Rotational fouling, and financial incompetence. Untold says it, the world listens (and other self-centred thoughts).

Saturday April 15th 2005.   Arsenal played Blackburn in the semi-final of the FA Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.  I was there.

In a shockingly dire first half I noticed that Blackburn were using a tactic I had never seen before.  Blackburn were taking it in turn to kick the Arsenal players.   Many of the awful fouls got a free kick, but none got a yellow card for the perpetrator.

What’s more, it clearly was organised and systematic.  One player came up to whoever had the ball, and delivered a swift kick to the ankles.  Then the next and the next.

And it was effective.  Not only was no one getting booked, the tactics disrupted the game, and ruffled Arsenal.  You could see the Arsenal players looking at each other and the ref.  I doubt that they had ever experienced anything like it.

I named the tactic “rotational fouling” and left it at that.  But soon after I noticed other clubs picking up the idea.  Over the coming months I added the phrases “focused fouling” (rotational fouling of one particular player) and “rotational time wasting” which seemed a favourite of Bolton.

Now I notice the Lord Wenger using the phrase “rotational fouling” to describe the Porto tactics, and I thought, had I actually invented a phrase that our Great Leader now uses?

I have just wasted an hour or to checking this out on Google, and to my amazement and pleasure, I find that the phrase is starting to take hold, although no recorded uses pre-date mine.   I have found articles in places as diverse as the BBC website, The Times, The Guardian, the Irish Times, Sporting Life and even Le Grove, all saying “rotational fouling”, and all dated in the last year or two.

So, I am thinking, maybe I have registered the phrase, making it Rotational FoulingTM for now and Rotational Fouling ® later on.

But then I had another thought (this is Sunday evening after all, and there’s bugger-all on TV).

I would not in any way claim that Untold was the first every place to comment on the financial turmoil in football, but I do think we are one of the very first sites (if not the first) to say that the crazed situation was because of the eccentric behaviour of certain people.

Indeed I have made the point that all of Arry Headcase’s ex-clubs are in the soup – West Porno (as they now are), Southampton, and Portsmouth.  We have all wished him well at the Tiny Totts.

Last Friday, Mr Headcase spoke to the gentlemen of the press about the plight of Portsmouth, but denied that player wages were to blame!!!

That’s curious, I thought.  Why would he say such a thing?

Well, what he did not mention, but what others are starting to talk about, is the bonus culture at the club and the high wages of the bosses – who are (one might say, given the state of the clubs) incompetent.    Peter Storrie for example earns 1.4m a year.

OK that’s a lot of money for a man who is driving such a wrecked operation – but what about these bonuses?

The word is that Mr Headcase is thought by people with access to far more sources than me, to have been given £1m for winning the Cup, with the players getting £250,000 per man for beating Cardiff City.

In other words because of contracts (which if not negoitated by Arry were approved by him) which gave the players mega bonuses, the club has no chance at all of clearing any debts – because they are still paying past bonuses to players who have been transferred.

Clever or what?



Kanu is 42, Obafemi Martins is 32. Jay-Jay Okocha is 43, Taribo West is 57.

This is according to Nigerian blogs – and Nigeria who are in the FIFA World Domination Through Economic Disaster Cup Finals have got rid of their coach as a result.

It is not a totally new story…

Fifa banned Nigeria from internationals in the last century for not paying bribes to officials, no sorry, for changing the birth dates of players so they could play in the Olym – hey we can destroy countries economically even faster than FIFA – pics.

It seems that just as I win the Nigerian lottery five times a day and have 13 ancestors who have died and left me billions of dollars (not forgetting those awfully nice God-fearing ladies who want my help in getting petro dollars out of the place), so it is possible to change your name, age, etc, and pick up a new passport within half an hour – for about $10.

The last under 17s world cup (held in Nigeria) were so disastrous, that Fifa itself has had to loan Nigeria $3 million to pay the bills.  (And Nigeria is an oil rich country, remember).   That world cup fiasco had the hosts suddenly getting rid of 15 members of its squad of 22 after Fifa said they had a magic box that could tell a man’s age by looking at his wrist.

Sorry, but when the world gets this weird, I can’t make up anything weirder.


The England captain we signed from Kettering Town.

English football heads for disaster

Magritte and the Champions League

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?

The Porto Free Kick – the Ref’s point of view

Arsenal in 1910 – the complete story in the most wonderful book about Arsenal ever written by anyone, ever, honest, I am not kidding you.

Thanks for reading…

(c) Tony Attwood 2010

26 Replies to “Rotational fouling, and financial incompetence. Untold says it, the world listens (and other self-centred thoughts).”

  1. When Kirkland was wasting time par excellence at the Emirates a few years ago, I was minded to say that Brian Clough would fine him 6 weeks wages for doing so. Miraculously, he was ‘injured’ for the next six weeks……coincidence, that…..

    Of course, Jens Lehman started doing precisely the same once Arsenal were leading 2-1, which was roundly cheered by all Gooners.

    Sometimes what goes around does come around…..

  2. Sir tony,

    You got us there. The age issue is a national disgrace but let’s not start on Nigerian corruption.

    Nice article again sir!

  3. I really think you are way in front of the rest when it comes to bringing op some things Tony.
    As I usually never pay attention anymore when there are not games shown on MOTD I almost missed a big part of them speaking about the financial problems in Portsmouth. So I did not know what they actualle said, probably rubbish anyway, but even they seem to have heard something.

    Maybe one day some things that have been written here about some subjects that are laughed away by some, could come out in the open.
    Remember, who could ever have thought that such big clubs in Italy or France did some bribing or bought some refs or other teams….

  4. i went to that blackburn match!

    bergkamp up front by himself i think (omg he NEVER looked comfortable as a lone target man, especially at that age!).

    my memory is shite but i am pretty sure pires scored late on? and the game ended 2-0? like i said my memory is awful!

    and yeah rotation fouling is a really serious issue. the problem is what can be done about it? you can’t book a player for a not very serious foul on cesc, even if it might as well have been his 5th foul because they’ve taken it in turns. it’s a very clever trick, but i have no idea how you fix it. as for time wasting, yeah lehmann was sometimes guilty of it. IN GENERAL though i think you have to say arsenal VERY rarely waste any significant time, even 1-0 in the final moments we try to score (see vermaelen bombing forwards with 30 seconds left a 1 goal lead vs liverpool lol!). on the other hand whenever teams go up against us they rarely have the ambition to push for another and you can see the time wasting begin as early as half an hour into some games if we are losing, it’s a bit pathetic really!

  5. Tony
    I will be sending an email to the lovely Victoria Coren asking her to investigate the phrase for her next series of Balderdash and Piffle!!
    Also agree that rotational fouling is becoming a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Personally, I think that Referees must take a lot of the blame for allowing it to happen. Surely there must be stats to show which teams do it the most and which teams are on the receiving end the most – it just seems to me that professional referees do little study on these types of tactics and its about time teams that want to play the sport fairly – like Arsenal, get the protection their play deserves.

  6. As sad as it may be, football has extended its arms to dishonesty in a wide embrace. We can complain all we like about Nigerian players but did we not just see a player from south america (the one arsene was going to sign a month ago) faced with proof that he faked his birth certificate? Did we not see Thierry henry take france to the world cup? Do we not see Diego Maradona heralded as the world’s greatest after scoring the infamous “hand of god”. Let’s not even start about Steven Gerard’s simulations and that fellow that allowed Porto’s second goal to stand.

    Yes I am touchy because I am a Nigerian. I love this site and would rather we stay on point than talk about those shameless people that give real Nigerians a bad name.

    By the way, I think that against all odds, Arsenal will win the Premiership this year

  7. Ryan – the Blackburn game.

    Pires scored the first, and then Van Persie scored two near the end – the last one while getting a really serious smash in the face that laid him out. I think the Bergkamp up front alone game was the final itself, not the semi.

  8. Rotational Fouling is a joke, the amount of “late challenges” on Fabregas yesterday was stunning, I’m talking the ball has been passed from Fab to Eboue to Walcott (not an actual example but you get my drift), and then Fab gets hacked down, right under the refs nose and he ignores it. Then we complain & are labeled soft touches because apparently all other players ENJOY being repeatedly fouled and their players writhing in pain when it happens to them is from pure joy.

  9. It’s a lose-lose situation for AW. The more he complains, the more he gets labeled a whinger, the more the team gets labeled as weak, and the more the referees ignore fouling against Arsenal. It’s incredible, and I feel that it’s only going to get worse until we get some more friends in the media and in refereeing circles.

    Tony, I really do believe Le Boss reads this blog (or at least has come across it once or twice…). He seems to be the type of guy who wants to know everything and anything said about his team and about football in general, so I wouldn’t be surprised. Of course, what he says is shaped by what he is asked, so it also could just be the media and Arsenal press staff who read this blog for ideas.

  10. Sir…Tony

    its here that i first read the phrase ‘rotational fouling’ and it is exactly what those teams,including man utd, do when they play Arsenal!

  11. Talking about the ages of nigerian players by the English should be like the kettle calling the pot black. i mean , how old are WAYNE ROONEY or JOHN TERRY REALLY. To correct you, 98% of african players are age cheats. nobody can start a pro career in africa earlier than 23 – ITS A FACT. what differentiates one player from another is their staying power at the top. So if martins is 32 then Michael Essien – He was said to have played for Ghana at 12, if you believe that then you wil believe anything – and Didier Drogba should be 38. I also think you shd stop calling the AFRICANS, AFCON and NIGERIANS derogatory names as it appears racial or at best ethnic profiling based on deep seated prejudices. gooner 4 lyf.

  12. “Rotational fouling” is an good phrase and an accurate one. In my conversations with my Arsenal chums I have been using “Organized fouling”, which, along with time wasting, are the tactics usually employed against us. Man U do it to perfection.
    To my mind there are four types of foul:
    1. “I got there as fast as I could”. Fair enough.
    2. Stupidity. Everyone does those.
    3. Retaliation. Wouldn’t you if you kept getting “done” and the ref was doing nothing. We get caught with these.
    4. Fouling to injure. This is done to us on a consistent basis. It is organized, systematic and it’s cheating.

  13. Tony – I didn’t have a chance to comment on Phil’s piece yesterday on the economics of English football. So indulge me with this observation:

    IMO the growing signs of crisis in English football, is connected to the bankrupt neo-liberal economic model that is being pursued in much of the world today. Consider the road traveled over the past 20 years: Transform the clubs to stock-holding companies trading on the market, leverage the club’s assets, financialize the product, lash the club to the banks and hedge funds et. Arsenal resisted the siren call but clubs like Man IOU and Liverpool Insolvent have gone the whole hog and now face the prospect of total asset stripping by corporate insiders and the creditors who loaned the funds. Somebody has been making an unbelievable amount of money and don’t tell me it is the players. It is a very familiar game.


    (Sorry, off topic. But it deserves repeating. That man is to referees as ‘Arry is to managers).

  15. Im convinced that the Lord Wenger reads these pages. there have been a number of comments Le boss has made that have mirrored points that were made on this self-same blog previously.
    Monsieur Wenger, if you are reading this I propose Sir Tony and Young Phil, and our very own Poirot (sorry Walter, dont know any famous belgians apart from footballers and the famous moustached detective!) to be raised to the level of chief advisors, and can help determine club policy about who to be nice to in the board room!

  16. Shotta,

    It is so transparent, and obvious.

    I have nothing against venture capitalists.
    For example. A friend was a partner in a pioneering web design company. They were brought out. Part of the deal was, that the core asset of the company, the people, would remain for a set period to help with the transition, growth and development etc. Everybody’s happy.
    The conventional ‘asset-stripper’ makes no pretence of such intentions.

    For example, at Liverpool and ManUre, in both cases the main people responsible for selling the clubs left. So, there was no ambiguity as to what happened. Slash n’burn.

    It does reflect things going on outside of football. A bit like a UK PFI contract. Personally speaking, when I’ve looked at specific areas within my field affected by the ‘PFI programme’, I feel that there is no disguise for the scamming that is going on. Land and property do play an important role.

    Grand Theft Larceny.

  17. The problem Finsbury is that the supporters have in the main, bought into this model, (lock, stock and barrel) not realizing it is to the eventual demise of their clubs. Why else do Arsenal fans, who should know better, complain vociferously because the club refuses to splash the cash by investing huge sums on transfers and salaries at great risk and for fleeting glory (ask Pompey and Man IOU). Of course they fail to understand that the mega-banks and hedge funds are reaping abundant in interest and fees long after the party is over, eventually crippling the clubs. Until the supporters in general, abandon this thinking, pressure the clubs and the FA from pursuing this bogus economic model, then there will be no meaningful reforms to prevent more clubs disappearing. In my opinion those who remain will simply become captive of the big broadcasters where the competition is distorted (e.g. proposals for the 39th game or for a play-off for the champions league 4th0 simply to address the need for tv viewership.

  18. This is not my style so please don’t take it as a personal attack with any malice, it’s just an observation, but I think it’s important you know. I used to enjoy reading your blog for your unique perspective on all things Arsenal and your interesting and intellectual input, but I have slowly found myself being put off it largely because – excuse the pun but it’s just too apt – you seem to be following yourself further up your own Arse than the one you started following. Concentrate on the good stuff and forget the self promotion. Let your journalism do the talking. Humility speaks volumes.

  19. I agree 100% Shotta.

    That’s what makes Making the Arsenal and this site great reference (thanks for the recommendation!), describing a period of great economic and social upheaval and change.

    The problem as I see it is that our entire infrastructure in the UK is being set up for the model you describe above. So if people see nothing wrong with such models for their schools and hospitals etc. why would they then reject them for their football clubs?

    These models were rejected in the past; even in the US things like highways, dams and subways were not built using what is inaccurately described as a ‘free market’, although the ‘market’ is getting good value for money as it buys up this ‘infrastucture’ on the ‘dirt’ cheap, at the moment.
    Eventually, they’ll be rejected again.

  20. * ‘A peroid of great upheaval and change’ obviously refers to The Great War, and Making the Arsenal.

  21. You are the second person to make this point Adi, and I do take notice of these comments. In admission of guilt I would confess that I want to stroll around the Ems saying, “Hey I am the guy who invented Untold Arsenal, and now we have 170,000 readers,” although I must add quickly I don’t. But I am proud of what has been done here.

    On the other hand I would say that I am now writing fewer and fewer articles, so you do get more and more of other people, and less of me.

    And on the other hand (that’s the third one) I’d also say that I have always tried to make Untold experimental – deliberately going to different places that others don’t. The humour – particularly the irony – mark us out, the in depth economics, the predictions of football’s future, the coverage of what it’s like for fans all over the world… all this marks us out, and each of these ideas has started as an experiment. The current items at the end of each blog (the rumours and the “Extras”) are experiments, and I watch and see if anyone is reading, if anyone is commenting and if people like or dislike.

    The one thing about the two end sections is if you think they are tosh, you can just read the main article.

    So that’s my thinking, but I am aware that there is a feeling that the self-congratulatory stuff – even if mixed with strong irony – needs to be controlled, and I will do my best.

  22. Tony, I appreciate your reply and admire the fact that you were willing to post it. Keep up the good work!

  23. Steven Gerrard diving all over the place again versus Man.City and not a word from the English media ,how hypocritical ?

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