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July 2021

Heading for third, but there are dangers ahead


By Tony Attwood

I have just uploaded a couple more in our ref review series through which our dedicated team of referees review the effectiveness or otherwise of their fellow men-in-the-middle.

One of these is particularly interesting (Tottenham 5 Newcastle 0) in that it relates to two of the five teams trying to secure third and fourth place.  In that game the ref made a huge error on the hour – and on such things can turn the result of matches.  Of course in this case it didn’t really affect the outcome of the match – but what went wrong in that match was the result of a fundamental and absolute misunderstanding of the laws of football as laid down by the Almighty Fifa.

And that leads to the question: if the referees themselves don’t know the laws of the game, who does?

It is a frightening thought that the chance to be in the Champions League could come down to either a mistake by a ref, or a blatant error by a ref who has been “persuaded” to “go easy” on a certain team and “see off” another team.   If ever we saw such an occasion it was in the Arsenal Tottenham match, where the ref gave every indication that he had helped the Tinies into a two goal lead, done his bit to get his reward, and now all the Totts had to do was hold on.

Of course I have no direct evidence that the ref was bought in this way – none at all although the video of his celebration of the Tinies goal is extraordinary – I merely say that to me as an outsider it looked just like it.  And given the way the professional body that controls EPL refs behaves, my feeling is encouraged.  But it is just a feeling.  Maybe the ref in each of these games was just lacking in ability.

But back to the Champs League next season.  We take it that Man C and Man U will be there – and that doesn’t worry me too much.  There are clouds circling in both cases.  I had almost given up on Financial Fair Play until I read the Council of Europe committee report this week that said that clubs like Man C should be prohibited by Uefa from being sponsored by companies closely associated with their owners.  The £400million deal between Man C and Etihad airline was called an “improper transaction” in a Council report as was Real Madrid’s sale of its training ground for more than 400m euros.

Maybe, just maybe, Uefa will act – or if not maybe the clubs, seeing Uefa not acting will themselves take action against Uefa.  A long shot, but there is hope.

As for Man U, despite their recent profit the drain on their finances by the owner looks unsustainable, as does the long term future of the manager who, although Arsenal fans will always dislike him, is the most successful manager there is.  Soon he will be gone.  Not a positive way to look at things, but it is a fact.

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Arsène Wenger said not qualifying for the Champs League would be a “disaster” and we have had some near misses in the 14 continuous years in the League.  Remember that one when Aston Villa were going to pip us a couple of years back.  So confident were they that their manager (O’Neil) sent a reserve team to Russia for a Europa fixture, duly got knocked out, focussed on the EPL and duly came… sixth.

This season, as we all know because they keep saying it, the very Tiny Totts are going to come 3rd, but I am not so sure.  They haven’t had a really bad run this season, and maybe are due one at sometime.  One thing that we have got in store though is the thought that one day, sometime, Arry will leave Tottenham.  And we know that every club Arry leaves then has the most extraordinary financial troubles: WHU, Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, they have all hit rock bottom financially.  So happy days ahead.

If money bought everything Chelsea would be neck and neck with Manchester, what with them having spent £900m between 2003 and now.  By now they were supposed to be the model for FFP – Mr Abramovich’s idea being to spend the fortune on players and a youth system to rival Arsenal before FFP, and then bring in FFP so that no one else could do the same.

Hasn’t worked though.  In the year to 30 June 2011, Chelsea lost £68m, far beyond the  €45m loss they are allowed in 2012 and 2013 under Uefa’s rules. And will the new manager sell players to get the figure down?  Of course not, they will spend like mad.  The youth project there has failed to produce the likes of Wilshere and Frimpong, the import of youth project has failed to bring in a Ramsey or a Chamberlain, and basically Terry and co are old men (comparatively).  The must spend – and they will then challenge FFP.

Worse, if they don’t get fourth place, their losses for this financial year would be £100m.    Abramovich can pay, but what about FFP?  In the 2011 accounts Chelsea says financial fair play “provides a significant challenge” and that is assuming they qualify.

Of course last season Chelsea paid £28m compensation to Ancelotti and co.  A one off.  Except this season, they’ve done it again.   What a strange club.

Newcastle don’t look the most likely of clubs to get fourth, but if they did it would be a bonus.  Not getting it doesn’t matter because they haven’t budgeted for it.  But although people mostly talk about Arsenal losing players if they don’t get into the Champs League, think of Newcastle.  Demba Ba might not go, because of injury problems, but Krul, Tioté, Cabaye and  Coloccini might expect bids.  They are the club that will find it hardest to hold players since they don’t have the wealth of Chelsea, the secret money flowing in from tax havens that Tottenham has, or the accumulated profits of Arsenal.

Newcastle’s best hope is to become the Academy centre for the north east – and it looks like Sunderland and Middlesbrough won’t stand in their way on this.   Their biggest worry is that the owner – famously caught drinking beer in the away support section of the Emirates and yet inexplicably not banned from the ground for life, might one day say he has had enough.

And then there is funny old Liverpool.  Endlessly torn by race issues and with an owner who says they must qualify, they spent £118m last year, and £70m recovered in sales – all for… what?  At the moment, not a lot.  They can’t even get the new stadium sorted.

And again, if they fail, the vultures will circle.  Luis Suárez is a problem they could probably do without, given his lack of goals and his interest in the finer points of racism and diving.   They might sell him and try again, if they don’t get into the Champs or Europa.

But back finally to the clubs in 3rd and 4th.  To say Tottenham are slipping is to allow my wishes to interfere with analysis.  It was nice to see that at last the fact that they too have terrible divers in their team is becoming a matter for debate, and they’ve just (as I write this) lost a couple of matches.  True they got through their Cup match after a replay, but even then the controversy over diving reared up again.   Unless they are fixing referees (and I have no knowledge of this) then the exposure of their diving instincts can only harm them.

Everything points to the owner in his secret hideout selling the club once it is in the Champs League for a second season, and then, who knows?  But if they can’t qualify even with Arry, what then?

As for Arsenal – of course it could all change on monday night.  A flukey goal and a ref of dubious ability could throw us off course again.  But these last four league games and the victory over Milan give me some hope.  Not just for fourth, but for third.

Fourth will be a problem because of the Olympics for which Britain must enter a football team (normally we don’t).  If our players play in that, they won’t get a break between the end of this season and all-important preliminary round.  Third would be better.


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46 comments to Heading for third, but there are dangers ahead

  • Mike Gunner

    Well said regarding flukey goal,blatant referring error,etc.I know error prone refs are demoted. What about the errors in high profile games affecting relegation and qualification to the cl or europa cup?With stakes so sky high,it’s not good enough to demote the ref.They should be severely punished by
    suspending for half a season or a big fine to drive home that errors will not be tolerated.
    Remember the Norwegian ref who denied Chelsea at two least stone wall penalties against Barcelona.What about the ref who sent RVP off for kicking the ball into the net when offside was given. UEFA and the FA cannot cannot deny that that fans will suspect something is amiss nowadays when football is a billion dollar/euro/pound business.

  • Mick

    A very good article Tony. You may have seen this but could I point you to another very good article which supports a lot of what is written, read and discussed on the mighty Untold.

  • @Tony off topic a bit,MANURE was clobbered at their own stadium but its as if nothing happened;i wonder wot it could have been if it was the Arsenal!!It would have been a headline for months as it was for Pires but the whore-lists!Are they around or on leave i wonder.@Mick nice piece just keep bringing up nice stuff like desigunner.

  • Gord

    Nice article Tony.

    A bit of off-topic news. Ryo has an assist in the winning goal for Bolton over QPR.

  • tony, this just in from daily “we really like arsenal” mail’s Nick Metcalfe:

    14.22: The officials are having an absolute mare. Clint Hill scored a goal that was way over the line, not given and now Cisse’s equalised from a clearly offside position. Is it really too much to ask that officials are now even semi competent?

    now may be a good time to introduce metcalfe to untold’s analysis of just how bad the refs are.

  • Maverick

    Tony, i would love to see the tiny totts fall foul of good ol’ Arrys bankrupting spree……..but surely this is not possible with them because their owner is a billonaire (or close) surely if the crap hit the fan he would bail the club out right? Manu make so much money also that the owners taking money ight restrict them for a little bit but as soon as the owners simmer down with taking money out of the club Manu can spend their way to multitudes more titles right? The only clubs that i think are in hot water are possibly Chelse and Mancity because they rely too heavily on their sugar daddies and have debts they cant finance themselves but the tiny totts can and so can Manu.

  • Mahdain

    @tony liverpool have already secured their place in europa thanks to their carling cup win..on the article i do agree we are not there just yet..knowing the refs in this league im sure they have something up their sleeves but as we have already shown we can defeat em if we take it match by match.

  • Arvind

    There’s a good chance Spurs will do an Aston Villa as you say, Tony. Starting Everton today. The Toffees are very very good late in the season; its always been this way. It was exactly at this point they choked big time…and Stoke came back to 2-2 after Villa led 2-0. Then that Europa cup game and the rest is history..if they’d won against Stoke I think it’d have been 10 points after 28 games.

    As for the refs; they’re just terrible..that ball was so far into the net in the Bolton game it was unreal and then Cisse was apparently offside. We just need to keep playing so well, that the refs dont matter. That’s our only chance.

  • Gord

    Ryo was apparently man of the match for Bolton against QPR. Bendtner (do we remember him?), still wearing his mask, got the winning goal for Sunderland against Liverpool. Chelsea wins 1-0 against 10 man Stoke (Drogba).

  • bjtgooner

    The best ever Spuds team have just been mashed again!

  • Stevie E

    Jack’s £3k is starting to look pretty safe 🙂

  • Mahdain

    look at the media already playing their part in trying to halt our momentum..what a load of BS

  • Sammy The Snake

    3 losses on the bounce for both Loserpool and Tiny Tots, a very poor Chelsea narrowly won against a 10 man team. A win against Newcastle would set us nicely. Suddenly we can cut the points to just 1 point with our dirty neighbors.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Another day of some good results for us, assuming we can capitalise on mon. But beware the men in black, anyone know who the ref for Newcastle is? Please God not Dowd?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mandy Dodd, I heard it is….Webb….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Webb! Really? Again! how many times in a season do we get the three of them.
    Guess we will get Dowd against City or Chelsea then

  • bob

    Here’s an example of the danger ahead. Everton beats Tottenham 1-0, giving us an incredible opportunity on Monday to close in on the Scum. However, the refs tried to give Arry’s boyz a chance to equalize if not more by badly inflating the extra time: “There was predictable fury when the fourth official signalled five extra minutes after a half that contained no goals or serious injuries, added time in which Saha managed to hit a post following a corner.”

  • Mahdain

    @mandy it will be the FOURTH time in the league alone same as…well you guessed it sure it will be dowd for chelsea/city

  • AnT

    Could it be that we are getting these shame refs (pun intended) as the others were found out to have a slight bias towards Arsenal? It seems that there is unwritten rules saying that any ref who treats Arsenal fairly will be considered bias towards Ars, hence won’t be eligible for the random selection process from the unbias referee pool.

  • Mandy Dodd

    4th time! That really has to be looked into by the club. If Webb looks like he is out to do us, our fans inside the ground must expose it to the world. They have found their voice, if Web is cheating, let him have it.
    Arsenal are no threat to Webbs beloved, however apart from his well known bias, he is an establishment ref, if there is an agenda, he would certainly be one to enforce it. We may need to put in the level of performance we did aagainst Spurs and at home to Milan to get something out of the Newcastle game with Webb in charge.
    Arsenal are a threat to Chelsea , Spurs and Liverpool this year, and should they finish in the top 4, they could well challenge others next year, especially if recent reports on transfer targets are true. In fact, if we finish in the top 4 I predict a very strong challenge for major honours next year. Wengers contract is winding down, he will be desperate to win again, and it looks like he is now being given the resources to do so. Coming through what they have done in the last year will give some of the players an incredible strength
    Spurs keep screwing up, they clearly need and are getting help. Expect the big guns of the PGMOL against us between now and the end of the season, they will undoubtedly do their worst. Arsenal, despite all our recent problems appear to be on the rise. There are clearly people who do not want that.

  • bjtgooner


    I agree – there is a very real danger that the attempt will be made to shaft us to save the reputation of the next England manager. Newcastle and Everton are critical games – we have to be good enough to beat the opposition despite the officials!

  • Anne


    Thanks for that link from

    Brilliant article. Have I ever mentioned that I really like that guy? 🙂

  • Mahdain

    @mandy yeah pathetic really..i looked into the number of times we have got each refs this season in the league and guess who are top? yep dean and webb
    4 – dean and webb(on monday)
    3 – marriner
    2 – dowd,clattenburg,oliver,atkinson and attwell
    1 – foy,probert,halsey,mason,moss,walton and swarbick
    0 – jones,friend and taylor

  • Anne

    Interesting tweet from Dogface about Ollie Holt’s (Daily Mirror) predictions for how the league will finish up:

    “My top four for this season has not changed after yesterday. Still think PL will finish: 1. MUFC 2. MCFC 3. Chelsea 4. LFC”

    Personally, I disagree with Ollie. Cautiously, and fingers crossed, I do believe that Arsenal will finish in the top four. Also, if I had to guess, I would say that they’re going to hand the league to City this year.

    Although it’s kind of silly to make predictions without being an insider, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m surprised at that Liverpool at number four prediction…. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens

  • Anne


    Great link once again 🙂

  • Anne


    Would it be strange to say that this might be one of my favorite articles that you’ve ever written? It is. I really enjoyed it. Cheers.

  • Anne


    Fingers crossed 🙂

  • Mahdain

    @anne that tweet was from august if im not mistaken..holt tweeted after liverpool beat us saying that was a win for a club that has ambition and moving forward against the one which has moved backwards…what an idiot he is…gooners have been shoving that tweet down his throat whenever we win and they lose and rightly so

  • Mahdain

    holt is one of the journos who throw all the toys out of the pram whenever he is getting owned..he along with henry winter and darren of the mirror(who were the advocators of the supposed power shift in north london) have been getting a deserved bashing from gooners

  • Gord


    In terms of points in the games available, Ollie Holt is welcome to think Chelsea will finish 3rd. With 11 games left to play, Liverpool has to make up 14 points (the other teams only have 10 games left). It is just a tad unlikely.

    What is less unlikely, is that Ryo is going to pull Bolton out of relegation. Man of the Month in February for Bolton, and Man of the Match Today against QPR.

    Off-topic. I hope you found some nice beer on your trip to the UK. I’ve enjoyed the food reports on games, maybe a beer report is coming up?

  • Anne


    Lol. My favorite beer in London was Leffe Blonde. But that’s my favorite beer here too, so might not be saying a lot. I don’t know if I like it because it’s a good beer or just because I’m blonde 🙂 Have you ever had it?

    By the way, I flew over Canada on my way home (due to certain irrelevant reasons related to missing my early flight out of Gatwick the morning after the match). I thought about you 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    Re the run in for the last 10 – 11 games, Spurs and liverpool probably have the easiest fixtures; Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea have a rather more exciting fixture list. At present it looks as if Liverpool have too much ground to make up to get 4th, so four teams are chasing two places, assuming the two Manchester clubs will not be caught. Winning our match against Newcastle has become doubly important.

  • goonergerry

    Good article. Especially agree with your point about Liverpool.
    Desi does make some sound points about Spurs as well.
    It seems to me that with Man City buying up everyone- the chasing pack are often very reliant on one top player to make the difference in getting results- I suspect that Liverpool will not start winning again until Steven Gerrard is back in their side. Take Rooney out of United’s side and you have a much weaker set up, the same with us and RVP- to an even greater extent.
    Incidentally, Duncan Castles is reporting that RVP to Man City is a done deal- in that his agent (DD)has accepted a deal where he is paid 220k per week! If this is even half true it is a tap-up too far.
    Darren Dein is a one man Arsenal wrecking ball.

  • Mike Gunner

    The game against NU is massive. Wenger must show a message of intent by beating the magpies.Indeed all games from now are massive or call them whatever you want,cruical.The gunners have won four epl games on the trot.
    It’s difficult to win five to seven games in a row.The law of averages. Win the gunners must. I expect the gunners to drop points from the NU game before the clash with Man city.Beat Nu and Everton and draw with either AV or QPR before starting another cycle of five game wins.
    Indeed red faced won at least ten games on the trot to win the title in 2003.So the gunners have to do likewise.But then you never know the gunners could be playing agaginst 14 men.You know what I mean. Remember the gunners were denied the title in 2008 thru the machinations of these guys in black. Hopefully 2012 will put these guys to rest by getting 3rd or 4th.
    What better way to start than by beating the magpies.It aint going to be easy as Pardew will ask his boys to shadow the gunners.

  • gooner gun

    If Wenger wants to secure the fourth place,he must beat Necastle.Then it will boil down to the three London clubs.NU have a longer rest than the gunners but the latter must keep on going until the final whistle. The first goal will be crucial.
    If the gunners score first ,it will force NU to play football. But if Pardew’s men hit the first goal it could be disastrous.With the gunners going all out attacking,they could be ripe for the devastating counter.

  • The Spartan

    Why hasn’t RvP come out and rubbish Manshitty rumours? We were there for him during all his injuries, he better show somw loyalty.

  • bob

    Mahdain, The Spartan,
    The writer of the National piece is named Duncan Castles, which sounds like an upgrade to Dunkin’ Donuts. Does he have the one inside track that no one else has? And, btw, if RvP were to spend his time rubbishing every truth-claim that he’s already signed with anyone, then he’d have no time to play, train, prepare, be captain, etc. etc. He’s already said that nothing will be said during this season. So why, Spartan, are you demanding this of him?

  • bob

    Now, let us investigate: Is “insider” Duncan (Doughnuts) Castles now joined at the hip to Dein the Lesser? Is x-Patrick Veira of ManShitty leaking this inside story to Duncan Doughnuts? Is this “scoop” to be the latest in the gathering non-stop media mantra that tries to re-toxify our atmosphere and de-stabilize our players as we make a Serious Bid for the unthinkable third place? Are the array of AAA-to-superficial-gooners going to buy into this swill and feed at this trough; then spew it forth at the next point-drop when we need unity, not corrosive doubt; and when we have seen how unity helps to propel our side – a side returning to health, btw – to unexpectable heights at the business end of the season?

  • Mandy Dodd

    agreed there Bob. I am certainly not taking it for granted VP is just staying, just a gut feeling he will if he is satisfied the way the club are going. Everytime he scores, you see a smile from him that lights up the ground, you see his pain when things go against us. For me, that was all missing in the last few months Cesc and Nasri were here, and no I am not for a moment saying Cesc did not care about the club in some way.
    If he chooses not to stay over a lack of ambition or a lack of backing of the manager, or even a lack of belief in the manager or structure, that is a worry for another day, and will surely be a cue for Usmanov to spring into action.
    But , call me naively optimistic, I think we will finish in the top 4, VP will stay, at least for another year and we will really press on next season.

  • bob

    Cheers for the link to Dunkie Doughnuts! It opens a serious window methinks on the ratcheting media campaign against our renaissance in this moment.

    Our third place finish would DEMAND so many apologies, grovelings in hair shirts, self-immolations, mea maxima culpas on the part of the so many who followed and peddled and benefit from the false narrative that Desi has well defined in his current blog (kudos Mick).

    We might well wish to start the Untold Wall of Shame and list those who have willfully or ignorantly tried to undo us this season, whatever the outcome. And if it’s a 3rd place finish, well then, we should bury all hatchets forever and party like it’s 2003/4!

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    Yes!, and I’m glad you say it: RvP’s smile and unbridled joy are there to behold; he really does light up the sky when our Anyone scores, and truly and visibly takes it to heart when we drop points.

    This (talis)man adorns the Emirates. He is our treasure. Can we unify around this, and embrace the team through the business end; fiercely denounce the 12th men in black in their ambushes with ferocious chants, and bring on the hitherto “impossible” third place finish, and, in so doing, love RvP into staying?

  • Goona Gal

    Right then, we have a massive game tomorrow. We need to put the leary little Pardew back in his place. This is not personal to Newcastle ( I like the club & fans on the whole) nah, this is about the sending off of Gervinho, this is about the FA making yet another example of Song, this is about the oily faced, forked tougue of Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. How dare he complain about rubbish physical football played by Sunderland last week when Newcastle and Pardew’s previous team West Ham seemed to always play like that against Arsenal.

    Make no mistake we are after the three points but we also have unfinished business with Pardew. He has picked one too many fights with Arsenal players and Arsene Wenger

    I would like to see Pardew silenced. He is coming to our house tomorrow, the home of football. He needs to learn respect!


  • Adam

    @Bob, I asked these questions along time ago on this site. Could Fabregas do RVPs job and could RVP do Fabregas’s job? Who is more valuable to Arsenal?
    Plus could we see RVP dropping deeper once Poldolski is secured?

  • bob

    If only, yes, that reversal of our fortunes would have come near to winning the day. If only the injury blight had been in abeyance enough to keep them on the pitch together. I wonder if there are stats where we could know how many games they actually did play together over the last two seasons, say, and analyze the what if’s. Having Podolski and RvP do this, as you wish, and as Arsene has just allowed for in his recent press comment (in answer to some cheeky stenographer who asked whether Podolski’s pending arrival necessarily meant RvP’s certain departure). That flexibility and potential is the stuff of dreams. Cheers.

  • AnT.

    I think we should enjoy RVP this season and see at the end how it ends up and how it will proceed in the next season. Que sera sera… 🙂

  • Thank you for your support over the article. Much appreciated – just contemplating a little extra article in the aftermath of the weekend.