Think for yourself: the most radical and dangerous idea in football. Here’s to the counter revolution.

By Tony Attwood

“Why do you keep on talking about the media?  Surely an Arsenal blog should be about football.”

That is a fair point which was made to me last week, and one I fully accept.  But there is a contrary argument which says exposing the tricks of the media is utterly about football.

Many people accept that the world beyond their senses is fixed, it is what it is.  There are four big trees growing in my garden – that is reality (at least for me).

But many also argue that the way we interpret the world, the way we decide this is important and that is not, determines what we take for reality.  I am very much in this camp, and I am arguing here that the way we perceive football is not something that is obvious and natural and unchangeable, but is in fact constructed by the media.

So the media tells us that transfers are everything in football, and that if you don’t bring in lots of players each transfer window you are a failure.   They do that because transfer rumours are cheap (free actually), have no comeback (in that no one points out the predictions and even assertions that x has signed for Arsenal), and because the supply is endless.

Imagine you were running a newspaper and had the choice between paying journalists to sniff out all the corruption at Fifa, and printing a page of rumours that you and a couple of mates invented down the pub, what would you do – especially if you had an editor screaming about keeping costs down.

This is what has been going on for years, and the inevitable conclusion has been reached.  Transfer rumours are good because they are cheap and for some bizarre reason people treat the rubbish printed as true.

As I have been trying to show with my league tables that reflect both the points gained this season and the money spent, transfers guarantee nothing.   (Does the amount a team costs reflect its position in the league or have we been led up the garden path?)

But there is more, because bringing your own players through is a much better and safer way for a club to proceed.  You can deal with lots of young players to see who makes it.   They all get a chance and even if they don’t make it they have the opportunity to continue as professional footballers at a lower league club, and they can be brought into the squad at any time.

However the press’ vision is not just about promoting transfers, for the media never fight on one front.  They’ve also worked on changing perception away from the whole season, to part of the season, to the first three games in the season, to the last match, to one shot in the last match…   I actually heard it said that if Giroud couldn’t score “that” goal against Stoke then he’s obviously useless and must go.

Presumably the same person also though that when Pires and Henry failed to take a penalty properly and instead tried to pass it to each other, they should have been removed forever from the team.

TV of course loves this, because if you are only as good as your last five seconds, you can repeat those last five seconds over and over.  TV Rules OK!

So the fact that Arsenal has won the FA Cup two seasons running is meaningless because Arsenal won’t win the league this season and we know that because Arsenal lost at home to West Ham.  It sounds fairly stupid when you say it, but that is how football is being packaged.

Thus the media is about doing stuff on the cheap, and determining the way you and I think about football.   And it is not that they are winning this fight to change thinking – in many cases they have won.  For when we write about dubious referee decisions, we always get a range of people writing in saying words to the effect “if you believe this you are an idiot”.  (They don’t actually say “idiot” but I am sure you get the drift).

But behind the need for cheapness there is another deal. Never question PGMO’s figures or its bizarre secrecy.  Never question why there are so few referees in the Premier League, thus making it easier for a match fixer to operate.  And the press must never question TV’s approach to the game, must never say “TV failed to show…”

Thus the press don’t suggest there is something amiss with the organisation of refereeing, nor that there is something odd about the way matches are edited, even when supposedly going out live.  It has all got a bit cozy and has crazily been supported by the blogettas, those little blogs with 100 word articles and pesky adverts that it is impossible to avoid clicking on, and which quote mythical overseas journalists working for news organisations that don’t exist, on transfers that will never happen but which they say are DONE DEALS because an ex-footballer who you thought has passed away and who certainly has nothing to do with football any more but runs a pub in Marbella, said so.

And to show how incestuous the little media club has got, the UK newspapers and TV channels start quoting them.  Football is the media, the media is football.  The way you think about football is controlled.  Transfers become good in themselves with no reference to how successful they are in taking a team up the league.  It is, because we say it is.

But for the control freaks who now run football, whatever they have is never enough.  There is always a demand for more – as long as it is free.   So next a new game is invented: “Let’s talk about fans being angry, about fans demanding more.   Let’s make everyone angry.

Thus when 200 people stand on a mini roundabout outside the Emirates and call themselves a protest movement, they are given mass publicity.  No one notes that they are one third of one percent of the people in the ground protested.   Good picture, and oh look, it’s free.

There are always wannabes who thrive on any hint of attention so always plenty of people willing to complain.  Like that funny little kid who occasionally gets a seat near Blacksheep with his “enough is enough” t-shirt.  So sad, so miserable, so utterly upset that Arsenal keep winning.  (Editorial Note to Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, can’t we do something for these people?)

These stories are endless – and you can make it up as you go because now reality has nothing to do with anything.  “I have said it, so it is true,” is the issue.  Forget that Arsenal were only two goals behind Chelsea last season, which suggests the forward line was not the issue at all.  Ignore the fact that Benzema is actually no better than the player in position at the moment.  Forget that not so long ago the Daily Mirror screamed PETER CROUCH IS GOING TO ARSENAL.  Keep taking them seriously, otherwise…

Otherwise the crisis and doom organised by someone else, at someone else’s expense so all they have to do is get someone’s picture taken on a mobile phone, and put it across the paper, vanishes.

“Chuckle chuckle,” goes the TV pundit and commentator.  “Silly fans, ho ho, but still you have to admit these are dark days for Arsenal.”

“No we don’t believe you any more,” says Untold.

“Ah you’re just a blog,” says the media man, but with a slight frown as he sees our readership figures.

So the media run their story again, so then it must be true because it has been in the paper two days running and now the TV is talking about it. So the fans who can’t get to the game follow on the media and as that is their only source they start to believe.  Arsenal is a Failure club.  Arsenal fans are in rebellion – you can hear the booing (actually we were booing the Liverpool keeper and the ref for repeatedly failing to do anything about him).

TV pays a fortune for a product with no corruption, no negativity of bus parking and time wasting, and to get it they claim that they are the experts.  They now define football.

But just occasionally they can get it all mixed up.  BT Sport got it horribly wrong with Arsenal at the Emirates Cup the season before last when the team in the studio openly laughed at the competition because of its “impossible-to-understand” scoring system.  A scoring system that was exactly the same as normal scoring (3 points for a win etc) but with one point for a goal added but was completely beyond the BT Sport team.

Those BT Sport studio guests got so carried away with their power to create reality that they thought that they could say anything and carry the audience along with them.  They found they couldn’t, and a further cock-up of using goals against Arsenal as their advertising for the excitement of the league the next season was suddenly pulled as the protests against BT Sport (who by then were Arsenal’s official media partner) reached deafening levels.  We all protested to the club, the club protested, BT Sport suddenly did a U-turn.  Now the Emirates Cup is a wonderful competition which they are proud to show.

But mostly it is find the negative, make it cheap.  For a while Tottenham’s reputed tough line in all negotiations is reported and held up as a masterclass in how to run a club.  But that’s not news any more so suddenly it is not the best approach.  They can’t sign players, they can’t get rid of Adebayor, the story grows that other clubs won’t deal with Tottenham.

So it goes on.   The press set up transfers as the be all and end all of football, and then the Telegraph announces in big letters that Man Utd have wasted more on transfers than any English side since 2013.

Bit of a slow news day, how about Rooney and Carrick ‘complain about Van Gaal’s Manchester United training methods’ (Independent).

Even slower news day, take a story (clubs don’t want to deal with Tottenham) and move it sideways until you get Forget history – the sad truth for United and Liverpool is they are shunned by top talent  (Telegraph).

To my mind, our football has been taken away from us by a bunch of people who don’t care about football at all, but instead care about filling newspaper space and TV shows with the cheapest possible material which then defines itself as important, so the media can run more of it.

Seven years ago I decided I wanted my football back, and so chose the name “Untold” for a little blog that I thought no one would read, because it was full of my perception of what happened in matches and off the pitch, which was utterly different from the media’s.

Very gratifyingly you have read some of my ramblings, and hopefully occasionally we have brought the odd pause for thought.  It’s all very simple really, all we’re doing here is organising a “think for yourself” counter revolution to the “fear and loathing” approach to football.

Not much, but I hope it helps.

A time for goal scoring

  • 15 September 2007: A 3-1 win at Tottenham made it four wins and one draw in the first five games.  Adebayor (2) and Fabregas scored, in a run of seven consecutive games in London, all of which were won.
  • 15 September 2010: Arsenal beat Braga 6-0, launching a new season in the Champions League.  Fabregas (2), Arshavin, Chamakh, and Vela (2) scored.
  • 15 September 2012: After two goalless draws and a 2-0 win at Liverpool Arsenal beat Southampton 6-1.  Podolski, Gervinho (2), Walcott and two own goals

The Untold Books



23 Replies to “Think for yourself: the most radical and dangerous idea in football. Here’s to the counter revolution.”

  1. Absolutely spot on the media report bloggers and bloggers report the media, particularly sky news, and it becomes self fulfilling. The media just want to sell adverts and so they encourage and create drama.
    I can remember bruce forsythe holding up a newspaper on tv saying” the only thing you can believe in the papers is the date” he was so right. Now, the media, with unrivalled power are much worse.
    wise words sir, and deadly accurate.

  2. Apparently to our local press , who appear to be ‘in the know’, Arsenal will be making a bid for
    Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez when the January transfer window opens !

    Was also pissed off at the commentators at the Arsenal -Stoke match where they kept piling the BS –
    “…..undercurrent of discontent of the Arsenal fans for AW’s failure to bring in an outfielder during the transfer window .”
    “Benzema ….would have scored that …!” when TW 14 missed a chance .

  3. Soldier on Tony, the pen is mighty only when it sides with truth and rationality like the way The Arsenal the darling of football purists ,is ran.

    Am a Nigerian gooner, holding forth against the aaa here and even the AAE (anti arsenal expatriates) ,especially those from New Trafford and Thr Crumbling Bridge

  4. Tony,your skilled dissection of the bi-annual transfer scheme and the way the results tend to affect the thinking of so many fans, only emphasises Arsene Wenger’s distaste for the whole system.
    I can easily foresee the day when there will be a return to a free-for-all for clubs to buy and sell throughout the season.
    Imagine the relief when, due to a sudden increase in serious injuries, a club’s replacement signings could solve the crisis.
    And the present trend of panic buying with Window-inflated prices will disappear for ever. 😉

  5. Match of the Day continues to be almost an object lesson on how the media shoots itself in the foot on matters football. Last season Phil Neville had to be reprimanded for telling us that it was Man Utd. practice to kick teams better than them. He appears to have got the sack for it.
    When commenting on the highlights of the Arsenal game versus Newcastle a couple of weeks back the pundits (Gullit and Keown) berated Arsenal for not getting in the refs face to complain about the treatment they were being given by the opposition. Not only a bad example to set to young players but also unnecessary as the ref was showing Newcastle cards all over the place.
    Last Saturday Alan Shearer claimed that Walcott should be ‘nastier’ in front of goal rather than calmer which is what he should be.
    In the language that they use they betray their real sensibilities and reveal how the media has conspired to keep much of our football in the dark ages for so long.

  6. Oh the media, I enjoy watching the matches these days as the streaming site provides the US coverage. The crowd noise levels are higher as there is no library agenda to serve. There is also a balanced look at the events of the match in progress. I think more people should be made aware of media agendas here in the UK. I am very pleased to read that it is not just a paranoid perception on my part and that others have noticed ALL IS NOT WELL IN TV LAND. In true blogetta style I could not resist some capitals, makes my comments true then, you see. It is surely a matter of concern when the first thing you need to look at is the site that publishes a story to decide if it is worth any time or attention being paid to it. I do feel we need to get back to the days when it was our sport, us the fans, and not a way of keeping some unknowing sensationalist in the pub.

  7. ‘ A bad attitude is like a flat tire . You can’t go anywhere until you change it .’

  8. Are people really stupid enough to *actually* believe it? Is the problem more that people are willing to spout off about shit they know nothing about? For example, someone who doesn’t watch football might just say something to join in with the ‘banter’ (pardon my language), are those the kind of people you’re looking to inform?

    Luckily, I’m naturally contrary so argue with anything that anyone ever tells me.

  9. The vast majority of pundits who are ex players add nothing to the game. It is a lot of money for doing nothing but turning up to the studio and say a few lines

    How many of them actually dissect the game in detail and give nuanced analysis. It seems to me that they do very little background research on players or teams. They are happy to be lazy, follow the percieved narrative about teams and players. They deal in cliches and are like sheep repeating the same things without seeking out information for themselves

    Re Arsenal the standard ones are :

    Arsenal need a striker. Walcott , Giroud and Welbeck are not good enough. Every time one of these miss a chance ( they have so far this season but I expect this to improve ) this will be brought up. Of course no other striker misses a chance

    We need a DM like Viera. Viera wasn’t a DM. He played with Petit and Gilberto. Have they analysed the way Coquelin is playing ?

    Our defence is not good enough. Why not look at the defensive stats to disprove this misnomer ?

    All this is lazy, unfounde and taken in by the majority offootball watchers. This then becomes ‘fact’ and accepted as being real.

    Re our strikers. Theo missed two on sSaturday that he would normally take in his stride. Ditto Girouds miss. Alexis is getting closer. As confidence rises so I expect more chances to be taken. It must be hard for our forwards to be continually told they aren’t good enough by the media pundits and sadly our own fans. I do expect things to improve. If it does click someone will get a tonking

    We have a very very difficult run of fixtures coming up. I hope it does click during these games

    Zagreb (a)
    Chelsea (a)
    Spurs (a)
    Leicester (a)
    Bayern (h)
    Man u (h)

    Be interesting to see where we are after these games ?

  10. Here’s one. Look how big a deal the media made about the extremely marginal calls * Mason made with Coquelin. Look how little they made of Atkinson’s terrible decision not to send off Cahill. A leg breaker ,seen and not dealt with as the rules state, or a teeny hand in the back, plus a routine foul which is nowhere near a booking- which is the big deal?

    Well, guess how many games Mason has done in the premier league since? That’s right, none. This weekend will make it four rounds of fixtures missed. Should we not talk about things like that?

    What effect is it likely to have on referees if, just like the way they used to be demoted for weeks if they displeased Ferguson, the same can happen if they are perceived to be lenient to an Arsenal player? Will that get in your head as a ref? What if you want to do well in your career?

    That laughable booking for Ozil would make more sense if they’d spent time at the last refs’ meeting, Mason in the corner, red-faced Riley in front of the screen, replaying those Coquelin incidents until the message gets through that Mason was a very bad boy. I mean, the hand in the back….rrrrrrgggghhh. So disappointed in you, Mase.

    ‘remember you can always, you should always- well, not always, occasionally you don’t have to- you should always be producing a card for that!’

    *even that isn’t right for me. Mason made the right call. He should have been applauded as someone who resisted the determined efforts of the away crowd, players and manager to get a player a second booking who hadn’t ,quite, earned that booking. It was a tremendous example of that. Instead he gets trashed by the media and sent to the championship for a month.

  11. Even as a teenager in the 70’s (cringe) I always held the opinion that media outlets were always against The Arsenal and absolutely loved Liverpool. Why does the camera pan towards the Kop every time, what’s so “legendry” about the no.9 at Newcastle and why do their fan’s deserve success why is a woman beating moron allowed to voice his pathetic anti Arsenal rants on a national radio station why is M Owen allowed on tv he is dreadful dreadful and more dreadful can anyone understand anything Carragher says ( not on about his accent just the shit that he comes out with) and dont get me going on Rednapp I could keep ranting but my ferry is boarding I’m off to Monaco

  12. Its great to see a section of Arsenal fans that do not automatically accept everything they read in the media or hear on TV.

    How many times do you hear so called Gooners venting their anger based on something they have read or heard? Just like this fictional “un-named” World Class striker that we should have bought.

    The subliminal brainwashing of a section of fans, who have become so incapable of objectivity that they spend every day finding reasons not to enjoy supporting this great club. The media have been very successful.

  13. Kev

    Objectivity is the key word. There is always a gey area. I think Walcot will be a handful for defenders. If he stays fit ( criticism) and gets a good run in the team I feel he will score lots of goals especially if we keep creating chances. He did however miss two chances that he should, normally would take ( criticism )

    It must behard for our forwards at the moment as they arecontinually being told they are not good enough not only from the media and pundits but from a section of our supporters as well. I would love an Aguero but nobody of that quality was available. In the mean time get behin what we’ve got and try to improve their confidence. Confident strikers score goals

    Apart from the forwards in thetop 4 of the PL who else in the division would you trade our forwards for.? We will have to go abroad.

  14. This blog is about Football as a whole and AFC ‘as a whole club’ in particular. The Medias bull shit portrayal of football in general and AFC in particular is appallingly bad and ignoring it only helps it survive and thrive. Unfortunately there is a small but loud minority that believe the media drivel and anyone that can logically (and hopefully humorously) explain to the few that will listen why it’s wrong, should be applauded. Long live ‘Untold’.

  15. tunnygriff, Spot on about the pundits. I’d add that even the few that do try to break down the play are driven by their backgrounds. Gary Neville was quite reasonable for a while but as soon as Carragher appeared & started talking drivel & picking unusual passages of play to create his ‘facts’ then Nevilles competitive streak came out and he started to be more radical to match the scouser. Basically because Carragher got plaudits for creating friction in front of the camera instead of real Info, he’s dragged the whole thing down to his poor level.

  16. Realistically, our forwards are some of the best in the league. If you look at the stats for this season, and compare Giroud and Walcott to the so called world class stars of the Premier League, like Aguero, Costa and Rooney who are all proposed by the media to be so much better than our strike force. You will actually see that Walcott and Giroud beat all of the players I have mentioned based on per 90 minute metrics, which I feel are the most accurate. Thats BOTH our strikers who aren’t even on the pitch at the same time but competing. Aguero, tops shooting accuracy to be fair to him at 64%, but Man City are creating far less chances for him than we are for our strikers, which is promising for us taking 4.43 shots per 90. Both our strikers have over a 50% shot Accuracy, 57% for Giroud, 55% for Walcott. But they dominate on shots taken, Giroud has 5.6 shots per 90 minutes and Walcott has a whopping 6.03 per 90. To Compare, Costa has 1.8 shots per 90 and only 43% shot accuracy. Giroud and Walcott also come first and second relatively in the goals per 90. Giroud, a 0.62 and Walcott, a 0.46, I swear I’ve read somewhere that if you score 1 goal every two games you are ‘world class’? Aguero, rolls in at half of Girouds at 0.3 per 90. While Costa is a measely 0.21 and Rooney still hasn’t registered a goal!

    I know stats aren’t everything, it’s true but they do show some of the picture. Our strikers aren’t as bad as the media makes out, in fact currently they are two of the best in the league and they haven’t even got started in my opinion. Wenger keeps saying it and I agree, we are creating chances, a whole truck load of them and that is what is important, the goals will come. Ozil and Cazorla are carving teams apart, I really think Ozil is going to shine this season. I’d love to see them complete the majority of it without any major injuries and see how they perform then. Lets support our players, ignore the media non sense and I hope we prove all the naysayers wrong, win the league, the fa cup and at the very least take a good stab at the champions league! Fa Cup 3 years in a row would be a neat achievement for Arsenal, Wenger and the team. Even better to do it while doing a double or more. Lots of Potential, starting to brim to the surface when it explodes someone is going to be having a very very bad day I think.

  17. Andy Mack and Tunnygriff
    Good comments. Gary Neville spoke openly about Man Utd players being sent out to kick Arsenal because they couldn’t out football them. Hardly ever saw that repeated or Man Utd condemned for that. That is because kicking Arsenal to stop us playing seems to be accepted as a legitimate tactic. Anyone who has watched that 50th game, especially since the game has moved on, will gasp at how that was allowed to happen. Reyes received some of the latest tackles I have seen for a long time. In fact, that was when I first started to question Mike Riley. Here it is:

    Who can forget the outpouring of sympathy Shawcross and Taylor received after smashing Ramsey and Eduardos legs. You would have expected Shawcross and Tayllor to be condemned with sympathy directed at our players. No, instead we were treated to stories of Shawcross needing a lift home from his Mum and how they ‘weren’t’ that type of player. In fact, Arsenal players were criticised for passing the ball too quickly while they lay in a hospital bed looking ahead to months of pain and tiresome rehabilitation.

    The fact these are all illegal and therefore cheating, is never mentioned or that Arsenal are sinned against. No, we are fair game becuase the English are still dinosaurs who do not like a foreign manager coming here and questioning our bad habits. Skillful, passing football like the Eusropeans play is not acceptable, much better that we have athletic players who run around a lot and ‘love’ a tackle.

    It has gone so far, we now have Arsenal being criticised by Keown and Shearer for not surrounding the referee. Criticised for behaving properly! Yet should Arsenal surround the referee, we all know what the media and these pundits would be saying! Arsenal can never win, we are only to be criticised.

  18. Excellent points Tony but whilst you may “fully accept” the point written you last week…perhaps in a polite way – I can’t understand anyone thinking that the media has nothing to do with football. Very odd how outfits apparently not connected to football (media/TV) pay millions to have a say in it through TV rights to televise and indirectly control the propaganda!

    Case in point the BBC, having a sly dig at through; “Rugby referee Nigel Owens would “love” to officiate a football fixture and deal with the “unacceptable behaviour” of coaches “like Jose Mourinho” Ok nice start but since they went to the trouble to get such a comment from a Rugby referee…why didn’t they take it a step further and question him on wether he would ref a football game without Video Technology and further How helpful does Mr. Nigel Owens find VT??

    I would say they (BBC) didn’t go that further step because it does NOT suit their general agenda of covering PGMOB!

    Thats what the Media is!!! They pick and chose what to ‘feed’ the gullible and repeat it enough times in order to make out its the truth!

  19. “Seven years ago I decided I wanted my football back”

    What did the current Real Madrid manager say about our 24/7 football meedjah hacks who must’ve modelled themselves on Alan Partrdige whilst not realising that the character was a satire of football plundits? He said that they never ask him about the Football!

    Don’t believe him? Go and watch any presser with the arsenal manager on the arsenal player, every PC going back years is online! Very little footy chat. Question about the football are rare gems.

    The positive attitude at Untold reminds me of those football fans who founded FC Utd.

    People that love football, that love their clubs.

    It’s all quite a revealing contrast with the clique of cosistent bleating Groaners and their handlers that troll the ether all day and night. That’s not an opinion but a humble and simple observation

    Fear and self-loathing.
    Not a good look. I don’t recommend it:

  20. I couldn’t give two hoots about who we didn’t sign – and missed signing (according to these IDIOTIC media outlets), but I guess thats why their meaningless bleats go over my head. Fact is win or lose, I love this club and what it stands for!!

    Nothing – absolutely NOTHING, the media say will change that!

    What would make me change my opinion of these IDIOTS is if they actually did what they get well paid to do: REPORT ON FOOTBALL matters!!

    Gossip has no place in my head even in my private life…and their ‘expert’ opinions based on their (Media) ‘gossip-facts’ has even less place!

  21. ANY sane person,Gooner or not, who needs to understand how an Arsenal game went MUST rely ONLY on the game breakdown that Adrian Clarke provides on It is a considered, intelligent and insightful review of tactics, key moments, MOTM, stats and more that anyone (even an aaa) can understand. For news, ONLY provides the undeniable truth, the rest is idle speculation, rampant rumour-mongering and ceaseless BS invented, as Tony says, in a pub-induced mental haze that journalists and pundits seem to be eternally and ubiquitously shrouded in. UNTOLD and a handful of other exceptional websites provide a reasoned and rational dissection of Football news that affects Arsenal and the Football community in general. That’s it folks!

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