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October 2016
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Desperate transport, desperate journalism, Win No 500. Arsenal v Pulis’ mob – Being there.

By Tony Attwood

Before the match four writers of Untold gathered in the Swimmer for a pre-game chit-chat and the occasional noggin. (Tim joining regulars Blacksheep, Andrew and myself).

We were, I think it is fair to say, in lively, positive mood, despite the awful car crash, the aftermath of which Blacksheep and I had witnessed at the end of our journey south.  It was a salutary reminder of what can happen, at the end of a week which had started with me in court arguing that a car crash of two years ago had been a mere glancing blow (my fault, I never denied it) and not something that could have caused whiplash and prolonged injury.

Indeed my experience in court on monday is also a reminder to anyone who thinks that the offer of a “no win no fee” deal from a solicitor is worth considering.   The lady whose car I edged alongside (scratching my vehicle leaving no mark on hers) left court with no win, and a £5000 bill in court costs which I understand her insurance company won’t be paying.   No win, no fee but they forget to tell you about the consequences if you lose.

So after a week that started in court (and being in the witness box as a defendant is nerve wracking experience for even the most up front commentator on life’s affairs) moved on to jollier things, and I reflected at that moment how lucky I am to have Arsenal as a hobby and passion.  It has through my life brought me friendship, passion, enjoyment, laughter…  Of course I get a bit down when we lose, but then think to myself – at least I don’t support Chelsea, Man C, Man U, Leicester, Tottenham, and the rest, where visits to the second division would have been part of my supporting life, had I chosen them.

Perhaps that is why generally speaking I am happier than some: it’s a sense of historic perspective.

Back at the Arsenal there was a planned walk out on 75 minutes, which seemed to involve 25 people, according to Blacksheep from his vantage point in the North Bank lower level.  From my position in the front row of the upper east, I couldn’t see anyone leaving – and I did look.

But the Independent and Telegraph have pictures of someone holding up an anti-Wengerian banner, (at least one if not both of the pictures did not come from this game last night – it was not even from the Emirates) and yet again no comment appears anywhere that in contrast to the negativists we have our banner, paid for by ourselves, on permanent display in the stadium.   I’ve printed the picture of it several times of late, so I’ll leave you today to make your way to the home page to see it in all its glory.   The history of the banner and the list of subscribers is here.

And so as always the media’s rampant negativity surrounding what was a perfectly enjoyable game with some very good football, thus took on a desperate hue.

Alexis Sánchez scored two first-half goals as Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion to return to third place, though many of their fans were not there to see it  sayeth the Guardian, which of course was true.   Arsenal have millions of fans worldwide and only a few can make it to the stadium.
Then, feeling their readership might have drifted off, the Guardian weighed in further with “Sánchez keeps weary Arsenal fans awake.”

Would Arsenal be better off finishing outside top four and why were there so many empty seats at the Emirates?

Although they did come in with the interesting snippet that

Empty seats at Premier League games shows what happens when you have live football on TV six days in a row

So maybe it wasn’t a boycott after all.

As for the transport, the Piccadilly Line, which is one of the two Underground lines that service the area was almost totally out of action for reasons that did not become clear.   Vast crowds built up around Finsbury Park station, and I imagine around other stations in the area as well, and many of us diverted our attention to the regular railway line operated by Great Northern.

It can get very crowded after a game, and doubly so when there is no Picadilly Line train.  So what did Great Northern do?  They put on a three carriage train and allowed everyone to try and push 200 or more people into a carriage.  Total insanity and incredibly dangerous.  But then, hey, we’re only football supporters, so we don’t matter do we?

Back with the football Arsenal have broken through the 500 barrier in terms of the number of wins in the Premier League (only Man U being there before us) and we look sure to have Champions League football next season – something Chelsea can only dream about, and Man U are desperately hoping for, and Liverpool!!! and State Aid can only imagine.

Of course it would be wonderful to win the League again, but playing the media’s most disreputable game of all time isn’t going to make that happen.  We could go down the route of Tottenham and keep disposing of managers (although doing so because a manager does make it into the top four, rather that because he doesn’t) would be a variant on the Tottenham managerial process) but the key point to notice is that changing managers, at least as far as Tottenham is concerned, fails.

Here’s the proof…

  1. Chris Houghton 1997-1997
  2. Christian Gross 1997-1998
  3. David Pleat 1998-1998
  4. George Graham 1998-2001
  5. David Pleat 2001-2001
  6. Glenn Hoddle 2001-2003
  7. David Pleat 2003–2004
  8. Jacques Santini 2004–2004
  9. Martin Jol 2004–2007
  10. Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2007-2007
  11. Juande Ramos 2007-2007
  12. Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2008-2008
  13. Harry Redknapp 2008-2012
  14. André Villas-Boas 2012 – 2013
  15. Tim Sherwood 2013-2014

It’s a fair old list, but as a model it doesn’t really bring with it that much glory.

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26 comments to Desperate transport, desperate journalism, Win No 500. Arsenal v Pulis’ mob – Being there.

  • finsbury

    Abu Dhabi City have had tickets on general sale for a month?
    Sky News Utd had a very sparse crowd in Manchester midweek too.

    Not a squeak about it in the funny papers. Or on Sly News either. That was a shocking surprise for me. I can tell you. Extremist dribbling rags and presenters and plundits who love to gibber, not a surprise I suppose. Who would or could listen to or read let alone believe any of that weird propaganda? Oh. Thankfully it all evens out in the end.

  • Sean Jean

    Tony,If you look at the side’s points to games ratios it always gives you a clear indication of who has the mentality of would be champions. Every single time that Arsenal have been in with a shot of the title since the stadium move the points to games ratio has dropped off after January. This season we were on course to average around two points per game or just above which would have seen us finish with mid to high seventies come the season end. This ratio has now dropped well under two. The only time our points to games ratio improves after January is if we have no chance whatsoever to win the league and we need to improve just to finish fourth. It really is that simple.
    If you take a look at Leicester they were on target for low to mid seventies around the turn of the year but have upped their game and are now looking at a points tally of 80+ as they are now averaging above two points a game. This is a sign of a team with a winners mentality. Arsenal are the opposite and have been for around a decade or so. If a title bid is in sight we crumble and the ratio drops. The only way it ever rises come the turn of the year is if we are out of sight from the leaders and need a charge for fourth.

  • WalterBroeckx

    My match commentator also mentioned that most of the empty seats at the start would be down to big problems on the underground. Blacksheep reminded us of the troubles of Thursday evening football this week and I think that with the transport problems wasn’t the ideal situation to get there for many people.

  • John Boy

    The Media have been all over the empty seats like the nasty rash they are.
    However whilst some seats may have been empty because of frustration at recent results, the main reason for non attendance last night was another late fixture change for the benefit of Sky TV.
    Unlike press and T.V staff who get paid to attend games plus their fat expenses, us ordinary fans have to pay our own way.
    I attend most of our home games travelling down from Newark. By booking advanced singles I can save up to £30 a trip by booking early. The downside is that these tickets are non refundable.
    Twice before this season I have lost money because a game has been changed at fairly short notice and I wasn’t prepared to do it again so I stayed away from this one. Also the Thursday factor. I don’t remember us ever having to play a league game on a Thursday so fans who have other lives away from football no doubt had already made other social arrangements for day when we never play.
    When I travel down the train is always packed with football fans from far flung places following not just Arsenal but Sunderland, Newcastle, Middlesboro, Hull and Leeds.
    Also Chelsea West Ham Spurs etc.
    The majority always by far are Gooners.
    And talking to a few after the Palace game none of them could attend last night because of the day of the game nothing at all to do with dissatisfaction.
    We are not going to hear that from Sky or indeed newspapers as it doesn’t fit their agenda
    There were originally four of us going to this game, I meet up with them in London when they come up from Kent, none of us went so its not rocket science to work out why so many seats were empty.

  • Sean Jean; “winning mentality” and indeed all notions of “collective mentality” are artificial constructs with no scientific evidence to suggest that they actually exist in the real world. Social psychology does show us that people are influenced by others around them, and indeed the behaviourist approach of BF Skinner did say it was the environment around each of us as individuals that determined how we reacted to the world. But none of this goes on to show that there is such a thing as a winning mentality. The mere fact that one of the leading experts on winning mentality is Gary Neville tells you a lot about what you need to know on the subject.

  • Ajay

    You know what I realised watching the game on telly in India at 0015 hrs that with out the negative boo boo arsenal supporters, the Wenger out brigade supporters, AFC played their beautiful football with out inhibitions. Don’t know what stopped them from coming to the game, but what ever it is I hope it keeps them boo boo AFC fans out again till the end of the season. Just a thought. COYG!!!

  • Col

    “as a model it doesn’t really bring with it that much glory.” – Tottenham’s manager turnover is comparable to Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and (in the last couple of years) Manchester United. Even Leicester have had quite a high turnover. Every non-Man U winner since Arsenal last won it has a comparable manager turnover. It is also noticeable that Pochettino is conveniently excluded from the list – ‘not much glory’ so far its true, but those are words that could come back to haunt.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I noticed from my seat in the East Stand that the atmosphere in the stadium was far less toxic than it has been recently and there was genuine support for the team on a far bigger scale than usual. Yes there were empty seats, some I know due to the Thursday night rather than any planned boycott. A few people left on the 75th minute, but the stadium had just announced that there were major delays on the Piccadilly Tube Line and it would be difficult to say it they were leaving to get ahead of the normal crush for alternative tube stations or were part of a boycott. Whatever the reason they left they missed a great little cameo performance from Campbell in the last five minutes to remind Arsène of the qualities he can bring to the team.

  • JohnW

    Sean Jean, therefore are you suggesting that if you’re a footballer, and were approached by two clubs ( Arsenal and Leicester) in the Summer, would you choose ‘winning mentality’ Leicester? Are you even aware that both teams have almost scored the same goals, conceded the same goals, but Leicester have been as lucky as 10 penalty goals and most of our penalties have been turned down?

  • Yellow Canary

    Depends which model you look at though doesn’t it? Changing managers at Chelsea seems to have worked quite well in gathering trophies. Even Liverpool have won the CL and may have a manager who can guide them to greater glories in the league. I imagine that constant managerial changes at the top clubs will become quite usual from now on. The lengthy stays of Fergie and Wenger at one club is a model that is coming to an end, I think, for good or worse.

    I couldn’t care less if we’re in the CL as I’m extremely bored with the usual collapse. It’s a bloated farce of a tournament anyway and has helped devalue the league where it is now seen as an achievement to finish fourth. I loved Ranieri’s comment when he said a few weeks ago when Leicester where assured of CL football that his team have achieved nothing yet. Winning the league is all he cares about.

    Very pleased we won last night. Obviously I want us to finish as high as possible, being in the CL just happens to be an inconvenient distraction if we do make the top four, the main wish for me is to see us finish as high as possible. The good thing for us is that both Norwich and Sunderland will have to play outside their own half as they both need to pick up points and that should suit us. Villa are so abject that if we don’t beat them we probably don’t deserve to finish in the top three. The key game will be City away; hopefully the CL distraction will affect them and we can beat them too.

  • Sean Jean

    For me the problem lies with the ethos of the club being stuck just as the same as it was back when we needed it in 2006. Even though we are now on a very secure financial footing the ethos has not shifted with the times. But that ethos lies not with just one individual. It is not as simple as get rid of Arsene and all will be well with the club again.
    If your life depended on Arsenal winning the title next season what pairing would you go for Usmanov and Simeone or Kroenke and Wenger?
    I know who I would go for but I certainly would not hold my breath for it to happen anytime soon. That for me is the reason why I have decided to not put any more money into the clubs coffers until a change happens. I gave up my season ticket years ago but have now cancelled down three red memberships as well. The difficult thing personally is that this decision means my five year old son won’t be able to go to any matches as he is yet to visit the stadium but for me I could not justify paying into a system that I simply do not agree with.

  • Menace

    Arsenals CL journey is not boring at all. We have had some glorious victories & some truly shocking examples of the Platini corruption in officiating. The use of ‘morons’ aka goal line officials is another of Platinis abortions. He has been outed by his greed & it is time for the organisation (UEFA) & FIFA to be disbanded. Football should be run by a new democratic organisation based in London.

    The FA & its puppet PGMOL should be likewise disbanded & put to grass or better still locked up at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

    Arsenal played specially beautiful football on Thursday & I’m sure Her Majesty (a gooner) was thrilled with the victory. Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth. May Arsenal bring you many joys of the beautiful game.

  • Pat

    When Arsene Wenger was asked about empty seats, he asked the journalist if he had inquired of the fans why they weren’t attending.

    This is where what John Boy says is so useful. A full picture of why the fourth match on TV in a week, changed for TV purposes, might not be a priority for fans who have to book their transport in advance to get a reasonable fare and lose their money if the match is changed. Hard facts.

    In my case I might have gone since tickets were available but on Thursdays I help out at a local sports activity for children and teenagers run by Arsenal in the Community.

    But one thing is sure – no journalist is actually going to go to the trouble of finding out the real reasons why the attendance might have been lower than normal. Just one more cheap jibe, another stick to beat Arsenal with.

  • Rich

    That Guardian headline! Jeez

    As it happens, I thought it was a game that really brought into focus the question of whether skill, style, or whatever you want to call it means anything at all in football.

    For instance, while Sanchez was in the middle of putting in one of the most sensational halves of football in the league this year, West Brom came close to equalising with their most potent weapon- a good corner and one of their giants getting on the end of it.

    Quite mind-blowing or disturbing to think of all the skill and good football we’d produced by then being wiped out in that fashion. I ,for one, would have been dismayed at that point, and have got little or no consolation from us having played well beforehand, and i know it would have brought forth much wailing on social media and perhaps groans of unrest in the stadium, but ultimately, does that mean good football is actually worthless unless you are leading or go on to win the game?

    There’s a whole lot of internal conflict for me there, as my own behaviour suggests this is true- if we don’t win, I’m miserable; if we win, however we played, I’m satisfied- but i just can’t have it that it’s the truth.

    It’s not good enough to only give any praise to or have any respect for skilful play on the days when it brings success, because to reach those levels requires a deep fundamental commitment to trying to play football.

    ‘Skill is fine, so long as you win’ wouldn’t, in practice, lead to adventurous skilful football; it almost certainly wouldn’t lead to you signing Mesut Ozil.

    Mesut Ozil. Last night there must have been at least half a dozen occasions when he showcased sublime skill before passing to a teammate in moves which, in the end, didn’t result in a goal. Does that mean nothing of any value happened- that it was the same as if he’d just lumped the ball forward immediately, or played a safe pass involving no skill? I can imagine how I would have felt as a kid seeing his skill up close in the stadium. It would have been amazing and left me enthused about the game for weeks. I refuse to believe that kid would have been clueless.

    I’m rambling, I know, but that game brought that conflict of mine between performance and result to a head.

    It was a nervy occasion given the circumstances, and i remained tense even at 2-0 with West from offering almost no threat. This meant I couldn’t fully appreciate the good football, but I was aware of it, and I was hoping in vain for the commentators to help me out and say ‘bloody hell, there’s been an awful lot of skill on show here’, or similar.

    Then I saw that Guardian headline and a few other comments in the same vein. Phhhh.

    I can’t change the fact that, in practice, my behaviour is that of someone who is totally obsessed with results, but I reckon I can try a bit harder to appreciate great skill and good football. It’s almost certain that some time soon we will have a manager who sees the game differently.

    Who knows, maybe this will lead us again to titles, maybe not, but I’m almost certain there’ll be days, when there’s so much less skill and invention on show, when I and many others miss these times and even struggle to believe they ever happened. Days when a two-goal lead means switch off the football tap, defend, and wait and wait to see if the opposition will eventually try and do something.

    Finally, lets hope sometime soon we start fully capitalising on all the good situations we are creating. Last night should really have been 4 or 5. Even the media would struggle to paint that as a gloomy negative night, though I’m sure they’d try their best to.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I want to focus on our next Sunderland away game and forget about the media reported fans empty seats at the Ems last night which has been addressed by the Boss in his press conference as he called on the stay-away Arsenal fans to, “Come and support the team” in our last 2 home games of this season at the Ems.

    Thank God! We collected all the 3 points at stake in our home match against WBA yesternight to move to 3rd in the table. This is refreshing from the last 1 point we got at West Ham.

    Would Arsenal collect all the 3 points which are going to be at stake against Sunderland this Sunday? Well, the Gunners have no any other option other than the only option to win the match to collect all 3 points if they want Arsenal to stay 3rd in the table and start to overhaul Spurs 5 points lead on us.

    Therefore, Arsenal MUST raise the level of their game considerably far above the one they played against WBA last night. That level was far bellow the high Arsenal game level that we all know.

  • Gunz

    @Sean Jean
    You naughty “cut’n’paster”.
    Taking others material from Onlinegooner!
    Shame on you

  • Gunz, thank you for pointing out that Sean Jean had cut and paste from Online Gooner.

    My apologies to Online Gooner, and farewell Sean Jean. Taking someone else’s article is absolutely not acceptable.

    If anyone ever spots plagiarism please do report it to me.

  • Menace

    It is time for the fans to control when we want football. TV are only interested in money & don’t care what happens to the game or the fans that made it what it is.

    Time for a petition. Football on Saturdays at 3.00pm. Comedy & Gameshows weekday evenings.

  • austinpaul

    All we nid is TOTAL Support to our team; sports entail a lot nd there is always space for correction, improvement nd progression;nid I remind everyone dat Wenger is not a fool or a daft? No matter how immuned he is to pressure am sure he feels d season’s disappointments nd frustrations much more dan any of fans,nd of course he knos more of everytin concerning arsenal more; every coach/manager wants to be a winner wit his team,its so amusing nd amazing dat a lot of renegade fans tink dey kno beta dan everyone else so much so dat ‘wenger out’ is d all in all solution to arsenal failings dis season;gud enough those who shuld kno nd who matter really,are already strategising nt d least Wenger himself wit his array of specialist staff some hve even bin ridicling; no one wants to be a looser,bt in sports u win some u loose some, den u go back to d basics, uncover past mistakes, make amends nd come out season will be glorious dat am sure of bcos watever fans are craving now will be comprehensively addressed bcos I can sense dat even Wenger is disappointed by d turn of events dis season;moreso ,some of d squad players hve bin a let down during d season nd he knos dat must nt repeat itself next season;patience is wat we nid to get us tru d rest of this season,bcos everybody knos:Wenger,Stan,Gadizi et al dat a new Arsenal must be prepared for next season nd CL, EPL CUPS are desirables for 2016/17 season!!!

  • Gouresh

    Leicester City have got 10 penalties compared to us. Any chance of getting a break down on these from fans who have this data? ie circumstances, time in the match, contact or dive or 50/50. It will be worth a read,

  • norman14

    I think we should take passes away for most journalists, as I’m sure they write their script before games.

  • para

    A winning mentality:
    Wanting to win and prepared to put in all the effort and sacrifices needed.

    As all actions begin with thought, thinking i want to win this game, then letting this thought flow into the feelings causes the want, then let the thought and feelings flow into the actions needed to be done to achieve the want.

    Thought is no artifical construct in any way, it is the base energy that allows us to be able to do things, else we would be forever sitting waiting for someone to come along and program us.

    Sad is, some have worked out a way to re-program our thoughts unbeknown to most and can cause serious disruptions in our own thought processes.

    So remember, just be careful whose thoughts you are thinking.

  • Notoverthehill

    Tony, the “cut and paste” was from the Online Gunner, the author a John Evans!

    It would seem that the site is run by Kevin Whitcher, who used to be on the AISA directory?

    According to Whitcher, the Picadilly Line strike was called off? Therefore no excused for 20,000 empty seats!

    My first, and last visit to that site.

  • Pat

    I was at the Crystal Palace match, where we drew 1 – 1.

    There was a little boy of about ten next to me. When Alexis did an amazing step over, he turned to me with gleaming eyes and said, ‘Did you see that?’

    At the end I said to him, ‘We saw some great football, didn’t we?’

    I freely admit it I did it in the hope he would remember, not that we drew, but that he saw a wonderful move by Alexis.

  • Andy Mack

    Gouresh, the more interesting breakdown would be of penalties against us / Leicester. Plus penalties that should have been given against us / Leicester.
    Huth looks to commit a minimum of 2 penalty deserving fouls per game but they are pretty much never given. He has little to no football ability but plays like rugby number 4 (lock) by rarely ever gets penalised.
    Although it’s true we have been denied a lot of clear penalties, that in itself isn’t the reason Leicester are doing so well. But they’d have lost a lot more games if the refs had penalised Huth just 50% of the time instead of 5% of the times he’s deserved punishment.

  • Pat

    Very appropriate description of Huth. He was, after all, a key member of Pulis’s Stoke rugby team.