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April 2021

Daily Telegraph still playing the AAA card at least twice a week

By Tony Attwood

Consider this opening from an article in the Daily Telegraph, the right wing newspaper that is justly known for its brilliant obituaries, its revelations about the way our MPs often act in criminal ways by fiddling their expenses claims, and is now increasingly taking over the mantle of being the house magazine of the AAA.

“At 5.10pm two Saturdays ago, shortly after Curtis Davies had put Hull City into a 2-0 lead in the FA Cup final, much of the press box at Wembley Stadium were wondering whether we had reached the point of no return.”

Their point of no return was their much desired departure in ignominy of Arsene Wenger – the revenge that so many journalists still crave for the way he turned the tables on them at their first confrontation on 1 October 1996.

There is then a mention of the “nine-year wait” before they go on to speak of “the many Arsenal fans who wanted Wenger to stay but doubted whether he was still the man to take the club forward”.

Yes, in one sense that is true.  There are many.  But that is because Arsenal is a world-wide club with support across the globe.  And when you have that, you have a lot of people who never have the good-fortune that people like myself have of actually watching the team play in person.

There are many more non-attendees than those who get to games – and the fact is that the less you see of the club, the more likely you are to be taken along with the stuff these journalists put out.  That is inevitable because you don’t get to be in the stadium and feel the enormous support that there is for Arsenal.

But such niceties are not to be seen in the Telegraph as they continue their attack.  Today they protest that “we can hardly pretend that everything is perfect now that Arsenal did win.”

So let’s look at their logic.  Consider this sentence…

“Arsenal showed real team spirit to perform the best FA Cup final comeback since 1966 but it is hard to imagine a team like Chelsea or Manchester City having ever let them back into the game.”

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Such an analysis is extremely limited in its range.  By defining matters to being 0-2 down to Hull, it allows the Telegraph to ignore the little fact that Chelsea came 6th in 2012 and allowed everyone to come back at them, or that Man City failed in the FA by losing first to a Wigan team about to be relegated, and second to a Wigan team that were in the second tier of English football.  Not so much not coming back, as not getting a look in.

It all depends on the examples you take.

But if you are a Telegraph journalist you should never let a broad perspective or understanding get in the way of some solid bitching.  We next have comments that it is “surprising” that a man of Wenger’s age could be given a three year contract.

Next they go in for encouraging the general activities of the AAA talking about “outbreaks of dissent that we have sometimes seen at the Emirates this season.”  No, that is nonsense.  There was dissent at the final whistle of the Villa match, with some minor booing of the players as they left the pitch.  I can think of no other such occasion at home – indeed as I reported the other day, Red Action particularly thanked everyone for the great improvement in the stadium atmosphere this last season – and it certainly looked that way from block 99.

But the Telegraph missed that, for “the same doubters will soon make their voices heard if next season begins badly.”  Talk about encouragement for the AAA!

Of course the article is packed with generalised well-wishing, and a sense that actually they like the old boy but their fear for him in these next three years.

So there is no mention of his achievement at taking Arsenal on to a par with only Real Madrid in terms of consecutive appearances in the Champions League.  Nor with five FA Cup wins – on a par in modern times only with Alex Ferguson.  Nor with the discovery and developments of great players from Vieira and Henry through to Fabregas and Walcott and Ramsey, and on to such current emerging gems as Gnabry and Zelalem.  Nor with surviving the appalling disgusting chants against him, that are heard throughout the Premier League and the failure of the press to criticise this.  Nor with keeping the club in such a good financial  state while opening the Emirates, still the best ground in the country.  Nor with taking Bergkamp from a player who had totally lost his way, to turning him into an utter genius.  Nor with being able to buy the most brilliant players at amazing prices – Santi Cazorla anyone?

It goes on and on.

What the Telegraph and their AAA compatriots have done is defined the debate such that winning trophies is everything.   In such a debate you can’t ever imagine the cost of winning the trophy.   The cost for example to Birmingham City who beat us in the League Cup Final.  You never have to tell me how much that hurt – I was there at Wembley.  But where is Birmingham now?  Just surviving on goal difference in the second tier, with the owner in prison, and the club on the financial rocks.

Or Liverpool – so desperate to build a new stadium that they sold their soul to the devil, haven’t won the league since 1990, and are now finding it really hard to get a bank – any bank – to lend them the money to build the new ground.

Or Portsmouth – six years after winning the FA Cup they actually flirted with disappearance from the League this season – but rallied for another year in the 4th tier.

Or Tottenham – still quite unable to build their new ground, still quite unable to hold onto a manager for anything above two years, still quite unable to finish above Arsenal.  Is that a decent price to pay for winning the league cup six years ago?

Or Everton – who are so often the darlings of the media – but have not won anything (not even the league cup) for 19 years.

No – measuring everything by trophies is one way of measuring success – but not the only way.  If you ask me what I would sooner have – winning the League next season and then slipping back and getting relegated for the first time since 1913 or coming fourth for those two years, I’d take the latter.

Of course I want everything – the super stadium, the glorious football, and winning the double every year.  But if I can’t have it all, I’ll be careful what I go for.

You may disagree, fair enough, but the era of constant stability that Wenger has given us, which exceeds even the wonders of the Chapman-Shaw-Allison era of the 1930s, is something to be cherished.  Not something to be dismissed by saying that “coming 4th is not a trophy”.

The Telegraph is relentlessly putting forward its lopsided agenda of revenge, as it is fully entitled to do, but what I think it is helpful to do is to remember that it is just a point of view.   The point of view that enjoys where we are now is equally valid and should also be heard (although sadly it is not heard in too many places other than here).

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20 comments to Daily Telegraph still playing the AAA card at least twice a week

  • omgarsenal

    Well done Tony………one must remember that these parasites ¨earn¨ their living by excreting all and any ¨news¨that ISN’T fit to print, particularly when it is salacious, disreputable, disagreeable, highly disputed and coincidentially critical of the Arsenal or Wenger.
    Jealousy and envy are some of the many cardinal sins of the mediacrats, a term I’ve coined for the mediocre misfits who pollute the British media with their spurious attempts to write. They are NOT journalists, whose title I reserve for people like Walter Winchell, Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite and so on. These hacks and wannabe journalists will forever be in Wenger’s shadow and they will forever unsuccessfully seek revenge.

  • oldgroover

    I’ve read this article, and then re read it and read it once more incase I’d missed some sub text. The worst I could say about it is that it’s ambivalent. I’d say it balances out what our worst fears for Arsenal were against our current optimism for the future. I know I’ll take some flack here but it’s not really all that bad, although I suppose I should be using the dreaded IMHO before posting.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Once again, well put, Tony.

    Given takeover rules in the UK that allow the travesty of the Glazer’s takeover to grace Albion’s shores, the toothless ‘fit and proper’ test for ownership, and an extremely shaky looking FFP regime in Europe, England seems to be a great place for billionaires of any ilk to park or launder their money. And, with only 4 spots open for the Champions League, the day may come when NO team will be able to count on getting in to the competition. Right now, Man City, Chelsea and Man U are extremely well funded, with Arsenal very stable and Liverpool, and Tottenham outspending us (don’t ask me how). All it would take is one or two more petro-states to take over an Accrington Stanley and the bun fight would well and truly be on. It puts Arsenal’s present run of success in perspective.

  • colario

    How times have changed. Time was the Telegraph was the first paper I turned to for reading about Arsenal. Now like the rest of the English gutter press I don’t even think of looking at it.

    Its got so bad that I when I see an Arsenal offering on the BBC Website football page I think ‘What rubbish now?’

    Fortunately facts don’t need the Telegraph or the BBC to speak for them. They speak for themselves. The facts show that Arsene is the leading manager of his time. He is respected as such world wide except of course in ‘Little England’!

  • bjtgooner

    A good article Tony. Unfortunately for the reputation of journalism as a whole the Telegraph, once arguably the most accurate and informative of the broadsheets has deteriorated to the level of some of the tabloids. I don’t know of any paper that is worth buying just now.

    Re the Telegraph’s attitude to Arsenal – I don’t think revenge on its own is sufficient motivation for the publication of AAA type nonsense. It looks more like the web of those who have the really serious intention of undermining the club has been widened to include the Telegraph.

    As previously discussed, someone intending a hostile takeover will often prepare the ground by trying to destabilize the targeted “business”. What gives Arsenal its stability – the determination and character of AW and the unity of the board – all of which are attacked frequently – a bit like rotational fouling!

  • TommieGun

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of right-wingdedness, in itself.

    The problem with current journalism that it needs to keep up with the pace of the web. Just like you posted a few days ago about the Ramsey thing “taken off” – you can’t take off a written piece. That’s why in the past, newspapers took care to publish only information that was properly verified and reviewed. Not anymore.

    It needs to be quick, it needs to be loud, it needs to be provocative.

    They are (yet another) business in bankrupt. The next phase in our age – the information age – will be what (in my very humble opinion) Untold is trying to get here – to talk about something and to back it up with FACTS. Right now people can “compete” on accessing information “faster” than their peers, and the next phase will be to be able to differentiate true and false information.

  • nicky

    As a dedicated supporter of our great Club since the Dark Ages (i.e. when street lamps were turned on and off manually), your post needed saying if only to remind us of the continual vain attempts by the media to deflect our destiny.

  • Notoverthehill

    Well written, Tony.

    Jeremy Wilson, a scribbler of no importance, wrote an article, telling a Premier League manager of some years, Mr Wenger, what he should now do!

    Which of the many football clubs, has the said Jeremy Wilson, managed? Has Wilson sat the examinations for a coaching badge?

    Tony, what has happened to Anne? I trust the good lady, has not been silenced by a few puerile commentators.

  • jayramfootball

    Excellent article. Thank You.

    I did not know about Wengers first “interview” and how he dealt with the press. Very clever. I find everything about football “journalism” disgusting. If they came out and said they hated Wenger and wanted him to fail then in my view that would be ok, but the slimy nature of these people just makes me wretch.

    I just hope for the day where no-one is interested anymore and turn to more specialist media to get what they want. I really love to see newspapers and their hacks go out of business.

  • bob mac

    Oh to be in the Champions League every season.

    Sheer bliss.

    Dismiss all the bullshit and look forward to at least 3 more years under Arsene, our truly brilliant manager.

  • Rupert Cook

    Fairly mild piece compared to the sort of vitriol spouted in some countries. If English sports journalists took the lead from their Italian counterparts this place would explode. And I don’t believe Wenger’s intention is to finish fourth every year, what he tries to do is win the league and, either down to injuries or lack of money in the TW, fails and then ends up scrapping for fourth.

    Yes the continual qualification for the CL is great but until Chelsea’s emergence and then later City, CL qualification wasn’t that hard as ourselves and Manu were far better than any other club in the EPL. Our financial woes and City/Chelsea have made CL qualification difficult for half those 18 years.

    And the fact is that despite all those years of CL participation we’ve managed to reach just one final. How many have Real Madrid won?

  • Asif

    @Tony – one of those which is straight from the heart. The fact that most of us play down the stability which Wenger gives to the club…we live in the times of instant gratification and we don’t understand that some of the things which Wenger has done are simply astounding and no mean feat in today’s day and age.

    @Colario – “Fortunately facts don’t need the Telegraph or the BBC to speak for them. They speak for themselves.” Well said…and that is what I believe in.

  • jambug

    Rupert cook.

    Good post.

    One point though. You said:

    “And the fact is that despite all those years of CL participation we’ve managed to reach just one final. How many have Real Madrid won?”

    I don’t see the relevance of this part because what we do has no relationship with what Real Madrid, or anyone else does for that matter.

    This is my view for what it’s worth.

    Back in the early days of Wenger’s reign, when we where winning domestic trophies, I personally think it was arguably back then that we where slightly under achieving in the CL. But we was getting there. Pretty much in our final year ‘pre austerity’ we reached the final, and almost won it with 10 men. That should of been our day, but for one reason or another, we blew it. A great shame, because I believe that team deserved it, Wenger deserved it, we, the fans deserved it, because that side, I believe, was the best team in Europe. But such is life.

    But this is my point, post Austerity things have changed. Just qualifying for the CL has been tough.

    Pre ‘austerity’ we was 1st/2nd best in the PL. Seeded perhaps 5th/6th in the CL, perhaps higher on occasion.

    Post ‘austerity’ we are 3rd/4th in the PL. Seeded what on average? 7th/8th or there abouts?

    So we are expected to reach the QF’s. No better. That’s what is expected of us. Now once or twice we have slightly exceeded that. Conversely, once or twice we have fallen short of that. But, by and large, we perform to expectations.

    And that’s not your expectation Rupert, or mine, or UA’s, or the AAA’s, but the realistic expectation of the guys that do the seeding. Not only them, but the guys that REALLY know these things…The bookies.

    So as much as I would of LIKED to of done a little better in it, even won it, it would of been a MASSIVE, and I mean MASSIVE over achievement to of done so.

    And that is because, by and large, one of the top 4 seeds, or top 4 favourites, always wins it.

    Just wanting to win it though, is not the same, and almost always never bears any resemblance to your actual chances of doing so.

    But most important in all this is that NOT winning it is certainly not a stick with which to bash Wenger with, as it would of been a miracle had he done so.

    Not that you would dream of doing such a thing Rupert 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    Yes, Real Madrid, still under investigation over alleged irregular public funding, would be a rather thoughtless example with which to try to bash someone with well established high principles. Only the brain dead AAA would try that one.

  • para

    In some ways it was good that we did not get PL champions this year, because they would only have said, Arsenal won but had no real competition etc.
    BUT they are all going to be looking for the “superlatives” again to describe Arsenal next season, mark my words, at least most of them anyway.

  • Sav from Australia

    Excellent post Tony. As always you and Untold ate carrying the flag for reality vs propaganda.

    I won’t bother replying to Rupert.

    Oldgroover, I am not sure what you mean by subtext or ambivalent. The post is rather clear. If you want to say you disagree then say it and prepare to back it up with logic and facts, else stop beating around the bush.

  • Sav from Australia

    Excellent comments BTW. Really nice way to start the morning.

  • wengerson

    @ AAA Cook

    And the fact is that despite all those years of UA trolling, we’ve managed to kick you back into the sewers every time…

    How much have Real Madrid spent?

  • oldgroover


    Should have made it clear that it was the Telegraph article I was referring to, with it’s on the one hand this and the other hand that, and not Tony’s article condemning the Telegraph’s.
    Of course I may have missed the point completely…I often do.
    He praises the Telegraph today would you believe.

  • oldgroover


    Trolling? Where?