Five Steps From Reality. Everything you need to know about today’s football transfers.

By Tony Attwood

I do take pleasure in the fact that over the years Untold Arsenal has uncovered a number of issues in football which, had it not been for us, would probably have remained undisclosed, at least for a while.  Walter’s work on refereeing is a perfect example: a major step forward in the analysis of football.

I’m also quite pleased with this summer’s work, not only pulling together and exposing some of  the make believe and fantasy tales of the media, but also the background work on why the media is as it is, using Dr Gray’s exploration of how newspapers got to be like they are, and the psychological work of Professor Stefan Stieglitz’ work on the psychology of rumour, and Jacqui Taylor’s work on the need for instant comment.

The newspapers have tuned into the basic human reactions that these academics have noted which and which Professor Stieglitz summarised with the simple rule: ““If people get new information that is in contrast to what they believe then they tend to neglect this new information for as long as possible.”

From all this one observation shines through: that once a media style and approach is rolling it just keeps rolling like a snowball going downhill, picking up everything in its path.

By way of example, consider this headline from the Independent last weekend.

Everything you need to know about the 2016 Community Shield

As headlines go it wasn’t very snappy or exciting; every newspaper is currently running “Everything you need to know” headlines.   The stories are generally short, and utterly lacking in interest.  But this one took us on a particularly interesting route.  This is how it went, from the very start.

“The last – and only – occasion when Leicester City won the Community Shield was in 1971, 45 years ago. Double winners Arsenal were unable to attend due to a lazily planned pre-season schedule meaning FA Cup runners-up Liverpool would face Second Division champions Leicester instead.”

I kid you not, that is the opening paragraph.  A community shield story that had nothing to do with Arsenal, and was played in 2016 opens (opens, mark you) with a piece about Arsenal 45 years ago accusing Arsenal of being lazy in its planning.

“Everything you need to know” however is not only wrong in the sense that I can’t see how you need to know about Arsenal in 1971 (with of course zero evidence to back up the claim of “lazy planning”, but also because there are a few things worth knowing about the Community Shield.

One could for example talk about who has won it the most of these games (Man U – 17 wins, Arsenal 13, Liverpool 10, Everton 8).

Or one could ask “why did it change its name from the Charity Shield?”   That’s quite interesting, as is the answer, for in an absolutely damning ruling in 2002, the Charity Commission found that the Football Association failed to meet its legal obligations under charity law, by failing to specify what money from ticket sales went to charity, and in delaying (sometimes by inordinate amounts of time) payments to the charities nominated. Normally organisations that cheat on charities are forced to wind up – the FA got off with a warning and the competition was renamed the Community Shield.  Arsenal were the first winners of the renamed Community Shield with a 1–0 victory over Liverpool.

But it is from such writing as that in the example from the Independent that the bloggettas take their lead, as with the story running today on the Daily Cannon with the headline: Arsenal fail to strike a deal over another player – report.

This is in fact a story about Debuchy not going to Galatasaray, a club that never said they were going to take him in the first place.  Thus the old game: cook up a rumour, then blame Arsenal for not being able to see things through.  “Galatasaray are the latest club to reportedly pull out of signing Mathieu Debuchy,” is the second headline, creating a negative out of non-existence.

It is rather like Donald Trump.  If you heard yesterday’s speech you will know what I mean.  He said, that “Hillary Clinton created Isis with Obama” and then repeated the accusation against the President five times.  (Of course I am not comparing the seriousness of what Trump is doing with what little boys in attics do with bloggettas, but the style and approach is the same).

Of course all websites and newspapers write headlines to attract readership, but in both football and politics this has now gone to levels not seen before.   Take this one

Breaking: Arsenal’s £21million target undergoes medical and signs five-year contract

This comes from and is followed by

“Arsenal target Jese Rodriguez has left Real Madrid to join Paris Saint-Germain in France.   The 23-year-old was linked with a possible move to Arsenal or Liverpool according to reports in England and Italy.”

Of course one or two of the reports are about players coming in (allegedly) such as Fresh Football’s Deal Close: Arsenal Expect To Announce£20million Signing Before Friday  which tells us “Arsenal will try to push through a quick deal before the opening Premier League game with Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi topping the wanted list,  Jonny Evans of West Brom is also a surprise target.”

I am not sure that Evans is much of a surprise given that all the papers and bloggettas have been having that story running for weeks and weeks.

But mostly, the headlines are just there to mislead.   “Agent confirms Arsene Wenger has reached an agreement for transfer of attacking midfielder” takes us to “Arsenal attacking midfielder Kelechi Nwakali will leave the club on loan, agent Allwell Nwakali has confirmed.”

This far into the transfer window the papers are getting desperate, with the Daily Star now quoting O Jogo (which translates as The Game) whose banner is “Jornal diário desportivo que segue toda a atualidade desportiva com independência e rigor jornalístico” (which is to say “Daily sports newspaper that follows all sports today with independence and journalistic rigour”) to the effect that Islam Slimani, an Algerian forward who plays for Sporting CP “wants to join a top Premier League team this summer.”

Thus there is no thought that the story is true, and if it were true, that the player wants to go to Arsenal, or that even if he does and his club want to sell him, Arsenal want him.

We are now in fact at the “Five Steps From Reality” boundary – the measure of how likely a transfer rumour is to be true.   These five steps are

  • Arsenal want the player
  • The player wants to or is willing to move
  • The player’s current club is willing to talk
  • A price can be agreed
  • The player passes a medical

When none of those conditions is met we are indeed Five Steps from Reality.

Elsewhere just to finish off the fun, “Arsenal have set their sights on Robert Lewandowski and Antoine Griezmann, according to reports.”  That is in both the Express and the Sun.

Anyway, let’s end with Football Whispers, which I mentioned the other day – supposedly giving a algorithm to let us know even more accurately than the Five Steps, how likely a transfer is to happen.

A certain amount of credulity in the site has been removed by the fact that they are showing that Arsenal has a grand total of one transfer this summer so far.  Thus we may be cautious about today’s rankings out of five.

Chart position Player Club Whisperisation factoid Last week
1 A Lacazette Lyon 4.5 4.5
2 S Mustafi Valencia 4.3 3.4
3 R Mahrez Leicester City 3.6 4.4
4 J Evans West Bromwich 3.6 3.2
5 A Griezmann Atletico Madrid 3.3 1.8
6 K Benzema Real Madrid 3.1 2.7
7 O Ozyakup Besiktas 2.2
8 M Icardi Inter Milan 2.2 3.4
9 H Akpan Blackburn 1.9 —-
10 J Rodriguez Real Madrid 1.8 2.6

Dropping out from last week, Draxla and Morata.  But do remember: they just make it all up.

Recent Posts

Two Charity Shield Anniversaries (for the full list of today’s events see the home page)

  • 11 August 1979: Arsenal lost 3-1 to Liverpool in Charity Shield.  The crowd of 92,000 was Arsenal’s highest ever for a charity shield game.  It was also Arsenal’s first appearance in the Shield since 12 October 1953.
  • 11 August 2002: 23 years to the day after Arsenal played Liverpool in the Charity Shield, Gilberto Silva played his first competitive match for Arsenal after the usual pre-season tour against  v Liverpool in Community Shield.  Gilberto scored the only goal.  For context see here.


15 Replies to “Five Steps From Reality. Everything you need to know about today’s football transfers.”

  1. Quoting the cartoonist Giles.

    Are we to understand that Sir Hardly….. is on holiday, which is why this piece is not in that name?

  2. I took a look at ‘whispering’ as you mentioned it.

    It is no different from all the other egoistic internet market barrow boys

    To quote Dickens ‘What we want is facts’

    When facts are presented here then you leave the other sites in your trail.

    I can’t see the point of constantly going on and on about these sites that are full of nothing but air pie and windy pudding.

    I thank you for the pieces that provide facts.

  3. The facts are straightforward. We haven’t signed any of these players yet. The rest is speculation

  4. OT.
    Is Donald Trump sure in his political assertion that President Obama’s and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s military overthrow of Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya had caused the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) to come to be? What of the Republican President George Bush’s military action in Afghanistan, did it cause the diminished al-Qa’ida of Bin Laden to form in Iraq? Are all these past US Presidential military actions to curtail the fascism quest of Saddam Hussein and the Islamic extremism in the World by the Jihadists not necessary? I very much believe those past military actions were very necessary and correct.

    And just my own insight, would the American electorates be prepared to handover their neclear weapons into the hands of a Woman President who could emotionally inclined to falter? It’s the American electorates decision to make and no disrespect to Hillary please.

    By the way, I don’t believe Arsenal will go down the low path to sign Wilfried Bonny, a 6 goals scorer in 36 Man City games. And a discarded CHB Jonny Evans of LvG’s Man Utd squad. When there are far better options available at the market for Arsenal to procure. At least the 5th ranked forward in the World by my own reckoning who I talked about yesterday on this site is still available for a possible signing by Arsenal. All the Champions League playing big clubs in Europe and England have forgotten to sign this player. Maybe God Has arranged that to happen so that Arsenal can sign him. But should Arsenal fail to accept what God Has done for us, a non Ucl big club may sign him up just like the non Ucl playing big club Man Utd succeeded in signing some big Ucl playing players of recent in this window. Did they say Arsenal are about to announce their signing of centre-back Shkodran Mustafi? That can be a good news for us if it does happen. So we are waiting to hear it has truly come to pass.

  5. Great article.

    Regarding this type of reporting, I was pretty disappointed with Arseblog a few days ago when he published a piece about ‘Clubs lining up to rebuff Arsenal’. One of the players named was Icardi, even though all that happened was inter’s manager said, without mentioning Arsenal, that they wanted to keep him. Arseblog hadn’t even reported the icardi rumours because he says himself, in the same piece, they we’re sure the icardi links we’re 99.9% nonsense.

  6. OLD – A very encouraging & scientific message from a Senior citizen. ?

    Brains of older people are slow because they know so much. People do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe.

    Much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full, so, too, do humans take longer to access information when their brains are full.

    Researchers say this slowing down process is not the same as cognitive decline. The human brain works slower in old age, said Dr. Michael Ramscar, but only because we have stored more information over time. The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.

    Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. It is NOT a memory problem, it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise.

    Now when I reach for a word or a name , I won’t excuse myself by saying “I’m having a senior moment”. Now, I’ll say, “My disk is full!”

    I have more friends I should send this to, but right now I can’t remember their names.

    So, please forward this to your friends; they may be my friends, too.

  7. OLDER –

    Towards the end of the prayer, the Priest asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?”

    80% held up their hands.

    The Priest then repeated his question.

    All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

    “Mrs. B****** ? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?”

    “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

    “Mrs. B****** that is very unusual. How old are you?”

    “Ninety-eight,” she replied.

    “Oh, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?”

    The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation & said:

    “I outlived the bastards and the bitches.”

  8. BUGGER – An injury caused by one man to another behind his back .

    A woman was having sex in an apartment 20 floors high with another man. She then heard her husband coming.. She told her lover to stay still like robot and not to move.

    Husband: ” What is this?”

    Wife: ” This is a robot I bought to have sex with when you are traveling…”

    Husband: ” Okay.. Lets have sex now…”

    Wife: ” No sweetheart.. Yesterday I got my period, so I will go and make a cup of coffee for you..”

    After she left the husband said: ” Damn I am so horny, I will f*ck this robot…”

    He tried f*cking. The man started talking in a metallic robotic way..

    “System error ! Wrong hole !
    System error ! Wrong hole..! ”

    Husband: “Damn robot is not working properly.. I am throwing it out of the window..”

    The lover realized that he was on the 20th floor he said:


  9. A soldier was given a three-day leave to attend to his newly wedded wife but on getting home, he realised that his wife was in her menstrual period.

    So he decided to send a telegram to his headquarter to extend his leave but with his mother-in-law and other visitors around, he decided to code his message in the military way. This is what followed;

    SOLDIER: Omega one, this is omega twelve, danger signal from the field, red alert in front, extend leave. Do you read me?! Red alert in front, extend leave.

    HEADQUARTERS: Omega twelve, this is omega one, I read you loud and clear! Attack from behind, resume duty immediately! I repeat, attack from behind, resume duty immediately! Out?!?

  10. A little story which beautifully illustrates that what you sow, you reap.

    Once upon a time there was a small time business man from a small village who used to sell butter in the nearby town. A big shop owner in the town was his regular customer.

    The villager used to deliver every month to the shop owner the required butter in 1 Kg. blocks and in return he used to get grocery items like sugar, pulses etc from the big shop owner.

    Once the shop owner decided to weigh the butter and to his surprise every block of butter weighed only 900 gms. instead of 1kg.

    The next month when the villager came to supply Butter, the shop owner was very angry at him and told to leave the shop, to this the villager replied to him courteously, ” Sir, I am but a very poor villager, and I don’t have enough money to even buy the required weights for weighing the butter, so I usually put the 1Kg sugar you give me on one side of Weighing scale and weigh the butter on another side .”

    This beautifully illustrates that what we give to others comes back to us.

  11. So what has the above humourous and enlightening tales have to do with the main article ?
    I KNOW that the AKBs perfectly understand their subtle meanings , but for the benefit of the younglings , I shall teach you the ways of our wisdom . So …..

    1. An older ( and wiser ) person takes his time to make his decisions . He has his life’s long experience and wisdom at his beck . This is deliberating , NOT dithering .

    2. A wise person knows that his wisdom and cunning will outlast and outclass those of the stupider persuasion every time .Spend some fucking money is NOT a very good mantra .

    3. When ‘ push comes to shove ‘ in tough negotiations the fool will always back down and roll over ! Bummer !

    4. In every diversity , difficulty or diversion there is always a back door or another opening to exploit . Shitty as it may seem !

    5. Do onto others as you would that others do onto you. Give your best and ye shall receive your just rewards .

  12. @Samuel Akinsola Adebosin – “would the American electorates be prepared to handover their neclear weapons into the hands of a Woman President who could emotionally inclined to falter?” Jesus Christ, what age are you living in.. I have absolutely no love for Hilary Clinton, but that statement is beyond ignorant.

  13. Jammy J…….be tolerant, Samuel lives in a grass hut and beats his wife at least once a week so it is no surprise that he is a misogynist and chauvinist!

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