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I doubt if anyone has ever had their mind changed by arguments on this site

By Tony Attwood

Indeed because of the fact that I doubt that many, if any people have been converted by the arguments we have had of late, I wonder what the point is.

That is not to say I wonder why I publish Untold, but rather I wonder why people who believe that everything that Untold stands for is wrong, come on here and tell us so, and why we bother to publish what they say, and argue back.  As far as I know know few, if any, have ever been converted either way.

This is not to say that we should reduce ourselves to the gutter level of the site that likes to take people’s comments, and then change them before publication, to make them look stupid.

But rather, as I recently said in a note I added to the comments article, there is a parallel here to a person who sets up a magazine on bee keeping, designed for bee keeping enthusiasts.  They are quite happy running their publication for fellow enthusiasts but then they start getting letters and emails from people who claim that bee keeping is wrong as it degrades the DNA or something.   Such an argument is against the whole tenor of the magazine – which is supposed to be a place where those who enjoy bee keeping can exchange thoughts and opinions and learn from each other.

What should such a magazine do?  Probably not what I have tried to do on Untold, which is answer the points raised.  But what made this difficult is that many correspondents come in with arguments against the position of Untold on football and Arsenal by repeating points that were raised in previous correspondence, or taking a stance that was so antithetical to ours that there were hardly any common principles on which to have a debate.  It’s a bit like trying to debate issues with a racist – where do you start?  (Which is not to say I am calling those who are against my ideas racists – just trying to make the point that sometimes we are so far apart on understanding there is no common ground on which to have a civilised debate).

I am also bemused by the fact that people who see everything we do and say as wrong headed or misguided actually believe that a) we will publish what they say and b) then answer them when they demand that we do.   Maybe it was my fault to take up an opening position to the effect that this is indeed what we would do.  I do believe in open and free debate, but we are not having that, because our values are so far apart.  So why bother to keep up the attempt?

But I stress I am not saying “why bother?” with Untold.  I think we have done some good and found some interesting facts, details of which we have been able to spread. And we have also seen a little evidence that there has been some movement on items that we find interesting and important.

For example

1: Refs, PGMO, video refs, the Italian experience.   Exposing the secretive way that PGMO works was something that we took on and proving that the PGMO is now organised along the same lines as Italian refereeing in its corruption era was a strong point.  I got a sense that PGMO took a serious step back when that article came out.  And they didn’t like it when we pointed out that the Telegraph was running their press releases as news.

2: Transfers – obviously one of our big investigations of late, and showing that there is no direct link between the amount of money spent and the position in which a club ends up, as well as noting the way that the media endlessly suggests that there is a link.  Prior to this we also uncovered the notion of the vapour transfer set up to unsettle rival clubs, and the make-believe transfers of the press – and their impact on the gullible.

3: The stadium cost is an issue we have made a lot of although I fear most of our critics don’t understand the ramifications at all when it is linked with making business predictions over what other clubs would do next.  But we have kept up the publicity about the shameful way in which the state has aided two clubs over the stadia and although that’s not made any difference to many, we have increased awareness.

4: Football as an arena for money laundering has not been touched on for a while – but we were certainly there when it clearly was a big issue, and I am glad we were.  I think we edged a couple of newspapers into taking up this theme.

5: The FA as an obstacle to progress; and a lilly livered government department unable to reign in the Association, has been a theme we have followed constantly, and certainly last year the Daily Mail of all people took up the theme with us which was rather nice to see.

6: Fifa and Uefa as corrupt organisations – well, everyone takes that view now, although sadly few will follow up with the rather obvious conclusions that the FA which so loves to be close to them is also surely under suspicion.  But I feel good about the fact we were running the story about the change in Swiss law which allowed the US officials to move in on Fifa.  Indeed had Fifa bothered to read us, they would have held their meeting in Bolivia not Switzerland – although that’s not what we wanted!

7: The changing of managers – something that those against us want, is obviously in the news now, and it does seem important to me that we should be here pointing out the dire consequences that can arise from changes of managers.  Of course eventually clubs do get it right – but how many years and how many changes does it take?  Ask a Tottenham or Liverpool fan.

8: The issue of evidence has been played out, and I can’t see that we can go any further on this one, in that it is clear that huge numbers of people who write to Untold simply don’t have the same understanding of evidence as we do.   Plus the endless and very boring commentaries that arguewe have written something and not ourselves given evidence (when in fact we presented it in detail a month, six months, a year ago) is really getting silly.    Football becomes simplified, and edged with innuendo, and for many that seems to be the norm.  We shall just have to remain outside that.

9: The arrival of abuse as a normal means of conversation I do regret.  I would urge everyone not to do that no matter what the provocation.

10: The media as the problem not the solution has also been discussed many times, and I do think this is worth picking up on, particularly in the light of recent media commentaries.

11: The importance of the youth system is of course bypassed by the demand for high value transfers, but pointing out the value we have gained from Iwobi, Bellerin and Coquelin is something I think it is worth doing.

12: We were very strong on FFP, until it fizzled away and Man City fans argued that it was not happening even after they got fined.  I felt rather proud of being there at the start, before the mass media got hold of the story.

13: The review of the notion of holding onto opinion to the very bitter end, even when evidence is against it, is however something we will continue to work on.  That and the exposition of the way in which newspapers work seems to me to be an important addition to the debate.

14: We were also the site that came up with the explanation of why England are so bad – something that was then republished in several papers and became a fairly standard explanation for the defeat to Iceland.

15: The manipulation of football by TV seems to me something also worth pointing out, and I was pleased to find early mentions of this by the press in the 1970s.  The press has been bought off now by the all powerful TV, but they did make a valiant effort to stop TV’s manipulation in the 1970s and that needs to be put on record.

16:  Injuries – one of our success stories in pointing out that no, Arsenal is not the club with the most injuries most of the time – although the media still run the story.

And to top all this, with readers’ help we have our banner up at the stadium – and we have the history society too.

So to those against the Untold approach I would say, farewell, I just don’t have enough time any more to deal with your comments and criticisms.  I have done my level best, but obviously it is not good enough to explain to you what I understand by the scientific method and logical deduction.  No more argument from me.

Of course some of it has been fun – I did particularly like the comment that called Untold Arsenal the Scientology Wing of Arsenal support – very droll indeed.  But for the rest – sorry I don’t have the time or the energy to answer the criticisms any more, or to keep up the level of monitoring the site for submissions that wholly disregard our rules on commentary.

I would say it has been fun – but it hasn’t. Untold will now resume what it was meant to be – a place of research and analysis where people who accept the fundamentals of research and analysis as we see them, and indeed as seen by such popular journals as New Scientist (a constant source of inspiration over the years), can explore data and share it alongside their support for Arsenal.

For everyone who likes what Untold set out to be – the site is once more yours.  A few comments questioning the very essence of the beliefs and ideas we have will undoubtedly slip through in the coming days, but we will get them out eventually – some of the software we are now using is rather good at sorting that out without me having to get too involved.

Sorry for the interruption.  We’re moving back on track.

Recent Posts

46 comments to I doubt if anyone has ever had their mind changed by arguments on this site

  • David

    Tony, your site is the only one I read now because it is the voice of sanity in a raging world of lies, distortions, exaggerations and the strangest media blitz I can’t quite believe has become the running narrative. I don’t know how fans of other clubs experience being supporters in the ‘modern world’ but it can’t be like this. And the worst part is the reactions of our own supporters.

    So, long may you continue to publish common sense facts without the awful noise of distortion I see everywhere else.

  • Valance

    Just one question do you think arseblog is a gutter website? Its been the number one arsenal blog for many years

  • Chris


    maybe your title is too negative. Tell you what. Using FACTS UA has published, I was able to change people’s minds when they were wrongly criticizing AW or AFC or its players. Facts was the point. They were surprised and agreed that considering the facts their opinion was wrong. Last example the fact that AFC were the third highest spenders for the past years. Or the one about only two double digit scorers.

    So…at least we do have weapons to defend. And this is important as well as not everybody is spending time on the internet yet alons when english is not their mother tongue.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

  • Naveen`

    Thank you Untold. Your news is very Accurate and very constructive. I guess the real reason you are feeling this way is because the people who support just nod in agreement and follow your blog while the disagreers make all the noises.

    Your site is one of the informative sites in the web not just for football. It has taught me scientific approach in research, what Responsible journalism(not just for football) should be ( Of course you have a IMO positive bias nothing wrong there when you are stating it).

    Let the haters hate!!!

  • Tony
    I have said and implied many times, you guys are saints and my own level of tolerance is way below yours.
    I would have given up what you have been trying to achieve years ago
    Thanks, perhaps a few people have tried to reason out what you have been saying, David above is one of those

    One thread passes through many of your observations, CASH, probably in five pound notes although you are too genteel to say it
    I have said on Untold before, “you aint going to beat City Hall, they have too much money”
    Your observations on the media are paramount. Cas!
    But please, for reasons of our, your true believers sanity, please don`t give up totally, please squeeze in some evangelical comments on corruption
    Again thanks for your enlightenement

  • Gooner Sam

    Always good to hear the other side of the argument even if I don’t always agree. I also really like your wider football articles.

  • colario

    I know that being Arsene’s number one fan it is going to be difficult to enlighten me with the possibility that he is not the best manager for Arsenal.

    However I like to think that I can be taught that I am wrong.

    Most of the Arsene out brigade have reasons that center around on results of matches as played by the players

    They dismiss out off hand the game being played by the PMGO North West of England.

    They totally ignore the game being played by the FA.

    They totally ignore the game being played by the English press as per the Guradian headline ‘Only 3 English players in Arsenals line up.’

    In the text we learn there were no English players in Man city’s line up.

    I think it was Walter or yourself who recently quoted another example of this type of reporting.

    I understand the Guardian recently did a piece about Romanian terrorists. It turns out that these ‘terrorists’ were fully registered members of a hunting club and have been so for years. So its not just football that gets badly reported on in the Guardian.

    Then of course there is the source of the money that has come into the Premier League. There is an old saying ‘He who pays the fiddler (UK word for violinist) calls the tune.’

    The TV companies pay big bucks for football so naturally they demand their terms.

    Against all this our players and manager seek to provide a style of adventurous attacking exciting football in place of the English diet of slug it and thug it played by most English clubs with English players lacking the basic ball skills that Arsenal players have and better.

    No anti I have read or heard or spoken to will consider that English football has been corrupted and it is the corrupters that need to be sacked not the manager.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let me say Bravo! to you Sir Mr T. Attwood for establishing the UA to enlighten the football masses and also make a counter arguments to what has been wrongly perceived by the football public as been the correct actions, the true stories and the correct information as regard to football at all levels which are being taken or has been taken by the football Establishment. And being dished out by the mass media on topical football matters for consummations by the football public. If it hadn’t been for the Untold Arsenal, we would have remained in the football darkness without knowing there is the football light.

  • dats

    Tone, you’ve got it spot on

  • Paul the gooner

    Never give up writing Tony.

  • James

    Keep up the good work, Tony.

    And by ‘good’, I mean fresh, original, unrelenting, unyielding, illuminating, penetrating, perceptive, scathing, surprising, honest, critical, clear-sighted, observant, analytical and much more.

    Your Untold blogs are points of light in a murky world of modern sports journalism, where partiality is willingly traded for access to stars, clubs and agents and many so-called reporters refuse to waste time on tiresome news gathering, when lazy desk ‘research’ and penning baseless, but trending headlines will suffice.

    The sports desk was always more often than not the ‘toy department’ of most serious journals, but standards today have slipped far below those of the past.

    Untold is just about the only source of original reporting left on the kind of Arsenal and general football themes that are typically ignored – especially relating to the crucial economic and governance issues underpinning the sport.

    Don’t undersell the value of Untold Arsenal, you might not be able to change the opinions of those readers with an uncritical mind, but you can still bear witness to a number of uneasy and unpleasant truths.

    That alone is something to be proud of.

  • Thanks Tony, as another person said, this is the only Arsenal site I now read.

    and as a referee appreciate all the referee reviews as well,

  • you have a big heart Tony

  • goonersince72


    I’m sure it must be frustrating to publish in the current climate and I applaud you for it. I look forward to each new post and honestly read the posts of all the writers on the site. I don’t know how many appreciate the work that goes into your fact based articles and the ref reviews from Usama and Walter. It also must take massive amounts of time. But it is appreciated. The regulars of UA are by and large intelligent, articulate and fair. Keep publishing for all of us who do appreciate the efforts.

    I’d also like to praise your writing style. Clarity of thought expressed through language is what good writing should offer. Your writing does so on a daily basis. I honestly don’t know how you do it while also writing professionally. Please keep on. It means a lot to lots of us.

  • Richard

    Your site is about the only site that offers a level headed detached from emotion look at the Arsenal. You look at and analyse the stuff going on. Now I as a fan get frustrated when you see we are linked with every player a-z through the transfer window because the amount of decent sensible articles drop tenfold. Secondly any sensible level headed fan know that the only place to hear about transfers is from also that we were told before transfer window opened we were looking at three players in and that would be a CB a midfielder and an attacker. And that’s what will happen. On the defeat to Liverpool yes it is disappointing and frustrating, but it was against a team that is expected to push for a top four slot yes city won Chelsea won and its won but against lesser opposition in the majority of cases and city got lucky in their win. That match would have been hard had we had a fully fit team and let’s not forget we should have had a better lead at the break . As a fan I found it disappointing the Emirates wasn’t rocking from minute one it took the penalty to even bring a pulse out of
    The majority of the crowd. Now maybe it’s the seating or maybe it’s something else but at the Emirates we should be making officials and opposition teams shake when they come out on the pitch make it a cauldron of noise .

  • Mick

    This is music to my ears.
    Hopefully we will now see the return of some of the old regulars who have disappeared recently as a result of the proliferation of commentators determined to usurp and disrupt Untold.
    Back to its roots, hip hip hoorah.

  • Menace

    Tony, I have. I always thought Arsenal fans were reasonably intelligent. I now know that they are almost an unfair reflection of society. Some of the comments by so called fans truly show a total lack of intelligence.

    Ahhh! perhaps Trump should recruit some of these. I’m sure Brickfields will certify them as suitable.

  • Leopard

    Don’t stop what you’re doing, Tony. And most importantly, don;t ever change what Untold stands for.

    I’m sure you and all the contributors know this, but I am just one of many many serial lurkers out there who read Untold daily and am glad of heart ot see that critical thinking and analysis of evidence still exists in this rather confused world.

    Thanks for everything and long may you and the gang find the strength to continue.

  • Temitope


  • Ando

    I comment infrequently but i will say this:
    Your site is the only one I turn to nowadays (and for some time) for stuff about the Gunners, as being the only place where reason and informed argument have any place at all.
    Well done for keeping the level of disussion above the lowest common denominator
    One small dissension – you say that the evidence of our own eyes does not equate to evidence.
    Given that the whole notion of supporting this particular football team of another is entirely subjective, ilogical, partial and emotional, I do claim the right ( that I first excercised on the Highbury North Bank in 1964, to excoriate players, referees and managers who disappoint my vicarious urge to succeed. I regard it as a healthy way to attach my own personal notions of success / failure to my preferred heroes i.e. whoever is wearing the beloved red and white of my chosen team.
    It may be illogical within the canon of this website to boo disappointing team selections/ individual performances / refereeing decisions but this is why I love football – it is a proxy for my unrealised persinal ambitions to succed in a way that brings public acclaim.
    I cannot pretend that I feel equanimity when the Gunners lose, anymore than I can pretend that I do not feel eleated when they win. Lkmg may this illogical and eveidence-free condition prevail
    “If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
    Amd treat those two impostors the same…”
    (Rudyard Kipling: “If”.)

  • Gooner Addict

    Kudos to this site.

    Never mind the bollocks, Tony.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Tony , just keep on rocking and rolling …..out these great articles ! Most of us hardcore AKBs are right behind you, although some waver . As I also do intelligent reading by tending to skip most of ‘them’ fools’ stupid comments on here , I ‘m not infected nor polluted by their sickness.

    In fact , I am doing a series of articles on ‘them’ diseases and will try to get it to you the soonest . You know , the medical pseudo -mambo type they seem always to dislike !

    As one who doesn’t read any other Arsenal or football sites ( other than those links put on here by the regulars ), I am not exposed to too much negativity and stupidity .

    That I don’t read the papers , listen to the experts , nor watch sports tv or the pre , half time and the post game shows , I am one happy cookie ! I only watch the Arsenal game . Why waste 90 minutes of my limited lifespan watching crap ?

    That I chose to look at the brighter side of things , and prefer the use of humour rather than hate , I really enjoy the time I spend on this site . Even that seems to piss ‘them’ off ! . Wait till I start doing articles on football tactics, the readership may go through the roof !

    Indeed , many neglected porn sites are probably looking for me , wondering whatever has happened to me as I don’t frequent them anymore . In my defence , I have completed all my ‘research’ that I had required !

    WOO HOO , HOO ! Up Untold Arsenal ! Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Menace – August 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm – That is a match made in moron heaven! Pests of a bother often feck together !

    The word ‘Politics’ comes from the Latin word ‘Poly’, meaning ‘Many ‘ and the word ‘Ticks’ which means ‘Blood sucking parasites ‘.

  • Valence I think Arseblog is excellent

  • ARSENAL 13

    “I doubt if anyone has ever had their mind changed by arguments on this site”

    Tony, I definitely have. I was not in favor of video referral system as I thought it would be a waste of time and reduce the pace of the game. BUT now I am. Thanks to Walter and Co. And Untold.

    When people enter an argument with an agenda and a thick skin, its like playing baseball with a ball made of shit. Best if we miss the ball….

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And Tony , could you , instead of printing their asinine comments , rather show your disapproval / approval of their stupidity by using GIF Laughemoticons ?
    A few suggestions ….

    1 .




  • topanlesmana

    I realize now that UA is the site that i visit the most to read about Arsenal. How could that be? Ah, Tony, you and co are the ones to blame for this. 😀

    Keep up the good work, guys.

  • You have all been most kind.

  • Richard

    Tony your only alternative is to do a Myles Palmer and ANR stunt and write your articles and disable comments from people so there can be no debate or other point of view. Now this I know is never an option for you because you like to influence people to think and question and debate. Keep it up Tony your doing great never give up, though you may not have changed minds you offer people that have a reflexive and questioning nature the ability to look question and Debate things about Arsenal. I find this site the haven of sensibility you make your arguments and back them with the helpwith facts. You don’t expect people to believe you or agree with you in fact you encourage people to voice their opinions.

    Now for me I am not necessary a pro Wenger person, but I do believe you support the club and as manager of the club I support Wenger. We here all know Wenger ha made mistakes, however , none of this makes him a bad manager or incapable of winning titles again. For me I think Wenger should be applauded for the legacy he will leave behind the stadium the training and youth structures and the infrastructure these things that Arsenal can succeed after he has gone of course he hasn’t done this alone this has been done by the board and owner as well. But it is his vision and drive that made it possible I know that in ten -twenty years time when my son sits in the Emirates with his family he will be watching Arsenal still fighting for titles and winning things .

  • Florian

    Tony, if it matters for something you are the main responsible for me coming to see the NLD three years ago. Plus, getting to write articles, something that I don’t normally do, but I felt that this is really a site that’s worth following, because not only of its realistic view (as in fact-based, not what other people think), but also the deeper learnings that stem from the way the club is run, which your site represents so eloquently. Long live Untold!

  • It’s your site you should do as you like ban whoever and for whatever .
    Bottom line you could always make it a private members club

  • thierryhenry22

    Huge pats on the back all-round for the people behind this website. Great to read such a plethora of facts and interesting fact-based opinions.

  • Shoot – yes the problem was my own desire to be fair and reasonable and let everyone have their say. Such idealism!

  • Zuruvi

    Great work Tony and the Untold writers.
    A great amount of research is done to provide backup to your articles.
    Many of us have used your research to defend Arsenal when discussing football with “Arsenal haters.”

    Thanks Untold for being my favourite football blog and one I read at least twice per day everyday.

  • Bobome

    Hello Tony this is to encourage you to continue with the same approach to debate on AFC and football. Some fellow said “…if you don’t stand for something you are bound to fall for anything…” You have taken a stand, don’t deviate. I commend you for it just as many others have done above. UA is bound to make a difference no matter what the haters say.

  • Yellow Canary

    @Tony, I’m surprised you think Arseblog is excellent as it appears there is clear signs on there that they are getting as exasperated with Wenger as many others are. They have noted some of the contradictory statements we’ve had from Arsene in the last few weeks and it appears that Gazidis changes his tune too. Not too long ago we were a club that could apparently pay Rooney’s wages but now Gazidis appears to have backtracked from such grandiose statements and seems to want to stress how cautious we must be with our money. Whilst I don’t advocate recklessness I can’t see what good it does economically to sit on well over 100 million in the bank. Players are a much better investment, for instance if we’d bought Suarez for 60 million we’d have been able to sell him for 80 million by now. That money in the bank earns us peanuts in comparison.

    As for the changing of managers I see that as the future. I doubt there’ll be any managers who stay as long as Fergie or Wenger have at a club. Those days I feel are over, whether that’s a good or bad thing is difficult to tell.

    I can understand why these clubs change managers because they are desperate to win the league. Spurs haven’t won it for half a century and Liverpool haven’t done so for a quarter of a century. I can remember many Arsenal fans mocking Pool for not winning it for ten years back in 2000. Now we haven’t won it for twelve years. What goes around comes around.

    As for my actual feelings about Wenger, well, they are pretty neutral. I’ve no idea what motivates Arsenal anymore. When I was younger no Arsenal manager would have survived at the helm for twelve years without winning the title but who knows what expectations the club has of managers these days? Wenger may still win the league and of course I hope he does, that might heal some of the bad blood between supporters. That would be lovely for us all.

  • Minesy

    I have to agree with the sentiments above, and yes, I too only read this site now !!!
    Keep up the good work

  • Stuart Bailey


    I have only recently come across Untold, despite being a Gooner since I was 4, a lot of years ago. I really appreciate your publication which gives a lot of food for thought. I have found that increasingly, people are looking to create arguments or diss other people off just for the sake of it. There appears to be a sense of negativity pervading FB and if they can’t accept that others have views which are different to theirs then they live in a very narrow world. I’m afraid these sick sorry and sad people will not go away and don’t know how to put a constructive argument together. I don’t always agree with what I see but have learnt that it is often best to just “pass on” rather than to start something which can never be resolved. Better to agree to disagree and get on with life. Keep up the good work, your dedication is a credit to you.

  • Ben

    Keep up with the research and articles Untold Team.
    Since I started reading them i stop being AAA.

  • Yellow C – I was speaking of my view of Arseblog over a period of time and in terms of how they behave. I might not agree with all they say, but the issue is for me, do they carry through an argument logically and consistently. The sort of sites I don’t like are the ones that might (for example) falsify a reader’s comments or encourage lots of people to bomb another site with repeats of their own articles or comments.

    My whole point is that I am not against people expressing their point of view, because I am free to express mine. I am concerned when people try to stop me expressing my point of view, or waste endless amounts of time putting forward arguments which have no effect.

    I’m not even against people who don’t understand the notion of scientific evidence and logical reasoning – I am only annoyed when they endlessly try to stop the smooth publication of Untold without their interference.

  • Damilare

    Thank you Tony for taking this decision to be stricter with comment moderation eventually. I think what most of ‘them’ want is to stop you from airing your views whereas ‘they’ have a thousand and one blogs/sites where they are airing theirs.

    Hopefully we can have our Untold and get back to supporting without their unwelcomed distractions.


  • Gideone

    Tony, Usama, Walter … gentlemen

    Please take a bow!!!

  • Florian



  • Karachi

    Untold crew,

    Thanks a lot for all the work you do!! I read avidly but don’t post as frequently as I should. So here goes…

    It seems the world is against nuance and shades of grey. This is noticeable even beyond the sphere of football, the way certain world events are reported. People are too content to find the easy “explanation” which doesn’t tax them or challenge their thinking. It’s a strange thing that someone could care enough to “want something to change” but not care enough to find out IF that change is viable or if it is even truly deserved.

    I don’t find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with everything posted on Untold, BUT I find the take on journalism refreshing. You seem to focus on the nuance, which is sadly lacking in mainstream journalism. For my part, I can’t blame them too much. We (the readers) dictate what we want to see by our clicks, and they create the stories that generate the most clicks (or that move the most papers…that’s how papers work in the modern era, right?). However, rest assured, your site has the power to change minds. I’ve seen it. But don’t make that your primary concern, keep plodding along, doing what you do and eventually people will start pretending they were with you the whole time. By and large I like the level of discourse on your articles.

    My own interests focus solely on the game played on the pitch. I like the tactics, the systems, the substitutions and the performances; that’s all I watch! NO-ONE seems to talk about this. When my interest piqued I was so hungry to learn all I could and watch all I could. I soon became disillusioned with simplistic punditry (fair enough, you may not have enough time in 5 mins during half-time to analyse) and the repetitive false narratives (the problem with arsenal is they walk it in….blah blah). After about 5 months of following pre, post and in-match punditry I realised that this wasn’t the answer. I came to the conclusion that there were only a few people who sat in those chairs or wrote articles that were worth following. I was surprised when I saw that I could learn from the likes of Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand (once in a while he has some gems that I hadn’t seen), Graham Hunter, Guillem Balague, several ex managers (in the modern era, not the “kick ’em back in my day” lot), but I got almost nothing from some other more popular name. But as even Gary saw, knowing and implementing are not the same thing. I don’t think any of us really know how to implement no matter how great our ideas or what we think we can see. I’ve seen too many “buy X and we win the league” or “Arsenal need to buy Y”.

    Here are a list of players (off the top of my head) that I was told by newspapers, blogs and fans, at one time or another, that we needed to buy (in no particular order):

    Loic Remy
    Etienne Capoue
    Max Gonalons
    Ricky Alvarez (you might be thinking…who?)
    Juan Mata (I do love him though)
    Cesc Fabregas (again)
    Shaun Wright Phillips
    Benzema (I liked your piece on him Vs Giroud on Untold)
    Higuain (I actually liked him, but never thought we were in for him.)
    Ben Arfa
    Miralem Pjanic
    William Carvalho
    ..the list goes on…(I’m sure you can get the idea from looking at Untold’s transfer tracker this season)

    If you’ve made it this far then it’s time for a bombshell. I didn’t like Alexis when he first came to the club. If we were going for anyone in Barca, (that wasn’t Iniesta–who is probably in my top 4/5 favourite players of all time) I thought it should have been Pedro. Why do I mention it after that list of players? Simple. Tactical fit. People suggest names without considering whether they are a tactical fit for the team or how long it would take to get them up to speed. I had watched Alexis for all his time at Barca under Pep. I found him to be skillful, capable and energetic but tactical lacking–oh how wrong I was. Unlike what most people think, Pep’s Barca was quite methodical and structured. Alexis didn’t fit the structure he was given. Pedro did. He was a team player, he was the better passer, the better finisher (I thought). I too made the fatal mistake of not considering the tactical fit of the players–Pedro had been raised in that system, Alexis was just a guest. Now, when I see Pedro, he is not the same man at Barca, neither is Alexis the same as the guy who used to stand on the wings (as per instructions) waiting to contribute.

    Why is this important? This is just a long winded way of saying that there is so much more to analysing football than who should be bought, what were they really worth, who is going to win the league (which OBVIOUSLY cannot be determined after 1, 2 or even 5 games) etc. There is…you know…football to analyse. Don’t believe me? (Stay with me here, we’re in the home straight). Like every good thing, it comes as a trilogy…

    Example 1:

    Alexis came to Arsenal just after we won the FA cup. I was worried. Worried because I knew he would have more tactical freedom than he did at Barca, he would press when we sat back and create holes for the opposition to exploit. I can’t remember exactly if any goals were directly caused by this, but I do remember his lone figure pressing and trying to summon the team that sat 5-10 metres behind the ball. The season before this we had played a slow methodical build-up game, where we set up shop before Ramsey latched on to knock downs from the Big Man up front. This system also had its drawbacks (namely counter attacks…until we started to address the issue) When Alexis came we had to overhaul how we played. We needed to learn to be more direct. Quicker, stronger. It lifted our game. THAT process, that evolution was never ONCE discussed in the media (at least not to my knowledge) and I can assure you, not to any depth.

    Another thing I learnt was why after Wenger buys a player he RARELY plays him straight away. It takes time to give the player the correct etiquette. Make no mistake the same is true with most top managers, if you cannot play (not the style but) according to the very limited script, you will probably do more harm than good and probably will not play. Like… not shooting from 40 yards 5/6 times, or not clipping long balls up to Alexis *cough cough* IF it is not in behind. Teams have patterns and when these patterns break down, it seems the team does too unless they quickly adapt. (See Santi’s injury last season)

    Example 2 (the penultimate one):

    When Giroud came to Arsenal he was naive (and now I wish I had posted my thoughts before Wenger’s exact same statement on the issue last season). I saw a man who ALWAYS ran to the back post. One who didn’t seem to ever make it up front in time to receive the cross. Obviously, his goal against Tottenham two seasons back will stick in the mind most strongly–when he finally corrected this. He had learnt, I screamed. He had changed. No-one seemed to say it until Wenger said it. I only noticed because it had been something that bugged me about him for a long time; his runs were too linear, too straight (though I’m not saying this to get imaginary props from nameless faces on the internet).

    Example 3 (Santi’s conversion)

    Need I say more? I knew Santi was capable of playing in the centre. He has an amazing touch, dribble and passing ability, but did anyone see him capable of making tackles. I didn’t and boy was I wrong, so gloriously wrong. Wenger has done similar conversions with many other players–I don’t need to name them surely. (Side note: From what I’ve seen from Santi this season albeit two games, he has a small ways to go to regain his instincts and touch).

    The point is that none of these things were ever the focus of pundits, newspapers or bloggers while they were happening. People seem unconcerned with tactics or actual performances outside of a random score out of 10. They only come to the light AFTER someone who is tactically astute says it (be it Klopp mentioning our more direct football last season, Wenger noting the differences in his players from season to season, or G. Neville–who is surprisingly astute–talking about the role of Le Coq before it’s mainstream). It’s a shame then that football is rarely ever analysed for that tiny insignificant portion of the whole that is…well…the actual football.

    If you have read all this you deserve a medal of the Olympic variety. Or a trophy! You get fourth place! Treasure it, someone else might not give you a place that high for reading their ramblings.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Karachi-I enjoyed reading your post, what about putting some more together and offering them to Tony and Walter?

  • Karachi

    Kenneth, i genuinely didn’t expect anyone to read that rambling mess. I’ll consider your suggestion when I have something more interesting and evidenced based to say. Thank you very much for the suggestions and for reading.