Man U colour protest fizzles out: there’s a lesson to be learned

Many of us have been outraged beyond endurance by the assault on Ramsey on 27th February.   24 hours later I am still frustrated an annoyed in a way that is not a normal part of my nature.

If I may speak for once for Walter (who is of course more than able to speak for himself), I believe he too was devastated by what happened, and by the history.  Three major assaults in the last five years, and not a sign of action by the authorities.

I expressed my feelings in my piece immediately after the game on saturday night, and in response I’ve had emails from a handful of readers saying that this was not what they come to Untold for – and some saying they won’t be coming back.

I’m sorry about that – our ability to debate and discuss even when holding different views is an essential element of this site, which would be nothing without its huge readership (which is regularly now approaching 10,000 readers a day).

But football is both about the logic of economics as it is about the passion of the game.  I might manage to knock out the occasional analysis of how the EPL is on the edge of ruin, but I can also have a rant and shout about the mistakes of the ref and the misdemeanors of the opposition from my seat in the Ems along with the 60,000 other supporters in the ground.

Debate and balanced judgment is good, but professional football is not worth watching if it doesn’t also generate the passion, drive and enthusiasm.

That’s what the broadcasters have never learned, despite having had over 75 years to get hold of the lesson.  Their attempt to sound dispassionate and balanced leaves most of us unmoved and frustrated.  They end up sounding uninformed and dull, while all around them are people expressing their emotions, leaving their dreams, descending into hell.

Broadcast football has become a mindless tedium that fails to satisfy anyone, and, in my personal opinion, it is up to us, the regular supporters, to try and do something about this.  To highlight, for example, the appalling way in which football is being run, and the way our players are being targeted.

It is because I hold thoughts such as these, that I have watched with much interest the attempt by Manchester United supporters to fight back against the club’s owners who are involved in an obvious plot to rape the club of its riches and its heritage.

The idea of using the original colours of the club as a symbol of resistance is a good one, and I had a feeling it could work.  (I perhaps should add a historical note – a branch of my family came from Guernsey, an island which was invaded by Germany in the 2nd world war.    The islanders had nothing with which to resist save symbols, and at one stage in the occupation did write the letter V on walls.  It was a simple rallying cry across the island, each person telling the next that there was still hope – and it had some effect.)

It was therefore sad to see how little impact the colour protest had at Wembley in the little cup final on Feb 28th.  There were people there with the new scarves, but the red of Manchester dominated.  It was a protest that could easily be ignored by the owners and seemed piecemeal on the part of the supporters.

A second protest calls on supporters of the club to start boycotting matches, in order to reduce income and force the owners to their knees.  A third line of attack suggests that Manchester United might even join with their enemies in Liverpool and design a united front.

I’m watching with much interest, but not much anticipation of success, for the Glazer’s now have the prize, and they know they will walk out with huge profits whatever happens.  And if the supporters can’t get the colour protest to work I think they will have a tougher time elsewhere.

Where my admiration is focused is on the people who left Old Trafford and formed FC United of Manchester.  Derided and rejected by Sir Alex F Word the club has gone from nowhere to the Prem Division of the Unibond League, which if I understand matters correctly, is one below Conference North.  Not bad for a new start-up.

Where the people who stayed behind with Manchester United went wrong, in my opinion, is in sitting and watching and waiting, and not acting at once.

And at this point I would like to say what I think we should do about the assaults that our players face week by week because of the “Arsenal don’t like it up em” campaign of the media.

But I am not sure.   I have started emailing the sports channels I listen to and watch, pointing out to them that they have a responsibilty, and I intend to do that from now on every time some nutter says “you have to get the early tackles in against Arsenal otherwise they will run all over you.”   And of course I intend to keep writing about the issue here.

Is this enough?  Of course not.  It is just that I am not sure what else to do.  Hopefully you can tell me.

Tony Attwood


The media’s encouragement of lesser players to kick more skillful players – a historical review.

The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)

Predictions for the rest of the season: see how we are doing so far as we approach the start of the new golden era.

The Untold commentary immediately after the end of the Stoke game

“Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  The story and the writings of a football journalist covering Arsenal in 1910.  Available from and from the publishers direct.
Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?
Almunia: are we being unfair. By ex-keeper now referee, Walter Broeckx

EPL owes more money than the rest of Euro football combined.

42 Replies to “Man U colour protest fizzles out: there’s a lesson to be learned”

  1. For the same reasons that I only watch cycling because I love the bikes, i nearly gave up on Football after Eduardo’s assault because I don’t enjoy watching cowards get away with murder.

    Now I don’t know how I feel.

    These players, Diaby, Song, Clichy, Fabregas and the rest deserve our support. As well as the manager.

    But I can imagine AW mulling over that RM offer last night, who could blame him? I believe that is the ultimate intention of his opponents from both within and without the club, to drive him out of English Football. But if he would have left, he would have done so already.

  2. Absolutley right. Supporting Wenger ‘in everything he does’ is the most powerful way that we can demonstrate that we do not wish our club to descend to the same levels as those inhabited by other clubs. Be that financial or be that in the quality of play on the pitch. Supporting this blog and supporting the AST are two outstanding ways of maintaining faith.

  3. I would be interested to find out how many Eduardo and Ramsey injuries have happened in Spanish and Italian leagues over the past 5 years!

  4. Tony,

    I will say this… Whoever says anything to insult you after what you have given us here are insane! I love this site! You created it and you deserve discretion and support no matter what!

    I can only speak for me and I am glad you have given voice to Walter, and me, and Phil, and Simon, Rhys, and Tim, Diceman, and Finsbury, and WEG, and gooner man, and gerry gooner and Valentin, and forgive me because there are so many and Hawke.

    It is like that movie “It’s a wonderful life” when George Bailey wished he was never alive… You are valued… And I value you and this site and the people in it!

    I instinctively felt you were frustrated by reading your post… And, Walter, myself and many others picked up the slack gratefully… Who ever left.. See ya!

    We still even have Sean? So all is not lost! If you ever need anyone to lean on…Well you got it! I will never leave…Well only if the D&Ger’s out number us. In that case I will go to Making Arsenal for cover!

  5. I think untold arsenal is doing well to underscore the real factors considerable in decision scenario. The referee at the centre on saturday was to me capable but acting on instruction- allowing stoke to play the game will unsettle arsenal which would ultimately make them to crave in and ultimately make arsenal to lose sense of purpose and direction. To the dismay of the referee, the deliberately unchecked sinister of potters instill more discipline in arsenal. I love the resilient of our boys. They played according to the coaches instructions, they kept their cool. But the unfortunate incident was sad and criminal on the part of shawcross. I would blame him entirely for all that happened. I would want to blame the ref too for he allowed them to commit all sorts of unethical tackles before and after the tackle. I pray the injury to ram is not career threatening

  6. Tony,

    Top of the head ideas.

    In protest against football violense on the pitch:

    1.This year, we need a campaign to stop ALL our Away fans going to Birmingham City where we lost the league 2 years ago.
    2. Next year, NO Away fans to visit Stoke.

    This will hit both teams where it hurts but more importantly the publicity against football violence will be massive in England. Many things can be done to communicate this; other Arsenal websites must buy-in to the idea.

    I don’t think lack of away team support will harm our team’s performance.

    Also, how about Arsenal fans at the Emirates each to wear an item to support Aaron Ramsey. Like a daffodil at the Burnley match. Crazy idea i know.

  7. I think untold arsenal is doing well to underscore the real factors to be considered in decision scenario. The referee at the centre on saturday was to me capable but culpable, acting on boardroom instructions- allowing stoke to play the game would unsettle arsenal which would ultimately make them to crave in and ultimately make arsenal to lose sense of purpose and direction. To the dismay of the referee, the deliberately unchecked sinister of potters instilled more discipline and caution in arsenal. I love the resilience of our boys. They played according to the coach’s instructions, they kept their cool. But the unfortunate incident was sad and criminal on the part of shawcross. I wouldn’t blame him entirely for all that happened. I would want to blame the ref too for he allowed them to commit all sorts of unethical tackles before and after the incident. I pray the injury to ram is not career threatening

  8. For manu, winning trophies doesn’t imply success entirely but the ability to cope when the going gets tough, understanding the economics of sustanability and intertemporaneity in allocation of limited resources between the horizons the present and the future. It only requires elementary maths and econs which is the withe the way arsenal is runned ethically and wisely. I hope other clubs we learn from this.

  9. Lets take all the pain,frustration,heartache and sense of injustice and channel it.Lets get behind the team one and all.Lets be proud of what we have achieved and are trying to achieve.Lets hope the man upstairs is looking after Rambo as we say a silent prayer for him.Lets hope we can push on and win something after this setback.Lets get it on.

  10. Tony I suggest you direct your email campaign of protest to Paul Merson and Alan Smith as these two ex Arsenal – I no longer call them Gooners, as both have lost the right to this with their condoning of this over the top bullying of Arsenal as a legit way of playing the game, here is an example – “of course its right to kick Cesc, stop him and you stop Arsenal”, that is a direct quote from Merson on one of his apperances on Soccer Saturday on SKY, then once again yesterday Smith was so pro stoke you would think he was a spud, its clear there is an anti Arsenal agenda with SKY, Winterburn is only used occasionally and Sansom not at all as both take a pro Arsenal line, Charlie Nicholas is too popular to let go but he has been shifted to more scottish work for them,

    Sky today also totally missed the point in what Wenger said yesterday and is referring to about Arsenal being kicked, they show the most fouled table(arsenal second behind Hull, and Arsenal 12th in most fouls committed) cos its not the fouls given it the fact that refs are not giving the fouls in the first place,
    Also SKY let and promote the old line – Arsenal are no saints, look at all the sending offs in Wenger’s term, no mention of all the fair play awards and the fact we have not had anyone sent off in any competition in over a year – Stoke 3 in 3 games, but they are not that kind of team, or so SKY tells us.

    I agree with the notion of an Arsenal fans boycott of the Brum and Stoke away games, we can only hope if we did do this that Stoke’s fans would return the gesture and we would not have to put up with their BNP racists at the EMirates

  11. When I ws a kid at Highbury it was said that `it was more important to beat Arsenal at Highbury than stay in the First Division`. It`s not so much the players or the place that gets up the noses of the opposition as `the ledgend` of Arsenal.
    It`s very hard to prove that there is a vendetta against the Gunners which is resulting in a pre planned physical approach so the problem needs to be addressed across he board. The rules on tackles needs to be changed and the yellow card given immediate effect, like `the sin bin`.
    No point in waiting til dad comes home to give naughty Johnny a clout, clip him under the ear now so he`ll know what it`s all about.

    Now I`ll have all the `politically correct` group on my back but I`m too old to care

  12. Just re-read your post match post, and i cant see what the fuss is about. most regular readers will have realised you were just venting. were all human after all. i feel sorry that some people couldnt see past what you were writing and the place will be a lesser place without them. the long and short of it is that the majority of the stuff on here is top notch and the blogospere would be a much lesser place without it.

    i think the green and gold protest will keep chuntering along until it becomes part of united. it ont get massive either, because like so many fans today, success is more important than anything else.

  13. Sorry to write somewhat out of context.
    It sometimes annoys me how these Pundits look at Arsenal. I saw the goal scored by Bendy yesterday and today’s goal by Rooney and found a great deal of similarity in both. Bendy’s goal becomes a “good goal” or a “well taken goal” and he is an “average player” who “cannot guarantee you 20 goals a season”. But Rooney’s goal becomes a “world class”, “absolutely stunning” by a “arguably world’s best player at the moment”.

    Again, Sorry to write somewhat out of context but I also find some of the comments by the pundits on TV about yesterday’s game and penalty that we got. “It was not intentional”, fantastic, if you are a defender and if you are going to fly your hands like Jet wings in penalty area which eventually obstruct the ball, isn’t that a penalty?
    Tomorrow I am going to play in a game as a defender and for sake of gaining match fitness I will start doing some pull-ups on the Goal Bar..if the ball comes my way when I am hanging to the bar counting my pull-ups and ball hits my arms, it won’t be a penalty, will it?

  14. re: general media bias (SKY)
    The only way you can get their attention is to plan for Arsenal fans to boycott SKY advertisers.
    Initially start with one company; Draft one strong article, on the internet, and send
    to all of the other Arsenal sights.

    Nothing strikes more fear in the corporate boardroom (and with stockholders) is bad

    Organize to have an email campaign, directed at the FA & the Referee’s Association
    President. Post an outline summary of key points to express and then circulate the petition to all of
    the other Arsenal Blog sites. Give the email address of those figure heads above. Ask every reader
    to take 3 minutes of their time, participate to summarize in their own words including the key points.

    Flood their email boxes.

    Then create another for a few of the major newspapers – ‘so called’ journalists, draft a brief paragraph of key points. Spread the draft to the key Arsenal sites and repeat

    We are “The Arsenal Nation ” and words will leave an impression.

  15. Tony, well-said. I think your posting yesterday was well within reason.

    It’s important to maintain our anger and outrage here. Stupid, reckless tackles (even if they have “no malicious intent”) are a detriment to football.

  16. A lot of these issues are caused by the Premiership being set up by greedy bastards. If money was shared and revenues from merchandise etc, teams like Stoke would not have to take the approach they do to survive. The premiership is badly run and fans need to protest more about its crazy policies. For instance, should policeman have sponsors logos on their uniforms when enforcing the law? No, so why the hell are refs and linesman promoting airlines while they struggle with their credibility. We need far more fairness in football. I dream of a democratic Arsenal owned by you and others Tony. You’re brighter than most of the shareholders. Wenger for President and a share issue for all fans.

  17. Speaking of e-mail has everyone sent Aaron Ramsay well wishes? is allowing us to send well wishes.

  18. Tony, I went back to re-read your yesterday post very carefully. I did not see anything wrong with what you wrote. You expressed what I felt more than I could have expressed it myself. If their are people who felt that what happened yesterday did not deserve to be condemned, that is their prerogative. But they must not insult us with some self-righteousness in the face of such outrage.

    Let them know that the untold family is solidly behind you.

  19. Tony, if people after a day and a game and a horror show once again can not understand that you were furious and angry and wrote what you did, then I really think they can not understand the passion people like you and me and so many others have for the Arsenal and for our players.
    To me they all are like sons and if one of my sons would be kicked like that I would be completely outraged.

    What you wrote came from your heart and I think 98 % of our regular readers felt the same. For those who didn’t that is up to them.
    How on earth could they expect a article which said: well done Stoke for kickin Ramsey in to the hospital. well done stoke for the throwball game you gave us. well done stoke for trying to kick us off the field ?

    If on a day like yesterday you are not allowed to share and to voice your frustration, than no day ever will be good enough to do it. Like you said, Tony, football is not only about financecs and so but mostly about emotions. Emotions ran high yesterday and we had every right to express our selves.
    If some of you would have read the words I have used in Dutch, tony’s words would have been very balanced.
    24hours after the incident and I really feel empty inside. I have tried to write a few articles but cant come to a proper new one.

  20. Goonerman… in response to your question of injuried in Spain, I can’t answer that but from watching La Liga I can assure you that when top teams play Athletic Bilbao, they will get kicked. There are two differences between this and the PL.
    Firstly, it’s an exception not the rule and is many ways considered an affront to the football that is played in Spain (sort of… this is also tied up in the history of Athletic and how they operate which generates some sympathy in the way the club is run).
    Secondly, it doesn’t go unpunished, in 2008-09 Bilbao received 13 red cards in the League and over 100 yellow.
    I’ve singled out Bilbao as they traditionally have been the worst offenders but across all teams in La Liga, last season twice as many red cards were awarded as in the Premiership. Whether this actually translates to less horrendous injuries like we saw on the weekend, I don’t know but it is a clear indication that those running the game do not accept a certain style of play and teams engaged in it will face sanctions.

  21. Tony, Walter, and everybody else, thank you for your passion towards the Arsenal. I did not see the game live yesterday, but knew what happened by the time I started to watch it on ATVO. I have to say that I wasn’t too excited to watch, but decided to continue anyways. When the second half started, that knot in my stomach started to grow, and even 10 minutes before the assault, I was getting very emotional. When it happened, I couldn’t help but cry for young Aaron. For those who don’t understand the emotional investment and passion that true supporters of any club have, then they will never know what it is like to truly be one with their club.

  22. As for the support that Ryan Shawcross is getting from the media and all of the other anti-football outlets in England, I totally understand and agree with the fact that someone would never intentionally set out to injure another player. If they did, then there are psychological issues that need to be dealt with as well. The fact remains that a player was reckless into the challenge (not his first time mind you), and whether intentionally or not, perpetrated an assault on another person. If I hurt or killed someone while driving drunk, could I be defended by my character and saying that I didn’t mean to? Maybe if I cried a bit, and had a biased media supporting me, then the judge would just let me off saying I’m a victim as well (for those who didn’t like Tony’s passion in his post-game article, then I need to point out the sarcasm in the last sentence, just in case). As I read on another blog this morning, one time is an accident, two times is unfortunate, but a third time (in 4 years!) is absolutely wrong. Something has to be done to combat this menace, and I think it will probably have to start amongst the bloggers. Get a handful of the top Arsenal blog writers (Untold, Arseblogger, Goonerholic, Gunnerblog, even Wrighty7, and as many others as possible) to set forth a plan of action. Whether it be protests, letter writing, or whatever else, something MUST be done, and done in as coordinated a fashion as possible. These assaults must not be allowed to continue!

  23. Tony – I share your fear that, like the ManU protests against the Glazers, our outrage against those anti-football forces who believe the best way to stop Arsenal is to kick our players, this anger will just peter out and die. It is heartening to see the Arsenal blogs ablaze but the powers that be know talk is cheap. History is replete with examples of authorities like the FA who simply allow the fans anger to dissipate and continue business as usual.

    I would suggest Tony that we use Untold as a forum to wage very discrete campaigns against those who promote and foment these anti-football practises. Let us strategically identify those authorities and media types so as to focus attention on those who refuse to reform these practises. For example – Can we wage an email campaign in protest of against one particular entity or individual. just my thought.

    As you said: “Where the people who stayed behind with Manchester United went wrong, in my opinion, is in sitting and watching and waiting, and not acting at once.”

  24. What I want to see is:

    1. An immediate life ban for players who cause career-threatening injuries like the thugs Shawcross, Taylor, etc. There would be no appeals; immediate lifetime ban from football from the second the injury happens.

    2. The thug’s club must be responsible for:

    a. The injured player’s wages until he has fully recovered.
    b. The full cost of treatment and rehab until the player is able to play at full strength in the first team again.

    These measures might make the kickers more apprehensive about going in heavily on the skilled players.

    I am totally incensed by this injury and we must do something to change the laws of the game to prevent this happening again. Three times in around four years is too often – one time is too often.

    My thoughts are with you Aaron.

  25. I cannot accept any argument in defence of the kicking given. What is not being commented on (strangely) is the incredible force used. It takes great force to snap both the tibia and fibula. If he had connected with the ball it would have flown 40 metres. If he connected with the ball then the leg he would still have severely injured Ramsay. To be using that much force anywhere near another players leg is criminal, and shows no respect whatsoever for a fellow professional. These players spend their life trying to take the ball efficiently and then move it on, a 40 metre kick is only the preserve of someone that is not about to come into contact with another player.

    The comments of both Lee Dixon and Martin Keown tonight on MOTD2 were appalling in saying it was a 50/50 and “not that bad”. Can only assume they follow the party line for fear of losing their cushy pundits job.

  26. And, just to add to the controversy Stoke as a club sits at the bottom just two places above bottom, and Shawcross sits as 3rd most disciplined player so far this season in the EPL…

  27. JBH

    Not happy about Keown & Dixon.

    It’s worse then if he flew in from his close almost standing position with two feet off the floor. Instead he uses the standing leg to generate more power?

    Another way to start could be by dissecting the recent revelations from the oracle of The Moaning Drain of Pulis?

  28. I’m still sick to my stomach…it’s compounded when I see how certain teams have all the “luck.”

    How about that Phil Dowd and his non-calls on Vidic yesterday? And Rooney is conveniently injured before the Egypt friendly?

    It’s a f%cking disgrace.

    The pessimist in me says that reckless tackles in England will only start to be stamped out if Rooney or Lampard suffer a violent tackle and have a leg broken.

    The refs and media won’t do Arsenal any favors. We need to protect ourselves.

  29. Im not trying to add to the pain of the weekend,but did anybody notice match off the day taking the piss on saturday. After they had finished showing the arsenal game highlights and finished talking about the Aaron ramsey incident Gary dickhead linekar finishes before showing the next match highlights by saying “and on a last FOOT note Ryan shawcross has been selected for the england squad” . When i heard “and on a last FOOT note” i immediately thought it was pun intended BUT TO THEN HERE THE SENTENCE COMPLETED WITH “Ryan shawcross has been selected for the england squad” it made up my mind.Obviously match off the day think its a joke. Time to take action. If anybody has a copy or can get a copy of match of the day from saturday,check it out.SOMEONES CAREER BEING JEOPARDISED IS OBVIOUSLY A TIME FOR MOCKERY FOR THE BBC.Theres no respect for arsenal.

  30. If that tackle was on Rooney, Lampard or Gerrard resulting in them having to miss the World Cup, Ryan Shawcross right now would be the most hated man in th English media. But cos it’s a WELSHMAN who happens to play for ARSENAL and managed by a FRENCHMAN, then it was a fair ‘challenge’. The best way to show these bullying cunts that no matter how many thugs sub standard English managers like Pulis and Allardyce coach to kick proper football teams like Arsenal , is to win the league in style this season. I also believe AW should boycott interviews with any of the media just like AF. Maybe then they might show sone respect to a man who has done more to raise the standard of English Football than any other.
    On another note and as mentioned in earlier posts, too many of our ex pro’s are so quick to jump on the anti-wenger/arsenal bandwagon it’s untrue. You don’t get that from the mancs, chelski or the scousers ex pro’s so why do the likes if merson, smithy, wrighty and more recently dixon and keown do it. Money grabbing whores are only interested in keeping their paymasters sweet and ain’t got the bottle to stand up and defend their former club against some of the unfair critiscism and attacks on and off the field. As true Arsenal fans we need to out these punks at matches as our way of saying support us or fuck off.
    My last piece of rant relates to the refereeing over the weekend. My first question us why did Alex Song get booked for a nothing challenge on Satuday but Vidic didnt get a red or even a yellow for bringing down Agbonlahor yesterday. And second, Birmingham got a penalty which was proven to be a blatant dive. Are we going to get a media frenzy now calling for the player to be vilified,banned and fined just like they did with Eduardo. ARE WE FUCK!!

  31. You should try listening to the EPL on a dodgy internet stream in its original Russian. I don’t understand a word of it, but whatever they say, it sounds compelling.

  32. Thank you to everyone who has joined in the discussions on this and other articles.

    The ideas of what we can do are very important, and I support everyone’s feeling here.

    I’ll try and unify the various approaches into something that we can work on together.

  33. At last a Journalist with some fucking common sense. Please read from the Mirror’s Martin Samuels

    MARTIN SAMUEL: How can so many broken legs be down to chance?

    It was a familiar speech. ‘There is no way that was a malicious challenge,’ said David Kemp, assistant manager of Stoke City. ‘Ryan isn’t that sort of player. It was probably a new experience for him to get frustrated, that’s why he chased down the ball and made that tackle.
    ‘There was no malicious intent. It was a genuine attempt. We’ve seen far worse challenges go unpunished. It was just one of those football injuries, one of those incidents that frequently happen in the game. Before long Ryan might be on the end of one himself.’
    Over time, only the names change. The quickest of wit will have spotted that Kemp is now Stoke’s chief scout, not assistant to Tony Pulis. His observation was not from Saturday, when Shawcross broke the leg of Aaron Ramsey, but from 2007 when he broke the leg of Francis Jeffers of Sheffield Wednesday with a tackle from behind. Maybe Arsene Wenger is correct not to believe in coincidence.

    Who’s sorry now? Ryan Shawcross’s careless tackle breaks Aaron Ramsey¿s right leg. Shawcross left the Britannia Stadium distraught at this latest calamity. So he should be. Ramsey is a precociously-talented teenage footballer, and who knows when he will play again, or what path his career will now take?
    These days, football gets its mitigations in early. It was the first time Shawcross has received a red card; he has subsequently and justifiably been called into the England squad and the majority agree there was no desire to harm in his challenge.
    Yet malicious intent – the motivation to actually cause serious injury – is rare in football. One thinks of Roy Keane’s tackle on Alf Inge Haaland in the Manchester derby or the one by Gavin Maguire of Queens Park Rangers that ended the career of England full back Danny Thomas, and resulted in a compensation pay-out of £130,000.
    Shawcross did not tackle Ramsey like that. He did however arrive late and with sufficient abandon to lose any chance of controlling the consequences. The greatest sickness in English football is that we do not recognise the wrong in that. ‘Spare me about how nice Shawcross is,’ Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said acidly; but the testimonials to his decency were already under construction.
    And, despite his previous with Jeffers, Shawcross does not seem a wicked sort; yet neither was Martin Taylor of Birmingham City, the defender who shattered Eduardo’s leg almost two years ago to the day. So when Wenger dismisses the idea of coincidence in the number, and severity, of serious injuries Arsenal suffer during matches – three broken legs from foul tackles in five years – he has a point.
    If his players were the victims of notorious hard men, Tommy Smith types who leave a string of wounded victims scattered in their wake throughout football, it might be coincidence. That two players with little reputation for brutality – certainly Taylor was a boy scout compared to most central defenders – end up making potentially career-ending tackles against players from the same club demands closer inspection.
    Wenger believes players are told to get at Arsenal by roughing them up, and the evidence, while circumstantial, suggests he has a point. Shawcross did not seek to injure Ramsey but he will no doubt be aware of the theory that Arsenal don’t like it up them, and may have responded accordingly. Perhaps he heard it in the dressing room before the game.
    Stoke City are not a dirty team and Pulis has done an exceptional job there, but is it beyond the realms of possibility that he employed one of football’s many euphemisms, prior to the game? Something about letting them know you are there, or seeing if they fancy it? What do these phrases mean if not ‘go in extra hard and test their courage’? And, at that point, are the margins between hard/fair and hard/dangerous not frighteningly small?
    Pulis would never say ‘go out and break Ramsey’s leg’, and any coach who talks in those terms is despised by his contemporaries, but that does not mean Stoke’s management team did not place emphasis on the physical aspect of the game.
    Let’s face it, no manager outside the top of the Premier League is going to attempt to win by out-passing Arsenal. Kevin Keegan, ever the optimist, tried it during his brief return to Newcastle United, lost heavily twice, and was mocked for his naivety.
    Even Chelsea, who have beaten Arsenal 5-0 on aggregate in two matches this season, did so while making full use of their physical advantages. With players such as Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and John Terry, they out-muscled Arsenal and, in doing so, out-played them, too. Wenger moaned after the game, but was dismissed. Chelsea were clearly superior and Arsenal could not compete with their athleticism, which then led to domination in technical areas. Yet, however baseless his complaints on those occasions, Wenger has the beginnings of an argument in the way Arsenal are regarded as a soft touch, and therefore fair game .

    Wenger feels that because English football believes Arsenal’s largely foreign squad is excessively fancy, this creates a climate which legitimises rough tactics as a way of beating them.
    Chris Morgan, captain of Sheffield United, punched Robin van Persie, the Arsenal striker, in the ribs on the blind side during a match in 2006, but after the game there was greater focus on Van Persie’s refusal to offer his hand at the end.
    As if an off-the-ball punch was something Arsenal’s softies just had to overcome, and they were bad sports if they could not. In essence, while English football employs this mindset, it is playing a version of the rules, not the real thing.
    ‘It wasn’t a bad tackle’ is the standard line, isn’t it? On the sofa, in the studio, in the press box, from the phone-ins. ‘It didn’t look that bad. There wasn’t much intent. He’s not that kind of player. He was just too quick for him. I thought the ref had a good game, actually. He let it flow.’ This last phrase – and we have all used it – translates as letting the players operate on the absolute boundaries of what is legal; a standing leg on this side of the divide, a raised foot on the other.
    The reaction to the Shawcross and Taylor tackles is telling. Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker were stoic over what Shawcross had done, reviewing the footage on Match of the Day. Similarly, at the time of the Taylor tackle on Eduardo, Steve Bruce, a respected central defender, now manager of Sunderland and his former boss at Birmingham, did not even see the challenge as a yellow card.
    From season to season, the justifications are unaltered. More than three decades’ experience in English football at least made Kemp smart enough to predict that the challenge on Jeffers was not the last leg-breaking tackle in which Shawcross would be involved. And he is one of the good guys, apparently.
    There, in a nutshell, is the problem.

  34. “for the Glazer’s now have the prize”… C’mon Tony, I thought you were in publishing 😛

  35. I love your blog for its analytical approach, to say i felt terrified watch the assault on Ramsey was an under statement, i missed the assault on Eduardo and though i felt very bad about what happened to Eduardo it never affected me the same way this one.

    We have ranted for long about the negative attitude of the press and how they have encouraged other teams to assault our players, to me real problem lies with the FA and the referees who it appears have conspired to destroy arsenal as a club. I believe if the FA and referees did their job, the media hype about kick em Arsenal would have no effect.

    I suggest this blog plus others blogs and the arsenal supporters club should stand up and be counted to mobilise arsenal supporters in London and all the major cities in the World to stage a match before our next premiership game to tell the FA enough is enough. The match against Burnley may to too soon but we could target the next match. Am sure this will have a greater impact than just writting and ranting. Lets take this campaign to the streets and make our case.

    Boycotting matches is no solution but it will hurt us as supproters and the club as well.

  36. after Saturday’s game at Stoke I also watched the spuds against Everton yesterday. Trying to be dispassionate about the spuds is hard but I was appalled by a challenge from Neville which took out the young Spud left back. He went straight through him – a yellow card but for me it was reckless – and that is a much better word to use than intent – and could so easily have been another broken leg and should have been an automatic red. It’s the attitude of “taking one for the team”.

    Forgive me, one and all, but still on the subject of that game, I even spontaneously clapped the spud second goal … it was almost good enough to be one of ours!

  37. I have posted this on Goonertalk website as well. They are arranging for a Ramsey banner.

    ‘A further idea is a number of banners showing: ‘PULIS ANTI FOOTBALL’ at the Burnley match. I consider Pulis more at fault than Shawcross for his brutal coaching methods. I blame his coaching for Shawcross’ actions in all respects.’

Comments are closed.