By Tony Attwood
There is something going on that I really don’t understand.
Most Arsenal supporters (not quite all, but most Arsenal supporters) want the same thing – for the club to win lots of trophies. And most Arsenal supporters want to achieve this result by changing things. The only difference between us is what we want to change, and a view as to whether some of the proposed changes could do more harm than good.
So, to summarise this situation fairly crudely (and I know that it is a lot more varied that this, but it is beyond my ability as a writer to describe the entire situation in one article), there is one group who want some or all of these factors.
- Change the Arsenal manager
- Change the chief executive
- Change the owner
- Increase the number of transfers that we do each year
- Cut the cost of seats at Arsenal.
- The non-use of statistics, such as the fact that Arsene Wenger has a higher win percentage in the league than any other Arsenal manager in history, because these statistics are not at all helpful in understanding what is going on because you can prove anything with statistics.
- Change overall. Arsenal keep doing the same thing over and over again, and “as Einstein said” doing something and seeing that it fails, and then doing it again is the first sign of madness. (Einstein never said anything like this – it is just one of those sayings, but the commentators generally throw his name in, in order to get extra weight behind the point).
On the other hand there is a group that sees the situation as not being resolvable through these means for all sorts of reasons. (And again, of course there are many other variations in the way people think about all this – I’m just summarising from my own experience).
- Expose what the PGMO is doing and question why it is doing it and through publicity engage the mass media in the debate in order to force through reforms of the organisation, while further investigating the consequences of the strange secretive set up of PGMO.
- Implement the Financial Fair Play rules for the Premier League which were promised three years ago, but never saw the light of day.
- Reject all talk of a limit on the number of non-UK nationals who can play in Premier League teams – a notion proposed supposedly in order to help the England national team win things.
- Control international football to reduce the number of injuries and days players are lost on international “duty”, and with this in mind expose the corruption and craziness of the FA, Uefa and Fifa not least so that the varies bodies’ actions are consistent.
- Enhance the drug control laws so that players and/or clubs cannot get away with just losing a player for a short while when drug laws are broken.
- Expose the way in which journalists and their newspapers, plus TV stations, their commentators and their editing, play on the fears of some supporters and whip up a storm over issues, often through innuendo and suggestion and without evidence.
- Be supportive of the team at games at all times and let nothing distract from that.
- Research and expose the actual effects of the changes that the other group want – such as the most likely outcome in changing a manager or buying a high profile or high cost player.
- Control players’ wages so that prices in stadia can be kept under control
- Enhance the coverage of football on TV so that all supporters can see all the games.
- Encourage the use of evidence in analysing football in every form, so that instead of being opinion based, it is actually based on a detailed review of what happened, from which theories can be evolved as to what is likely to happen next. In short, “evidence based football analysis”.
Now these are two very different lists, and two very different types of list. And in writing out these lists something has struck me, apart from how different the two lists are (which is something I think I knew already). It is that…
The debate is utterly pointless
This is the only conclusion I can reach. I will try and explain why.
a) The first group – those who want change such as the removal of Wenger, Gazidis and/or Kronke – know they are right. They have no doubt. And they also know that they are in the majority, for we are often told by them that most Arsenal fans think as they do. They don’t present evidence in the serious scientific sense, because they believe that simple observation (eg the number of years since Arsenal won the league) is “evidence” enough. (It is not evidence it is an observation, but we’ll leave that for now).
b) This group also run very big demonstrations – something I know because whenever I have suggested that demonstrations by Black Scarf and more recently RedAction were fairly poorly supported, they have been very quick to tell me I can’t see properly.
c) This group also have the support of a very large number of blogs (and on this point I agree with them – they don’t have to convince me). Indeed as we’ve said on this site many times, Untold was set up in January 2008 specifically to give an outlet to views that were contrary to those expressed on most blogs, websites, newspapers and TV stations. Indeed that’s why it was called Untold – because the views I wanted to express were not being heard anywhere else.
d) Because the views put out in the first list of change points (from “change the manager” onwards) are very straightforward and easy to understand, and because they are right, there is a consequential argument that by not following those seven points, the club will fall apart, probably sooner rather than later. Indeed we have seen each year on this site the prediction made that this is the year that Arsenal will drop out of the top four.
There is a certain inevitability about this argument which the contrary group – the pro-Wenger group – can’t and don’t put forward. Because we don’t know if we can expose what PGMO is doing, and ultimately bring about its reform, we can’t predict the future. But because the anti-Wenger group know for sure that Wenger and co are destroying the club, or at the very best stagnating the club while other clubs progress, decline and fall is inevitable. And thus change is inevitable.
What obviously follows from this is that arguing against a single pro-Wenger blog such as Untold, is pointless. Success is guaranteed, so why bother with the nutters on the sidelines writing their little blog? Logically the club is about to go into decline. Maybe even terminal decline.
Indeed why do they even bother to read a single headline we put out? After all, no one convinces anyone. They know they are right, so why continue the argument? We on the other hand think we might be able to expose some of the things going on, and so need to continue what we are doing.
So what should each side do now?
Clearly there is no point in the anti-Wengerians engaging with us. We know we won’t change, and they are certain we are wrong. So they can carry on doing their demonstrations (although I wish they wouldn’t because I think it harms the club, and the players), and wait for the collapse that their analysis logically predicts as being inevitable. (There is a certain Marxist historical inevitability theory in this, but I’ll leave that for another day).
For us the issue is the reverse. We have found a whole raft of things which evidence suggests are going seriously wrong in football, from the misuse of public money through to the implications of the utter secrecy surrounding PGMO.
We know, in terms of media exposure, that we are very much out on a limb. Other web sites support our view from time to time, but most are against us, and along with the mainstream media, they are certain that the answers are fairly simple – such as change the manager, change the players etc.
Thus all we can do is keep on being a voice that keeps on asking difficult questions, that keeps on following Barcelona’s breach of the basic rights of children even when most people were telling us we were wrong and the club would be vindicated. Who keep on pointing out what the FA is doing with money that should be spent on grassroots football. Who point out that a minor change in Swiss law could start the collapse of the Fifa old guard. Who keep on exposing PGMOs actions. Who point out that most managerial and player changes don’t work. And so on.
But really, the majority of websites with their allies in the press, on radio and on TV, have no need to engage with us, and absolutely no need to fear us, because they know that inevitably, as they have been predicting for years, Arsenal will collapse under the present regime.
And yet they still have the need to write in and call us names, or in some cases, set out their contrary arguments. Funny ol’ world.
- FA set to lose another £30m of state aid as they donate more money to Fifa.
- The Illusion of change
- The shocking figures revealed when fouls, penalties and cards are compared.
- The task facing the next Arsenal manager. Candidate Group 3: Joachim Löw, Diego Pablo Simeone, Thomas Tuchel, Frank de Boer, Laurent Blanc