Are journalists concrete thinkers? We look at the sport editor of the Metro for our first trial

“Many fans don’t want to discuss it,” the “sports editor” continued – which is very interesting, since I don’t think I’ve ever met an Arsenal fan who was not willing to discuss Mr Wenger.  Also the use of “discuss” was interesting, in the light of the diatribe which followed, and which contained no discussion and no evidence either.

Sadly Mr Sanderson gave us no indication as to how he found “many fans” who did not want to discuss Mr Wenger, so it is impossible to know if he invented this wild fantasy in his sleep or did a lot of detailed research.  But anyway, he ploughed on saying, “his failings are clear to see and are harming the club.”

So this led on to “six undeniable reasons Wenger should go this summer.”

Now if you are a reader of Untold you’ll know that we believe in the well-established continuity of development of people through the stages of concrete thinking and reasoning, onto the formal stage of abstract thought.  We’ve also suggested that an explanation for the writing of many journalists is that they have got stuck in Concretia – a land of  gravel, sand, cement, and water.  [Concretia – the land of concrete thinking – just to make sure you get it – Tony].

So, I’ve nominated the sport editor of the Metro as the first man to face the Concrete Test.  We will be setting up a Concrete journalists page in due course to gather our findings together.

To set the scene we must remember that we are looking here at Mr Wenger, the man who in the last three years has won the FA Cup twice, achieved the record of winning the FA Cup more than any other man since the early days of the last century, given Arsenal the record number of FA Cup wins (equalled this summer, but not exceeded) and who led his team to being runner up in the league in 2015/16.

I reproduce our end of season analysis of net spend as it comes in handy a bit later.

POS CLUB P W D L GF GA GD PTS Net £m  £ pos
1 Leicester City 38 23 12 3 68 36 32 81  28.9  7
2 Arsenal 38 20 11 7 65 36 29 71  15.6 14
3 Tiny Totts 38 19 13 6 69 35 34 70  -6.7 20
4 Manch Airport 38 19 9 10 71 41 30 66 124.4  1
5 Manchester U 38 19 9 10 49 35 14 66  33.6 5
6 Southampton 38 18 9 11 59 41 18 63  4.8 19
7 State Aid Utd 38 16 14 8 65 51 14 62 26.5 9
8 Liverpool!!! 38 16 12 10 63 50 13 60 15.4 15
9 Stoke City 38 14 9 15 41 55 -14 51  21.3 12
10 Chelsea Oooops 38 12 14 12 59 53 6 50  7.8 17
11 Everton 38 11 14 13 59 55 4 47  20.9 13
12 Swansea City 38 12 11 15 42 52 -10 47  5 18
13 Watford 38 12 9 17 40 50 -10 45 42.5 3
14 West Bromwich 38 10 13 15 34 48 -14 43  27.5 8
15 Crystal Palace 38 11 9 18 39 51 -12 42  21.5 11
16 Bournemouth 38 11 9 18 45 67 -22 42 38.7 4
17 Sunderland 38 9 12 17 48 62 -14 39  37.2 6
18 Newcastle thanks 38 9 10 19 44 65 -21 37  80 2
19 Norwich City 38 9 7 22 39 67 -28 34 27.1 10
20 Aston Villa 38 3 8 27 27 76 -49 17 9.3 16

So let us look at Mr Wenger’s “failings” before we get to the concrete.

Points: Arsenal were 10 points off the leaders, whom Arsenal beat twice.  So turning three of our defeats into wins and one into a draw, would have made all the difference.

Goals For: Arsenal were six goals behind the season’s top goal club, Man City.  This works out at around one more goal in every six games.

Goals Against: Arsenal let in one goal more than Tottenham and Man U, the top defensive teams.

And for comparison, we might remember that we finished one point above Tottenham, who had the benefit of an income of around £100m from the sale of Bale, five points above Man City, who have the entire force of the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.  The same number of points about Man U whose world-wide marketing is the envy of the world, and dates back to 1955, and we were 21 points above Chelsea whose owner is reported by Forbes to be worth £8,100,000,000.

So, the context seems one of a certain amount of success vis a vis the measurable opposition although not the ultimate success.  So let’s see what the sport editor of the Metro made of it.

He never learns

You can predict an Arsenal season before it’s even begun.

Key areas of the team won’t be addressed in the summer, before a positive start ends up falling apart through injuries and they eventually blow it.

Wenger just doesn’t learn from his mistakes whether it’s sticking by rubbish players, not buying a holding midfielder or tactical errors.

It always seems to be somebody else’s fault and he’s far too stubborn to admit he didn’t get it right and loves trying to prove doubters wrong.

I’m not sure this holds up as the Metro didn’t predict us coming second.  Also the injury issue looks wrong – Arsenal were fifth in the injury league in terms of days lost with 239 days lost – which is around 60% of the days lost by the top team.  “Seems to be somebody’s else’s fault” is very vague and I am not too sure I have examples of Mr W saying that.

As for the “rubbish players”, if we have had some rubbish players this season, the rest of the team must have been staggeringly brilliant to have come second and be so close to the best in terms of goals for and against.

Terrible tactics

He lines up for every game with a 4-2-3-1 and it’s hard to remember times he’s switched the system to capitalise on another team’s weakness.

Well, I can certainly remember some variations going on when we beat Olympiakos 0-3, when we beat Bayern 2-0, in the 3-0 win over Man U, the draw with the Tinies at WHL with a player sent off, beating them in the League Cup with Flamini scoring twice.  And I am not too sure how many other teams change their system that readily.  Most teams do it a bit, but not that much.

Deluded quotes

Even after heavy defeats Wenger won’t slam the players and gives deluded quotes saying they ‘gave everything’ and uses mad phrases like ‘we played with the handbrake on’. Just be honest about bad performances.

That is one of those examples which being given in isolation is impossible to evaluate.  We know all managers have their own style of management, a very few criticise players in public, some lie through their teeth, some blame the ref.  Refusing to follow the Mourinho style of player blame seems a bit odd since his approach took Chelsea to the relegation zone and got him the sack.

Players don’t seem to believe in him

Apparently, “This is the most concerning of the lot,” but it uses the very vague word “seem” both in the title and in “In crucial games against Manchester United and then the must-win clash with Swansea, the players didn’t seem bothered.”

To make such a case you need data, not the repeated use of “seem”.  It turns up again, in the next paragraph where the writer says, “the players don’t seem to want to fight for him anymore.”

So on the basis of three uses of the word “seem” “the conclusion is Arsenal’s players say there is good spirit among them so it can only lead us to believe they don’t want to do it for the manager. Surely it’s time to go?”

Or one might say, on the basis of what he has written, the author of this commentary seems delusional.  “Seem is not only not proof, it is in this case just a personal opinion gained from viewing the notoriously difficult to analyse body language from a distance”

Lost his transfer mojo

Now we get to the crux of the matter and the reason why I put the year’s transfer totals in the league table above.  And I must warn you, there is a need to take what follows carefully.

You can’t deny Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were good signings – but they were already superstars and available to sign.

Yes, they were stars, and of course available for Arsenal.  So what are we to do – sign non-stars who are not available? Mr Wenger get talking to Ozil regularly for three years after his first attempt to sign him fell down.

It’s Wenger’s hidden gem obsession that’s the problem. He used to find unknown stars for hardly any money that turned out to be class.

But look at his recent signings of largely unknowns: Gabriel, Yaya Sanogo, Kim Kallstrom, Gervinho, Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young. All flops.

Apart from the fact that Kallstrom was signed as cover on loan, with his salary paid by his full-time club until he was fit, Gervinho was a superb player who was too sensitive to the Arsenal boo-boys, and that Gabriel (a cup winner who is still growing into the team and who is the only one in the present squad), every team signs players who don’t work out.

Besides what sort of analysis is it that leaves out Coquelin, Bellerin, Iwobi, Campbell, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Hayden, Akpom, Zelalem all from the current squads while focussing on players who left years ago?  The writer is digging back into the past while I can list ten from the present.

He’s holding Arsenal back

So the great conclusion, without the submission of any evidence at all:

This summer will see superstar manager’s rock up at Man United, Man City and Chelsea – while Liverpool will spend big with Jurgen.

That is probably true, based on what we have seen in the past.  But there is no logical link from that point to the next paragraph which says, games will be more tactical and harder to win than ever. Things are going to get really tough.

Historically this is not how it happens, so there is no evidence.  As this year’s league table (above) shows, teams that spend fortunes on players often don’t win the league.  And by the time we reach the next sentence in the diatribe, we can see that the concrete thinking has become semi-skimmed (too much milk in the mix I imagine).

Arsenal should be sitting pretty, with the largest cash reserves in world football, but Wenger refuses to spend and the club risk being left behind.

No, Arsenal do not have the largest cash reserves in world football.  Nor the second, nor the third, nor the fourth, nor the fifth, nor… Arsenal has to hold money in the bank until the loans for the Ems are paid off – that is part of the deal.  Besides, although it is subject to EC fraud investigations Real Madrid have more money, and Chelsea and Manchester Airport have as much as they can possibly want from their owners.

So I think we can call Mr Sanderson a “concrete thinker.”   But is he “early stage” or “later stage?”

Here’s the Early Stage Thinker:

  • The person is more likely to distort language to fit its own mental structure.
  • The person judges by what is seen rather than by logical reasoning. If it looks different it is different.
  • The person does think but does not think about ones own thinking (is not reflective)
  • The person concentrates on one attribute of an object at a time, ignoring other characteristics.
  • The person has little notion of reversibility – thinking in one direction only.
  • The person cannot cope too well with changes in sequence and thus concentrates on the start and the end and pays little attention to the ‘in-betweens’
  • The person is egocentric – the person is the centre of the universe, everything revolves around the person.
  • The person can only consider one thing at a time and is unable to consider another person’s viewpoint simultaneously with their own.

I’d say he meets all the criteria.  So Mr Jameson, you are an Early Stage Thinker.  On Piaget’s analysis that puts you at the developmental age of around four to seven.

So, there we are.  Our first full analysis of a journalist, and it comes out as we predicted.  Concrete.  And he’s the sport editor!

Recent Posts

Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page


29 Replies to “Are journalists concrete thinkers? We look at the sport editor of the Metro for our first trial”

  1. I couldn’t careless what the Metro publishes. Sorry author articles like this I don’t read.

    No snub intended. I am sure your piece is well written and your point/s well argued.

    Please understand it is nothing personal and accept, I don’t read the original because I think doing so is a waste of time.

    It follows I am not going to read any review of or comment about it

  2. Where I would venture to disagree with this excellent treatise is the reference to our injury list. It was not so much the number but the absence of key players which, in my view, cost us dearly.

  3. Unfortunately there is an ever growing number of people who blame Wenger for everything including the rain in Manchester

    I have to admit that I have been hugely disappointed with some of our performances. Games in which we were leading but ended up drawing or losing. We performed well against the better teams this season but failed too many times in breaking down the lesser teams who parked the bus at the Ems. This is an area we have to address. We created numerous chances but through bad luck, bad finishing, dogged defending and often superb goalkeeping kept us out

    Thing is with the advent of the increased wealth in the league clubs are able to afford quick quality forwards who work well on the counter and dangerous when they get a chance

    The improvement in quality in all teams in the division means that every game is now difficult. It used to be that against certain teams and after CL matches the top teams could play at 75% and win. It is not the case now.

    Every team will improve their player base and with many good young managers in the league it is likely the points needed to win the league will be lower than it has been. The league will be really competitive and the ‘top’ clubs will lose more games than before. In fairness to Leicester they lost only 3 games and deserved the title

    The guy from the metro is right. Every club will strengthen. Mourinho and Pep will have 100s million pounds to spend though they will not find there are only 2 or 3 competitive teams in the league. He fails to mention that we will spend as well. It appears we have made an exciting start to the transfer window. A 23 year old who has represented his country 40 times, is a great leader and a natural replacement for Arteta and is able to dictate the tempo of the game from deep.

    It could be an exciting window from us. A couple more quality signings and we’re good to go.

    Ps: Once again we were ravaged by injuries to key players. We keep those key players fit and who knows where we’d finish. Any team hit with our injuries would see a dip in performance. It is something we reall, really need to sort out.


  4. Well, that is one hell of a good idea to make ‘journalist’ or ‘blogetta’ or ‘pundit’ reviews.
    At least it puts them into the light and what they speak about as well.
    There ain’t no reason why they can go on hitting on actors in football all they want and not be treated the same way.

    By the way, what did Mr Jameson predict at the beginning ot last season ? Too bad we don’t have that ! I’m sure Arsenal finished above his predictions

    How about a sports-commentator-writer championship with its tables etc.
    As we have one for refs.
    Guess it’s a whole caseload of work and no one to do it…

  5. Sanderson used to have a Young Guns type website, where, from memory, he discouraged some of the negativity aimed at Arsenal.
    Then he travelled (triumphantly?) to London, to join the Metro.

    Now you all by now know what it takes to be a journo/plundit, and Sanderson has developed his anti Arsenal persona – and been duly promoted.

    You must be so proud, eh? Concrete or not, Jamie, you’re a ****, competing with other pseudo Arsfans like CrossJohn and Amy.

    Continue to call out these people, Tony.

    Superb article, thanks.

  6. nice article. I have giving up arguing much with those outside the Arsenal circle.but I don’t sometimes get around my head when those we call gooner brothers n sisters says things I find ridiculous about the club. as for the critics, I think the day the professor went the whole league unbeaten was d day he started making much enemies.they just can’t seem to get over it.

  7. Far too many bloggers are being given ‘legitimate’ platforms to air their views. This guy is an awful writer and has been since he was doing a youth blog called Young Guns. I also very much doubt that any part of the Metro is edited!

  8. Dr Billy “the dog”, good morning Sir. In the 2nd to the last paragraph of your article, you did say, Arsenal are keeping a very large chunk of money in the bank. But that’s part of the agreement they had we their lenders until the money they borrowed to build the Ems is paid off.

    This is incredible! There is no proper transparency information to the Gooners at Arsenal.

    The Arsenal board have been making the Arsenal fans to beat about the bush accusing the Boss of been closefisted. Whereas it wasn’t his fault after all as he’s financial hand has been restrained by the banks as regard to speeding in the transfer market to acquire audacious players for Arsenal.

    Despite we don’t known what the limit of the embargo on spendings on buying players the banks have placed on Arsenal. I would want to believe that Arsenal had already have enough deposited cash of money in their bank accounts to serve as collateral for the loans they took from the banks to build our iconic Emirates Stadium.

    And just look at me talking the other day that, Arsenal should embark on increasing the sitting capacity of the Ems to at least 68,000 fans. Which will make us not too lagging behind that of Man Utd’s 75,000 Old Trafford Stadium. And also not to allow Spurs & Chelsea Stadia redevelopment to surpass the Ems’s sitting capacity but to still remain lagging behind us.

    Nevertheless, Arsenal should be free from the clutches of the banks to spend out of their TV right money on transfers when they get the money. And with the reported £57m set aside by the Arsenal board for new Players recruitment this summer, Arsenal should be in possession of over £200m by my own wild estimation for transfers during this summer deals.

    Therefore, in addition to signing Granit Xhaka, there should still be hopes that Arsenal can sign Paul Pogba if they want to.

  9. What i would like to see now, is a response from the Metro itself.
    If so-called sports writers can turn out such rubbish as Untold has highlighted, why not send this article to them and ask for a response?
    Untold could then print their reply and see what they say?
    A great piece of writing and can I suggest we also look at ex gunners like Merson and delve into his hysterical claims?
    Along with Robson (a west Ham legend!?!?!?) he makes me ashamed that I ever chanted his name from the North Bank.
    Looking forward to seeing how Manure and Murinho hold it together in the next twelve months> My prediction (no facts just a gut feeling) is player power will see him ousted just like his Chelski demise.

  10. Rantetta,
    Spot on. He was comprehensively beaten into the ground by the other youth blogger. Now he is trying to carve a career as a journalist at a newspaper which never prints news. I always doubted whether this individual was actually an Arsenal fan or just someone who had latched onto the size of the Arsenal ologosphere and used it to create some kind of portfolio to sell his wares at a newspaper.
    Whatever, he has shown his true colours and gone along with the media line. As such he really is no better than a common or garden Cross or Lawrence.

  11. Journalist posts click-bait ‘news’ story in order to get hits and therefore advertising revenue? Get outta here! What next? Untold exclusive: some transfer stories are made up? Journalists sometimes lie?

    Like him or not, Sanderson is paid to type rubbish and get the clicks rolling in. He’s like Adrian Durham or Robbie Savage, courting controversy not because he believes what he’s saying, but because it SELLS.

    Obvious hypocrite is obvious, but it pays the bills.

  12. This is one of the best posts on Untold that I’ve read – and I think I’ve read them all since day one.
    Unfortunately nothing will stop ‘journalists’ coming up with unsupported rubbish like the stuff in Metro because. as is always the case, bad news is better than good news when it comes to getting readers and reaction and the latter is vital for selling advertising these days-(especially for free-sheets like Metro). Although Arsenal have more fans than any other London team they are outnumbered by the combined numbers of those who don’t support them and who love to read bad things about them. I know I’ve much enjoyed reading about the disasters at Chelsea and Manure (amongst others) this season and the reading about the collapse of Spurs at the end of the season was like winning the Cup in terms of the smile it put on my face.
    All fans are like that – we are tribal – and it’s getting worse because the media profits by fueling it.
    As long as the Arsenal Board continue to ignore all this anti-Wenger tosh (proven to be a based on a tiny minority if the reaction in the stadium is anything to go by) then all will be well.
    God bless Arsene and God bless Untold.

  13. Love it, and I look forward to more of the same, let’s all laugh at their oh so apparent and obvious ignorance, the sheep can lap it up while we can treat it with the contempt it so clearly deserves.

  14. Not to say that AW is rubbish, but he is also not perfect, although pretty close.

    If only he would try to improve on his own methods we would probably all be very happy by now.

    But as long as he keeps Arsenal competing and hopefully winning more, there is not much that one can blame him for.

    That said, to point out his apparent failings is by no means (always)an attack on him, but just meant to inform him on what some fans want and need. What he does about it is his own decision.

  15. Exactly, most fans out there are too happy to look inward and cry about Arsene and leave everything on his doorstep, so a series of lighthearted but essentially informartive articles on the clearly twisted thinking of the pundits “experts” and media hacks could be a nice pat on the back or reward for seeing past the too easily followed route.

    A little piece on the ignored “untold” if you were actions of players in the PL, highlighting such things as the diving of Vardy, high foulng count of Dier etc, sorry but i do love a little man and shame…

    Off topic but did anyone read the praise of the Tottenham players for England on Sunday, and generally the high performance of the team, i mean Kane got MOTM (by missing a penalty and not passing to a team mate all match and smashing freekicks out of the ground), and Dier got praised for touching the ball a lot (and failing to do anything with it), I think I must have been watching a different match…

  16. ClockEndRider

    I think you’re correct about the whole process Sanderson undertook.

    I loved reading about the yout-dem, but gradually the comments on his site descended into a chaotic anti-everything-Arsenal. Loads of ’em. And yes, it’s more than possible, indeed, likely, that Jamie wasn’t even pretending to be an Arsenal fan.

    I cannot pick up the Metro despite it being free. Mind you, that goes for other rags too.

    I like this article partly because I can mail it to psuedo’s, who mightn’t read it all – but when they wanna tell me crap about Arsenal, I’ll refer them to it.

  17. Ob1977

    Being on family duty whilst the England match was played I saw only a little of it. I switched off when I saw a Turkish player hack at our Jack. (Ref reluctantly gave a foul, but no booking. He clearly knows his stuff).

    The 2 or so minutes I caught of the match review showed Ian Wright doubting the correct decision was made re the penalty, but I was distracted again and saw no more.

    Thing is, I’m so glad Arsenal don’t play the way England and most English teams play. I mean, look at the cup final. What “football” was that?
    The recent spud v Chelski match was only entertaining because of a combination of myriad violence, and the world class “igno-reffing”.
    I didn’t catch that much outrage from this “game”, and the little fines that followed surely, merely, confirm that the powers that be ‘like it like that’ – to the point that the ref refs the cup final and the CL final!

    They’re pulling my plonker.

  18. There is no reporting anymore, in sport or news. Even labeling these writers as ‘journalists’ flatters. They are all just stating their opinion and one doesn’t need facts for that. This applies across all media platforms. And if anything is ‘edited’ it must be to remove anything that is not an opinion.

  19. I actually pointed out an error in one of Sanderson’s blogs once; he once claimed that Exeter’s and Newcastle’s stadiums have the same name.

    I pointed out that Exeter’s ground was called St James Park (with no apostrophe) and he went mental, claiming that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    Even back in the day, he wasn’t strong on fact…

  20. Candidate number one for UA’s Blockhead Awards of the season ? Or The Ostriches ?
    While in the meantime , we try to cement our midfield with the addition of Granit(e)!
    And maybe shore the defensive wall with Stones ?

  21. This article is a prime example of a fantasy thinker! Firstly abramovich is worth far less than usminov! So your Chelsea point is a fabrication! And bale was sold to Real Madrid a few seasons ago! And the fee was 79 million not 100m! And the spuds invested that money back into the squad and due to this are now a champions league team! It’s nothing to shout about finishing above Spurs they are in the same league as Everton and Stoke and we are better than them in every department, and Man City millions? You forget we are owned by two billionaires! And 1 refuses to put up funds but happy to take out his 3m a year! Don’t blast Man City because there owners put up the cash. For someone shouting about getting the facts right you really need to check your own

  22. “Game Managment” rants. Haven’t you heard? It’s all the rage these days who gives a toss about the Rules of the sport (written C1850) when you can heal the Old Divide and unite the codes again, eh?

    From the masters of meddling, men (they don’t appear to like female officials) of serious substance (abuse?).

    pgMOB Rules Football. Ok?
    It’s Football. But not Association Football as you know it. At best.

  23. I don’t know if it’s concrete thinking but it quite funny the level of prejudice exhibited by individuals when asked to compare the officials in the PL with the Italian division.

    However there is far more evidence in the public realm to indicate that all is not well with the PL then was ever available to observers of Italian football.

    If only the judges in the UK had the same type of Footballs exhibited by the judiciary in Italy (apologies Ladies! 🙂 ) but I suppose that would be asking too much? Instead we get the likes of Piers Morgan AAA pin up having into our phones, the phones of dead children in order to sell funny and weird papers (who’s football journalists get PAID by the AST fooking hilarious when are they inviting Stuart Hall on eh? and getting off scott free…

  24. Transfer control is key for the specialist in signing players from special agents

    Screams a back page headline.

    Really? Have they only just figured it out? Blimey. Were they not restocking the sides of their stomachs after watching the specialist flog off the likes of KDB and replaced him with immobile tat or bungtastic swindles that went nowhere? After he dismantled a scary squad in west london?

    Or did they just pick up a commission?

  25. As there were plenty of people with me and lots of conversation flowing I was at least spared the expert punditry, so thank god for small mercies…

    But yes the ref was very much of the PL ilk, I imagine this will be different during the tournament, even the real Mr Clattenburg should probably turn up…

  26. Who owns Arsenal FC? From Wikipedia it states the below.
    ‘The ownership of Arsenal Football Club is considerably different from that of other clubs in English football. It is owned by a parent company, Arsenal Holdings plc, which has relatively few shares which are infrequently traded.’ The parent company is Arsenal Holdings Plc.

    Kroenke owns about 66.64% and Usmanov 30.05% of shares. They are only shareholders so they only have voting rights in the company or am I totally wrong?

    If Kroenke is just a majority shareholder and is not the owner of Arsenal, why do people expect him to put his own money in? Surely, if Arsenal need more money they would issue more shares.

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