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How football could be improved forever through one simple adjustment.

By Tony Attwood

Listening to TalkSport’s commentary on the Manchester City game at the weekend I was struck, not for the first time, by a very simple point.  It was the failure of the commentators to ask “why?”

The particular situation was the Kyle Walker push on Sterling and the failure of the referee to take action.   We know why Walker did the pushing, but why the referee failed to act, that was not asked at all.

Now it is true that occasionally the “why?” question is asked of a pundit, or by a pundit, but usually such a question is met with shakes of the head (particularly on Sky Sports whose punditary – the newly invented collective noun for a number of pundits gathered together in the same place (a punditarium) at the same time talking rubbish) and an admission that the pundit doesn’t know.  The implication of this is not because the pundit is stupid but rather because the situation is so odd, that no one can know.

The process was used by Paul Merson and co on Sky when asking why Hull had appointed a non-English manager when there were plenty of English managers out there.  Asking “why?” and suggesting no one knows in turn suggests that the people involved are idiots and that it is obvious that an English manager should have been appointed.  The examination of evidence in terms of the success of English managers in the Premier League was not examined.  The implication is that the Sky punditary are intelligent, and everyone who disagrees is an idiot.

Yet asking “why?” and finding proper answers is at the heart of our civilisation, and to my mind quite rightly so.  The answers are not always clear, but that is part of the issue.  Asking “why?” (and not just answering by a sad shake of the head) is part of learning and discovery.  If we never asked, “Why is this happening?” we would have no science, no technology, no medicine, no civilisation.

Why is the climate changing?  Why did so many people vote for Trump?  Why did quite a few people in areas of low immigration and where the local economy is very dependent on work provided by European companies, vote to leave the EU?   Why has fake news become so prevalent on the internet and in the mass media?  Why do referees get it so wrong so often?  Why do people who clearly reject the whole notion of evidence based analysis keep writing to Untold and telling us we are idiots?

Of course some “why” questions are more important than others, some can be quite readily answered, some take a lot of research to unravel, but generally speaking asking and then trying to answer the “why” questions is at the heart of our civilisation.  Obviously when Paul Merson and Phil Thompson ask “why” and then shake their heads in despair, we don’t get very far, but when there is a serious intent to answer which goes beyond the implication that those involved are idiots, then progress begins.

I am not sure why football commentary has so resolutely turned its back on “why?”, but that question in itself is of interest.

It is not that football is more complex than say, nuclear physics or Britain’s weather and understanding the answers to various “why?” questions would be illuminating.

For example, why does Mr Wenger place a particular emphasis on buying young players and developing them at the club?  The answer is possibly because he feels he can nurture the players’ skills and talents in a particular way to get them to play the way he wants.   Also it saves the club money in terms of large transfer fees, and helps find Arsenal players who qualify under the “home grown” rule – an area in which other clubs struggle.  Finally, it is clearly often the case that players the club would like to buy either don’t want to come to the club or are not allowed to leave their existing club, so having youngsters is helpful in that regard.  And during the times of Arsenal’s austerity which coincided with the rise of unparalleled wealth for clubs like Chelsea, Man C and Barcelona, it allowed Arsenal to sell players for often ludicrously high prices.

Or to try another one: why does the PGMO have so very few referees at its disposal and operate in secret?   We might also ask who owns PGMOB Ltd – who are the key shareholders?   (Incidentally, the Wiki entry for PGMO has changed since I last looked and is more reflective of the controversy around the company.  Worth having a look before someone in PGMO gets in and wipes it again.)

Why questions can be serious and trivial.  For example why did a few people criticise the new banner at the Emirates with pictures of Alexis’ job call this “beyond embarrassing”.  I didn’t feel embarrassed by it, nor was I beyond embarrassment.  Why did the the media pick up on this and describe it in the usual “Twitter meltdown” mode?

Let me try another angle.  Why do some people who describe themselves as supporters endlessly moan about the club?  Is it because they think moaning makes things change (it doesn’t seem to since they have been at it for ten years or more).  Is it because it makes them feel better?  (I wonder about that, it doesn’t seem to make them happy, although of course I don’t know what goes on inside their heads).  Is it because they just don’t like the fact that Untold Arsenal, with its generally positive message, exists, when they know we are wrong?

These are all interesting questions, and just to round it up, here is a new one I would like to have answered just at the moment.

Why did the Lewisham’s mayor and cabinet claim that a £2m Sport England “pledge” had been made several years ago to help the redevelopment of Millwall’s ground (which they wanted for compulsory purchase) when no such funding agreement exists and no application for a funding agreement is in process?  I’m certainly not a Millwall fan but I defend every club’s right to exist and not be forced out of its ground through lies and corruption.   I really would like the answer to that one.

Art3

18 comments to How football could be improved forever through one simple adjustment.

  • porter

    Why ?
    The three year olds favourite question as their thirst for answers shows itself. They ask it continually because they want to know. This is of course totally opposite to the media and their talking heads . They don’t want to know , they just want to keep talking.

  • Harry

    Some answers for you Tony.

    Why is the climate changing?
    It’s the natural climate process being accelerated through pollution to the point that nature can’t recover fast enough.

    Why did so many people vote for Trump?
    Clinton was a terrible choice and Trump offered something different.

    Why did quite a few people in areas of low immigration and where the local economy is very dependent on work provided by European companies, vote to leave the EU?
    The work has nothing to do with it. They did not want to be ruled by Brussels. The decisions are ours again.

    Why has fake news become so prevalent on the internet and in the mass media?
    With the American elections, the News channels and commentators are being run and used by the Democrats.
    Unfortunately, the Media elsewhere in the world repeated their propaganda and people believed it.

    Why do people who clearly reject the whole notion of evidence based analysis keep writing to Untold and telling us we are idiots?
    You have convinced yourselves that your articles are just plain facts. In reality you mix opinion with stats. I don’t think you are idiots just an easy target, baffle them with logic then everyone will see they are the idiots, not you.

    Why do referees get it so wrong so often?
    I have no answer to this. Maybe none of them support Arsenal!

  • Saadman

    I have another “why” question for you tony. Why is Herbert Chapman such an unknown name in the footall world? Why is everything that happened before the European cup era considered insignificant and not worth remembering? And why the duck is mourinho in the list if top 10 greatest managers of all time? And why do Chelsea fans defend their clubs policy of keeping 38 players out on loan?

  • Pat

    Good point about Millwall, Tony. Lies and half truths and cover ups are going on all over London to justify what is euphemistically called ‘regeneration’. We’re currently trying to stop our leisure/sports centre from being demolished and replaced by 400 luxury flats.

  • HenryB

    That was an enjoyable read, Tony, and there are certainly many ‘whys’ that could be asked by an enquiring mind.

    The missing bit in the Post concerns ‘how, when and by whom’ the ‘why’ question is answered.

    By the very nature of human social interaction the person who could answer the question either is not around to do so [pundit on TV – referee on pitch] or refuses to answer because they simply do not wish to do so, or they are unable to do so as they might have impetuously taken certain actions on the spur of the moment, which retrospectively looks stupid or inexplicable.

    And frankly some of the ‘why’ questions are rhetorical – for example; “why are you so stupid?” when no answer is required or would not be meaningful.

    Everyone should ask ‘why’ if they do not know the reason for some action taken by another — just do not be too disappointed if no answer is forthcoming. 🙂

  • Chris

    Tony,

    about Milwall, well this is 2017. The answer to why would be : alternate facts….

    Good UA is here to make the real facts available – where it can.

    Chris

  • colario

    ”With the American elections, the News channels and commentators are being run and used by the Democrats.”

    The above is quoted in a comment above and is the claim of Donald Trump.

    Donald by name. Quack by nature.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    It seems to me that there are three levels of answer to the why question which is at the root of human progress. The lowest level is the Talksport question cited in the article, where the question is asked but no answer offered. This is disappointing, but to be fair, some credit must be given for at least asking it. The second level is when an answer is offered, which is what Harry has done above. The finest form is when two or more possible answers are offered, and even the merits of each are discussed. The writer may offer an opinion on the best answer or just leave the conclusions to the reader. This third type is the principle behind Untold Arsenal. Some people prefer polemic, but personally I enjoy a more rounded discussion.

  • Mandy Dodd

    lots of questions.
    Just hope the media question the biased substandard refereeing we are about to experience as a result of the media witch hunt against our manager, led by people like claimed Arsenal supporter, John Cross

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I have some “Why” questions to ask and I want the answers to them please.

    1. Why did the Supreme Court of England today dismissed Mrs Theresa May’s appeal to overturn the High Court ruling that upheld a case brought against her government to first get a Parliamentary approval before activating article 50? The Chief Justice gave the legal reasons why the court has dismissed her appeal. But still, I want a political reason answer for the dismissal in contrast to the legal reason answer given by the CJ.

    2. Why has President D. Trump of the United States of America repeal the Affordable Health Care Act that is tagged Obamacare?

    3. Why has the Pgmol refused to change from their subversive activities in their appointments of match day officials to referee in the Premier League matches, and in particular, desist from subverting Arsenal FC’s PL title ambitions year after year and the government is aware of this ugly act but has not put a stop to it?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I have some “Why” questions to ask and I want the answers to them please.

    1. Why did the Supreme Court of England today dismissed Mrs Theresa May’s appeal to overturn the High Court ruling that upheld a case brought against her government to first get a Parliamentary approval before activating article 50? The Chief Justice gave the legal reasons why the court has dismissed her appeal. But still, I want a political reason answer for the dismissal in contrast to the legal reason answer given by the CJ.

    2. Why has President D. Trump of the United States of America repeal the Affordable Health Care Act that is tagged Obamacare?

    3. Why has the Pgmol refused to change from it’s subversive activities in it’s appointments of match day officials to referee in the Premier League matches, and in particular, desist from subverting Arsenal FC’s PL title ambitions year after year and the government is aware of this ugly act but has not put a stop to it?

  • GoingGoingGooner

    mmm… just curious as to who changed the PGMO wicki…;)

    As to why why is not asked…because the question moves the discussion a shade closer to uncomfortable areas/topics. The commentators are most comfortable talking about subjects about which they can use a verbal sledgehammer. They, I would suggest, are not trained nor comfortable, when required to use more thoughtful, more nuanced analysis and would probably look foolish.

  • Goonermikey

    It’s very telling that Harry came up with answers based upon opinion rather than facts…….it made me chuckle………almost as much as the Wiki entry for the PIGMOB!

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    Harry

    “Why did quite a few people in areas of low immigration and where the local economy is very dependent on work provided by European companies, vote to leave the EU?
    The work has nothing to do with it. They did not want to be ruled by Brussels. The decisions are ours again.”

    Those people who voted so spectacularly against their interests don’t know what or where Brussels is….

  • Brickfields Gunners

    WHY ?
    Very touching story ….

    A man purchased an Enfield Bullet 350cc .. so that could take his girlfriend for long rides. But unfortunately, he was not able to hear his girlfriend’s voice while riding on it because of the loud Bullet sound. He got fed up and sold his Bullet n bought Honda Activa.
    He got married to his girlfriend and one year later ….

    He sold the Honda Activa and bought an Enfield Bullet 500 cc., again !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    WHY ?

    A HILARIOUS JOKE .

    When Jane first met Tarzan in the jungle, she was attracted to him and, during her questions about his life, she asked him how he had sex.

    “Tarzan not know sex,” he replied.

    Jane explained to him what sex was.

    Tarzan said, “Oh ….Tarzan use hole in trunk of tree.”

    Horrified, Jane said, “Tarzan, you have it all wrong, but I will show you how to do it properly.”

    She took off her clothing and lay down on the ground.

    “Here,” she said, pointing to her privates, “you must put it in here.”

    Tarzan removed his loin cloth, stepped closer to her, and kicked her in the crotch!

    Jane rolled around in agony for what seemed like an eternity.

    Eventually she managed to gasp for air, and screamed, “WHY ? Why did you do that ?!”

    Tarzan replied, “Tarzan always check for squirrels first”.*

  • Brickfields Gunners

    WHY COMPLAIN ?

    A husband visited a marriage counsellor and said, “When we were first married, I would come home from the office, my wife would bring my slippers and our cute little dog would run around barking.

    Now after ten years it’s all different, I come home, the dog brings the slippers and my wife runs around barking.”

    “Why complain?” said the counsellor. “You’re still getting the same service!”

    In the corporate world they call it Job Rotation

  • ob1977

    I have a why, why is the FA now changing an assistant referee (AR) for the upcoming Man City v CP match because 30+ years ago the AR was a youth team player for the club? He doesn’t live there, didn’t live their and doesn’t support the club…
    But living in Greater Manchester and refereeing Manchester clubs is ok…