Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money?

The argument about Aaron Ramsey runs roughly like this…

The media, with a mixture of traditional English dislike of success, plus a deep-rooted disgust at all things French, and a desperate need to create news out of nothing, constantly announce that the only way to beat Arsenal is to rough them up.  The story is perpetuated that if you play rough, Arsenal run away.

Managers of the lesser teams take this message because it gives them a hope.  It is a bit like England in the past… we’ll choose a six feet three inch centre forward who will knock the keeper around a bit, because all foreign goal keeprs are dodgy and are not used to big centre forwards.

The media’s view about Arsenal is liked by managers of lesser clubs because

a) it is a life line and

b) it is some sort of way to get the ball back from Arsenal when they have possession.

This has led to players being trained in two approaches…  On the one hand the “rotational fouling” approach which is underhand and nasty, but generally does not end up with anyone getting maimed.  On the other hand there is the “rough them up” approach, which leads to more yellow cards, but is said to frustrate Arsenal more.

Rotational fouling requires players of some intelligence.  They need to learn to rotating technique, and believe me, if you have not tried to play it, it is not as simple as you might think.   So for the less intellectually versatile players it is the “rough them up” approach.  But as we have seen it can go wrong.

Arsenal’s injury list over the past four years is testament to that – and I am not thinking of the injuries which are illegal assaults.  The endless kicking and ankle tapping, the elbow in the face and so on – that is what it is like.   It is just that some of these “rough them up” players get carried away, and then we have the results we have seen on Ramsey, Eduardo and Diaby.

The press, and those who like to put down Arsenal, argue that of course the attack on Ramsey was not deliberate, and that it was an unfortunate outcome.  The club now speak of the player being a jolly decent chap who went crying to his mum.

Such attempts to divert the main argument have no impact on the key issue.   The media-manager-player chain is there, and I have seen no argument that can dispute it.

But, what does any of this have to do with the other main topic of recent weeks – the collapse of the financial structure in football?

It is interesting that just before the assault on Ramsey, Stoke City announced that they were “debt free”.  They said that for the last financial year they had made a net profit of £503,000 after transfers.

Now the club is owned by the Coates family, who those same accounts show as having invested £17m interest-free with a plan to put in another £24m.   So this is not quite the debt free club that we were thinking about.  OK it is not like Aston Villa and Bolton (for example) where the owner is taking a decent profit on the investment through interest, but still, it is not debt free.

And some of the spending is on long term projects that we would all approve of –  £800,000 has been spent in the stadium and a new training ground is being built for £7m.

But the rest goes on players’ salaries.  Although it will not be relevant, this club, like most in the EPL will not get a licence to play in Europe, because they are spending more on salaries etc than they get in income.

So how do the stories relate?   How do we equate the likes of Stoke, Sunderland and Birmingham with their assaults on our players, spurred on by the media, to  their finances.

I want to be clear here that I am only just trying to work this out myself, but in each case I think we have a company of the same type – owned by a small group of people who pour money into the club, and without which the club would disintegrate under the cost of player salaries.

Running a company generates enough tension when you have the normal company structure and a chance of making a profit.  But clubs like Birmingham, Sunderland and Stoke can never make a profit – they are utterly dependent on their benefactors.  That must add to the tension.

And so I am starting to ask myself – how does that affect their tactics?  How much more likely does it mean that they will say, “Arsenal don’t like it up em.  Get in hard.  Show them you are going to be able to get the ball back from them.  Remind them of the tackles you put in last time.   They are all delicate little flowers who like to pass the ball in a pretty style.  Show them your British gut.   And while you are at it, keep us in the league otherwise the owner might want to have a word…”

I am not sure – it is an idea, and one of the great things about blogs like this is the chance to explore ideas openly and freely.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010



If you have written for Untold and your article has not appeared, please do be patient.  The events of last weekend mean that my schedule is out the window, but I will be publishing everything I have promised to publish here.

El Hadji Diouf was cautioned by the police in the Blackburn Liverpool game for what he said in the tunnel to Stephen Gerrard while John Terry has threatened the have a few stiff words with Craig Bellamy, after Mr Bellamy said on TV, “we all know what Terry is like”.

Cardiff manager Davie Jones and the club’s owner, the Great Dream Liver of Leeds, have had words.  It seems that although the Great Dream Liver of Leeds said that Cardiff have no debts to the bank and no overdraft, they still haven’t shaken off the Revenue, and that Cardiff have to sell everyone in the summer to stay alive.  Davie, who always strikes me as a decent sort of cove, is not impressed.

Meanwhile during all the issues about Portsmouth being liquified, it is interesting that most people have forgotten that 3 people who were on the board before the Year of the Four Owners, are all due in court soon to speak about financial matters.  Obviously just a coincidence.  Still, like everyone else, I wonder where all the transfer money went.

On other planets, and at other times…

Walter Broeckx on football violence in England, Spain and Italy.

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 Amazon.co.uk and from the publishers direct.
Almunia: are we being unfair. By ex-keeper now referee, Walter Broeckx


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

After thought….

Is it just me or is football getting a trifle troubled?

22 Replies to “Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money?”

  1. Its definitely worth thinking about. I think that promoted clubs have two paths they can go down; 1 – is the Burnley, Ipswich, Reading, WBA route where they try to play football and catch teams by surprise. The problem with this route is that they don’t have the players of a technical level to maintain it and invariably if they survive the first season don’t the second. 2 – is the Hull, Stoke, Bolton, Blackburn route where its fight fight fight for every point and by any means. This proves to be more successful than trying to play actual football because this country loves a scrapper and likes nothing better than to see a fancy dan plonked on his arse by a good old english pro!

  2. I have read somewhere that challenges like that on Ramsey somehow happen fifty times every game. Has anybody got some proof? Or some videos of challenges similar to the one Ramsey suffered?

  3. Unfortunately, for a few years, the whole “Arsenal dont like it up ’em” credo was absolutely true. That doesnt make it right, but it was true. We crumbled against that sort of play.

    From November 2008 that saying is becoming more and more of a myth, and by winning games like Saturday we further consign it to the dustbin of history, where attitudes like that belong. That doesnt make it any easier for Aaron Ramsey, but it will make it safer for the likes of Jack Wilshire, Craig Eastmond, Kyle Bartley etc as they make their way into the side. For all the talk about us not liking the physical side of things and struggling against teams below us, our record against teams outside the top-5 this season is played 22, won 17, drew 4, lost 1, goals for 59, goals against 17. Nobody else is close to us in that mini-league. And most of our remaining games are against those teams.

    To me the great tragedy of all this, and the continued confirmation of how much the media hate us, is how Shawcross is getting all the sympathy here and how Aaron Ramsey, with his broken leg, is forgotten. Ryan Shawcross deserves sympathy, understanding, and respect for the agony he is going through, after all his only crime was just to visciously break another players leg and put his career in jeopardy. Poor diddums. And that bloody Ramsey, honestly, being too quick for that honest English pro, and potentially causing Shawcross an injury, and getting him sent off, well the f**ker deserves a broken leg for that. Serves the Welsh c**t right.

  4. third is the one where the club blends the both e.g Wigan, wolves, Birmingham(now-a-days), etc
    I think if the club whose player has hurt a player on the field that bad should be told to pay the wages of the player injured as well as giving his club heafty compensation, judged by a tribunal and seeing these clubs’ financial backgrounds I think thier managers may think twice when employing such tactics
    what do you think tony?

  5. I think this could be very close to the thruth Tony.

    We all know how the football world works. For a manager he has to deliver what the owners want. The top 4 managers have to win things and the other mostly have to secure their place in the PL.

    If the manager does not achieve this, the chance of being sacked is big and so he will do anything to avoid that. And by anything I really mean anything, everything and no matter how and what.

    If this means the risk of breaking other peoples legs, so be it. When money is involved the worst in people comes to the surface.

  6. I am stunned over the medias biased approach. IF you did not know better you would think Shawcross is the real victim in this case. not Ramsey. But i guess we should not expect anything more from English media. The papers today are full of what a great guy Shawcross is. I have not read one word about Ramsey. Its funny how Shawcross after breaking someones leg still is a grat guy while earlier this year when Gallas tackled a Bolton player he was the devil himself.

    I must say i am shocked that they can make a serious matter like this into a silly case about wheter sawcross was malicious or not! I Mean who cares if it was intended or not. It happend and that is the end of it. He was reckless,uncaring and probably not evil, but reckless is in my book just as bad.
    It is almost so i hope something like this happens to Rooney, i would really like to see the reaction of the media then.

    The sadest thing of it all is that the everyday british football bloke is to stupid to realize how the media is playing them. They all now think that Shawcross is a hero that has been traeted unfair and do not even remember why as most have already forgotten the 19 year old boy that lays in the hospital. And why should they not have? He has hardly been mentioned at all compared to the disastare that happend to Shawcross at saturday.

  7. I usually don’t get pissed off for a few days in a row. But now I just couldn’t get past this horror show. Everytime I read or watch TV the only thing I see is support for Showcross. Is there something wrong with these people? Where is the Welsh FA? Where is the Welsh coach complaining about his players not being protected? Where is Rayan Giggs for his teammate? Those ex-Arsenal players ( a bunch of door knobs!) anyone? It feels like we are shouting from a valley where we are only hearing our own echo. Tony you are absolutely right though, denying that they have financial issues never makes it go away. They were simply delaying the inevitable.

  8. There is a power structure in football, a hegemony if you like, and Arsenal don’t feature in it Tony.

    The power players are people like SAF.

    SAF ran one of the most successful teams in British football history. The best some would have us believe. And yet around the turn of the Millenium, Man Ure were reduced to crude fouling tactics to beat us.

    Martin Keown has spoken about this.

    Now if the greatest team in footballing history under the greatest manager in footballing history had to resort to desperate tactics, what chance the rest?

    Furthermore, SAF, for all his bonhomie, sanctioned these tactics.

    Brian Clough would never have sent out a team to win like this, but SAF chose to try and win at all costs.

    So we saw the Scholeses and the Keanes and the V.Nistleroys, diving and fouling their way to victory.

    And the media quietly sanctioned it, and the referees sanctioned it, and the authorities sanctioned it.

    And it set a precedent, which some so-called lesser clubs have been quick to follow.

    So for the last few years we have observed the effects.

    A litany of fouling and injury, off the ball assaults, on the ball assaults, penalties not given, perpetrated against Arsenal.

    This is all carried out quite blatantly at times, and the media, the FA and the other clubs are all in on it.

    There are different reasons for all this, different factors in the equation, but one of the main ones is corruption.

    Football is endemically corrupt. The FA are a banana governing body.

    Within this hegemony no one really wants to rock the boat.

    But deeper than all this is the way the world is run, and the way our minds and emotions are constantly being manipulated. In this world everyone is really a pawn in a greater scheme of things.

    Right now, we have Gordon Brown being miraculously primed for office. A good blubbing interview and he’ll be back in………..amazing how malleable and susceptible to propaganda we are , but there we go. We are all being played like fiddles.

    And I guess since blubbing is the sign of a great leader, it is naturally consistent that the media should fall in love with Shawcross……

    I suspect that someone in high places rang Capello to remind him to pick the boy…..

  9. Just a quick note to all the anti-arsenal conspioreist’s who think there’s an anti-arsenal agenda in the mainstream media – you should follow this link. Taken from skysports.com originally broadcast on skysports 1′ sunday supplement with a times, independant and sun journalist.


    I am an Arsenal fan, just think alot of people are possibly running around completely paranoid?

  10. Tony, I am always sad when I don’t hear from you, unfortunately I am already sad and mad before reading from you this time. My annoyance is to the FA officals who sites down there enjoying the big wealth this league creats and watch things go wrong, eg the court should be prosecuting the FA rather than Ports-mouth FC officals for allowing illegal ownership of clubs and misappropriations. This same overfeed office rats cannot see anything wrong with the kind of carrier treatening challenges on the PL peaches, big shame. It is sad that talents like Fab will have to ply their trade elsewhere rather than have their legs amputated some day. Leaving the PL for the leg brakers/shallow quality that will boast the English quota in the PL. This will probably gladen the baisd press and the disgrauntled pundits who still can’t see things goinging really really wrong.
    I have one beautiful message to those that glorify violence in PL and them that turn Shaw-C to hero, what goes around comes around. It will happen to one of yours and when it matters most and that may be before an important tornament. Have we forgotten David Becks broken Toes before certain world-cup? Tony hope I will be happy when reading from you again. For those that are trying force Wenger out of PL, remeber he made PL what it is today and no doubt it will be down where it was when he goes. God bless all arsenal fans who stands for the great game and not violence.

  11. Eduardo scored the first goal of the New Year in 2008, against West Ham, with the scoreline ending 1-0. Ramsey scored the first goal of this year, 2010, coincidentally against West Ham, with the result ending 2-1. Eduardo went on to suffer that horrific injury and now, it’s Ramsey.

  12. Tony – Your fears about the universal outrage by gooners to Ramsay’s injury dissipating very quickly was very prophetic. Already, Goonerholic, who is usually a very good barometer of the better thinking Arsenal blogger, is in his own words, willing to
    “…let it go and move on.”

    We can be sure that many more will cash in and capitulate after a very righteous blog in support of Aaron.

    Talk about the great and powerful letting an issue just flame and suck the oxygen all out….in two days.

    Is that the best we can do?

  13. Tony, Mark, goddy, and others — Excellent comments. I think almost everything in the world can be boiled down to economics and power politics. The problem is that it’s tough to prove because the smoking guns are almost always well-hidden. It’s why conspiracy theories almost always just remain “theories” even if they seem so plausible.

    Tony, it’s an excellent question that you pose — Is there an economic basis behind the “culture of thuggery”? It’s something we should all ponder about.

    (For those who think some of us are bordering on anti-English bias, please call it the “culture of physicality.” I think both are equally apt terms, and it depends on the eye of the beholder as well as the circumstance. I will stick to “thuggery” because in this case, I think Shawcross is a thug.)

  14. So rest assured this problem Arsenal have at the moment will be solved….

    Ye have little faith.

    The answer lies once again in the hands who helped deliver this football team to the riches that just passed Abromovich’s Chelsea & “toppled” ManIOU.

    So what’s that you say?

    Stay tuned and the world will see Arsenal deal with yet another problem, “Thuggery”.

  15. @ Paul C
    I fear that rather than expelling this myth(that we are becoming immune to the bullies), we are encouraging teams to go in harder and harder, as the seasons go by, in order to get the same desired effect. This, and the fact that the pace of football is constantly increasing, means that the outlook looks bleak for wilshire and co. Although, as you said, our record against the lower 15 is impeccable, it definately comes at a cost of losing our best flair players. The only positive outlook is that we have an extemely talented crop of english talent coming through the ranks, and if in 5 years time wilshire gets his leg obliterated by some second rate defender, i bet our xenophobic media will take notice then, but to what affect….who knows.


  16. apologies…..fuck the media, we dont need wilshire being crippled to prove a point

  17. Great post on Rotational Fouling. An effective strategy by the likes of Man U to prevent opposition counterattacks to succeed.

    “So we saw the Scholeses & Fletcher, Vidic, Evans, Brown et al stonewalling & fouling (after given repeated warnings) before their way to victory.” Concurred completely with Mark here!

    And when it did not succeed, their top gun Fergie will come out blazing against the referee for his ‘shortcoming’. Case in point, at OT, Fletcher 2-legged lunge on Kennwynne Jones who was played on and headed in the eventual tying goal. Referee Wiley is vilified and the rest is Fergie’s ‘history’.

    Man U has a multi-pronged strategy on the field and off the field to perpetuate its success The lesser clubs has less tools or financial instruments to succeed and hence likelihood to survive EPL.

  18. Tony,Walter et al thank you the posts and comments over the last few days.When the events were unfolding during the game I felt a sense of dread that Arsenal were going to implode again.The looks of horror and anguish on their faces were clear.For a further period they were all over the place before they started to dorminate and went on to win the game quite convincingly.Make no mistake – this team is growing in stature and confidence and is resiliant.
    I have to agree with Hartwick89 that Arsenal and AW will deal with the problem of “thuggery” in due time.There will be payback for past insults.Be
    mad ,be very mad for this injustice and Tony I’ll back any action your propose.Keep the faith and support this young team to the hilt.Let us hope Ramsey heals fast and returns anew.

  19. Rubbish..!! they tackle hard b’coz according to epl it’s part of the game sons of b****…

  20. Clubs with a reputation for playing ‘good’ football (QPR, Palace, Southampton) have their youth teams plundered…..the more dogged clubs flourish.
    The top six or seven clubs in the Premiership have, through their greed and paranoia of missing a player, paved the way for Stoke etc.
    Meanwhile, QPR etc. are virtually, having received peanuts for their discoveries, going to the wall.

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