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June 2021

So here we are at Article 6000 on Untold Arsenal. What have we learned so far?

By Tony Attwood

Earlier today Untold received a comment which began, “This site is pathetic, the moment someone dares to have an opinion that is different from yours you jump on them like spoilt little children!”

There was nothing special about this comment – we get a few of them a day, with a range of variations, some abusive, some just telling us we’re wrong.

When we first started getting them I was a bit puzzled but these days, what with this being the 6000th article to appear on Untold Arsenal, they bring a slight smile to the edge of my lips; the sort of smile one might give when the neighbour’s rather annoying dog has just made a mess in the neighbour’s own garden rather than in the middle of the road, or on the footpath outside my house.

I am of course much taken by the fact that the writers of such emails still read us, and indeed bother to write, for they surely must know that we’ve heard it before, and must understand that if you write to a publication to tell the publishers that their publication is pathetic, you are not likely to get your piece published.

But still, I do read some of them (although these days many are automatically caught by the spam filter and removed), and I do wonder.

Before I started Untold, 6000 articles ago, I couldn’t have imagined that receiving such missives could become part of my daily life.  But then nor could I possibly have imagined that Google Analytics would kindly tell me that in the past 12 months, we have had 6,268,923 page views (at least as at 1600 GMT today.)

But to me there’s so much more to it than that.

I think that thanks to our unique team of Walter, Andrew and Usama, we really have opened the world of refereeing to a much wider public debate than ever more, and there are even hints that the media and PGMO themselves have noticed that we are here, asking that same old question – why are there so few referees that we get the same ones over and over, thus increasing the chance of corruption and local bias.  (Plus of course that annoying statistic, that they are employing people who can get a lower accuracy rate in their decision making than if they handed out decisions on the pitch at random).

I guess I knew we were making progress when the BBC interviewed Walter and Dogface – and from that point on it has been smooth riding all the way.   PGMO may pretend we don’t exist, but the still at which they moved after Walter made fun of their non-engagement in video refereeing tells its own story.

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The amount of data that has been collected is stupendous, and while the supporters of some other clubs occasionally snigger at the effort, I know for a fact that a lot of supporters groups of other clubs wish they had the talent and dedication on board so they could do the same.

The work on pointing out how the media manipulates football seems to be gathering steam as well and again I perceive occasional changes of direction by writers and commentators who have been suckered into the dominant reality without really thinking what’s going on.

We even managed to enlarge awareness of just what sort of club Barcelona has become, following their run in with Fifa over transfers and the hilarious appeals they put in after they were found guilty.  It was interesting that even after all the appeals were over and they were banned for a year, several English newspapers were still printing rumours about who they were going to sign in the next window.

And we had our fun telling how the change in the Swiss law could make life difficult for Fifa.  I suggested (long before all the events that led to the fall of Blatter started) that Fifa would move its regular meetings to Venezuela, but they chose to ignore my advice, and look what happened.

It’s also been a good time for unravelling many of the established myths surrounding Arsenal (for example that Arsenal have the most injuries) and it was interesting just how quickly that whole “Arsenal injury crisis” story was abandoned by the media once the figures were out.

Of course that hasn’t always happened.  We’ve shown over and over that having the home grown rule for Premier League players doesn’t help England at all – in fact it hinders.   The model for the Netherlands, Belgium and other countries through which top players go abroad in order to learn their trade, combined with a much, much, higher number of qualified coaches, is the solution as the statistics show.

Which of course brings us on to our old chums the FA.   While there are now several papers that are openly espousing a complete winding up of Fifa, no one is really willing to lay into the FA, so that remains a matter for us, exposing their incompetence and the financial disaster that the organisation has been, since its last insane World Cup bid.  The fact that Dyke can seriously stand up and say that England should now be bidding for another WC shows we’ve still got a long way to go to convince anyone that the FA is far from fit for purpose.

And there are other matters.  Thanks to Blacksheep we have our banner at the Emirates – something that would never have happened if it had been left to me.  There are a number of people within Arsenal who know about us and what we stand for, we have had Bob Wilson and John Radford write for us, and now Arsene Wenger has written a Foreword for a book we are publishing in a week or so’s time.
So many themes have been covered, from the corruption of various clubs to the commentaries on how transfers is generally not the solution to any clubs problem – any more than changing the manager guarantees a way of resolving issues.
We’ve even answered the same old same old points made by readers who don’t read – or at least don’t read very much.  Like the guys from Tottenham who tell us we are fixated by them and say “why don’t you write about your own club?” and those people who pop up every now and then and assert anything from the notion that Arsenal bought its way into the First Division to… well, make up a story and there it is.  In a world where opinion is fact, everything is possible.

Which I suppose inevitably brings us to “You can prove anything with statistics” – a comment we’ve had so often that it must win the prize not only for the most repeated comment but also the most boring.

The fact is you can probably prove most things with bad or irrelevant statistics, (although proving that gravity doesn’t exist and that television sets are operated by the sexual activity of gnomes in the garden is probably going to stretch the imagination of even the most mathematically illiterate person).    But statistics which are well researched and relevant to the matter in hand are a major tool for unravelling what is happening and why.

The statistics that “proved” Arsenal got more injuries than anyone else, were completely wrong simply because they were wrong – no one had bothered to add up the data properly.  The notion that the cause of “all the Arsenal injuries” was Arsene Wenger was just an invention; we couldn’t disprove that Wenger was the cause, because there was no cause.  Other clubs got more injuries.

Now Wenger is the cause of our current poor form because he won’t change his methods.  The fact that other clubs go through dips, often far greater than ours seems to be irrelevant.  It’s all Wenger’s fault.  So yes, you can assert anything without statistics – that bit is true.

Before I started Untold and published Article 1, thoughtfully titled Arsenal witness the end of football I didn’t realise how many people have the viewpoint that, “This is my opinion and it equals your evidence and research,” but that it seems is where we are in the world today.  Thus I am reaching the conclusion that a substantial number of our critics are people who actually don’t know the difference between evidence and opinion.

I must say that I find the idea of a world in which the notion of “evidence” is missing, a rather strange world, but I suppose it is by and large the world of politics, horoscopes, transfer rumours and economic forecasting.   Still, none of that makes it right.

Opinion, of course, is fine if it is backed up by evidence or at least a consistent theory, but by and large simply calling a writer an idiot is not (at least in my opinion) an evidence based approach.

And so we reach the viewpoint that because I don’t do this, it is by nature rubbish; because I don’t think this, it is by definition wrong.  You’re a idiot, stop your publication, go away.  Or words to that effect.

For a person brought up to admire all artistic creations as an expression of the human spirit, and to value scientific and mathematical analysis as the fundamental of our understanding of the world, it is frightening viewpoint, and so I have come to realise that before I started Untold Arsenal I had lived a fairly sheltered life.  I mean I had friends in all walks of life, and found myself as much at home in a postgraduate conference on the psychology of perception as on the terrace at the Clock End at Highbury, but I am not sure I really had too much exposure to this view “I think this so it is right” view of the world.

Indeed I find this the most frightening vision of reality of all, for it is surely the basis racism and intolerance and is also the foundation of all forms of political and religious extremism.

But despite such revelations I am still here publishing Untold and when I get too depressed about the views of some of my fellow human beings I usually have Billy the dog, and Sir Hardly Anyone on hand to keep me sane (or is it the other way around).

And I am here because on the one hand because we have a readership far beyond anything I could ever have imagined, and on the other hand because it has given me my friendships with Blacksheep, Walter, and Andrew, plus I must mention Ashley of Goonernews, who has helped and supported us throughout.  Plus of course all the many, many contributors whom I have never met but who so kindly send in their articles to be published here.

Thank you for reading; if you hadn’t been there I guess I’d have stopped long ago.

The Untold Books

The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.

From the History Society

Just how does Mr Wenger’s 20 years compare with the 20 years before him?

Arsenal in the 70s part 22. July to Dec 1978. Surviving without Macdonald.

36 comments to So here we are at Article 6000 on Untold Arsenal. What have we learned so far?

  • Geoff Alvis

    So Arsenal’s poor form for the last 11 years under Wenger is a blip? It’s all good and well to saviour the past, but every club needs to change with the times and update methods.

  • Usama Zaka

    6000 up and running, and continuing to do so. Keep it up Tony 🙂

    p.s thanks for the mention. 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Many congratulations to all at Untold for all you have achieved, for all those you helped educate and enlighten on the way.
    When you list what this site has been part of, pretty outstanding really, no wonder those at Arsenal know all about it.
    Of course not all agree, with all on here, some express that articulately, even with evidence, others probably have about as much awareness of what really goes on as the average Trump voter. …or in some cases, even worse.
    Look forward to the next 6000, wonder what changes we shall see in that time?
    On a slightly off topic note, hope ref Kevin Friend is ok

  • Pat

    Thanks Tony and everybody for the 6000. Very glad I found you. Glad to still be a reader. Whether after victory or after defeat, Untold is the site to turn to.

  • Fishpie

    Great site Tony. And thanks for letting me contribute a handful of those pieces which aren’t always as loyal to Mr Wenger as you guys are. It shows you are fair. But essentially you are a seeker of factual truth. You deserve Arsene to be successful more than most. Happy 6000.

  • sam

    ‘Untold’ has been my daily staple for years. It used to be ANR until the gentleman embarks on a personal vendatta against our manager.
    Thanks for your insightful and encouraging articles.

  • Polo

    Congratulations and thank you to Tony and other UA contributors. A great site I was lucky enough to stumble upon. Keep up the excellent work guys.

  • Menace

    Thank you Tony for keeping me sane. I love the fact that my take on the PGMO is being substantiated with evidence & it upsets the WOBs. Here’s to the fall of the next ‘Berlin wall’ as reported by Untold.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Congratulations Tony , keep up the good work , thank you and here’s to the next 6,000 . I do hope to contribute a few more lighthearted and humorous fantasy football articles too.

    Just hope that in time this site endeavours to have retaliatory strike capability , that can send bugs ( and other forms of vermin ) into the gadgets of ‘them’ who come on here to irritate and belittle the regulars .

    A few of you younglings who are computer and tech savvy could devise a cleaning and devouring program that cleans up this site . It’ll be fun too if we watch it live as it eats up the undesirable . A red cookie monster motif with a ‘yum-yum’ sound as another one bites the dust ?

  • Arvind

    Thanks for this site Tony. This and is all I read now. I have slashed my reading list time and time and time again. Arseblog was the last to fall last month because there was a clear change in the way he was writing things for me. Hopefully, this site never changes.. for whatever reason.

    But nonetheless, thank you for being a breath of fresh air so long in a stinking pile of crap on the Internet (from a football perspective). Consistency in life is hard to achieve and gets lesser credit than it should. Thank You.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ‘ If you stand for a reason , be prepared to stand alone like a tree .
    If you fall on the ground , fall as a seed that grows back to fight again.’

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ‘ Thanks for your order from our sex shop . You asked for the large red dildo as featured on our wall .
    Please, reselect , that is our fire extinguisher . ‘

  • para

    Yes, you have done a fine job with Untold. Congrats.

    On another matter, a quote from
    “Arsène Wenger says his team must use the criticism they have received as motivation during the Premier League run-in.”

    That’s what i’m talking about, listen to it and let it inspire you.

    Now that matter is finished, AW also asks all supporters to get behind the team tonight.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Just started to write a little comment… took it away and wrote my thoughts on reaching this milestone in an article.
    Too much to say about this to be honest…

  • porter

    It’s the investigative side of Untold that makes it worth reading. Keep digging!

  • porter

    PGMOL it’s not just us though. As Costa gets Chelsea winner^tfw

  • Minesy

    Keep up the good work, Tony … this is one of the very few sane places on the internet !!! Thank you all for the articles and analysis, a refreshing change from pretty much everywhere else …

    I should also thank you for the invaluable Blake’s 7 Programme Guide … all this time and I never realised it was you !!!

    Let’s hope we have a happier trip up to The Emirates tonight …

  • Sammy The Snake

    Thanks to everyone at Untold HQ for keeping a bit of sanity in the world of Arsenal, football, and perhaps life. Keep it up!

  • Gooner S

    @Geoff Alvis

    “Arsenal’s poor form over the last 11 years” That is since 2005/2006. Poor form?

    What team have you been following? Do you have no appreciation of where we were as a club 11 years ago, why we had to change, the effects of change and where we are now?

  • Va Cong

    Congratulations Tony thank you for all the great reads and I’m glad I wasn’t going insane with you fact based reporting! Keep up the good work!

  • Geoff Alvis

    Arsene Wenger still has the highest percentage win rate of any manager Arsenal has ever had, except for the people who just managed for a handful of a games on a stand in basis.

    That’s not a blip, that is consistency.

  • Eric

    Love this site to pieces, and thats all thanks to Monsieur Attwood. Been here since the start, pretty sure i read all 6000 articles and enjoyed every single 1 of them.
    Arsenal sure are lucky, they have good directors, the best manager ever, and the very best, dedicated fans/supporters who come to their rescue when needed, not because of money, or because of misguided trust. But because they believe in what the club stands for and appreciate where the club is going. If only there were more of you, and Wenger 🙂

  • proudkev

    Well done Tony.

    The amount of time and effort you put into this blog demonstrates the love you have for this great club.

    This is how you support a football club.

    Here is to the next 6,000.

  • ob1977

    Congratulations on the 6000 articles, and the following that you have ammassed, and congratulations to all us that found you, I wish I had found you years ago for both my health and sanity…

  • Confusing opinion for fact is, sadly, rampant. It burns me up when I read someone say, “(such-and such or so-and-so) is the best (team or player), fact.” No, it is NOT a fact. When you use words like “best,” “worst,” “good,” “bad,” and so on, it is an opinion.

    A fact is something that can be proven or disproven. (Sadly, a lie is still a fact.) In contrast, an opinion cannot be proven or disproven, only agreed with or not, based on the available evidence.

    Fact: Untold Arsenal has posted 6,000 times, and its authors have sought out the facts that back up, or break down, established opinions.

    Opinion: This is a very good thing.

  • bjtgooner

    Well done the UA team, keep it going – the longer the establishment turn a blind eye to the PGMO travesty the bigger the black eye they will eventually receive!

  • Jerry

    Excellent work Tony and congratulations to you and the Untold team for reaching the 6,000 milestone! Glad to see the site running strong for the last 5-6 years or so! Keep up the great work!

  • Pete

    Congrats to all – the publisher, the editors, the writers and (nearly all) the regular commenters.

    As with Sam, my staples used to be ANR and Online Gooner. But both are so unutterably and unremittingly depressing and negative that I hardly ever go to either site now. Hell, both Palmer and Whitcher have written, generally positive, books on Wenger and Arsenal. Something must have happened behind the scenes because Wenger hasn’t changed – still as good as ever.

  • Goonermikey

    Well done everybody…………………….including Geoff Alvis who leapt in and completely proved the point of the article!!

    Sadly in the current day and age where it feels like more people vote on Britain’s Got Talent than in general Elections, I think we’re doomed to suffer people who have actually lost touch with reality despite everything they watch on TV being named exactly that!!

    Hence, we increasingly come across the idiosyncrasy of people writing an opinion and completing their sentence with the word ‘FACT’ and who I suspect actually believe that to be so………

    To conclude my observation of the mad world in which we live, if Britain really has got talent, how come none of it actually ends up on that show?!!!!

    As has been said already, thanks everyone at UA for the glimpse of sanity you bring to life.

  • Gord

    Congratulations Tony.

    Pete, I think we need to add a group. Thank you to the lurkers who come here to read, and never post. Not that we don’t want you to post, but you must like what you are reading for the most part.

  • Sushant

    Thanks to UA, for providing platform to all who beleives in fact based reporting.

  • Thanks a million Tony and the gang. You are one of the best things to have ever happened to Arsenal this side of the Invincibles, and I say that without apologies.

    Thank you Brickfields, for the spice you add everytime you write. To the UA team, may the next 60,000 come soon enough!

  • Zedsaunt

    First port of call after every game. First place that started going behind the results and started making sense about the PGMO.

    The only place that seems to recognise that to support the team you support the team. A great place to come. Thank you.

  • Anicoll5

    6,000 ! A marvellous effort – the blogging equivalent of a 8,000+ metre Himalayan peak – and many more to come I hope.

  • Rantetta

    Congrats Tony.

    To keep what I write short, I’d say the huge numbers of people reading this site confirms how wonderful it is.

    Thanks to the many positive and investigative contributors.

  • Notoverthehill

    Congratulations on the 60,000 (sic!), articles, by the regulars.

    Just shows, how opinions can be formed, by adding an extra 0. Rather like Mr Wenger’s transfer warchest. Lol!

    Carry on the good work,