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The great benefit of being a protester.

By Tony Attwood

One of the things about protesters is that they are certain of one thing: they are right.  In which case they are probably quite certain that they know exactly what will happen if their protests are not taken note of.

Image result for football protest banners

Which when you come to think of it, is a fairly good way of predicting games.   Indeed it’s never struck me before, but one could make quite a nice penny or two out of such foreknowledge especially in football now that protesting in football has become the order of the day.

Now we have an extra bit of information to hand, because Mr Wenger has actually imagined what would happen if he changed his tactics and started to tell the squad to play the long-ball approach that was initiated by Wimbledon (who themselves had success with it, winning the FA Cup).

Of course that approach would be a trifle difficult for Arsenal since the team has been built around attacking via Özil but I imagine that a few swift purchases and a period watching the videos of the 1992/3 season in which we had the tightest defence in the league (38 goals conceded) and the worst attack in the league (40 scored), should do the trick.  That was after all the masterplan by a manager who some Arsenal fans still revere.

Of course it has looked a bit at times as if Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Man U have all been trying to working out what to do about Leicester’s long ball game, and this has upset the media, who have fallen in love with the club and relabelled it the “high intensity game.”   But don’t be fooled.  It is the long ball game, as it ever was.

Image result for football protest banners

There is no doubt that tactical changes like this can produce unexpected results and indeed Atlético Madrid’s approach has also caught a few teams on the hop – but there is also always a danger in jumping on a bandwagon after having seen its success.

Clubs that do develop a new approach can have success for a while, but that “while” can be short.  The greatest surprises ever in post-war English football must have been Nottingham Forest who came third in the second division in 1976/7 then won the league the following season.

Image result for football protest banners

True they then won the European Cup for the next two seasons, but that 1977/8 triumph in the league remains their only league championship.  By 1981 they were a mid-table side that were not much threat to any of the top teams.  Eventually of course they went back down to the league from whence they came.  By 2005 they were in the third division.

The problem is that innovations in football can’t be kept secret for long.  After a year or so, all the other teams have played against the new system, and they all know what’s going on, and how to counter it.

As Mr Wenger said, “I have gone to the European managers’ meeting for 20 years and we always have the same debate. When Barcelona, who always has the most possession in the Champions League goes out, everybody says: ‘Maybe it’s the end of possession football.’


“It shows that if it is done well it can be very successful. But over a longer period, possession will still dominate. When you are not successful, it is questioned and I can understand that.”

But what Arsenal can do – as they have shown against Man U and Man City away in recent years is play a high pressure game when they suddenly need to, or hold back when they need to.

Which raises the question of why don’t they do it more often?

The answer is of course simple.  If every time Arsenal played one of the bigger teams away and used that alternative system then it would become anticipated.  You need, as your regular system, a system that is enormously flexible so that it stands a chance of winning a lot of games, while having in reserve a system that comes as a shock.

This is where Arsenal need much of the squad fit, so that until one hour before the game the opposition don’t know if they are facing Coquelin, Elneny, Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Flamini or the Ox as a pairing in front of the back four.  

The aim in short is to spread panic in the opposition dressing room as they look at the line up with one hour to go and try and work out what sort of game will be played.  The regular Arsenal game, or something quite different?

Now of course if you believe that Mr Wenger never does that sort of thing and always comes out with the same old same old, then you’ll know exactly what the result of each match will be before we even start.  

That should of course give you an enormous advantage when placing a bet.   And if you’ve really got it figured you might care to take up management – as we showed recently there are a huge number of vacancies available.

So there you have it.  If you know more than the manager and feel like organising a protest, why not go even further and take over a club.  But even if you don’t, you still might want to place a bet, and if so, you might want to try

Good luck.

33 comments to The great benefit of being a protester.

  • Arthur

    Brilliant article Tony. I really enjoyed reading it. I view the debate as being between thug football and the beautiful game. Pocchetino and simeone represent thug football. Wenger represents the beautiful game. Unfortunately many of our so-called supporters prefer thug football.

  • porter

    The secret is to be able to switch systems mid match , to have players trained sufficiently that without substitutions can change from say a flat back four to three at the back seamlessly and switch again as the game progresses. Over time only a very few teams have been able to do it the great Ajax team was one . Teams that come with rigid plans set up to stifle play can only be beaten by variation . Just like a batsman not knowing where his off stump is , when you can disorientate a defender and make him lose contact with his partner the chances of getting through their lines are greatly increased.

  • Polo

    Great article Tony, totally agree. If AW was such a bad manager, surely the WOBs would be making a lot of money betting against Arsenal.

  • colario

    ‘Thug football’ I remember the first time I used that phrase. It was to my spuds friend after a NLD game in which the ref had allowed spuds to kick lumps out of us.

  • Pat

    Enjoyed the article, Tony. Thought provoking analysis. Yesterday we were very efficient, so Arsene Wenger must be pleased as we have had lots of chances in some other matches and failed to score. But that could be due to finding it difficult to deal with bus parking, which Man City didn’t do. Two shots on target, two goals – that’s efficient!

  • ARSENAL 13

    Remember last week when Mr Wenger said, away from home we are champions??…And the reaction to it with all the tables and all..

    Today Orbinho put out a stat on twitter. ARSENAL have the best conversion rate (20%) in the top flight away from home. So Mr Wenger was right after all.

  • Pete

    Loved the pictures!

    As ever, I stopped watching as soon as the final whistle went. Were any protest banners shown again? Or were the perpetrators prevented from so doing by loyalists – or had they just given up now that they know they are (i) a very small minority and (ii) the subject of ridicule from anyone with any football knowledge?

    I heard Eddie Jones, the Aussie now England’s rugby head coach, on Radio 5 this morning recounting his experiences with Wenger and Guardiola – and waxing lyrical about what a great job Wenger has done.

  • NuttnTiddy

    The Spuds have been playing “Push and Shove” all season and very effective it has proved. Will it last, well it is now the fashion and is promoted via the media who delight in games such as against Chelsea when quite clearly Spuds took to the field ready to foul. How many fouls did they make in the first ten minutes? I would think at least six, then soft refereeing allowed them to continue and Chelsea thought sod it, lets have a go as well. It is also very hard to play against a team that continually fouls after the ball is played as the ref waves his arms around indicating play on. We must remember that Spuds have made the most fouls in the Premier this season and have the player with the most fouls. Now please don’t try and tell me that this is not a deliberate tactic by the club, and I read somewhere that their manager was sent off thirteen time as a player, is this correct? Let us hope for the sake of the game that “Push and Shove” is just a passing faze, but I have my doubts.

  • LuvYourClub

    I won’t be celebrating St Totteringham Day if it happens on Sunday as it will just cover up sadly the step backwards we have taken from the great Wenger sides and failing to take a step forward. Don’t get me wrong I love Arsenal and give Wenger my backing but it shouldn’t stop me from looking at what has gone wrong as well as the positives. Sadly with the net and social media, fans get pushed into a corner in their views and can’t be flexible with their views because of all the hate and abuse you get not just from rival fans but your own fans. Untold is a great site but sadly has to be 100% Arsenal and not look at games and situations as they really happen, wrong tactics, player played badly, ref was awful because a point has to be proved against the AAA. In the perfect world this should be a site that is well written but can say I think Player X should of started over Player Y and Player Z didn’t play well but my God Player A, K and M played fantastic and there were some brilliant pasages of play.

    As I said St Totteringham Day should be thrown in the bin as it only came about once Tottenham started challenging Arsenal for top 4 football or finishing above them after so many years of a huge gap between the clubs which has nearly been closed and could open up the other way. Spurs get mocked with it as many Arsenal fans wipe they brow, take a deep breath and are just thankful it didn’t happen again. It will be used again if the football Gods shine on Arsenal Sunday but think about why it is used.

  • Polo

    @ LuvYourClub

    This is one of the reason why comments like this get hounded down ‘it will just cover up sadly the step backwards we have taken from the great Wenger sides and failing to take a step forward.’ You didn’t put a reason why Arsenal is stepping backwards and failing to take a step forward. If you back up with evidence than your point would be more respected, otherwise it will be treated as a snipe or just another hate comment towards the club.

  • Menace

    Just in – Platini will resign after loss in court. Ban for 4 years. Laughable sentence term for a nasty bit of work.

  • Polo

    @ Pete, according to ArsenalFanTV on YouTube, one of the interviewee said some of the fans wanted to hold up the protest banners and placards but other Arsenal fans didn’t let and a fight broke out. Sad that this is happening, Arsenal fans fighting each other.

    In my opinion, the banner brigades should be allowed to hold up their banners as it is their right to do it, they shouldn’t be attacked for doing so. Only one match to go and this season is over, hopefully everybody calms down.

  • ClockEndRider

    I think the problem this season is that so few can see what the system is supposed to be. I certainly can’t. Yesterday’s point didn’t feel like a result arrived at was a result of a system at all.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    The Boss has said that, let him and this season’s overall performance of the Gunners be judged at the end of the season.

    Well, the season wiil end on Sunday and Arsenal are likely to finish with 81 points in the final table of the season if they beat Aston Villa at the Ems.

    A win over Villa will guarantee Arsenal their desired 3rd place finish in the table. But their aims to finish for the 20th consecutive seasons above Spurs is still in danger. Save if Spurs lose their final game to Newcastle and Arsenal win theirs against Villa. I am sure we all know that.

    I’ll want to pass my own judgements against the Boss and the Gunners before the season finally ends on Sunday.
    1. The Boss doesn’t take kindly to constructive criticism which is a kind of advising him. He gets angry and take offence and ignored the criticism whenever him and the Gunners performance is being criticized by the disgruntled Arsenal supporters. Consequently failing to address the reason for the disgruntlement.

    2. That Boss ignoring the criticism of himself and the Gunners sometimes shabby performances on the field of play for which the Boss is responsible for, has led the Boss and the Gunners to become complacent in their drives to win the title in the last 3 seasons. 2 out of which Arsenal had been better placed in recent seasons to win it.

    3.The Boss has continue to reject or refused to strengthened his squad adequately with top quality players at the appropriate time. Thus, falled to do the needful for his squad to greatly enhanced their titles challenge.

    4.The Boss philosophy of attractive possession based footballing is okay provided he has the right and capable players who can play it to the letter. But has he gotten them all? I think he has some and is lacking some. And this is where the problem lies.

    If the Boss can fill the top quality gap that is gapping presently in his squad during the summer deals to enhance the strength of his squad and if necessary restrengthened them also during the winter movements, the sky could be the limit for Arsenal to excel in winning titles next season.

    If I should add, Arsenal youth policy of promoting a youth player from their under 21 squad should totally remained in place. If money permits, how about Paul Pogba at Arsenal’s mid field in addition to N’golo Kante at their CDF position next season if my speculations can carry any weight? And it has already been widely accepted that Arsenal will need a top top quality CB, LB and a striker for a likely successful titles campaign next season.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Sorry, this my android is too fast. I pressed the stop button to stop my comment from posting so that I can correct my error of saying, Arsenal will likely finish the season in the table with 81 points instead of 71 points a recent all time low.

  • Leon


    It could be argued that finishing second is progress of a sort. ie 4th,3rd,2nd and next season 1st.
    I don’t usually celebrate St. Totts, because it’s a given, but this has been very close, rather like the “mind the gap’ season and worth a pint or two when we do it.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sometimes , what’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander.

    Fred is 34 years old and he is still single.

    One day, a friend asked, “Why aren’t you married? Can’t you find a woman who will be a good wife?”

    Fred replied, “Actually, I’ve found many women that I have wanted to marry, but when I bring them home to meet my parents, my mother doesn’t like them.”

    His friend thinks for a moment and says, “I’ve got the perfect solution, why not find a girl who’s just like your mother?”

    A few months later, they meet again and his friend says, “Did you find the perfect girl? Did your mother like her?”

    With a frown on his face, Fred answers, “Yes, I found the perfect girl. She was just like my mother. You were right, my mother liked her very much.”

    The friend said, “Then what’s the problem?”

    Sadly, Fred replied, “My father doesn’t like her.”

  • ARSENAL 13



    1. Show me one constructive criticism. Please do that favor once. If every disgruntled supporter was made happy, we would’ve had Samba, Capoue, Caroll, Balotelli all playing for us. You are disgruntled because you prefer to be… Dont make Mr Wenger responsible for that.
    2. Evidence my friend evidence. If ignoring criticism has lead to ARSENAL failing to mount challenge is you accusation, then we need proof to believe it. Send it to Tony, hell post it.
    3. TOP QUALITY PLAYERS, Who are that? Kante?? MAhrez?? VArdy??? Morgan? Who?

    BUT Untold can give you evidence. Evidence against points robbed. Why ignore it? If you think its not a good enough evidence, why not prove your case?

    Disclaimer: you is not you Samuel. You = disgruntled fans.

  • Rich

    My memories are so poor now of Wimbledon style football but I have the idea it was quite a lot different to Leicester’s football.

    My impression of the old 4-4-2 was that there was less emphasis on waiting for a mistake to pounce upon; more hitting it long and relying on knock-downs, bouncing balls and general chaos; less commitment to counters at speed and less bus parking. Extremely physical and dirty at times, often maybe, but not in as cynical a way as today.

    I’d be glad to hear from anyone with a better memory than me or who was simply a bit older than me at this time to know if that general impression I have is incorrect.

    Basically, I think the old way was brilliantly suited to us as it gave us so much scope for devastating counters, at any score, as opposed to today when it is only a possibility when leading against a team who are desperate for a positive result*; the new way much less so.

    I watched a game from somewhere in the mid to late 90s on sky the other day of us playing Chelsea. Wright and, especially, Bergkamp, murdered them. 3-0 or 3-1 at the Bridge.

    For every goal and some other near misses, Chelsea played a high line which made it so easy (or at least comparatively so) for us to breach them with one good ball to put a striker through 1-on-1 with the keeper.

    Good times, and beautiful to watch. We’d be in our element if the opposition did the same today, as Galatasaray did at the Ems last year. The swines won’t ,though, so we have to do it another way.

    Only idea I have for beating the bus better is through more clinical finishing and an increased ability to deal with counters. Bayern vs Athletico would probably be a video worth watching a few times over to get ideas about the challenge. The first half was the best I’ve seen against it. They seemed to use a bit of everything : speed, width, early crosses, different types of crosses, diagonals. Find it hard not to see the main thing as the individual ability of players, though.

    Sobering that it didn’t work, but they gave it a hell of a good go and it was against the best defensive team around.

    * or against City who, to date, have remained an attacking team who are a better fit for us than the other big guns

  • Pete

    Polo – I don’t condone violence at all.

    However, if someone has shelled out a lot of money on tickets and travel in order to support the team, they won’t be very happy if that is undermined by a protestor. If you are supporting your team and someone is criticising them, then that person becomes by default a fan of the opposition. If they are in “your” part of the stadium then they are actually subtracting value from your team rather than adding to it. This is why crowd segregation was introduced in the first place! Maybe the WOBs should sit with the home fans at Arsenal away games… Then everyone’s interests will be aligned?

  • bushido

    ARSENAL 13-May 9, 2016 at 9:48 am of cos A.Wenger was right, he was in football management for over 30 years. yet some peoples think they knew more than A.Wenger

  • Polo

    @ Pete, I agree with your points but the protesters has a right to protest wherever they like even if we don’t agree with it, I’m looking at it in a social perspective. Look, I don’t agree with their protest and I personally think it’s stupid but I don’t believe in taking away somebody’s democratic right to protest.

    I wish they do it either before the game or after the game not during the game, frankly I wish they don’t protest at all.

    ‘This is why crowd segregation was introduced in the first place!’ That’s the sad thing about football where both sets of fans can’t sit together to watch a football match without abusing and insulting each other, it’s really disappointing that as a civil society we have to segregate people.

    Love this thinking ‘Maybe the WOBs should sit with the home fans at Arsenal away games…’ this would be great to see. Imagine they sat alongside the Aston Villa or Newcastle or Sunderland home fans, how stupid these WOBs would look.

  • Al

    Brilliant article, thoroughly enjoyed it, and some equally good comments too from the usual suspects.

  • Stevo

    Two men had not seen each other for many years and in their discussion one said to the other, ” Did you ever get married?” to which the other replied, ” yes, i did get married twice, but I had bad luck with both of them” “oh dear” said the friend , ” What happened?” ” Well the first one left me and the second one didn’t!”

  • If people feel they must protest then it should be done before or after a match and not brought into the Stadium as the bad feeling carries over to those who support the team and the manager and then it ripples down to the players. Don’t kid yourself if you think that this knock on effect will not affect those playing and trying to win the game.
    I noticed at the Emirates that when we did score recently that the players who after scoring would usually run to the crowd instead celebrated with just their team mates. They are just like everyone else and of course they pick up on it. There is a time and a place if people think that they must but the Emirates is neither.

  • timo

    that’s painful Linda. to play alone in 60000,seated stadium capacity. if these guys play to themselves coz the fans are harsh, it looks a response, one of the negative outcomes of persistent criticism yet by a minority group.

  • Timo
    Get a life.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Change may not always be good for you !

    Mike wanted to have sex with a girl in his office…..but she belonged to someone else. One day Mike got so frustrated that he went up to her and said, “I’ll give you a $100 if you let me have you!”

    But the girl said “NO!”

    Mike said, “I’ll be fast, I’ll throw the money on the floor, you bend down, and I’ll be finished by the time you pick it up.”

    She thought for a moment and said that she would have to consult her boyfriend… she called her boyfriend and told him the story. Her boyfriend said, “Ask him for $200, then pick up the money very fast. He won’t even be able to get his pants down.”

    So she agrees and accepts the proposal. Half an hour goes by and the boyfriend is waiting for his girlfriend to call. Finally after 45 minutes the boyfriend calls and asks what happened.

    She replied, “The bastard used coins!”

    Management lesson: Always consider a business proposal in its entirety before agreeing to it and getting screwed.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Change study no : 2 .

    It was a practical session in the psychology class.
    The professor showed a large cage with a male rat in it.
    The rat was in the middle of the cage.
    Then, the professor kept a piece of cake on one side and kept a female rat on the other side.
    The male rat ran towards the cake and ate it.
    Then, the professor changed the cake and replaced it with some bread.
    The male rat ran towards the bread.
    This experiment went on with the professor changing the food every time.
    And, every time, the male rat ran towards the food item and never towards the female rat.
    Professor said: This experiment shows that food is the greatest strength and attraction.

    Then, one of the students from the back rows said: “Sir, why don’t you change the female rat? She may be his wife!”

  • Polo

    @ BG, hilarious.Thank you for a laugh.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    An engineer was removing the engine parts from a motorcycle when he saw a famous heart surgeon in his shop…

    He went to him and said.. “Look at this engine… I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired and put them back.So why do I get such a small salary? and you get huge sums….? ”

    The doctor smiled at the engineer and came close to his ear and said…. “Try the same with the engine running.”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The lesson – Don’t just follow .. observe carefully and listen …

    THE DEAD COW LECTURE: First-year students at the Purdue Vet School were attending their first anatomy class with a real dead cow. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.

    The professor started the class by telling them, “In Veterinary medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal’s body.” For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the cow, withdrew it, and stuck his finger in his mouth.

    “Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead cow and sucking on it.

    When everyone finished, the Professor looked at them and said, “The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention. Life’s tough but it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”

  • Dgeoel

    Arsenal is for sure moving forward. Proof? After perenially finishing 4th when paying for the Emirates, 2 seasons in a row finishing 3rd(potentially with a win against Villa) and 2 FA cups in a row. Soon we will move to 2nd, stay there for a season or 2 then move to 1st and perenially finishing there for several seasons! Be patient!