By Tony Attwood
It is a regular complaint made about Untold: the main writers are too pro-Wenger, too biased, and surely should be more middle of the road, able to applaud when the manager, the team, the board and the catering team get it right, and condemn when they don’t.
Unfortunately such an analysis doesn’t have much to do either with why I set up the blog, nor with the way I see the world, nor indeed much to do why most people set up blogs, newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, political parties…
Of course I can only infer why most other people set up and maintain their outlet into the wider world. Some seem to do it for money, and some it seems for self-aggrandisement (something I’ve often been accused of) but almost everyone (if not actually everyone) do it to put forward a view. You only have to see how many use phrases like “Arsenal fans will be worried that…” to see just how much these people want to tell you how to think.
I started Untold first because I felt there were things in football and about Arsenal that were not being said that should be said, and second because I felt some of the things said about Arsenal were untrue, unfair, or so horribly biased as to give a completely false opinion of what it is like to support the club and go to games.
That hasn’t changed. Take a look at this from today’s Independent newspaper – a paper whose very name, and whose proclamations state that it stands aside from established positions and tells it like it is.
Not all Arsenal fans want Arsene Wenger out
After disgraceful scenes after the recent defeat to Stoke in which a group of Arsenal fans abused Arsene Wenger as the Gunners travelled back to London, there was a real show show of support this weekend with many singing the Frenchman’s name after the final whistle at the Emirates. It comes after two 4-1 victories, the first against Galatasaray and the second against Newcastle. Amazing what a couple of convincing wins can do.
Now read again that last sentence. “Amazing what a couple of convincing wins can do.”
The implication is clear, Arsenal fans were against Wenger and the team a week ago, now we all love the manager and the team.
And that leaves aside the factual inaccuracy – most of the singing was before the final whistle.
And all that from a paper that claims independent thought. Indeed it’s football journalists have the same mindset as those of other papers, that football fans are fickle, lacking in loyalty or knowledge, and willing to be led by the nose through a vast array of generalisations and half truths without any evidence being put forwards.
That is a point of view, and I think it is utterly wrong. I think there are millions of football fans who are intelligent, who can make up their own minds, and who have a clear idea of what is really going on. All I do is dig up a few stories that these people may have missed, in case they want to read them here, set forth a few opinions just in case the readership finds them interesting, and offer others the chance to write articles or make comments.
From all that I, and my fellow writers, try and draw together patterns, and ultimately set up theories to explain what is going on.
So the issue of being balanced (mentioned recently) doesn’t come into it. I am interested in covering the stories other people don’t (the clue is in the name of the blog) and putting forwards what I think are interesting issues which help us explain why x y and z are happening.
Why is PGMO so secret? Why didn’t Arsenal sign another central defender? Why are England so bad in international matches? How can we explain what has happened at Portsmouth, Leeds, Rangers? Why do Tottenham keep appointing and sacking managers? Why has Arsenal stayed in the top four since moving to the new stadium, but not won the league? Why do newspapers and TV have the clear agenda that they have?
On that last point, I can’t see how we could reasonably have expected any more during the years of building the stadium and finding ourselves (unexpectedly, because there was no forewarning) up against clubs with virtually unlimited wealth and who were determined to get to the top within a season or two. OK, others see it differently, and there are thousands of blogs out there that support the position that we could have done better, but I just can’t see how, unless we had had a crystal ball.
And even if we had known what Chelsea and Man C would do, what else could we have done, given that Islington Council would not allow the redevelopment of Highbury into a much larger stadium?
So, we look at issues, try to make sense of them, come up with Untold stories, and sometimes expound explanations.
We started off with rotational fouling and rotational time wasting, and went on in this way, always looking at issues that others ignored, or at least didn’t think through in terms of all the implications there were. The issues included
- Finding why England does so poorly at internationals
- The secrecy of PGMO and asking why it has to be so
- FFP and the way it is affecting clubs – a topic that regularly bring abuse and accusations of a lack of knowledge from supporters of other clubs, but we are not doing too badly in our predictions so far
- Whether referees are biased, through an analysis of their games over time
- Why we get so many false rumours in relation to transfers – which led to a comparison of football with the software industry, and the theory of Vapour Transfers
- How TV is bending the reality of football
- The corruption and/or incompetence within the FA, including the way the FA wasted the money it was given for grassroots football by Sport England – a topic on which the national press merely reprinted the FA’s press release as fact, when it was anything but.
- How some club purchases and transfers have simply been money laundering through a new channel
- The way the media twist and turn stories to create their own agenda – and what that agenda actually is.
- Arsenal’s injuries month by month compared to other clubs’ injuries
In fact what we are trying to do is to change the agenda, and to stop it being set by the press, TV and radio, and instead ensure that the agenda includes issues that we think are important. And this is what makes Untold worth publishing, in my opinion.
Of course that doesn’t mean that people simply read our stuff and then say, “oh yes, you are right,” but I think there are signs all over the place that we can nudge the agenda on and influence the way people think about the game.
This is not to say that I want people to think like me. But I do want people to think, to get away from the simplistic “Enough is enough” t-shirt slogans and consider more deeply what is going on.
I want people to ask why PGMO is such an utterly secretive organisation. I want to point out that saying that England is poor at international football because we have so many foreigners playing in our country is just a supposition, and that there are facts and statistics which can show us exactly what it is that other countries do and which seemingly leads to success.
I would like everyone who reads all the rumours about transfers to think, “hang on, how come 99.999% of these never happen?”
And that I guess is what marks Untold out from the AAA sites. Their view is that you can look at the world, see it in simple common sense terms, and draw valid conclusions. The Untold vision is more that the world is complex and not straightforward.
In the simple vision, if Arsenal want a central defender we look for the best, pay what it takes, and he comes and fits in. In the real world, he might not want to come, his club might not want to sell, his agent might make demands that are just so bizarre that they can’t be met, his wife might not want to move, there might be a long term worry about his health, there might be concerns about his mental health, he might not want to live in London because of the tax or the climate or the intrusive nature of the media, etc.
To me, people who don’t take all this into account haven’t read their history of Arsenal in which various managers and others do on occasion reveal the torment that goes on within players’ minds. It’s all out there, and it isn’t all common sense.
So Untold digs and tries to find what goes on. This really hasn’t got anything to do with the common sense notion of balance, or the middle ground, any more than such every day concepts as gravity or time can be explained through common sense observation. Gravity and time are there, but what makes them happen and why, are much harder to understand. You need analysis, research and theories.
That’s all very inward looking I know. But don’t worry, we’ll soon be back to the real world, with an article delving further into Monaco, and a review of the ref in relation to the Man U defeat.
But if you have been, thanks for reading.
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- Does spending on transfers automatically bring success? Arsenal compared to the rest.
- Manchester City v Arsenal: the team and the FA Cup
- Has Arsenal now caught up with Manchester City?
- Manchester City v Arsenal: the referee and the FA Cup