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June 2021

We live in a world that has more news outlets than ever before, and yet we live in a world of make believe.

By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist, University Hospital of the North Circular Road.

When I have occasionally read a Gabriele Marcotti article or heard him broadcast I’ve generally thought he brings a new perspective to whatever is being discussed perhaps because of his international heritage.  He can be funny and is knowledgeable in the way that many commentators can’t.  He also knows stuff.  Lots of stuff.

Or so I thought, because now I am starting to wonder if there are not two Gabriele Marcotties.  One working for ESPN and one working for, of all unlikely outlets, the Herald Scotland.

ESPN Marcotti wrote an interesting afterthought on the cup final saying “Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez could have got on with their contract negotiations, whether with Arsenal or somebody else. Per Mertesacker could have limited himself to another cameo. Granit Xhaka could have clobbered a couple of opponents and then thrown his hands in the air in frustration,” and went on to point out how they all determined to make the day something quite different.

But then within a trice he produced “It’s groundhog day at Arsenal” for Herald Scotland.

“Arsenal seem to be doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Which, according to Einstein, is the definition of insanity.”

The piece is a gathering together of all the supposed actions and non-actions involving Arsenal that have been reported elsewhere in the media, assuming that they are all true, and then in a most bizarre manner criticising Arsenal for not doing what the media has made up.

And backing it all up with a quote which I thought everyone knew Einstein never said or wrote. Certainly the fakedness of that saying is something that I would have expected the Marcotti I have heard on the radio to know, because most of all, he comes across as a guy who knows stuff.   Like who plays in goal for an Italian fourth division team you’ve never heard of, why the concept of time is inexorably linked to the speed of light and the problems facing Gibralter once Britain leaves the EU.  On the radio, he knows it all.

It makes me wonder if there are not several Marcottis each writing contrary columns – a sort of Arsenal Good Marcotti, an Arsenal Bad Marcotti, an Arsenal Irrelevant Marcotti and so on, each raking in the cash for Marcotti Central which quite possibly sits astride a melting glacier in northern Canada.

Anyway, one way or another the stories trundle on and we are told that “Arsenal target Kylian M’Bappe, Riyad Mahrez, Alexandre Lacazette and Arda Turan in £165m summer spree” which is probably as true as the notion that Einstein said, “International law exists only in textbooks on international law,” which he didn’t.

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Or the notion that Arsenal are ready to launch a £95million bid to land Monaco star Kylian Mbappe, (that one is in the Mirror who add…)

“The Gunners failed with an £87m bid for the French striker on Friday, but Arsene Wenger is ready to show his intent with an improved bid for the youngster.”

This comes about because “Wenger is under order’s to spend the cash and make Arsenal competitive again in the Premier League”.  (Now I know that the apostrophe in “order’s” is a fake apostrophe, but that is what is in the article).

Anyway, this is a real turnabout because until now all we have heard is that Mr Wenger is his own man, won’t let anyone tell him what to do, won’t let anyone advise him… but here he is, a couple of days into his new contract, being under orders.

As is the fact that Arsenal are going to buy “want-away winger Riyad Mahrez, Lyon goal-machine Alexandre Lacazette and Barcelona star Arda Turan” which the Mirror also tells us.   Apart from anything else, are we really going to buy a 30 year old?

But “Wenger plans to spend heavily regardless of whether Alexis Sanchez puts in a transfer request or not with the Chilean strike star wanted by Arsenal’s Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City.”

So where does all this fake news come from.   One source is Football.London (a shadowy organisation that seems to be supplying a “rumours” column often containing utterly contradictory rumours to a range of different newspapers.  A typical piece claims “Alexandre Lacazette drops transfer hint to disappoint Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.”

They also have the notion that “if reports in Italy are to be believed, it won’t be Szczesny who acts as cover for Cech as he is on the verge of a £14m move to Juventus.”

Well, yes, if reports are to be believed, Einstein said, “Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”  Except again there is not the slightest bit of evidence, that he did say or write that, and as with the other “quotes” no one ever gives a source.

Anyway, it turns out that Football London is also responsible for “Arsenal make new Mbappe bid as Gunners rival Man City and Manchester United for striker – report”.  The fact that the word “report” is the most misleading word in the whole headline gives a clue that there is not much there.

Same with “Arsenal striker causes confusion by appearing in Southampton kit despite still being under contract” which is a major piece all about an instagram shot which itself could be fake.  The striker who turns out to be Yassin Fortune, who seems to have disappeared from the headlines after a series of injuries.   He came to the club, you may recall with Jeff Reine-Adelaide who was also out with an injury in the latter part of last season.

Anyway just like fake Einstein quotes, so fake transfer stories turn up over and over on Football London as with “Barcelona give playmaker permission to talk to Arsenal as Wenger closes in on £20m transfer – report” which tells us that “Reports in Turkey suggest Arda Turan could be on his way to the Emiartes”.  And that spelling of the airline’s name is theirs not mine.

You might just as well say that Einstein said, “I refuse to believe that God plays dice with the universe.”  He didn’t.

Or you could say, “Arsenal favourites for Sergio Aguero – with Lacazette and Mahrez not far behind” – another Football London piece.   Or maybe, “Arsenal and Everton look to steal a march on Chelsea and United for England wonderkid” which yet again is Arsenal London this time focusing on Charlton teenager Ezri Konsa.

Which is as true as saying “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”   That wasn’t Einstein. It was E.F. Schumacher.

Or “Arsenal favourites for Mbappe transfer ahead of Man City, Manchester United and Liverpool” which isn’t Einstein or Schumacher, but once again Football London.  As is “Forget Kylian Mbappe – Romelu Lukaku is the man Wenger needs to spearhead the Arsenal attack”.

What links the Einstein and Football London stories is that they are both scattered throughout the internet.   And Football London stories are multiplying day by day and being taken up by newspaper after newspaper.   It’s all a bit tragic really.

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12 comments to We live in a world that has more news outlets than ever before, and yet we live in a world of make believe.

  • Dr Billy
    I had a chat with my mate Einstein, just this morning and he said ” don`t believe half the things I said, cos I didn`t, the other half I don`t remember anyway”
    I don`t reckon your real either!
    I`ve been round the North Circular looking for the University Hospital and I can`t find it
    Just like all the fake news we`re getting

    P.S. great blog

  • HenryB

    A sort of interesting read, but is it all fake?

    For example the quote; ‘“I refuse to believe that God plays dice with the universe.” He didn’t’ smacks, just a little, of the double negative — if Einstein did not say that he ‘refused to believe etc’ the inference is that he did believe God played dice with the Universe – and the statement ‘he didn’t’ is superfluous.

    Anyway, I have seen the TV series ‘Genius’ showing the main influences on Einstein’s life — and he was far too busy bonking any available female to be able to spare time to make any statement other than ‘she has great boobs’.

    Do not try and tell me the TV series is fake news – or fake history – as it a known truth that a series with plenty of sexual congress cannot be fake! Source: Nell Gwynne. 🙂

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    These transfer rumours are being made availabe to us read by the publishers – the rumour mill mongers because they know how eager we are to see our clubs reinforced after an underachieving even after an achieving season’s campaign. And they will continue to make these made up stories available for us to read them as long as we remain excited in envisaging a possibility for one or two of these transfer rumours could likely or unlikely happens for our club sides. In our own case Arsenal as we read the rumours and ponder over the targets and become enticed and addicted to reading this media’s mill transfer rumours.

    Realistically speaking, I think we have to go by what Le Prof had said after Arsenal won the FA Cup last season. He said, he’ll keep 90% of his current first team squad of 25 Gunners and brings in 2 – 3 top quality ones. One of which is likely to be a marquee player.

    The ponder now by us the Arsenal supporters is, who and who will go and who and who will come in? And also who and who are likely to be promoted to the senior team squad from the U23 and the U21 teams?

    To go in my own thinking are: the injury wrecked Yaya Sanogo, the constant injury niggling and not up to Arsenal grade Mohammed Elneny and to be discharged on professionalism consideration ground and not to be to be kept on sentiment ground for another year which will not be productive for Arsenal to do, is the injury wrecked Santi Cazorla.(five surgeries) Sorry! I shouldn’t have said this but I have to say it because Arsenal should not keep another Abou Diaby, Thomas Rosicky and TV5 likes on their payroll longer than its necessary to keep them More so, as any of Sanogo and Cazorla if kept this summer could be unproductively for Arsenal as they’ll occupy first team space in the 25 man first team squad and doing nothing for Arsenal on the field of play. Or does Le Prof believes Cazorla in particular can do a Mertesacker come back?

    The free agent Kolasinac and the purported £6.8m Arsenal bid Onyekuru looking the likely tranfers to happen for Arsenal this summer? We will know when Arsenal confirm, ignore or debunk the rumours. I am yet to believe Le Prof has bid £95m to sign the Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe which was said to be rejected and he will return with an improved bid of £97m to sign him all according to media report. Well, let’s wait and see as the saying goes in some Arsenal circles that, Arsene Knows Best.

    Who should be demoted to the U21 or the U23 teams? Jeff-Reine Adelaide? And who will be promoted to the senior team this summer if he proved his mettle in Arsenal friendlies and the Ems Cup games, Eddy Nketiah?

  • James

    Arsenal Rule OK

  • Nick the Gooner

    And so the Crap starts
    “Arsene Wenger assures Arsenal board he will walk next summer if another title bid fails”
    From the Metro
    Already – starting to put pressure on and negative vibes up – Crap

    We have the Prof for 2 years and he will guide us to the promised land

  • para

    The speculations are interesting, i sometimes get to hear of players i would not get to see.

    Einstein and his “achievements” eh?

    Is light speed not just another barrier like sound?

    Next up is the thought barrier, which is way faster than the speed of light. 🙂

  • Gord

    Nobody looking for corruption in the EPL/FA? I’m still looking for feedback. Oh well, next piece>

    The data

    In “runs” 1 and 2 (which each were made of multiple part runs), we eventually got to the point where a rare event of interest had 20 hits. It took 18.1 BILLION cycles to get to this point, and over 1 week of CPU time on an AMD64 processor with 2 cores that runs ALL THE TIME. The OS is multi-user and multi-tasking, so the computer did do some other stuff at the same time.

    A difference between the 2 runs, is that in the first version we make 3 calls to Poisson random number generators for each trial (one for wins, one for draws and one for losses). That’s a lot of function call overhead. In the second version, we make one call for 1000 wins numbers, one call for 1000 draws numbers and one call for 1000 losses numbers, and then we pull the next of each kind from an inner loop (the outer loop only runs 1/1000 as many times as before).

    If our computer works with 4 byte integers, we could have a problem at 2^31 (signed) or 2^32 (unsigned), as the counter rolls over. That just a problem in keep track of how many Monte Carlo trials we take.

    The bin with the largest number of counts is that one for 11 wins and 9 draws in a 38 game season with 22,084,775 hits. If we are going to equate that number of hits with some real world rate, we are expecting the fractional error of that estimate to be some small multiplier (near 1) times 0.00021…. (on the order of 0.02%). Which is a pretty good estimate.

    But, our rare event (Leicester’s 2015/2016 results) only had 20 hits. Our fractional error is some small multiplier (near 1) times 0.22…. (on the order of 22%). If our small multiplier is 2, we are saying our error is about 44%.

    If we were to rerun our model for 5 times as long, we would get to (about) 100 hits, and our expected error would then be some small multiplier times 0.1. Again, if it turns out our small multiplier is 2, our error is still 20%. We are still having problems getting 1 significant figure.

    What we would like to do, is to run the model until we get about 400 counts, which is 20 times as long. Our expected error would be some small multiplier times 0.05, and if our small multiplier is 2 we would get an error about about 10%. One significant figure.

    It was a single threaded task on a dual core CPU for (about) 10 days. This computer is due for an upgrade to an 8 core CPU, so maybe if we redo the code so that we can get 6 of those cores working all on the same problem, I would expect it would take about 33 days to get 400 hits on the Leicester results.

    I had to run the program in the manner I did (for a fixed number of Monte Carlo trials), as I had no idea how often some of these rare events happened. From that result, I could switch over and monitor how many hits are in the Leicester bin, and just run until the counts in that bin reach some desired number. And continue to keep track of how many Monte Carlo trials are being performed. And use a random number generator that has a suffficiently long period to not influence the results (the Mersenne Twister used has a very long period, in addition I had 2 additional programs harvesting entropy to feed back into the kernel, so that it doesn’t run out of entropy while dealing with this long calculation).

    I heard that the odds that the bookies gave on Leicester were about 2000:1. My guess is that this is at least a factor of 10 too low, that the odds should have been (at least) 20,000:1. Possibly 30 or 40 thousand to 1.

    And yet, the incident happened. You can look in the records, Leicester won the EPL in 2015/16.

    If Leicester would have behaved with the same statistics that every rest of the pack team has had over the last 3 seasons, there was very little chance that they would have won. So, was Leicester very lucky? Or did something happen to cause Leicester to perform significantly differently than a rest of the pack team?

    Some would argue the manager. Yes, they had a new manager. And come the 2016/17 season, he tanked things and got fired. Was this a ploy, or was he truly unable to replicate the previous year’s performance?

    Were the Leicester players tested for drugs during 2015/16? All the players? At random? Unannounced?

    Maybe all the Leicester players had little radios in their ears, and they were getting instructions from “experts” as to what to do?

    Did Leicester pay off the opposition team every game to perform more poorly than they were capable of? If they did, how would that be kept secret?

    I’m running out of scenarios that don’t involve that twisted 😈 Mike Riley and the PGMO.

    What do you think happened? Or was this just luck?

    If it was just luck, why do you still insist that finishing place means something (for you aaa types)? Here you are admitting that luck was the reason Leicester won in 2015/16, and in the same breath convicting Wenger for not winning as many games as you think he should have.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Einstein was overrated…never saw him nutmeg Rutherford.

  • Andy Mack

    Para, I know plenty of people that think far far slower than the speed of sound (It’s a job requirement for most sports journalists!).
    Their thought process speed is more like the speed of a CL ref to give a decision against Barca… as in glacially slow.

  • Gord

    At the end of

    Florian writes –


    Out of curiosity, what is the number of hits on the Invincibles (26 12 0)?


    That analysis is based on the statistics of the “rest of the pack”. The teams that do NOT make up the top 6.

    The hits for a rest of the pack team having 26 wins are:
    0 -> 6
    1 -> 16
    2 -> 71
    3 -> 133
    4 -> 141
    5 -> 150
    6 -> 84
    7 -> 29
    8 -> 15
    9 -> 1

    The peak in the 25 wins is for 4 draws with 684 hits. The peak in the 27 wins is for 4 draws with 30 hits. The geometric mean of 684 and 30, is 117. Which is reasonably close to the peak count of about 150. Probably a fluke we see the peak at 5 here, at 4 would be more likely.

    The number you want, you come from modelling the Top-6, and I haven’t done that. Sorry. Actually, back then it was probably a Top-4, so that would make a difference as well (this rest of the pack would be 16 teams, and I haven’t looked to see how much of a difference that would make).

  • JimB


    Be careful what you wish for. If Leicester were to be stripped of the title for cheating on a grand scale, Spurs would be awarded the League instead! 😉