The current league table as it appears in the eyes of football journalists

By Tony Attwood

One of the most bizarre comment lines I have read during this season said “Doubts over Arsene Wenger’s future are prompting emotional displays among both his supporters and his critics”.

The notion that people were getting emotional at football matches because Mr Wenger had not said whether he was staying or going seemed so utterly bizarre that I still haven’t quite managed to work it out.  A sort of “Will he stay or will he go; I don’t know so I’m going to hit this guy” world that only journalists live in.

What I would love to do if I had time to spare would be to write a journalist-English dictionary and then set it up as a translation unit so that one could cut and paste an article from the press into Google Translate and it would come out as English.  I did try it but it kept coming out as gibberish.   I can’t imagine why.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that whichever way one looks at it, the media lives, as we know, in a world in which Harry Redknapp is the fount of all knowledge, upon whose every word they must hang.    A world in which “all you need to know” can be reduced to 30 words, such is the contempt with which both the readership, and reality in general, is held.  Indeed “holding reality in contempt” really seems to have become the motto of most football journalists these days.

Out of this comes a media that has its own logic and its own favourites and in order to help a fulsome understanding of this Untold now presents the Premier League in order of the media’s perception of each club.  A quick summary of the club’s standing (the sort of note most journalists use when writing or speaking their commentaries) is given in the final column.

This then is the league table in the eyes of the average football journalist…

Of course clubs go up and down the chart to some degree except Arsenal which is always resolutely bottom.  A sudden win can take a club up 10 places in one afternoon, a sudden defeat spells instant doom in a world where only the last five minutes have a meaning, and then quite often that meaning is made up.

Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup six times in the last 22 years, which is more than Tottenham (who haven’t won it in the last 22 years).   Arsene Wenger has won the Premier League more times than Tottenham in their entire history.  Arsenal have won the league twice at White Hart Lane – which is as many times as Tottenham has.   But all such things count for nothing when only the last fifteen minutes matter and the league table exists only in the imagination of the writer.

 Meanwhile Birmingham City, in case you missed it, have just won the Championship.

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32 Replies to “The current league table as it appears in the eyes of football journalists”

  1. There’s an advert covering the comments on all the teams, Tony. How can I get rid of it? I’m looking forward to having a laugh.

  2. The last 4 years:


    2 FA Cup wins.

    1 FA Cup final to come.

    2 Community shields.

    3 Top 4 finishes, including a 4th a 3rd and a 2nd.



    Trophies of any sort what so ever:

    NIL. That’s nothing, zilch, zip, Nada, bugger all.

    Top 4 finishes:

    Well knock me down with a feather. ONE

    and then Liverpool:

    See above.

    And yet it is Arsenal who are in crisis. And not just this season but last as well. And the one before that. And the one before that. And……Well, you get the picture.

    Yet those 2 ‘Specialists it failure’ (see what I’ve done there?) are praised to the hilt season after season after season, and for what?

    Honestly, as your excellent article suggests, it’s a f***ing joke.

  3. I think that the burgeoning Asian market for the EPL will soon see the compulsory language translator in all devices , including tvs .

    The problem is that very few of the commentators and experts speak the proper Queen’s English ! I’m sure the Chinese and Koreans will get right round to it after they complete translations in Pidgin, Swahili and the like !

    Maybe it would be cheaper to use proper and intelligible english speakers ?
    There are many around in the old colonies !

  4. No! It’s Newcastle United that’d won the Championship but Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City escaped relegation by just. I am sure we all know this and I believe you are only pulling our legs.

    The journalists may form the PL League table they want to form. But the recognized and the only uthentic official League table we all know is the one Arsenal are in it which the Premier League board are compiling every week or every now and then when a PL match or matches is and are played. And the latest one they’ve recently compiled shows that Arsenal are currently placing 6th in the table on 63 points after paying 34 games.

    Haven recently overcame Man United resistant for the 2nd season running at the Ems yesterday Sunday, and also broke the jinx hold of Jose Mourinho on Le Prof, Arsenal next port of call is at Saint Mary’s Stadium in Southampton where they’ll battle the Saints there for the collections of all the 3 points that will be at stake in that PL match to be played this Wednesday night God willing.

    Bearing in mind that Arsenal were drubbed 4-0 in this PL fixture last season at ST Mary’s Stadium, but Arsenal in turn drubbed them 0-4 there this season in one the rounds of the FA Cup matches shows that Arsenal currently hold an edge in game win on the Saints. And despite Saint Mary’s being a bogey ground in the League for Arsenal to play there and win, I’ll be counting on this current game win edge Arsenal have on the Saints to see us through to an 0-2 away win in the match.

  5. Pat/Tony
    I have the same issues with the adverts. For myself, it makes some articles unreadable. Maybe it’s because the webpage is not formatted/optimised for small form android devices.

  6. The game was shown ‘live’ here. I followed the local commentators and I also listened on a stream to the commentators.

    As usual with the stream commentators almost every play of our opponents was positively spoken about and almost everything about Arsenal was spoken about negatively.

    We have come to expect this. It is how it is. Yesterday it occurred to me we have reports on the referee’s to contribution to the game but we have don’t any actual reports of these commentators who claim to be unbiased just like the referee.

    Making a simple note of the commentators positive and negative comments is something anyone can do. So how about doing it?

    Something like this.

    minute 1 positive about opponent
    3 negative Arsenal
    We don’t need the detail although it would be useful

    We would need to know who the commentators were and something about their involvement in the game either present or past.

    How about it? Anyone up for this?

  7. I was waiting in my car this morning and use my Phone to see the Untold article and could only read By Tony Attwood and nothing else. Now on my computer it looks fine

  8. Tentative links to Valverde of Bilbao in recent weeks and Jardim this morning if Wenger leaves (has to eventually). Could be good definitely worth considering after this season.

  9. Sorry i need assistance. Reading this quote from Mr Mourinho but cant understand it:

    ‘Arsene Wenger is a big manager so to have that record of winning so many matches and losing so many matches is something that is not normal. That is not normal.

    “Normal is win, lose, draw. It’s not normal and I really don’t care about it. Today, no problem’

    so….. what is normal again? sounds like philip k. dick territory

  10. One of the most annoying examples of journalist-English is the constant use of the word ‘snub’ to describe a players decision to not join a particular club.
    Snub implies a measure of disdain and is insulting to the recipient, rarely the case when used in the way the journos use it.

  11. Marko – Allegri is the man we should go for… Juventus have nowhere near as much money as us and look like they’re heading for another CL final..

  12. @colario…would be an interesting thing to see comments divided up between positive and negative. At one stage (around min 78…good grief we were winning 2-0), on my stream, the commentators carried on a running commentary for about 3 minutes on how Wenger should go and whether success in the FA cup would encourage that. Not sure if that is 1 comment or 3 or 6 because both commentators were contributing equally.

  13. Don’t forget how often the pundits tell us that Spurs absolutely didn’t deserve to finish below us last season. They repeat this line so often and it’s just beggars belief. Or how Spurs have THE best young player in the world. That’s right, not just one of the best, but THE best, in Dele Ali. Jamie Redknapp repeatedly touts this, as if it were gospel. Every week, there’s at least 2 new articles on SkySports telling us how great he is. He is a very good player, yes, but to say that he is THE best young player in the world, is beyond ridiculous.

  14. Phil Neville says that he disapproves of players greeting each other before the KO (note that Keown nods along in the background: he’s made the choice of plunditry not coaching, so he has to follow his editor’s narrative), and that’s all fair enough.

    But when you think back, most English football fans would need to give each other a cuddle and wipe a tear every time that they saw Neville’s name down on the team sheet for the national team. I can’t recall a more unanimous moment uniting football fans up and down the land.

    And I’m sure such an understanding worked wonders when p.neville and friends replaced a succesful title winning coaching set up which was inexplicably removed for Neville & Chums to send the club into what I believe is called a “spiral of decline”, not a surprising outcome if you replace people who’ve proven that they know how to successfully coach a football team with an idiot who talks like the aaa idiots (in fact as can be observed by any and all these are the kind of idiots that like to interview each other because they need an echo chamber for their own idiocy).

  15. Give it a rest, Tony.

    Seriously, this chip-on-shoulder, victim mentality act is beginning to contaminate everything you and others write on here. And it will only result in this website becoming ever less credible.

    Every club gets it in the neck from the media at some time or another. And the bigger they are, the more that they tend to get it in the neck. When Arsenal were really good, they received unprecedented praise. Even when they lost in the League Cup, the media waxed lyrical about Wenger’s home grown youth, despite the fact that many were neither young nor home grown. Now that the media can smell blood, they are circling and digging and snapping away. It’s just what they do. Bad news sells. It is exactly the same for Spurs whenever they are struggling. Even over the past two seasons, when they have been the only club (other than the eventual champions) to keep the title race slightly interesting until the final few weeks, they have been labelled bottlers as soon as they suffer one defeat. Not to mention that, by my reckoning, the media have already sold off two thirds of Spurs’ first team two or three times over. And given Pochettino the Barcelona / Real Madrid ‘ PSG / Manchester United job.

    The only reason why you think that Arsenal are uniquely persecuted is because, naturally enough, you read infinitely more about Arsenal than you do about any other club. If you were to follow reporting of other clubs as closely as you that of Arsenal, you would find that they too are praised or criticised to the same degree, depending upon whether they are currently doing relatively well or not.

    You and I and everyone else on here know that the media write crap. Nothing you can do or say here will change that. And complaining repeatedly and bitterly about how it is especially unfair to Arsenal just gives the impression of an persecution complex. So let it go.

  16. As I said above.

    Last 4 seasons:


    3 FA cup finals, 2 wins, 1 to come hopefully.

    2 Community shield wins.

    1 4th, 1 3rd and 1 runner up PL finish.

    We just beat a £175 Million Man United side.

    And we get the following, not just from Phil Neville, but ably supported by one of our own, Martin Keown.

    Show me something even close to that about Spurs or Liverpool, who haven’t won a Cup for how long, let alone a title?

    Did you know that TalkSport have run a daily anti Arsenal section for the last 10 years plus? Have you actually ever listened to Talksport? Have you ever listened to Durham?

    Do or did you ever read, Howard, Reade, Custis, Beasley et el. Their abuse of Arsenal, and Wenger in particular is relentless.

    Even a supposed Arsenal fan such as John Cross consistently criticises.

    Tell me one ex Liverpool or Spurs player that criticises there ex Club in the way that Stewart Robson and Paul Merson, to name just 2, do Arsenal ?

    If you think other teams get the regular unrelenting abuse we do that’s up to you, but I beg to differ.

  17. @Tony:

    What I would love to do if I had time to spare would be to write a journalist-English dictionary and then set it up as a translation unit so that one could cut and paste an article from the press into Google Translate and it would come out as English. I did try it but it kept coming out as gibberish. I can’t imagine why.

    You are incorrigible, you know? I couldn’t stop laughing 🙂

  18. JimB

    Best comment I’ve read on here.

    Also, this blog is annoyingly totalitarian. I am pro wenger but just because I dared to suggest that the people running arsenal behind the scenes- not least Kroenke- are an awful, incompetent bunch, my comments have been blocked.

    That’s not the proper way to conduct healthy, rational debate.

  19. It would appear the U23 won 2-1 vs MoanU

    That’s 3 Arsenal teams, and 3 wins vs MoanU.

    I wonder if the initials of our club might be changing to WFC – Willock Football Club. We ended the game with 3 Willocks on the field I believe (Chris, Matt and Joe).

  20. BenjaminJ…..please provide us with what AFC have available for player purchases and what Juventus have, so we can compare. I mean actual transfer budgets, not invented BS that the media shit out each day… Otherwise, back to elementary research and providing actual proof for your spurious statements!

  21. Are people being forcibly herded into this site ? It sounds like that from the brayings of some of the pests that infest this site.

    As for me, when I feel uncomfortable with any site for whatever reason , I ‘d choose to leave as gracefully as possible and without ceremony or threats of violence .

    Often we get people insulting us on here , threatening to never return but then opting come back and threaten some more.

    That we AKBs are different than most other fans most is a given fact . And we ARE happy to that fact . Get over it .
    Let us wallow in our delirium .

    Choose to leave with class and grace .

    Almost choked myself in laughing at that last statement !

  22. Alexander Henry
    The reason any comments are blocked are set out in the page “Comments” which is listed under “Pages” on the left column near the top. Untold gets around 5 million page views a year and that generates a huge level of comments, not to mention all out attacks on occasion. In order to handle this and keep the site running with only volunteers to do it, we use both manual moderation and automatic systems.

    Please have a read of the Comments page, and then if you think something has gone wrong, please write to me off site with the detail and I will try and sort the matter. I am aware that some people are put into moderation who should not be, and vice versa, and I do try to resolve all such matters as we go.

  23. JimB. Our credibility has been questioned since Untold started 9 years ago, and predictions of our demise started eight years ago when we started to get a bit of an audience. As you will have seen, the article was accepted as a bit of a laugh, and (as in your case) the opposite. When two of us came up with the idea for the league table based on journalistic perception while in the pub before the Man U game we had a long laugh, so I wrote it. But the fact is no one has to read it. We publish around 20 articles a week, and we’re just one of hundreds of blogs, so there is some choice.

    It was a joke – some people laughed, some not. So it goes.

  24. Yes, Tony…….a joke. But it was very much of the smiling through gritted teeth variety. “Hey, look…..I’m laughing about this thing that I keep writing about, over and over. I find it funny. Really, I do. Honest.”

    I enjoy reading your articles, even if I often disagree with them. I find it useful to keep abreast of what the other side is thinking.

  25. JimB

    The problem is you make a statement such as:

    “If you were to follow reporting of other clubs as closely as you that of Arsenal, you would find that they too are praised or criticised to the same degree”

    Then fail to back it up.

    I asked you to give me examples of ex Liverpool and Spurs players who constantly berate there ex team and manager as ex Arsenal players do ours.

    If you can fine, but up until now you have not.

    I pointed out Arsenals successes over the last 4 years compared to Spurs and Liverpool and asked how after such a period of success, and beating a multi million pound United team, we warranted comments and an article such as produced by Phil Neville ?

    I asked you to give an example of a similar tirade against Liverpool or Spurs following one of there victories over United.

    Again, if you can fine. But until now you have not.

    I asked you, do you actually ever listen to the likes of Talksport who have had a DAILY anti Arsenal/Wenger item on the Durham show for over 10 years.

    If you can point to similar items aimed at other, less successful clubs and managers, Fine, but up until now you have not.

    I look forward to you pointing me in the direction of the examples you will have to back your superstition that every club gets the same abuse we do.


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