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August 2021

Bringing in a replacement for Theo and believing everyone thinks the same way

Tony Attwood

I’m not sure that many of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal – the grouping of people who claim to support Arsenal while always attacking the club, players, staff and fervent supporters – are readers of the Guardian newspaper in the UK, but if they do take a look they’ll be finding some ammunition today.

For the Guardian announces rather boldly that “Arsène Wenger has instructed Arsenal’s scouting department to explore short-term signings as the manager considers securing a quick fix to bolster his attacking ranks after losing Theo Walcott for the remainder of the season.”

When they do get to read it, it will presumably result in claims that

a) if only he had listened before we wouldn’t have this panic, and

b) this is exactly what we predicted.

The implication of this, and earlier statements that Wenger is only buying because the AAA has demanded he buys, that suggests in fact the club’s policy is dictated by a grouping of fans, rather than the manager and the board.

Which leads to an interesting dilemma.  Would you, as a highly paid footballer, consider coming to a club in which policy is dictated by a loose grouping of vitriolic fans?  Probably not, in my view.  Which means that the actions of the AAA in saying that they now control the actions of the Arsenal manager is actually putting players off coming to Arsenal.

Of course the Guardian itself does not claim to be dictating Arsenal policy, but it is not above putting the boot in when it can on the issue of Arsenal, adding darkly that, “There is an acceptance, however, that the club will struggle to secure any of their primary forward targets before next summer at the earliest with those players’ employers either involved in European competition, embroiled in title pursuits or simply reluctant to sell mid-season.”

So silly Wenger.  He should have spotted that Theo (as opposed to anyone else) could get injured again, and so should have spent money.  Lots of it.  On someone who might not play (given that Theo might not have got injured and that Oxlade-C might not have come back from injury just at the right moment).

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So there we are.  Wenger cocked up again.

Except… Wenger has on occasion made some interesting buys in mid-season.  For example, 31 January 2013 when Arsenal signed Monreal from Malaga to cover for the injured Gibbs.  (I know that is true because it says so in the Anniversary Files).  If you want to go back in time you could also find 29 January 1988: Lee Dixon signs from Stoke for £400,000.

But if you want history you can read it on the AISA Arsenal History Society site.   Back in the present, at this point the paper goes into the usual list of people to buy including…

  • Diego Costa at Atlético Madrid
  • Jackson Martínez at Porto
  • Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema
  • Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic
  • Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata,
  • Lille’s former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou
Perhaps the biggest problem is that anyone looking at coming in would know that he would be an option behind Olivier Giroud and possibly even  Nicklas Bendtner and also Podolski. So it might be a tough call – but last year we did get Monreal when we needed a full back, so it is not impossible.
So we can now be ready for a whole series of Arsenal blog and newspaper headlines which pronounce that Arsenal fans will be…
  • pleased
  • worried
  • concerned
  • delighted
  • anxious
  • frustrated
  • annoyed
  • overjoyed

that Mr Wenger has not bought yet/has just bought.

In fact in one movement the Guardian has set up every story it and the rest of the press need for the rest of the month thus allowing the hacks to trot down the pub for a quick one.  Or two.  Which is, I suppose, part of the job of journalists these days.

But allow me, just for a moment, to take this a stage further, for this “Arsenal fans will be please/worried/concerned/…” phraseology has always fascinated me.  You can see it everywhere, all the time, and yet I am not sure anyone has ever really considered what lies beneath its use.

What it actually is saying is that I, the writer of this piece, have a deep insight into the collective mindset of the totality of the Arsenal fan base.  I know not just what goes on in their minds today (which I have gathered by reading the blogs and talking to them “on the terraces” – if we had terraces any more) and as a result I know what they (all of them) will be thinking tomorrow.

And indeed not just one fan, not just two or three, but all of them.  “Arsenal fans will be [fill in the verb] that…”

These guys (and the occasional gal) know our thoughts before we do, and that is scary.  Or it would be scary if it had any resemblance to the truth.

Most of us, (not all of us I know because the AAA are rather fixed when it comes to thought), but most of us, change our thoughts and perceptions day by day.  It is not that we are short-termist with not deep rooted theories underlying our perception of the world, but rather, we know that most of the time the world can take us by surprise.  So yes we do have a theory of how the world works and how people work, and we adjust it as the days go by to fit with what we observe.

I know that I believe in the ability of Mr Gove, the English Secretary of State for Education, to deliver an education system that actually benefits the economy of the UK, the good functioning of our social system and the well-being of the individual children, as being at around minus 50,000 on a scale of 1 to 10.  But if his endless reforms of the education system in England actually did make the changes he so confidently predicts, I’d have to change part of my underlying theory that the man has not deep lying understand of the way people act and react and the way economies work.

It is this contempt for us as individuals with our own ability to think, consider and change opinions that really annoys me about the English media.  Not just because it suggests that none of us can think for ourselves, but that it also rejects all notion of society as a powerful influencer of events.   What people think and do comes from a mix of their own view of reality, and the environment (including the social environment) in which they live.  It is not a simplistic reaction to a single action by one person.

For me, blogs and newspaper articles that work well and are interesting to read do not tell the crowd how they will think.  They put forward evidence, ideas and information,  put forward argument and points of debate, but do not suggest that this is how everyone will be thinking from now on as if our collective brain power was about the same as the rats that used to run in BF Skinner’s mazes.   To do so is more in keeping with the thought processes that led to book burnings in Germany in 1933, than those that are part of the fundamental concept of liberal democracies that we aspire to in the UK today.

Yep we might sign someone, we might not.  I don’t know.  But I do know that my thinking will not be in accord with the simplicities implied in “Arsenal fans will be over the moon, hiding in the cupboard, digging holes in the garden or climbing a tree, as a result of the signing/non-signing of Hardly Anyone, the highly regarded centre forward from Tierra del Fuego’s premier league club, whose name currently escapes me.”

Arsenal anniversaries on 8 January…

  • 8 January 1887: Royal Arsenal play their first game – against Erith on Plumstead Common.  See also here
  • 8 January 1910:  Sheffield United 2  Woolwich Arsenal.  Arsenal’s disastrous run continues and financial rumours flood the club.
  • 8 January 1915: Arsenal drawn away to Merthyr in cup but matched played at Highbury in front of 9000
  • 8 January 1916: Arsenal 4 Croydon Common 2.  This shows “CC” – a club associated with Henry Norris, continued during the war, but was the only Southern League club not to continue thereafter.
  • 8 January 1921: George Grant, our “Chinese international” having played for Woolwich Arsenal, The Arsenal and Arsenal, now plays against Arsenal.
  • 8 January 1927: Sheffield U 2 Arsenal 3 as Arsenal start the journey to their first cup final
  • 8 January 1949: Arsenal 3 Tottenham 0 in FA Cup round 3 – first FA Cup match between the two.
  • 8 January 1957: Don Roper goes back to Southampton
  • 8 January 1962: David Court signs as a professional
  • 8 January 1980: Arsenal 2 Cardiff 1, 3rd round replay, the start of another FA Cup adventure

38 comments to Bringing in a replacement for Theo and believing everyone thinks the same way

  • ClockEndRider

    Warning: neither this website nor any of the articles appearing within it are for the hard of thinking. If you feel uncomrtable with the ideas expressed, you may well need to go back to the mainstream media. Or alternatively, learn how to think for yourselves.
    Keep up the good work, Tony.

  • WalterBroeckx

    As I don’t read the English papers apart from when I get a link can you help me out please.

    Just tell me how I am suppose to be thinking today? Worried? Confused? Anxious? Angry?

    Because as for now I just feel confident that we have a great group of players. Silly me of course.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    I am pleased, worried, elated, concerned, furious and confused by what Wenger may or may not do on or before January 31, 2014.
    I am an Arsenal fan.

  • Pete

    A pity… I had been looking forward to a public apology from that idiot with the “Spend Spend Spend” sign at the Villa game. “Sorry Sorry Sorry” would be about right.

  • Mark

    The Walcott injury is a blow. But we have Ox coming back and Gnabry who has looked very good. Poldoski can play as a striker. We also have some young players who might flourish with a chance. So the key issue is: does the player coming in make sense both short-term and long-term. Is the new player quality. I am sure that Wenger will buy a player only if he is sure the quality is there and a player already at the club is not able to step up. I don’t think there are many players who are like Walcott so just using the players in the squad now might be the best use of money. I would not mind seeing what some one like Campbell could do. There is also the option of playing without a conventional center forward. Arshavin did it a few times and the team played well.

  • bc

    @Pete why would he apologise for that sign? He held it high and we spent big on ozil. I hope he holds it up again at Fulham. We are a Suarez cavani falcao aguero ronaldo messi type player away from being champions again we need the club to spend spend spend. We don’t need many just a world class striker and another big centre back to cover mertesacker or even better a beast of a DM that can play CB as well. The other signings I would make are Santa rosicky and controversially bendtner!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    I hope you don’t mean that Wenger spend because of that person holding up that sign?

    About your wish list:
    Suarez: at least 60M
    Cavani: same as Suarez?
    Falcao: same as Suarez?

    We have some money but that kind of money?

    Aguero: dream on, City will surely sell him to us
    Ronaldo – Messi: according to a friend who knows an Argentinian reporter with the name Jefe El Loco Messi wants to come this window. 😉

    Now you might say that it is such type of player you want not the names you mentioned. But then why don’t you give us the real names you think are fine then and also if we can afford them or not.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I read an interesting article the other week. About Newcastle some time ago (Keegan the manager period). Being first in the league around this time (well in front). Their striker (Ferdinand) having a bad spell. We must buy a better striker.
    They were 7 points in front with one game in hand around this time of the season.

    And then they bought Asprilla…and in the final table they were 4 points behind MU.

    I bet many of the Newcastle supporters around Christmas in 1995-1996 will have been saying: we are one striker away from the league title…

    If things were only that simple…

  • andy bishop

    I guess we all have things that irritate. Take no notice of what hacks write, particularly in relation to all things Arsenal. It does not bother me neither do those who visit this site for the “wind up”, gratuitous criticism of the club and others, or those suffering from verbiosity. If we sign someone its because Wenger feels its necessary and more importantly at the right price. Thats what we pay him for. Giroud, Bendtner and Sanogo are not the best strikers around but they are ours and Wenger will get the best out of them. If that makes us champions then great. Surely what has happened at Tottenham is a lesson to those that just want to spend.

  • TommieGun

    “Just because you’re paranoid, doesnt mean that they aren’t after you”. (J. Heller)

    However, I do sense a bit of over the top paranoya with this one.

    I don’t think there is anything in that Guardian article that can serve as a basis for some loonie AAA garbage.

    Too much reading between the lines, I’m afraid.

  • Nekuhan

    Somebody better than Giroud, not a backup means Jakson Martinez (Porto). Plus centerback like Lescott (Mshity) and Icker Casilas (Real Madrid). All want to move. Terrible for Theo, not a good way to start a New Year. COYG!

  • Robl

    Lescott????? NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’d rather the genetically engineered offspring of Cygan and Stepanovs.

  • Stuart

    I don’t think we are one of those type players away from being champions until you factor in the injuries but it will be difficult to get one of those types without being able to promise them they are first on the team sheet when the others return.

  • Rupert Cook

    Seriously Tony do you really think a footballer has a clue what the AAA is? This so called group only exists in your mind and a few strange posters on this site. No footballer is going to be put off by the fans, has this ever happened ever? Many will want to join because they hold Wenger in high regard.

    I know this site loves to promote paranoia and wallows in conspiracy theories and loathes the press but your pronouncement is utter tosh.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Walter, if only arguments were that simple. Buying Asprilla hardly ensured Newcastle lost the league. I imagine plenty of other factors were involved. I’ve never seen so much ire at the thought of a club strengthening its strike force. If I didn’t know better I’d think you were a member of the “AAA”.

  • andy bishop

    The AAA hate us..the referees hate us..the press hate us…Hows that paranoid?

  • AL

    I chuckle to myself at how, whenever the term AAA is brought up, almost the same individuals appear on this site(at times after having been ‘absent’ for weeks) complaining about the existence or non-existence of the AAA. Methinks they know who the AAA are.

  • Pete


    No. The Ozil deal was already in the works before the Villa game. All that sign did was add fuel to the fire in the media witch hunt, increase dischord between fans and encourage the opposition. It may even have made incoming transfer targets pause for thought before proceeding? So, thoroughly unhelpful and potentially counter-productive in my view.

    He should be ashamed and I hope the people sat around him have made that clear.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Al, I know who they are. They wear white and are miserable malcontents who worship at a false temple called White Hart Lane.

    What about the ACC or the ATT? All those fans of the former who screamed abuse at Benitez, didn’t do their club too much harm as they won the Europa League which I know is beneath us but it’s a trophy I suppose. Or the ATT who will probably claim they removed AVB, a good thing too probably. Or don’t those clubs have their own fickle fans?

  • bjtgooner

    The xenophobic member of the AAA has returned from the underworld – but is still in denial!

  • Tom

    I hate to burst your bubble with a bit of fact check while you chuckle no less, as It could be bad for one’s health,chuckling and bursting that is 🙂 but by my count UA makes references to AAA ( is that some kind of obsession with batteries that power up your sex toys? 🙂 on average about every other post.

    If Rupert was away for a couple of weeks that means he ignored about six articles that mentioned AAA in one form or another. I think that’s showing a tremendous restrain on his part 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    some do keep away a bit when we are winning lots of games 😉

  • OMGArsenal

    Rupert posts all over the web so when its untimely for him to come here, he’s on AA or elsewhere, which is fine by me.
    This article raises some interesting questions about whether anyone takes any notice of the media, whether fans have any influence on the eventual decision of a transfer target to come or not, and whether the AAA is actually a real group of like-minded and concerted individuals seeking to demean AFC at every turn, or just a disjointed, unconnected bunch of sloppy thinkers having difficulty being positive about the Club.
    It is amusing to be told how we as fans think and feel. While group psychology definitely identifies common themes among a disparate tribe of supporters in modern Sports, it can never safely claim such a monolithic reaction to specific events…..unless you are Spuds, then aimless allegiance to a hapless cause is most indicative of their common mindset.

  • Tom he’s a rechargeable AAA he ran out of juice for six articles while recharging! 😉

  • bjtgooner

    @Va Cong


    Also if Tom thinks that rupert was showing restraint by not responding to six articles which according to him mentioned the AAA, we have to ask why? The implication is that Tom considers that rupert is unduly sensitive to comments about the AAA – and the most likely reason for this is that Tom strongly suspects that rupert is indeed an AAA!

    It is a good character trait to defend a friend or colleague and I very much recognize that, but this time Tom it looks like an OG.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    I think Arsene Wenger is way ahead of everybody, even computing options in case more injuries occur, such as if Giroud is out for a while.
    If we think of ourselves as chess players who are good at predicting up to 7 or 8 moves, Arsene Wenger is probably far beyond that, at the 11 to 12 level; I expect some movement, but AW also keeps his cards close to his chest, and is a master when it comes to suspense and surprises.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Just sharing an e-mail that I received.

    The Suitcase

    A man died and when he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.
    – God said: Alright son, its time to go.
    – Surprised the man responded: Now? So soon? I had a lot of plans…
    – I’m sorry but its time to go.

    – What do you have in that suitcase? the man asked.
    – God answered: Your belongings.
    – My belongings? you mean my things, my clothes, my money?
    – God answered: Those things were not yours they belonged to the earth.

    – Is it my memories? the man asked.
    – God answered: Those never belonged to you, they belonged to Time

    – Is it my talents?
    – God answered: Those were never yours, they belonged to the circumstances.

    – Is it my friends and family?
    – God answered: I’m sorry they were never yours, they belonged to the path.

    – Is it my wife and son?
    – God answered: They were never yours, the belonged to your heart.

    – Is it my body?
    – God answered: That was never yours, it belonged to the dust.

    – Is it my soul?
    – God answered: No that is mine.

    Full of fear, the man took the suitcase from god and opened it, just to find out the suitcase was empty.
    – With tears coming down his cheek the man said: I never had anything???
    – God answered: That is correct, every moment you lived were only yours. Life is just a moment, a moment that belongs to you.

    For this reason, enjoy this time while you have it.
    Don’t let anything that you think you own, stop you from doing so.
    – Live Now
    – Live your life
    – Don’t forget to be happy, that is the only thing that matters.
    – Material things and everything else that you fought for stay here.


  • Brickfields Gunners

    These days, there’s a sign on every door!

    Sign over a Gynecologist’s Office:
    “Dr. Jones, at your cervix.”

    In a Podiatrist’s office:
    “Time wounds all heels.”

    On a Septic Tank Truck:
    “Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels”

    At an Optometrist’s Office:
    “If you don’t see what you’re looking for,
    you’ve come to the right place.”

    On a Plumber’s truck:
    “We repair what your husband fixed.”
    On another Plumber’s truck:
    “Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.”

    At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee :
    “Invite us to your next blowout.”

    At a Towing company:
    “We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.”

    On an Electrician’s truck:
    “Let us remove your shorts.”

    In a Non-smoking Area:
    “If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”

    On a Birthing Room door:
    “Push. Push. Push.”

    At a Car Dealership:
    “The best way to get back on your feet -miss a car payment.”

    Outside a Muffler Shop:
    “No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”

    In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:
    “Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”

    At the Electric Company
    “We would be delighted if you send in your payment.
    However, if you don’t, you will be.”

    In a Restaurant window:
    “Don’t stand there and be hungry;
    come on in and get fed up.”

    In the front yard of a Funeral Home:
    “Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”

    At a Propane Filling Station:
    “Thank heaven for little grills.”

    And don’t forget the sign at a
    “Best place in town to take a leak.”

    Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck:
    “Caution – This Truck is full of Political Promises!”

    Sign on the AAAAs house /car /office ?
    ” The prick is in(side) !”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The last joke is a variant of this old favourite .

    Q. What’s the difference between a porcupine and the AAAA arseholes in the Porsche?
    A. The porcupine has the pricks on the outside.

  • blacksheep63

    this is all very well Tony, but have we signed Messi and Ronaldo yet?


  • Edu

    dear AKB brgade,

    if wenger doesn’t sign an available stop-gap striker this january,coming at the back of our recent injuries to our most offensive strikers and man city’s terrific form arsenal will not lift the premier league..

  • Edu (or is it Nostradamus?),

    Thanks for for that insightful and VERY original prediction.

  • Edu


    some things don’t require you to see into the future..

  • WalterBroeckx

    One could wonder how on earth this team managed to get most points in 2013…

  • Rupert Cook

    @Walter, what counts is having the most points at the end of May.

    @OMG Arsenal, the AAA is just a term to foist on anyone who doesn’t tow the party line, at least on this site it seems. The party line being that Wenger is almost perfect, the refs have a conspiracy against Arsenal (still no concrete reason for this), and the whole media have it in for AFC.

    Unfortunately such rather juvenile thinking does disservice to the more reasoned articles on here. Also I regard Tony as an intelligent individual so why he believes such nonsense as the “AAA” being able to ward off potential signings is beyond me. I wonder if any club’s fans in England have ever put off a player joining their team, please enlighten me if this has ever happened.

    I admit Wenger has impressed me this season as I regarded him as a busted flush. Signing Ozil was either inspired or foolish, so far the former, as I think signing Suarez would have been the better move. But despite the lack of an upgrade on Giroud, and which I think is essential for us to win the league, we are doing extremely well. If we can just beat our rivals, or at least take a few points off them, we might win the league, something I never thought Wenger capable of ever doing again.

  • Pete


    I avoid using terms like “AAA” as our support is on a continuum. Nevertheless, there is a significant proportion who are consistently negative/whiny/angry/kneejerk. Yes, there is always something to moan about if you look hard enough (e.g. injuries!) – and there are legitimate debates to be had about the strategic direction of the club – it is just that it is hard to understand negativity when we are top of the league! And there is also no doubt in my mind that a negative atmosphere at games has a clear adverse impact on the team’s performance. But I guess that is life – compounded in our case by the succinctly expressed “caviar and sausages” quote.

    As to negative fans putting off signings, it is one of those things that you would probably never know about. Is a player really ever likely to publicly state “Yes, I would have joined XXX – had a good offer – but I turned it down because the fans were a bunch of moaners…”? I suspect it would only matter at the margin and would be far from the most important issue, but who knows?

    If I was a player choosing between Arsenal and another club the issue that would really concern me is injuries. But does this kind of reasoned thinking ever impact on the greed of the player (and agent)?

    Regarding the refereeing, the statistical evidence is overwhelming that something is wrong – but I agree it is not particularly obvious as to what drives the bias.