In 8 days Wenger retired and signed six players while Shearer ate his own tongue.

By Tony Attwood

Being away on holiday while the season runs along its merry course is always an interesting experience.  A chance to do the usual recharging of the batteries in the sunshine, and in this case, the opportunity to watch Watford v Arsenal in a bar on the island of Crete, with the landlord who is an Olympiakos fan.   No mention of corruption charges, just a friendly exchange of thoughts on football, and enjoying the match and local beer.

The Bayern game was played while I was flying back to England – turning my mobile on once through customs and it sprang to life with wonderful messages announcing the news.

Yesterday was therefore a day of recovering from not getting to bed until 4am (why does the entire M1 have to be dug up every night and traffic diverted down side streets that are still getting used to the coming of the traction engine?) followed by as much sleep as my body clock would allow, followed by watching the Bayern game on BT Sprout, who run one hour long edits of each Champs League game through the day.

Which meant I listened with much interest to Owen Hargreaves co-commentary (who is employed seemingly to enliven the chatter) while knowing what the result was.

Now being wise after the event is not very clever, but what did strike me was that the Hargreaves fella was doing little other than reflect on individual issues, not picking up on the overall play and tactics.  As a result we got an endless rush of how poor Arsenal were and how Arsenal were going to be beaten hands down, and then a sudden reversal followed by silence in the last few minutes.

If only there was a commentator who could add a bit of overall perspective about the ebb and flow, about the change in tactics, rather than add a secondary moment by moment commentary about each move, which is what the primary commentator is all about.

But this idea seems to much too ask, and as a result Owen Hargreaves predictions of what will happen in retrospect make him sound like an absolute prat.

Coming back also means a chance to make sense of what some of the people who live behind the darkened curtains are up to.

HITC announces for example that “Shearer reacts on Twitter to Arsenal results, calls out Wenger.”

According to the mind-boggling jibberish the site purveys, Shearer “raised a crucial point regarding the first two games in the competition,” about who played in goal.

Actually, he just copied most of the anti-Arsenal commentators.  Shearer is not the most original of men).  And the point surely is that the issue of who plays in goal for Arsenal has been debated to death.  Wenger’s commented on the slight injury worry, (ignored by the press as it didn’t fit their agenda) Ospina’s wonderful form previously, and the need to give the second keeper a chance, if you want to keep him fit and in form.

In fact Arsenal are still the team of 2015, and for a lot of 2015 the goalkeeper of the team of 2015 was Ospina.

But then shock horror: a goalkeeper makes a mistake.  And which keeper hasn’t?  From Bob Wilson to Jennings to Seaman, everyone has had bad games.  Same with every player.  In fact I can remember Shearer having a shocker.  And Henry.  And Bergkamp.  Everyone makes a mistake, but according to the dimwitted Shearer it is still worth going back over old news again, and again, and again.

Indeed it was rather as if I had gone away, come back, and found the clocks had not moved on in my absence.

And reading the press again it seems that it is still downhill all the way with the notion Real Madrid have done a deal (yes it is a Done Deal) to sell Jese Rodriguez to Arsenal in January.

Now even on the back of an envelope I could work out while waiting for my luggage to arrive at the airport that Arsenal have scored 17 goals in the last six games in all competitions and 11 in the last 3 league games.  We have two number 9s who alternate in prodding the ball home, plus a winger who scores for fun, Wellbeck back in the new year, Campbell waits in the wings, plus Iwobi, Akpom, Gnabry…and we want to buy another?

Elsewhere I apparently missed (what with being abroad and all) that Arsene announced his retirement during the week. However Wenger ANNOUNCES Retirement is only on one site.  I Wonder how the others missed it.

Or maybe it wasn’t true?

I also missed the fact that Ospina is apparently leaving Arsenal for Besiktas in January.  But then it seems so did everyone else, except perhaps golazogoal – another blogetta.

Of course the main thing to realise when away is that the world can move very quickly, and no one is in touch with all these movements, other than the blogettas.    For example, did you know that “Arsene Wenger will astonish fans with this signing!”

The story, as ever, is not quite all the headline is cracked up to be.  “Arsene Wenger will try to complete double deal. The main target is 10m rated Russia international star Aleksandr Kokorin.  The Gunners have already offered a season long loan bid for striker, but Dynamo Moscow rejected!

“Arsene Wenger will try to complete the deal in January, when the Winter transfer window re-opens, and now will offer at around £10m for striker.

“Another World Class finisher on Arsenal  transfer radar is Antoine Griezmann. According to media outlets from Spain and Britain the Gunners will battle Chelsea for Atletico Madrid stunning star.”

So now we know.

Oh yes and we also have the new Walcott too.  “According to the latest British press, Arsenal have won the race over Chelsea and are closest to sign 15 year-old Swiss sensation Nishan Burkart.”

Meanwhile in the Telegraph

Man City rival Arsenal for Krychowiak

Polish international Krychowiak looks set to be in the middle of a £21million tug of war between the Premier League title rivals.  

Benzema: Arsenal rumours are laughable 

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema says he has never been close to agreeing a move to Arsene Wenger’s side   (Where on earth did they get that story!)

‘Arsenal keep tabs on Valencia’s Gomes’

Gunners watched midfielder at weekend and were impressed by what they saw

and the Mail (which proclaims The Mail Online is not responsible for the content of external internet sites, and then provides links to some of the more dubious of such sites)

Arsenal lost Cesc Fabregas to the lure of a return to Barcelona… but could defender Hector Bellerin follow in his footsteps?

The good news for Arsenal supporters still thrilled by just how good Hector Bellerín was on Tuesday night is that he is unlikely to end up going the way of Cesc Fabregas before him – back to Barcelona.

Hmmmm.    0.01% of transfer rumours turn out to be true; I think that was Sir Hardly’s figure at the end of the summer.  That is one in ten thousand.  Still got 9,990 to go.  Unless you count the Bellerin not going anywhere rumour as that one that is right.

It was a great holiday, the weather in the Midlands when I got back was crap, but still, its nice to be back and look forward to next weekend.

Arsenal on this day

The regular Arsenal on this day file showing all the main anniversaries each day has now returned to the home page.  Here are two events of interest from 22 October.

  • 22 October 1949: Arsène Wenger born. He became Arsenal’s first non-British manager, the longest serving manager, the manager who won the most major trophies, and the man who delivered the Unbeaten Season.  For our birthday quiz see here.
  • 22 October 1949:  After a reserve team match in Cardiff the South Wales Football Echo and Express reported that Arsenal players had been seen smoking after the match. In November Arsenal announced it was taking legal action against the paper, which immediately withdrew its accusations and apologised.

The campaigns

The Untold Books


42 Replies to “In 8 days Wenger retired and signed six players while Shearer ate his own tongue.”

  1. 22/10/2015

    I am going to start a rumour here today.

    Pep has been long since lined up as the next Arsenal manager for when AW retires.

    Don’t even ask me why i think this.

    Can’t stand Alan Shearer. Arghhhh.

  2. para

    Shearer is the most well documented fool of a pundit – in fact he is an idiot with absolutely no sense, makes no sense and similarly no sense in recollection – that Pep stated only a few days ago that he finds 20 years in one club as “boring”!!

    How on earth this type of manager would fit into the project of AFC and the mentality of the club (stability and development of youth within its academy), seriously reflects that Shearer breaks the cardinal rule of sensible people (think before you speak/write).

    Perhaps he mistakes AFC to his beloved Tiny Tot outfit who chop and change managers more often then he changes his socks!

  3. Actually I don’t know of a manager who could fit Wengers’ shoes – poses the attributes in completing successfully multiple 5 year plans for the club which would include youth development, performance on the filed, infrastructure re-development and financial stability!!!

    Pep?? Doubt it very much!

  4. Bayern Munich thwarted in their bid to lure Arsenal and England youth team left winger , Reiss Nelson .

    Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have hit out at Bayern Munich for attempting to lure Arsenal and England’s brightest prospect since Wayne Rooney by offering him , what they term as ‘trinkets ‘ .

    The German club have not only offered the latest top line Mercedes Benz to his parents , but also the latest hand phones ,electronic gadgets , tvs and other gifts from their sponsors as well.

    This after the 15 year old had a superb game against the German youngsters on Tuesday. His wing play on the left and overall performance had left many their coaching staff open mouthed at the kid’s skill and maturity .Overheard from them was comments to the effect that he was ‘wunderbar ‘ and a ‘wunderkinder’ .

    According to the German Bild newspaper , he has been ear marked as a possible replacement for the aging Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben.

    And although he has already played for the England U16 and U17 teams , he is eligible to play for Germany as his parents spent some time backpacking there. There are even also rumours that the Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich ,will be extended to the end of the month in their honour and to sweeten the deal.

    In fact they were in Berlin the night the ‘wall’ was torn down. They even have photos of their presence on that historical night , as well as large chunks of that wall.But rumours that they brought along with them a (then ) young and undocumented East German fräulein as an Au pair , has been vehemently and vigorously denied.

    Alarmed by these turn of events , both Arsenal and England are taking the drastic but urgent step of fast tracking him into their respective first teams . He is believed to be making his Arsenal debut in the Tuesday 27th October’s Capital One Cup 4th round tie versus Sheffield Wednesday .

    England in turn , hope to have him in their team for the 17th.November International friendly against Arsene Wenger’s home country of France at Wembley Stadium. If he does play in that game he would become England’s youngest ever debutant at 15 years and 338 days, beating Theo Walcott’s record present record of 17 years and 75 day set on 30th. May 2006.

    This appears to be an UA expose as no other website seems to have gotten hold of this story. Even this site seems to be still ‘checking’ it out.

    This is an overview of all rumours about a player. The probabilities are calculated by the evaluations of the Transfermarkt experts in the Rumour Mill. Get to the Rumour Mill by clicking on one of the balloons. Only rumours, which were discussed in the last 3 months, are listed.

  5. Brickfields

    I am on the floor rolling around!!!!

    Just too funny mate…thanks 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. @Brickfields

    “He is believed to be making his Arsenal debut in the Tuesday 27th October’s Capital One Cup 4th round tie versus Sheffield Wednesday”

    This part though we are capable of doing 😉

    Would be a nice birthday gift to me if he actually played and scored! 🙂

  7. Shearer and Keane should be listened to intently so we can benefit from their great experience in football management – and then we can thank heaven that we have AW.


  8. @ para -0October 22, 2015 at 8:26 am – Heard on the local sports news on the radio that Pep is heading to Chelski , once , when the club and ‘that’ manager decide to an amicable and mutual termination and tearing up of the said contract .

  9. Expect you’ll be reading the claims from Spain with interest, Tony.

    A ref ringing a linesman to tell him to favour one team over the other in a huge upcoming match. When the linesman doesn’t agree, he then has pressure applied to him by one of the main bigwigs.

    Thank heavens such things would be utterly impossible here!

    I’d hate to think what could happen ,otherwise, with a team of linesman who have been involved in Liverpool-Bournemouth and Tottenham-City respectively, overseen by a referee on trial for his top-flight life who has mysteriously, unfathomably, been selected, after one prem game in two months, to do a match involving the very team who ,supposedly, unfairly gained from a mistake worthy of such massive punishment.

    Aye, thanks goodness for some combination of our unique national character or uniquely well designed refereeing body which ensures no improprieties are possible here.

  10. Tony,

    The rumors about Arsene’s retirement appeared on Fox Sports. It was a biased interpretation of his words during an interview. No comment.

  11. Mr Attwood, morning Sir. You are welcome from your holiday. It’s a pity Para descended so heavily on Alan Shearer. I think this is one of the former England player good guy around. He played for Newcasle. And retired there? I didn’t know he’s a Spurs fan. Arsenal team at the moment is very strong to continue with their campaign in all competitions up to December ending in my view. But right now, we’ve lost one vital component part of the Arsenal machine to injury – Aaron Ramsey. Who stands in for him until he’s recovered? So that the engine doesn’t slow down. Alex Iwobi? Has he the credential to fit in into the void? Or would the Boss rely on Oxlade to step in into the vacuum? Is he dependable? Does he skyed the ball in front of goal often than not? Is he better at left wing than right wing? Will the Boss rest jaded Alexis and starts Oxlade in his place at LW and also starts Iwobi at right wing for the Everton visit? If Alexis is rested, 2 compulsory changes will be introduced by the Boss to the stable and balance Gunners No.1 starting team that is on 4 winning run. Cech. BellerinRhinoKoscielnyMonreal. CazorlaCoquelin. IwobiOzilOxlade or still Sanchez. Walcott. To start the Evertonians game? Save for any unforeseen serious issue, the Boss should allow Walcott to be starting and Giroud to be coming on as Super Sub. If Walcott scores fine. If he doesn’t, no problem. When Giroud comes on, he may score or assist to score. So too will Walcott assist to score as he starts. This game application 2 strikers data is running fine as is productive. Tampering with the application could lead to the data start running slow. The Boss should leave the application as it’s running now until some unavoidables compell him to tinker with the application. Wilshere, Ramsey and Welbeck will all come back to the Gunners’ fold in no distance time. Their performance when they have returned will inform the Boss to sign 1 or 2 top quality additions to his squad. These are my takes on Arsenal this morning. I hope I’ve not over stepped my bound.

  12. Firstly, Happy Birthday Arsene! I suspect one of your more enjoyable ones!

    As an FYI, he denied he had decided to retire at the end of his contract. The time to speculate will be in about a year’s time. Let’s hope his health remains good.

    Rich – not seen any reports re ref corruption in Spain. Can you elaborate please?

  13. Tony.

    Great piece. Pleased you had a decent break, always good to get away from the doom and gloom. I dont mean the weather, I mean the media…!

    Alan Shearer is another Fantasy Football Manager. He can’t do the proper job so he’s in a TV studio sharpening his hindsight knowledge and trying to pretend ‘he knows best’. Anyway, to pick up on the Shearer crap:

    I answered the point yesterday about Ospina. He played 18 games last season and kept 8 clean sheets, a percentage of 44%. This compared favourable to Courtois (40%) and Hart 36%). At the end of last season most fans wanted Ospina to be kept ahead of Schezney as back up to Cech. At no stage did any of these fans say he was a liability or that he drops balls from corners, as Tom suggested yesterday. After the West Ham game and the two mistakes from Petr Cech, nobody was blaming Wenger for Peter Cechs mistakes. The only reason the hindsight managers are recycling this narrative about Ospinas mistake against Olympiacos is because it allows them to blame Wenger. Ospina is our second keeper, he has over 50 International caps. If you were a casual football fan, you would assume that Arsene Wenger and picked a teenage Rookey for the game against a European powerhouse.

    Now lets consider Ospina was our PL keeper last season after replacing Shezney. We had a shakey start with Shezney in goal and the injuries at the back but at the start of January 2015 we had Ospina in goal and players had returned. So:

    Arsenal cant defend
    Shearer follows on from Sunday Supplement on 18th october with Neil Ashton, Sam Wallace, Neil Custis and Martin(I gave up on Wenger 6 years ago)Samuels repeating the ‘fact’ Arsenal cant defend. It’s why we wont win the title.

    This morning, David James was on the Alan Brazil breakfast show. He eulogised over Petr Cechs perfromance against Bayern. Before he signed off he said; “Peter Cechs perfromance just shows Arsenal have defensive problems in front of him”. I have no idea what game he was watching but it wasn’t the Bayern game.

    So here are the stats based on the PL that disprove this narrative and leave you scratching your head:

    From Jan 1st 2015 to the present – goals conceded (28 PL games):-

    Arsenal 20
    Man City 25
    Man Utd 26
    Chesleas 32
    Soton 33
    Liverpool 33
    Spurs 36

    So the facts suggest that since the start of 2015 we have conceded 5 goals fewer than our closet rivals. 5 goals, this is a huge amount.

    From Jan 1st 2015 to the end of last season (19 games):

    Arsenal 13
    Chelsea 18
    Soton 18
    Man Utd 18
    Man City 21
    Liverpool 23
    Spurs 29

    This season (9 games):

    Arsenal 7
    Spurs 7
    Man City 8
    man City 8
    Liverpool 10
    Chelsea 14
    Soton 15

    Bayern Munich
    This was the first time Bayern Munich have failed to score in a CL Group game since Decemeber 2011. This was after us all being brainwashed into beliving we couldnt stop Muller and Lewandowski because Mertesacker is too slow and we are weak defensively.

    Now its all about Cech ‘saving’ us which if anyone watched the game knows is completely wrong. In fact, Neuer kept the score down!

    Can somebody help me here because I am really struggling to understand why a completely untrue narrative is being spouted almost daily, by the media, the pundits and even some fans. Doesn’t anybody do research anymore?

  14. Correction, the Man City figure is 29 (21 +8)

    Therefore: From Jan 1st 2015 to the present – goals conceded (28 PL games):-

    Arsenal 20
    Man Utd 26
    Man City 29
    Chelsea 32
    Soton 33
    Liverpool 33
    Spurs 36

  15. Proudkev

    There are no definitive answers to that.

    Confirmation bias surely plays a large role, as does the calibre of these journalists and pundits and, more importantly, that of the larger organisations they work for and the market they serve.

    Another big contributory factor is surely the length of Wenger’s tenure. With Ferguson gone, he is now unique in this respect. One consequence is that he therefore represents a model of continuity at odds with the game and how it is covered.

    For instance, when a new manager comes into any club this allows for a kind of reset. Benefit of the doubt is extended, or perhaps wishful thinking, allowing a big effort to be positive about, say, an uninspiring 0-0 draw.This offers some- not much but some- explanation for why other clubs who have spent similar amounts in the same period and won less are not subjected to the same scrutiny as us. The rationale, if it exists, is that ‘yeah, but those clubs acted (by sacking managers)’

    In contrast with us where, say, three clean sheets on the bounce, two against huge clubs, are virtually meaningless, the product of luck as much as anything else, and will soon be proven so in the next game, or the one after that, when a goal is conceded. Regression to the mean, and to reality.

    Tony alludes well to another of the main contributory factors above. I stand by my belief Hargreaves is an ok commentator, but some of that certainly comes from my judging him against his colleagues.

    Where I agree with Tony is that he provided a great example of someone commenting from his beliefs rather than the play unfolding in front of him. Right at the forefront of Hargreaves mind was a set of beliefs about us and Bayern, concerning each player and the teams as a whole. It’s fair enough to have these beliefs, and a strong vision of how football should be played, but he did a poor job on the night of noticing anything which strongly challenged them, and was overeager to find anything which supported them.

    And that, for me, was from one of the good guys, comparatively at least, certainly one of the not-so-bad guys. What’s more, Hargreaves is someone who appears to have genuine passion and insight into the game. So…what can we expect from the not-so-good or not-so-smart guys? Yikes.

    Sadly, there was great evidence of this from martin Keown a couple of months back. It was the week where Neville had published another one of his theses about our deficiencies, focusing on our softness and the like, there’d been talk and agreement from others in the media,too.

    Keown then did one of our games and gave the very clear impression that Neville’s words were front and centre of his mind, as though he had been ruminating on them for days. There may even have been the tell tale of using one or more of Neville’s phrases. The game almost got in the way of Keown’s desire to say his bit about what was on his mind. This is quite a common event. Someone publishes one of those articles and soon after evidence arrives that others in that small world have been influenced by it.

    Final thing I’d suggest is that ego plays a tremendously big role in this. The stronger your criticism of Wenger and the team have been in the past, and the firmer the conviction has been that this is the result of ingrained, inherent flaws, i.e ones that cannot be overcome with the introduction of a new player or two, but are bone deep and basically insurmountable, the more you have on the line here. ‘Skin in the game’ is one term for it.

    Many of this cast have literally spent at least a decade severely criticising Wenger at every opportunity. Even the least intelligent of them have to instinctively realise that makes it problematic for them to radically change course and now start saying we’re a good team.

    If, over the leaner years, they had ,while criticising the team and manager, also admitted a lot of our potential and performance was determined by how much money we had relative to our rivals, and other such fundamental realities of football imposed by finances, well, it would be relatively easy and comprehensible for us to be improving in tandem with our improved, yet still far from the highest, finances. But..they didn’t do that at the time, so they can hardly allow it into the narrative at this stage.

  16. proudkev

    They don’t do research because they don’t need. Why? Because they are not interested in facts. They have made there mind up and will follow that narrative totally, irrespective of the facts/stats.

    So regarding Arsenal in the media, when it comes to analytic interpretation and subjective comment, any connection with reality went out of the window years ago.

    The saddest thing about it is there’s as many ex Arsenal players as anyone else, more than willing to contribute to, more over expand upon, this pathetic narrative.

    Wright, Seamen, Parlour, Henry, Merson, Smith, to name just a few, are an embarrassment to themselves, and the Club they claim to love, and should hang there heads in shame.

    Everyone of them selling Arsenal, Wenger, and the fans down the river for a buck.

    A bunch of ignoramuses the lot of them.

  17. Rich, Jambug.

    Well put.

    I have been saying for years that too much gets said without any accountability in the media and by the pundits. The fact that they all think they can do a better job than Wenger, when in fact they cant see what the stats tell them, is very funny.

    Some of these guys are liars, some are just mischeif makers but the vast majority are ignorant. They dont like Wenger because they know he has their cards marked. He knows what they are as he has virtually said on many occassions: Fantasy Football Managers. Aghhh.

  18. Pete

    I like that one of the commenters suggests there can’t be truth in it- because the match officials aren’t known until the week before, and the game is a month away. Good logic that, eh. They obviously haven’t figured that anyone corrupt enough to try fix a match might not exactly stick to the other rules.

    Got to be careful not to get carried away- it’s an accusation, and no more- but it did strike me as, well, the way it would play out here if there were any funny business.

    i mean, some games here certainly look as though something like that has occurred.

  19. I would love to see Shearer sign for Arsenal.

    We need someone to clean the toilets after the spuds visit. He can’t manage a piss up in a brewery but has a gob like many pundits that spews garbage.

    In all honesty we Arsenal supporters, specially Untolders should ignore all the negative rubbish aimed at us. We should concentrate on the good football we play and keep focused on removing the PGMO & all in the FA who condone cheating.

    Two instances of cheating that annoyed me in the last week were Barahino being allowed to get away with fouling the Sunderland keeper & kick the ball out of his hands, and the awarding of a penalty to Stoke for a Bojan dive complete with the side swipe foot to ensure ‘contact’. Nevill the poison dwarf said it was what he would like his forwards to do. The future looks bleak with this kind of role model being publicised by TV.

  20. menace

    “In all honesty we Arsenal supporters, specially Untolders should ignore all the negative rubbish aimed at us.”

    I agree this should be the thing to do, but in actuality I don’t think it is.

    If I thought ignoring it would mean it would go away then I would be all for it, but it wouldn’t.

    And it needs to go away.


    Because unlike some who think it’s just to sell papers, get clicks, induce phone calls, I think it’s much more subversive than that, and ultimately costs us points.

    My take on it, as many of you who read my posts will know, is that it is all done with the intention of creating an environment whereby Arsenal can be stitched up without there ever being an ‘outrage’ as we are always just getting our ‘just desserts’.

    A prime example of how it works is the Coquelin incident at Palace.

    He committed 4 fouls. Just 4. Even the booking he did get wasn’t bad. Yes probably a booking but not one Shawcross, Scholes, Rooney or a myriad of others would of got.

    Then he commits a couple more fouls, neither of which where anywhere near bookable.

    But hearing the reaction during and after the match you would of thought he was running around with an axe and had got away with attempted murder. It went on for days and still gets mentioned. It was mentioned yet again on Tuesday. It will be mentioned time and time again this coming weekend.

    Shawcross and Taylor got less criticism for breaking our guys legs. In fact we where encouraged to actually feel sorry for them.

    But that’s how it works.

    The media, by there complete over reaction and insistence on just not letting it drop, have created a public perception that Coquelin got away with murder. Arsenal got away with murder. Which we all know in reality is utter bullshit. But that’s only in reality but we are not talking about the real reality we are talking about the alternative reality that the media are hell bent in perpetuation.

    The situation we find ourselves in now is that whatever decisions go against this weekend, now matter how ridiculous, will be ok because ‘we had it coming’.

    We are soft, so we can never actually be kicked of the park. Oh no, we just get ‘Bullied’

    We cant complain about not getting a penalty because Pires was a diver and what goes around comes around.

    And so it goes on.

    Whatever happens to us. No matter how bad, it’s always our own fault because…..

    So as much as I would love to just ignore it, we cannot.

    We must highlight it as much as we can. I have gone as far as to suggest Untold need to be proactive in countering all this negativity in someway.



    I don’t know.

    But something has to be done. Silence is not the answer.

  21. Imagine putting in a knee high tackle on Neville as he walked down the street…standing up and saying “Just gettin’ stuck in Guv!” and walking away. Ah…I can dream.

  22. Menace.

    Well put. I too despair at the ex pros defending ‘cheating’ and trying to relabel it gamesmanship.

    Carragher recently admitted that he used to push strikers in the back as they jumped because he knew he couldnt beat them in the air. He and Neville agreed that this is not cheating but gamesmanship. They had a slightly different view on the issue of diving, which does not surprise me. Nevilles view is that you seek whatever advantage you can get in the opposing penalty area. He actually said he would be furious if his striker tried to stay on his feet if there was any kind of contact. He was adamant this was not cheating because there was contact.

    There are two issues here. Number 1 – as far as I know, football is still a contact sport. Contact in itself is not a foul. Neville knows this full well. Secondly, contact where a striker throws his leg into the defender is not a foul. Again, he knows this full well. They also talk about ‘avoiding’ contact by going down when you fell there will be a touch. A good example of this is Wayne Rooney who dived over Sol Campbells leg, despite Campbell pulling it away at the last second. In all these examples Gary Neville is supporting cheating.

    Yet these pundits were the first to surround referees. Gary Neville and Carragher both admitted during the same program that they would constantoly be on the referees back about decisions – because they could influence the referee. Carragher said he would scream for every corner or throw, however obvious it was for the other team.

    After the Chelsea game Martin Keown, who I like, sat there in the BBC studio and along with Shearer said Arsenal players needed to surround referees because we were too nice.

    Personally I dont want to see Arsenal players acting like that, I can’t be a hypocrite on this subject. And we all know that if Arsenal players did surround a referee, we wouldnt hear the end of it!!

    I despair.

  23. Now you’ve done it Proudkev, Jambug. Your talk made me go have another look at something I wrote about Neville earlier this year on these subjects. He got to me so much I was motivated to try write something for here. I did it but gave up at the first hurdle after some typical, for me, computer problems meant I couldn’t email it to Tony.

    Anyway, I was going to stick in a few bits from it but they don’t have much impact on their own, so I’ll just post the whole thing (that was another problem- far too long!)

    I think it’s worth a read as the longer format allowed me better to get at some of the things which have infuriated me most over the years.

    Anyway, if you’ve got 5 (maybe 10) here it is :

    A few days before the start of the new season, Gary Neville, ex Utd and England stalwart, current assistant to Roy Hodgson, and widely hailed as one of the best and brightest (and most honest!) in the football media has had some things to say about Arsenal. An article was published in the Daily Mail, featuring quotes from an interview with four four two magazine to be released later this month. The main claim is that Arsenal became more ‘precious’, for reasons unknown, around 2003.

    One of the great things about accusing another party of a quality like that is, should they protest… well, voila, case closed. Though ,of course, that is only true for those who agree with the claim in the first place. For those who don’t, and who want to say something about it, the only choice, after grudgingly doffing your cap to a piece of low cunning, is to silently fume, or fight back regardless.

    Now, ‘precious’. Interesting choice, Gary! The first dictionary definition I see has it as ‘excessively refined’, which means that Neville himself- who is surely insinuating nothing other than that we became a soft, wimpy team- is guilty of more than a little excessive refinement in choosing that term. Say what you mean, Nev! No one needs excessive refinement or affectation (a :  the act of taking on or displaying an attitude or mode of behaviour not natural to oneself or not genuinely felt) here!

    Ah, but he was probably thinking more of another definition- ‘excessively or affectedly delicate’- yes, he probably meant that. Excessively delicate things are susceptible to breaking, so that’s probably it. More on which- things breaking and snapping- later

    For now, the article itself

    ‘Between 1996 and 2001 they were the best encounters because there were no holds barred – everyone was battling and nobody was whinging.’

    ‘Then Arsenal changed. In 2003 they became a little more precious – they thought nobody could touch them. They didn’t have players who could stand up for them as much and that’s what we still see today.’

    Now, this could be true (I don’t think it is, at all, though let’s say it is), but how could you put forward a theory about how the years have gone for Arsenal since 2003, which, your theory, is specifically about battling, whinging, sticking up for yourself- things which in football involve tackling, fair and foul, and the limits of acceptable play and legitimate aggression- and not include any mention in that theory of yours of the career-threatening injuries suffered by Arsenal as a result of bad fouls in that period?

    How do you do that? It is, after all, the same topic, and those injuries are quite easily the most salient point. Those fouls were fouls which,clearly, exceeded the limits of legitimate aggression, and they had very serious consequences for individuals and for the club. Not to mention them is, from someone knowledgeable honestly commenting on that period, bizarre, or even obscene.

    You can only conclude that they slipped Neville’s mind, or were not important enough for him to include in his discussion. This, from a man revered as one of the most articulate and intelligent pundits of his generation, and one who is, apparently, passionate about professional football and professional footballers.

    What, you have to ask, is more important for a footballer than his health? The answer, obviously, is nothing. No health, no football.

    Ask Diaby. Look at how badly Eduardo’s career was affected by what happened to him. Watch the melancholy-infused Michael Owen episode in the Premier League legends series. Think how big a blow it was to Wilshere to lose another six months of his career last year, and how bad it would be for him, club and country if the same thing happened again this year- as a result, again, of another battling player, or perhaps, as Neville implies, as a consequence of Arsenal players not battling, or whingeing too much, or thinking no one can touch them?

    ‘I remember when Martin Keown, Tony Adams or Steve Bould would give our forwards a real whack. In a game between Arsenal and Manchester United, you’d expect both sets of defenders to be aggressive.

    Do the ‘precious’ invite bad challenges from fellow professionals, do they deserve it? Neville doesn’t say, but it is the implication. Or else there is no implication from him, i.e no effort or no ability to join all the dots, which is improbable given that Neville really is an intelligent and astute football man.

    But no, you can speculate all you like, yet in the end have to go on what Neville said, and what he didn’t say. And so we have no idea what role he thinks the preciousness, lack of whacks for opposition forwards from us, and lack of battle has in those injuries, nor what impact those same negative qualities will have in the future. He doesn’t say. Those injuries do not effectively exist in his version of history.

    Ironically, the normally excellent Marina Hyde put forward Neville as the outstanding candidate to replace Gordon Taylor as head of the PFA. Well, bad challenges and good health are, as suggested earlier, about the number one concern of the members of that organisation. Some will say money, but you only get the money if you are fit and well.

    If three leg breaks, from bad challenges, in four years years was normal for teams across the league (meaning 15 per year in the Prem), and if Neville had no interest in the fates of those players, and instead was calling for more aggression in the game…could there be a more unsuitable candidate for the leader of the PFA, or a more loathed one to the players? Of course not. But three breaks in four years, from bad fouls, for one team, is of course a gigantic anomaly. No other team has had to deal with anything like it; and no other team is spoken about, by Neville and many others, as one against whom special extra aggression should be reserved for. It is obviously imperative to separate cause from effect.

    Neville’s lack of interest in those injuries, and in considering whether or not they were a consequence of over-aggression on the pitch, becomes stranger after realising he was a witness on the pitch to perhaps the worst injury in premier league history.

    David Busst’s horrific injury was not the result of foul play and was truly an accident in every sense, but you would think it would leave an indelible mark on each player on the pitch that day, and at the very least make them question what the right balance is between playing hard and not endangering the careers of fellow proffesionals. (You can’t avoid freak accidents like the one suffered by Buust, but you can try to avoid tackles which carry too high a probability of bad injury, ones as bad as Smith’s, Taylor’s, Shawcross’ and McNair’s.) Did it do so for Neville? Another unknown, but what is known is that ,whatever his thoughts, they did not influence his article about Arsenal.

    Instead, Neville seems to be among those who mentally label the horror injuries as pure accidents, something separate from any continuum of fair and foul, safe enough or too reckless, challenges. This manoeuvre allows you to continue advocating playing very hard generally and against Arsenal in particular.

    All while keeping your conscience clear (guess-work, again), or at least while never saying anything which people can fasten upon and directly criticise. Which would have been the case had Neville said:

    ‘we all know Arsenal suffered some bad injuries as a result of fouls, but in my opinion this is not connected to a certain way of playing against them. No, playing hard and aggressively and injuries of the type Arsenal suffered have nothing to do with each other. There is no link’, or similar.

    No, Neville kept those issues- the style of play, and the injuries- totally separate. So things go on as they are, and another of those challenges remains more likely than it should be.
    From Neville’s view, however, and it is unfortunately the view pushed by virtually all of the press ** should there be any such foul/ injury, why, it will be simple bad luck, an unfortunate accident.

    A situation which undoubtedly benefits our rivals, including Neville’s- ‘and to hell with the rest’ – former club

    ** – when it comes to Arsenal, anyway; for a contrast, see the recent campaigns against tackles on Matic and Hazard, and the big push for greater protection of the latter [who, in terms of bookings per foul, already is the best protected player in the leaguehttp ://] .

    Grim irony in seeing the link between bad challenges and injury being given far more attention than we ever received (not hard; it was near zero for us), including 3 or 4 articles in the space of 24 hrs last weekend and, most memorably, an hour-long television appearance from an enraged manager… when the bad challenges in question did not happen to result in injury.

    But anyway, if we had a press who kept track of things, that alone is enough to force the issue to a head : it cannot be the case that ,with Chelsea, bad challenges increase the probability of bad injuries and so are unacceptable, while with Arsenal the same relationship isn’t true, and any injuries from challenges are mere accidents, and therefore unavoidable and not a product of the way teams play against that team..

    Probably best to finish with someone, Theo Walcott, who has played through these years and ,among other things, witnessed the distress of Eduardo watching from the bench as history repeated itself and Ramsey suffered his grotesque career-threatening injury.

    ‘People talked afterwards [he is discussing Ramsay’s broken leg] about how some clubs target Arsenal because they they think kicking us will jolt us out of our stride. It’s the old ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ kind of argument. As far as I’m concerned, it’s beyond doubt. People do try and kick us. The injuries we get aren’t a coincidence. They’re a direct product of the attitude some teams take into matches against us’

    Maybe even better is to leave it with someone who can less easily be dismissed as a typical Arsenal moaner. One Luis Suarez

    ‘It’s very physical. That’s something everyone accepts and respects but there are times when defenders go in so hard that it’s frightening

    I’ve seen fouls in Premier League matches that are incredible; players getting kicked, hard and deliberately. I’ve seen players get injured, I’ve seen them forced out of action for six months of more. Why doesn’t that get criticised? It’s true that a player who dives is trying to con the referee but he’s not hurting an opponent.’

    No, perhaps best of all, let’s finish with Neville, from his autobiography, Red :

    ’United were my team and i’d stand up to them in the face of logic’

    In fairness, he’s talking there about his attitude as a child, so he may have moved on from that. The next quote, however, describes his adult views. It fits with how he played, yet it is generally believed he is able to put all this aside- his loves and his enmities- in his media work. I’m not so sure.

    ‘I’ve always known this stick is the price for nailing my colours to the mast like I’ve done ever since I was a kid. But what’s football about if it’s not about taking sides, my club against yours, whether that’s on the pitch, on the terraces, in the bar or in the school playground? United till I die. And to hell with the rest.’

  24. Rich.

    Sorry about that. Nice article.

    It is coincidence that the only club to have suffered such appalling injuries is Arsenal. Dont forget, EVERY broken leg we suffered was courtesy of an ENGLISH player. The only way to play Arsenal is to get stuck in. Unfortunately, that became a mantrat and the referees bought into it too.

  25. Proudkev

    Cheers, and ,yep, all English players, all British managers, two of them very tight with Ferguson. Two worst challenges last year were also Englishman- Cahill and Upson (incredibly reckless, on Sanchez yet again)

    Surely not a coincidence that the teams who kicked us most and whose managers displayed the most animosity towards us -Pulis, Allardyce, McLeish, even Moyes- are all people close to Ferguson.

    Other contenders would be Hughes, Bruce, Pardew, Warnock, Lambert and Redknapp. Not sure if any of those are near the first lot in terms of, surely, preparing their teams in a way that makes injuries so much more likely than they should be. Hughes might,actually.

    The exception is Mourinho, who basically wanted to be Ferguson, or at least follow his blueprint.

  26. Rich

    I would say sorry, but I’d be lying.

    There’s nothing I like more than when you let rip and get into you stride, and if I was part of making you revisit those thoughts and sharing them with untold then I am happy.

    On a one on one you would rip Nevilles logic and reasoning to pieces.

    The problem is, he, like all of them, get to air there views totally unchallenged.

    Even our ever cosseted politicians at least have to face an audience of, if not hostile, at least questioning individuals who can at least put a counter point to them.

    Neville and co NEVER and I repeat NEVER have to face ONE word of counter argument.

    No body ever has a platform to challenge a word of what they say.

    Total fabrications. Lies. Factually inaccuracies. Malicious insults.

    All freely meted out without any fear of contradiction.

    Lies become truths. Facts are ignored.

    And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

  27. Cheers Jambug.

    For some reason your comment reminded me of a big silver lining- think how much worse things could have been if the government hadn’t unexpectedly blocked Murdoch’s bid to buy Utd in 1999!

    Who knows, though, maybe the warm feelings between the two companies, and whatever lines of communication were established in the buildup to the deal, didn’t dissolve instantly when it failed.

    Just imagine it,though. Murdoch in charge of his papers, Sky, and Utd. Close one.

  28. Rich,

    Thanks for posting the Nev piece. I wouldn’t mind if it were longer, and so included, say, the added hypocrisy that comes from his manager somehow successfully getting refs on his side, so that when slurgys young ones were touched, sanctions were applied immediately. I don’t think anyone can talk about game 50 – enough.

    gNev speaks affectionately about utds (cheating) in this game.
    I’m surely not alone in recognising Neville s “Arsenal compliment” as merely a one-off piece of buttering up? He’d layed out his stall of negativity towards Arsenal prior to becoming a presstitute. He’d played out his negativity towards Arsenal whilst playing.

    With his comments he encourages much ugliness on the game we love!

  29. A beautiful young model boards a plane to New York with a ticket for the economy section. She looks at the seats in economy, and then looks into the forward cabin at the first-class seats.

    Seeing that the first-class seats appear to be much larger and more comfortable, she moves forward to the last empty seat in first class. The flight attendant checks her ticket and tells the woman that her seat is in economy. The blonde replies, “I’m a famous model, and have never had this problem before. I’m going to sit here all the way, until we get to New York.”

    – Advertisement –

    Flustered, the flight attendant goes to the cockpit and informs the Captain of the blonde problem. The captain goes back and tells the woman that her assigned seat is in economy. Again, the blonde replies: “I’m a famous model, I’m sitting here all the way to New York.” . The captain doesn’t want to cause a commotion, and so returns to the cockpit to discuss the blonde problem with the Co-pilot.

    The Co-pilot says that he used to date a blond model like her, and that he can take care of the problem. He then goes back and briefly whispers something in the blonde’s ear. She immediately gets up, says “Ok, thank you”. She hugs the Co-pilot, and rushes back to her seat in the economy section.

    The pilot and flight attendant, who were watching with rapt attention, asked the Co-pilot what he had said to the woman. He replies, “I just told her that the first class seats aren’t going to New York.”

  30. Just to set the record straight , when Tony and the ‘inner sanctum ‘ of UA moderators and administrators put up the Likes/Dislikes whateveryoumaycallit gizmos , I , an alleged amateur ‘hacker’ , took certain precautions myself.

    I modified the ‘Dislike ‘ click part of all my posts , so that by clicking Dislikes to any or all of my posts would automatically put you and your computer /laptop/ cell phone in a ‘special ‘ watch list .

    Does your computer seem unduly slow or unresponsive lately ? BAM ! You have been outed! Getting some weird and unusual spam and unwanted attention from strange site ? DITTO ! The wife getting some of your own very personal e-mails ? Tee Hee !

    The only way to clear this problem is to repent , praise the Lord Wenger ( Many happy returns to him and all that !), get back to supporting the Arsenal , hail the AKBs and click ‘ Likes’ a thousand times for every ‘Dislike’ you previously clicked in your former stupidity .This ought to keep you lot busy so that you cannot hijack our great discussions on here. Do it now !

    This is not a hoax – you have been warned . Brickfields Gunners is watching you !

  31. Rantetta

    Thanks and you’re dead right : discussion of Neville, and so that article, is utterly incomplete without discussing the other side of it, the diving and so forth, all the stuff that made Neville, Utd and, especially, their boss such supreme hypcocrites.

    It goes hand in HAND : Few of the teams who will foul viciously, when they believe they can get away with it, will not also dive pathetically when they believe they can get away with that. Anything to win, fair or foul, guarantees both or rather all types of cheating, and also guarantees lies and hypocrisy beforehand and afterwards. Mourinho exemplifies this with every word and act.

    I plead struggling with the new task of cutting my arguments down to article-sized size on that one. I wrote a fair bit more, and could have written more again, but then started lopping bits off to try get near my aim (an article of the length you see on blogs)

    I realised re-reading it yesterday, though, that the article I ended up with is too kind and presents him as someone who is perhaps guilty of nothing more than being a believer in ultra-aggressive football, especially towards us, then lying about it afterwards, alongside being much less capable of overcoming his Utd allegiance than is commonly believed.

    As you suggest, it is surely much more sinister than that. The thing I would really like to have got into is the question of how much he knew , then and now.

    Simply put, does Neville understand perfectly well that, for instance, the sort of fouls he made on Reyes that day were cast iron bookings. I would say it is impossible for him not to know that- with the evidence being he would rarely, if ever, begin a European or international game with such challenges, and if ever did, he would know a booking was guaranteed.

    Moreover, he regularly shows in his commentary a sound grasp of what a booking is. He might not be consistent, thanks to those disguised allegiances, but he knows what a booking is.

    So, at what stage did he know that what should be a booking would not be a booking on that day, and others?

    My argument would have been that he knew perfectly well beforehand that what should be, what is, a booking, would not be a booking that day. I would have then tried to justify that claim, while asking how it could be that a player could know that.

    Finally, I would want to look at the possibility he both knows and doesn’t know, in other words that there is a strong element of denial in how he and other Utd players lived then and now.

    If what we believe to be the truth is the truth- that there was something terribly wrong with the refereeing on that day, inexplicable by normal means- it quite obviously means it was not confined to one day, and could, in fact is very likely to, extend over a long long period. The implications of that are gigantic, and they include taking away a huge amount of the merit of what must be among the most important things in Neville and others lives. Quite possibly that could end up fuelling exceptional hatred.

    That would be where the knowing while not knowing comes into play, the denial, and the extreme motivation to push that thesis that we became soft. I believe it is a distinct possibility that Neville is therefore genuinely somewhat messed up mentally : as a man who knows full well what a booking is, knew during his career that he could regularly operate outside the proper parameters, but is unwilling to fully confront that, because he knows full well what it means.

    A proper case of cognitive dissonance. His answer is to push very hard the idea that while they played the game hard on, say, game 50 (or, sometime around 2003) it was nothing excessive, just good old fashioned aggressive play… but you have to wonder how any intelligent football man, who knows perfectly well what a booking is, can believe that any time he rewatches those games.

    Does he look at it and go ‘phhh, I got away with that!’, or something else? I cannot believe it is the former, so what options are there for the latter, the something else?

    Plus, I believe exactly the same things are in him now, and that if he watched a key Utd game he’d still try claim a Utd challenge similar to his on Reyes is not necessarily a booking, while of course insisting vehemently it was a booking if anyone did anything similar to a Utd player; and that in a ‘neutral’ game he wouldn’t even question the matter- he’d identify it easily as a booking and say so. The legacy therefore endures and maybe that same cognitive dissonance.

    It all hinges around how much he knew, then and now.

  32. Ha, and no I didn’t mean to capitalise ‘hand’ just now. Don’t know what the hell happened there.

  33. Whether Arsenal/The players did suddenly start complaining to Referees a bit more around the time as Neville suggests, it had nothing to do with suddenly becoming ‘precious’ or ‘soft’.

    If it kind of happened ‘overnight’, as he seems to be suggesting, then surely he’s talking about the same set of players then. No?

    So just ask yourself, why would the same set of guys that where ‘Hard’ on Saturday afternoon, all of a sudden be ‘Soft’ on Monday Morning?

    That would be very odd indeed wouldn’t you of thought. Peoples personalities don’t just change overnight. So logically, any change in how they where reacting to incidents must be down to something else wouldn’t you of thought?

    And that something else was how they where being refereed.

    That’s what changed, and that’s what the players started see.

    Of course players have a whinge when they don’t get a foul, or they think they’ve been harshly treated, but by and large, as long as the refs seen to be ‘even handed’ everyone just gets on with it. But that’s what changed. WE saw it, so I think it’s pretty obvious the players saw it.

    Lets be honest, the disgrace that was the OT game, it could hardly of been any more obvious.

    And on it went, and the players didn’t like it, and quite rightly kicked up about it. That’s not being ‘precious’ that’s being human.

    When I played I was, in my early days, a ‘nippy’ winger I could often be the target of some pretty ‘close attention’.

    But I honestly didn’t give a **** how many times I was kicked. I saw it as a massive compliment. What I did give a **** about was how the referee dealt with it. As long as I got my free kicks. As long as he dealt with the perpetrator, I was fine.

    When it gets to you is when the ref is just allowing you to kicked off the park (where have we heard that before?) without doing a thing about it.

    My frustration and complaining to the ref had nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING to do with being precious.

    It was a sense of a grave injustice. And it hurts.

    And that’s what I think happened to the Arsenal players, and indeed Wenger himself.

    They saw this grave injustice being perpetrated upon them, week in, week out, and they where ‘pissed’, not ‘precious’ Gary, just pissed.

  34. I am so glad I kept re-visiting this thread.

    I’d like to make it clear that I in no way sought to criticise any “shortness” or “omissions” from your post, Rich. Indeed, I find it entirely laudable that you try to make your pieces a certain ‘size’, and I’d reiterate – you could write anything at any length as far as I’m concerned, due to the quality of your posts.

    I like the way you express even-handedness when assessing GN. I personally have long made up my mind that he’s just the kind of commentator Sky want. There was one season between GN retiring and his appearance as a main ‘chatshite’ on Sky. I can imagine his schooling for this role, which would’ve started long before his retirement.

    For example, he wrote this piece about the 50th game in 2011:

    GN clearly minimises the on-field assaults against Arsenal players (as he’ll obviously always do, hence the “soft/precious” labelling). I tend to think the “1984-ness” of GN’s early articles didn’t appear due to his studies in sociology or other school/college learning. After all, there are plenty within the industry who could’ve/would’ve helped him pen the crap.

    The Guardian at least made one mention of the ref in their article about the 50th game, and even mentioned Ferdinand’s tackle. But I’d started to despair about this rag I’d once loved so much – before even this – because I couldn’t figure out why a newspaper that seemed to investigate “things” properly and thoroughly – had joined (or had always been part of?) the anti Arsenal brigade.

    “how much does he know”?

    He knows it all, and he has learned how to “Orwellianise” it. This makes him a top broadcaster. What’s funnier for me is his coaching credentials. Him and his brother. How does that work? (Rhetorical). I guess that – to the English football establishment, they’re just precious.

    It has been posted so many times before – the 10 min. video of the 50th game. I post it because I’d like anyone watching it for the 1st or 2nd time to pay close attention to the replays and the commentary, because the angles and close ups broadcast and the comments made, have changed considerably since that game.

    Only by watching this a few years ago did I realise that Andy Gray had at some point said positive things about Arsenal during a live broadcast, and he even admitted a mistake (on 2nd showing), whilst the main comm described Rooney’s 1st attempted assault as something akin to Rascality!

    50th game highlights:

    And this is why Jambug has IMO always been on the ball with regards to the role of the “Presstitutory” in setting the ongoing narrative.

  35. Rantetta

    Some great points.

    And thanks for the faith, I have something to say about the “Presstitutory” in the ‘Matchfixing in Spain?’ thread.

  36. Rantetta

    Didn’t think for a moment you were being critical mate.

    Can’t remember exactly what I was on about but no doubt it was something to do with trying to make light of how I get carried away once I start writing, especially about Neville, or Riley, or game 50, etc.

    Not sure I’m up for game 50 replay today,though. I save that for special occasions. My rule is : If in doubt, watch those highlights again.

    As it happens, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen highlights of the game on Sky over the years, in contrast to,say, that horrible 6-1 defeat to them, which I’ve stumbled upon a few times this year alone.

    I would have expected them to show it frequently, with all the incriminating bits edited out. Maybe they do and I’ve just been lucky, or maybe it’s a suspiciously short edit if they do that.

  37. Jambug

    What you’re talking about in the last post is typical of most of the worst of it.

    Nearly all the articles I read about the Wenger Jose feud turn around the fact they both criticise each other, and conclude they are therefore both as childish as each other.

    Mourinho, meanwhile, is taking the same thing to another level with his crap about ‘weak and naive’.

    I don’t want to try analyse it too far as that feels like a sort of victory for him, the aim even of what he does even- he spouts this crap which forces you to expend energy on it which you know from the offset is a bad use of time- but safe to say his main method is trying to remove things from their original context.

    It’s pitched at just the right level, as while most people get very animated about football, and many spend a lot of time thinking about it, does anyone really want to spend too much time dissecting Mourinho’s claims? No, as an amateur with a life to get on with there are better things to do ; as a journalist or media professional, well, he knows his audience alright.

    It’s all the same thing ,though.

    These people are relentless, and Mourinho has enjoyed great success in painting it as two managers aiming similar levels of criticism at a referee and then being treated differently afterwards. It has been one sustained assault on the context of those complaints, and their legitimacy. Neville did the exact same things in terms of what our players had to complain about- i.e lots- at the time.

    Always worth remembering,though, that none of it is actually particularly clever and all of it relies on our journalists here enabling it. They’re clever enough to know who they’re dealing with, and no more than that.

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