A note on freedom of expression. (And Jack as captain) (And Hazard, and Carragher)

By Tony Attwood

To begin at the end.  Arsène Wenger has given an interview in which he has said  Jack Wilshere can become Arsenal and England captain.

So with Thomas Vermaelen injured and Arteta still out maybe our Jack  could become Arsenal’s youngest-ever captain today.  Tony Adams’ is the youngest ever captain thus far at 21 years and 82 da.  Jack is two months younger.

Mr Wenger said, “He is naturally a guy who is not scared of anything on the football pitch and that is usually the sign of a leader.  If you are asking me if I will take the captaincy away from Vermaelen, no. It is not a question that holds me at the moment. But do I think Jack will be captain of this club one day – yes, of course.”

Meanwhile the FA has followed Untold’s suggestion that Eden Hazard should be banned for quite a while over the ballboy incident.  This is quite a turn around for the FA who, in January 2002, refused to do anything about Jamie Carragher when he threw a coin into the crowd at Highbury.  Of course it was utterly wrong for anyone to throw a coin at Carragher, but his action of throwing the coin into the crowd was far worse, given that it was bound to hit someone.  Throwing a coin onto the pitch is quite wrong, but since it often misses the damage potential is less.   I am sure the person who threw the coin was banned from Arsenal for life.  Carragher should have been banned from football for 3 months.

The FA said the three-match ban for Hazard’s dismissal is “clearly insufficient” and a regulatory commission will decide next week how long it should be.  Chelsea will appeal.  What is interesting about Chelsea however is that the manager could make this claim: “We do not have too many players and we are playing too many games.  We have played nine games a month, we have two players at the African Nations, we do not have too many bodies, we have to change players and it will be another approach.”  Well, at least they have the money, and they knew what was likely to happen this January.

Back to Hazard – he won’t be giving evidence to the commission.  There will be written and video submissions by the FA and Chelsea.

Which leads me on to part two of this ramble…

It is one of the more amusing (but also simultaneously slightly worrying) aspects of life at Untold Arsenal that members of the footballing public do, increasingly often,  like to tell us what we can and what we should not write about.

Typical is the comment that we should write about Arsenal only.  Further commentary suggests that we only write about other teams or other teams’ supporters because Arsenal are doing so badly, or because our supporters are not happy, are too quiet, or whatever the current word on the street is.

This “what gives you the right to write about…” notion is not exclusive to football.  I can remember years ago being challenged by a person who worked for the Dyslexia Institute who wrote to me demanding to know what gave me the right to write about dyslexia.

It was a strange question, although one that I could answer readily, given that I have degrees in psychology and education.  But as I think I pointed out at the time, a greater question is: “What gives you the right to suggest that I might not discuss a certain subject?”

The beauty of the internet and of blogs is that anyone can write about anything, as long as in doing so one doesn’t break the law (and by and large they can get away with it even then).   Arsenal supporters are often kind enough to send in articles for publication, and sometimes we publish, sometimes not.  In this case it is generally me that decides, and I have that right because I publish Untold.

The notion that one might not have the “right” to publish anything is utterly repugnant and authoritarian.  It is the gift of the work of Sir Tim Berners-Lee that we can all do this.  No one has to read what you write, and indeed it is quite a tough job to get a big audience for a blog.  I know – I laboured for four years to get us up to half a million hits a month.  Now we are way over that – but the work of expanding the audience continues.

So, we will continue as a site that publishes (as it says on the masthead) “football news from a positive Arsenal perspective.”

We are also occasionally told that we really should not be this biased in favour of the current management of the club.   The answer again is “why not”?  There are lots and lots of sites that are anti the current management, so why not have one that is positive?  The notion of balance in the media has, as far as I know, never existed.  Everyone has an agenda.  So do we.  Perhaps the only difference is that we make it evident.  Many others, in my view, take a view and then try to suggest that they don’t.

If you would like to write for Untold, either on a one-off basis or regularly, do drop me a line.  Tony.Attwood@aisa.org usually works.


The books…

The sites…




27 Replies to “A note on freedom of expression. (And Jack as captain) (And Hazard, and Carragher)”

  1. Good blog Tony. There’s a perception that criticism is automatically more objective than endorsement hence those that see only the failings in AFC attempt to claim some loftier ideal simply because they see them. I think there’s far more merit in understanding how those failings came about, what influences and backgrounds played a role in those failures (and the successes for that matter). Curiously plenty of folk find that very process of examination and understanding antagonising which is perhaps why there seems to be plenty of blogs intolerant of positive perspectives while wailing about the failings. Indeed why not have a resolutely positive perspective? It’s not a bad idea to look in the opposite direction to everyone else occasionally. That’s the only way you’ll see what others don’t while there’ll always be plenty of others to tell you what they have.

  2. Would you please continue to write in the manner you feel is correct as I find this site one of the top football sites that I visit.
    Some very interesting topics and plausible argumentation of thoughts and opinions. As far as I’m concerned,it’s a big keep up the good work to you.

  3. Fabregas was 21 when made captain, but how many days older than Adams was Cesc?

    I wanted Jack as captain before Vermaelen or Arteta.

    As for Wenger stating Jack could be Arsenal and England captain, that is just stating the blatant obvious. Scholes, John Terry and other players esrmarked him as future England captain two seasons ago, so have managers, including Cappello.

    I like the distance he keeps from other players and the attitude he has with them. Bosses and staff should not be pally. Officers and men should not be pally. Managers and staff should not be pally. Managers and players should not be pally. Captains and players should not be pally.

    It works better. I know this from experience and it’s why I recognise it in Wilshere.

    Adams had it, Wilshere has it, arsehole though he was, Roy Keane had it. Teal captains and one just waiting patiently to get the armband. In my eyes, Wilshere is already our captain. I do not have a shred of doubt it’s zwilshere galvanising the team before 2nd half performances.

    I will say this here on Untold because the think tank here is head and shoulders above other sites.

    It’s my belief Wilshere wants the Armband now and this is going to cause a conundrum for Wenger. Short of Vermaelen coming out with the words “I think Jack is a better option than me”. .. I can see Wenger having to sell Vermaelen to provide a vacancy.

    Have you noticed how often Vermaelen shouts at Wilshere on the field. That conjures all kinds of possible ideas. Wilshere does not have much time for Arteta as witnessed in goal celebrations and the same goes for Diaby when warming up.

    Wilshere is a very powerful force out there on the field and a force so powerful even the dictator Wenger will bow to it. They have created a monster and it would bleed Arsenal and England if cut. Nobody is in any doubt of this so like I say, it was pointless of Wenger to state Wilshere is a future leader. He’s already the leader.

  4. Couldn’t agree more about your right to comment on and hold opinions on anything you want – as long as it legal.

    I feel the same way when I write that Wenger has done a poor job over the last few years. I note regularly that this opinion is often met with anger (although less so these days), and even suppressed and censored on some sites (one particular forum is notorious for this).

    Whilst I hold certain views about our manager and board, I respect the right of others to hold the completely opposite views. The interest comes from the debate but unfortunately all too often it degrades into insults and questions about the right to comment or hold an opinion.

  5. I found it interesting that TV5 is the one who gave the armband to Jack when he left the pitch, so maybe TV5 can already see his successor. I’m sure Jack will make a good captain, he ticks all the right boxes in my opinion, and I find midfielders make great captains, if its not simply becuase they can communicate easily with the defence and strikers due to their positioning on the pitch.

    Keep up the good work guys, there’s such an anti-Arsenal crusade in the mainstream media its unbelievable, and sites like this one restore my faith in human beings again. And there’s just no pleasing certain individuals, they will moan regardless what the subject matter is.

  6. Tony
    I personally think the main problem people have with articles that they don’t agree with is that they are so brainwashed by media (not just press, but all forms of media) that they don’t even know why they think like they do, it’s just been hammered home to them that Wenger doesn’t spend money, or Ramsey is shit, or Walcott should be paid whatever he wants. They have no justification to support their arguments so tend to resort to repetition, in the hope that, just like the repetitive messaging in advertising, press etc gets them to just nod along and agree, if they do the same on forums and blogs, eventually everyone else will just agree with them.

    It’s a sad reflection on society as a whole that brainwashing the masses is seen as utterly normal and acceptable, whereas alternative, or in this particular case, realist thinking is frowned upon.

    The saddest thing for though is the manipulation is so blatantly obvious that surely anyone with an iota of common sense can see what’s being done. But it seems not. Every transfer window we get linked with endless players and when we don’t sign any them, are told we’ve missed out or the club have failed or been beaten by another club. Surely people can see that this is just bullshit made up by the press to sell papers and in turn advertising to make money? We are told that being one of the worlds best football clubs, but not quite the best, is abject failure. We are told that a man with 30years experience at the very top level, globally recognised as one of the greatest managers of all time hasn’t got a clue how to run a football club or manage a team or pick players. We are told that billionaire owners are good for football and the fact Arsenal have high ticket prices isn’t to compete, but because the club is ripping off the fans. A major story is made of Man C fans not buying tickets, but nothing is said about the fact the tickets were bought by Arsenal fans instead.

    There are endless, daily examples of this manipulation, you only have to turn on the tv to see messages that credit cards give you freedom, not actually shackle you with debt, images of photoshopped people are those we should aspire to, even though they aren’t real, houses aren’t homes anymore, they are investments. We are told to consume consume consume, then repent repent repent (cookery shows followed by weight loss shows). We are told by texting in we can make or break people’s careers, even though these programmes are blatantly rigged and its obviously just a money making exercise. We are told the streets aren’t safe even though actual crime figures are at an all time low, that its safer to live in the country, the every meal should be prepared to chef level, that our homes have to be perfect, that our lives have to be perfect, that our children have to be perfect. And if we don’t live up to this distorted view of life we are told we are failures.

    And this is exactly what is happening to football fans. We are told that we should be able to compete with endless resource, that a player performing to anything less than the very best of his ability is deadwood, that anything less than winning a trophy is to fail. And to make this even worse, the fan is encouraged to vent their frustrations at these unrealistic goals at the very thing they are supposed to be supporting, just so the press can report on that, stir it up, we’ll more papers. Fans think because they are told their opinion is all important, they they know more about the team than the manager, that they can press the red button to make the changes, but players sell deadwood. And when they obviously can’t, they are wound up even more by the press, stirring it up more, selling more papers, making more money.

    I’m sorry this has gone on a bit. I’ve been reading the comments on this blog with growing sadness as I see a once positive forum slowly being infiltrated by the zombie consumers turning fan against fan. They can’t see that they are unwitting agents for the media, the billion pound industries who’s sole aim is to make more money, no matter what the cost to the people. They can’t see that the opinion they claim as their own is simply a twisted message that has been forced into their brain by people who are experts at making people do things without thinking of the consequences, without thinking for themselves.

    Keep up the good work Tony, don’t let the naysayers change you.

  7. I’ve supported arsenal since the 60s, when we were bloody awful, and I think Wenger has performed miracles for us. People moan that we are a selling clu, but we have always been a selling club, I still remember the pain of losing Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton, but we were always a bit below the spending power of Liverpool and Moneychester, and obviously the giants of Italy.

    Wenger brought the expectation that we were one of the big boys, by buliding the invincibles, but if anything we have fallen further behind the big spenders in our own backyard. He has endeavoured to increase our spending power so that we can compete with chelscum and the sadchester clubs on wages, but it’s a struggle, and I doubt if the new rules will make any difference, the various Mafiosos and Oil sheiks who run these clubs will just find ways to circumvent the rules, and we will remain just below that top section of clubs who can afford to easily outbid us for any player.

    We need to produce our own talent, which is why our academy is so important, and we need to back our manager, who has had us punching above our weight for so long. In conclusion, may I say that I have made many criticisms of our manager, and, like most fans, I usually think I can pick a better team, and am smarter in the transfer market, but in reality , he has proven me wrong countless times, and I’ve learned not to under-estimate his abilities. There is no-one I would rather have running the club, and long may he continue

  8. Couldn’t agree more with all you say Stevie E. It seems one needs more than just common sense to see what hogwash the media feeds them. What surprises me is I can see all this manipulation from a mile away, and fail to understand why others fail to see this, and I believe I have just an average IQ.

    For example, who fails to see that the law is applied selectively? Ferguson comes out raging at refs and he is called passionate, Wenger does half that and he’s called a whinger. Ferguson critices another manager and its called mind games, Rafa does that and they say he’s lost it, Fergie got under his skin, bla bla bla. Caragher throws a coin into the crowd, and the FA refuse to take action, Hazard kicks a ball boy and an extended ban is called for on top of the automatic one. United win 1-0 and its described as the mark of champions, grinding out results when things are not going for you. Arsenal win by the same score and we hear how they struggled to break down an organized defence, how their strikers were wasteful… Kos grapples with a striker in the box and its deemed a red card and penalty offence, Caragher does the same thing and the pundits say if the ref punishes him for that they will be awarding penalties at every corner kick taken. The list goes on and on…. There’s just no consistency, but it wouldn’t be so worrying if it was just acase of inconsistency alone, no. They consistently punish the same individuals while consistently letting the same culprits get away with murder. So it shows they can be consistent if they wanted, just that they choose to be consistently unfair.

  9. @Al, the media is bias, thanks for pointing that out. Here in africa(kenya) follow the u.k media esp Bbc when it comes to football, or maybe Goal.com. And from what you have said, its true 100%, u couldny have said it any better.
    I always encourage my friends to read blogs, thanks Untold. U the best, regardz form Kenya.

  10. Great article Tony. Basically it is those with a vested interest who will wish to dictate what you write (or don’t write) about.

    I am always horrified, but conditioned not to be surprised, at the way the press and media run down our club at every opportunity, but by and large ignore the bias or incompetence of the refs and the secrecy surrounding the PGMOL.

  11. The thing about negativity is that it seems to be an inevitable part of the human condition. Especially when things are going in a monotonous state of what should be happiness. That is why humans rejected the early, happier form of the matrix 🙂

    Lots of surveys show that people in developing countries are generally happier than their economic status/quality of life should suggest. While countries which are among the most developed and which offer supposedly close to ideal living conditions has more people prone to depression, or at least people that classify themselves as unhappy.

    Why this is, I have no idea, but it seems to offer some sort of parallel to the Arsenal world. I’m sure most clubs won’t understand what all the fuss is about at Arsenal. A great history, some great football, new stadium, playing at the top level, and the certainty (as much as is possible) that their club won’t one day find itself struggling to survive. Yet some Arsenal fans seem positively (pun intended) miserable or angry.

    Why it should be so, I have no idea. The media undoubtedly have a role in this, as does the proliferation of the internet (another form of media of course) and the resultant change in attitudes that it seems to have brought along. But there is obviously something beyond that at play here too. Many intelligent, smart, true fans seem to find themselves in the clutches of despair when it comes to Arsenal.

    For that, I can only say that negativity spreads easier than positivity. If you have a group of people where one person is negative and the others are positive in room 1, and one person positive and the others negative in room 2, you’ll in all likelihood, sooner rather than later, have 2 rooms of miserable gits. They’ll still be intelligent, they’ll still be rational about most things, but they’ll be in the dumps. Again, I don’t know why this is. But it seems to happen.

  12. Stevie E: Wow couldn’t have said it better if I had 100 years and a degree in something funky.
    To summarize our fans being brainwashed to ‘tow their line’ I remember something from what Stalin said about the communists folks in western countries, he called then ‘Usefull Idiots’ and that is what they are for the most part. Some are not I suppose but the vast majority of anti arsenal are just useful to help sell something for them, idiots.
    Anyway Tony and staff keep up the good work by being very UN-USEFULL (but probably an idiot to them)..
    You will be remembered always and thanked one day for staying calm and not towing the line.
    For that I thank you in advance mate!

  13. @Shard

    Since so many Arsenal Fans spell it out in black and white why they are angry and miserable, it makes sense to see you write … “Why it should be so, I have no idea.”

    Your constant commentaries focus on the opinons of other fans the whole time and contribute nothing to the conversation. All Arsenal fans have a voice which deserves to be heard by Arsenal fans. Their opinions NEVER make them less of a fan as me in my eyes. Some of us agree and others disagree. It’s what we say to each other at the ground, when travelling, in the pub, when queing to go in the ground, etc.

    When you are not being sycophantic with Tony, what is it you actually have to say about Arsenal, the players, the manager, the board, the owner. You know, without trying to sound clever with psuedo-Freudian clap trap gleened from the media you pontificate about so much.

    For your information, Tony is under the umbrella ‘Media’.

  14. Arsenal1Again

    Firstly, by focusing on my commentary, you are doing exactly what you accuse me of and seem to have a problem with. Show me where I said voices don’t deserve to be heard, or that it makes them less of a fan.

    And my commentary was less Freudian, pseudo or otherwise, and more Socratic since I basically said I don’t know anything.

    Also, I did mention the internet as being part of the media. And Tony’s blog is on the internet. I thought the inference was evident. But apparently I am supposed to spell everything out. And my stand (nuanced as it is on various issues) on Arsenal is well known to people who are regulars here, and I feel no need to repeat myself over and over only to please you.

    As for your first sentence of why so many fans are angry and that they spell it out. Congratulations, you missed the whole point of the post spectacularly. Give yourself a pat on the back.

  15. Great article and blog, I think you can tell the quality of a site by the quality of its comments section. Keep up the good work

  16. Stevie E,

    Please read with the much needed wink what I will write:
    YOU FOOL!!!! 😉

    Ok serious now. Instead of pressing the comment button you should have opened whatever mail account you have and should have sent this to Tony and asked him if it would be good enough to publish as an article.
    That way you would have written one of the best articles I have read lately. Now the chance is that people will not read it and see it.

    I take off my hat for you and take a bow, this was not the best article (I don’t refer to the original article by this) but it should have been one of the best articles on this site. Now I think this is one of the best comments ever written on this site.

  17. Stevie E @12:01 and A| @12:35,
    You guys got it goin’! Super reads. Relentless, irreducible. Bravo.

  18. I don’t agree that Hazard should receive an extra ban. Without doubt his behaviour merited a red card, but the matter should rest there. I would not credit the FA with an improved perspective as a result of its latest statement.

    Shawcross got 3 matches for shattering Ramsey’s leg. Taylor got 3 matches or shattering Euardo’s leg. In that context, the Hazard-ballboy incident is trivial and the FA are simply pathetic in taking a “strong” stance in response to populist media pressure.

  19. Sjeille

    100% true. Terry Neill captained team aged 19 and was made permanent captain at 20 in August 1962.

  20. I admit that I am only posting to this article because I did a quick scan and saw that Bob had posted and wanted to see what he had said (4:55 pm, just a few posts up)

    …but then I read those two posts and …Wow!

    I agree, great posts, thanks guys (Steve E and Al) and I liked Archwaygunner’s comments too.

    After months of supportive posts being interspersed with drivel those three were quite refreshing.

  21. Another excellent post. Glad you’ve put into words what I’ve been telling friends recently which is that Untold Arsenal is no more bias than the multitude of blogs that have sprung up recently with the sole intention of being as negative as you are positive. There’s a place for both I just know which one I’d rather follow (I’d say Untold Arsenal are needed now more than ever). It’s sad because its no big thing to do a daily blog if all you’re gonna do is moan about the team you’re suppose to support, the real skill is doing one as varied as this one (including talking about other teams, the history stuff).

    History will show which blogs were worthy of the bandwidth. I’d put my money on sites like this.

  22. Stevie E. That was amazing. Nice article Tony. I always count on Untold to freshen my day with great and intelligent articles.

  23. @Stevie E. very good post. Obvious points which I thought was self-evident to those gifted with a reasonable IQ. Love the way everyone is brainwashed by your view. On the whole it’s a decent tirade against modern life. Of course we’ve no idea if the club are ripping people off by charging high ticket prices or if they really want to invest it all in players. We all believe what we want to believe. The media try to urge is one direction one day, another direction the next. It’s always been that way, what is surprising is that so many are hoodwinked.

    Watch the team on the field and judge them by that alone, maybe that’s the best and only way.

  24. Just to add on to the positivity felt by the guys here .

    Some very true words to ponder …….

    As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.

    I have seen too many dear friends leave this world, too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

    Whose business is it, if I choose to read, or play, on the computer, until 4 AM, or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50, 60 & 70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

    I will walk the beach, in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

    I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things.

    Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But, broken hearts are what give us strength, and understanding, and compassion A heart never broken, is pristine, and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

    I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

    As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

    So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).

    And I’ll support the Arsenal with every fibre of my being.
    Up the Gunners !

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