also because that very important because of :
    1) the workload
    2) the fatigue of the refs

  • WalterBroeckx

    To compare with Italy is important. Why? Because Italy has suffered from corruption. And how does Italy tackle possible corruption? By having a lot of referees.
    In Italy they know that corruption can kill the league so they work pro-active in order to prevent any possible corruption again and to cut down the possible influence of this.
    30 refs for 10 matches each weekend. That looks to me the ideal situation.

    Compare the PL with their 14 full time referees… that is 46% compared to the Italian league… Not even half the referees and for the same amount of matches.

    But please tell yourself there is no problem…

  • nicky

    With respect, I think you are missing the point.
    While I accept the importance of keeping the flow, your comment clearly refers to wrongdoing by players alone.
    I am more concerned with rectifying the mistakes, deliberate or not, carried out by match officials.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    You must have heard of this old and oft repeated question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound? ” .
    The answer would be YES , but you would have to film or record it to prove it.

    Similarly I would ask you , “If any of ‘them’ come on to a pro AW site and ask stupid and unsound questions and give idiotic opinions , should they even be heard? Or read ? Or given any serious thought ? Or receive any reply ”
    My answer would be NO ! I have better thing to do with my time .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Then again if we sent them into the forest and a tree fell on their hollow and empty heads , would there be a sound ?

    This I really would like to know !

  • Gord


    Like a lot of web sites, Untold-Arsenal does have a search bar on every page. And like a lot of web sites, the search capabilities provided by that in house search engine leave something to be desired.

    Both Google and DuckDuck will allow you to restrict a search to a specific website. For example (ignore underscores, just there for formatting): Walter Broeckx pink

    will look for entire threads (article plus comment) where the thread contains those 3 terms in any order. The big search engines often will rank pages higher where those 3 terms are close to each other within the page.

    If instead, we searched for: “Walter Broeckx” pink

    The big search engines would require that Walter occurs before Broeckx (not necessarily immediately before) in the page.

    You can also quote in single words: Walter Broeckx “pink”

    which now assigns more importance to finding the word “pink” in the page, than the two other terms (Walter and Broeckx).

    But, things are actually a little more complicated than that. The big search engines actually use stemmming before figuring out what to search for. So if you search for drive or driving, you nominally get the same results (they both have the same stem).

    There are probably other tricks available, those are some I know about and use regularly.

  • Gord


    I think we have a few Gooners from the Philippines. I see in the news, that Diawata-1 was aboard the Cygnus space delivery truck visiting the ISS, and is due to be launched in about 1 month.

    I was kind of hoping that Diawata-1 might also be spending some time imaging football (such as found at London Colney and Islington), but the flip side of 120 degrees E longitude is 60 degrees W longitude. All that satellite will be seeing on this side of the north Atlantic is Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Actually, I’m not even sure it will see much of Newfoundland. I don’t live with orbital parameters, but an orbital inclination of 56 degrees might not even have to very close to Newfoundland.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Gord -March 28, 2016 at 2:16 pm – We may get to see some stunning pictures of the Northern Lights and the migratory flights of Artic Terns , or some fine Elk or caribou hanky-panky close ups !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Or maybe they could find that lost shipment of refrigerators that never made it to the Eskimos?