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June 2021

Do we need stats? And what happens when a billionaire divorces his wife?

By Tony Attwood

In 2008 Harry Redknapp said, “You can look at stats as much as you want – and we do – but you can have too much of it. You can spend too much time looking at computers rather than looking at the real thing which is out there on the pitch.

“I had that recently at Portsmouth with the fitness coach. I said that a certain player hadn’t worked hard enough that day. The coach said: ‘His heart monitor reading is OK’. I said: ‘I don’t care, my eyes tell me that he hasn’t run about and I don’t need a heart monitor to tell me that’.”

It’s fairly standard Redknapp gibberish, claiming that you don’t need analysis, that you can see what’s what with your own eyes.   That’s why he’s won the Third Division (1987), the Football League Division One and the FA Cup, and then each time been moved on.

Of course one of the great assumptions in football is that transfers are good for teams, and so for several years we’ve been showing that purchasing players does not closely relate to success on the pitch – but the answer thrown back is that it is because Wenger buys the wrong players.  It is not the mechanism that doesn’t work, but this one particular manager.

It may be that we shall have a chance to see whether this is true this summer.  If Tottenham stay with the notion of buying no one then and win the League maybe that will be the whole mantra overthrown.  If they slip way down from their second spot last season, it will be because they didn’t buy.

So far this summer the top clubs’ nett income from sales against expenditure is

  • Arsenal: -£34m
  • Chelsea: – £19.5m
  • Liverpool: -£32.5m
  • Manchester City: -£184.4m
  • Manchester United: -£136.2m
  • Tottenham: +£75.5m


And this is not the first year Manchester City and United have been big spenders.  But Man City have not won the League for three seasons, and United have still not recovered from the great splurge in the summer before Sir Ferguson left.  So maybe buying really doesn’t work.

Now this is normally a topic that newspapers leave well alone, as they thrive on the notion of transfers – the stories that don’t cost them a penny in research since they are all made up.  But here is a little from the Telegraph:

In the last nine seasons, only once has a team won the league after having been the highest spenders in the lead-up to that season – when City spent around £70m in the summer of 2011.

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Since then, the biggest spenders in each summer have finished no higher than third – Chelsea doing so in 2012/13 – while City, United (twice) and Tottenham have had the most lavish pre-seasons in the last four years, attaining finishes of sixth, fourth, fourth and sixth.

It actually reads like a piece Untold might have published!

We all remember the summer of 2015/16 when Arsenal were the only team not to buy an outfield player and came second in the league.  And just how many teams have spent fortunes trying to stay up only to go down.  We might think of Birmingham, Newcastle, Villa, QPR…


But of course we can speculate on other issues in the rise of fall of things.  Mr Abramovich is getting divorced (again) I am told.  Is he perhaps being a little more cautious with his money at this moment?  After all Britain is the divorce capital of the world – the country that women come to from all across the continent to get divorced because the settlements here tend to be massively higher than elsewhere.

And there was the divorce of  Dmitry Rybolovlev the owner of Monaco who not too long ago was told by the Swiss courts to pay $4.5 billion to his ex.  As Forbes said at the time, that divorce will “remain as a cautionary tale for the global elite, who watched as dirty laundry was aired and unwarranted attention attracted throughout six different jurisdictions. It also only marks the end of one major legal issue for Rybolovlev, who is still facing off with Yves Bouvier over a billion-dollar accusation of fraud in the art world.”

Maybe that’s why Monaco is selling everyone, to pay for the divorce.

Of course a lot of stuff that happens in foreign parts doesn’t get reported in England – somehow we just don’t think foreign news is real.  But divorces of rich owners can influence football – just as can the move towards the idea that transfer money doesn’t win the league is refreshing.

And while thinking of change we might notice the coverage being given by the bloggettas in the run up to the first League game over the issue of referees.  Five years ago no one but Untold’s intrepid team would have bothered to mention the referee for an Arsenal match, or even hint that dubious dealing were afoot.  Now numerous bloggettas are running the story and we haven’t even done the ref preview yet.

Once again I am tempted to think the agenda has changed – and either we were ahead of the game and it moved by chance, or scribblers elsewhere like our agendas.

Untold, as I have said so many times, exists to try and change the way football is reported in order to focus on the issues that are important, rather than fantasy transfer tales.  Maybe once more there is a little movement.

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11 comments to Do we need stats? And what happens when a billionaire divorces his wife?

  • Richard

    Nice piece tony and as always is good. On the the other blogs reporting about referee the pieces lacked depth and real analysis it was more of a lip service thing I feel rather than any real intent to make a change.
    Until the f.a decides to do a massive review of refereeing standards in the uk then nothing will change.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Is Roman Abramovich divorcing his wife has something to do with the sale of Namenja Matic to Man Utd, so that Abramovich will have enough money for divorce settlement? Which according to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, he said he has no hand in the sale of Matic. And would even have kept him instead of to see him sold to a direct rival club.

    With Abramovich looking to be in dear need of money as of now, can Arsenal then capitalise on Abramovich’s dear need of money by submitting a bid to Chelsea to sign Diego Costa from them as I’ve suggested sometimes ago when I first heard that Antonio Conte has declared him surplus to requirements at Chelsea at the end of last season’s campaign? And now, I am being backed by the calling of Ian Wright who has now called on Le Prof to sign the Premier League proven goal scorer Costa. But having two strikers already in Lacazette, and Giroud in his first team squad, would Le Prof do this particular signing, more so as he’s finding it difficult to offload some Gunners who are on the fringes at Arsenal this summer to recoup and have space in his squad to accommodate new more signings?

    I don’t think Costa will constitute a problem in the Gunners dressing room. Rather, I think he’ll be one of the leaders in there. And he’ll also add his own timber and caliber to Arsenal game playing on the field of play by scoring many goals for Arsenal. Costa is not as hot tempered as Mario Balotelli who Brendan Rodgers handled at Liverpool. But for his lack of goals scoring for Liverpool, he was discharged.

    Nevertheless, if peradventure, Le Prof does sign Coats this summer which if he does, Costa will give him as great and dependable options and cover in the Arsenal strikers department. However, on no account should Le Prof jettison his pursue of Thomas Lemar signing this current window, but bring the signing of this young versatile midfielder to a successful conclusion for Arsenal. Let him try to find the additional war chest he’ll need to do this particular two signings after which or even before which, he MUST sign a 2nd DM to Coquelin for Arsenal also in this current summer window. Hmmm, money!!!

  • Bloggs

    By the way thanks for the stat about the last time the spuds finished above us in the league…..apparently we only played with 10 men some of them you might remember! Well you would if you supported Arsenal not Arsene. Was these the same players who won the FA Cup/League Cup in ’93 or the CWC in ’94 and got to the final again the following year ! Your twisted view of the facts is mind blowing and your hatred of anything GG achieved is beyond even the poisonous view of a spuddy fan. But I suppose you need to keep Arsene happy as he pays your wages.

  • omgarsenal

    Poor Bloggs……aside from your atrocious syntax and vile grammar, your contention that UA hates Graham or anything else but Wenger is spurious, without any proof (of course), infantile in its stupidity and your contention that AW pays ¨wages¨ to UA is beyond irrational, it is moronic in its dishonesty and ignorance, truly representative of your current intellectual paucity and remarkably shallow, even for someone as feral as you.

  • Steve

    Thats a nice blog tony..

  • Bloggs

    Wow looks like the no nothing hunting luvvie from Canada has been on the online dictionary again. Attwood is a ghost writer for Wenger and this site was set up to deflect attention from him and put the blame on the media,referee’s ,ex player’s, naughty fan’s etc. Read it with an open mind you moron!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Like I said…. unhappy and moaning Gooners as if they don’t like us to win anything under Wenger.
    As they just feel miserable tongue in cheeck is totally missed by them…

  • Nitram

    As usual I will point out that the 3 biggest net spenders over the last 13 years, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea have won every title bar one over that period.

    Not only that but they’ve won 6 of the 13 FA Cups over the period.

    The other 7 being won by:

    Arsenal 4: The genius that is Wenger

    Liverpool 1: The 4th biggest net spenders

    Wigan: 1

    Portsmouth: 1

    And they’ve won 9 of the 13 League Cups under it’s various guises. Of the other 4 2 have been won by Liverpool, the 4th biggest net spenders.

    So out of 39 domestic trophies 27 have been won by either Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea, the 3 biggest net spenders.

    3 by Liverpool, the 4th biggest net spenders.

    4 by Arsenal, all since they started spending big again.

    And yet you still keep trying to say that winning trophies is somehow not related to big spending. Well I’ll say it again, you are wrong.

    And this is why:

    As usual I will point out that simply concluding that because you spend a fortune today you will win today is fatally flawed. As you should know, given how often you cite the need for new acquisitions to settle in.

    As usual I will point out that it is the spending of large sums of money on a regular basis, season after season, that guarantees success. We all know that binge spending doesn’t really work that well, as Liverpool and Spurs can testify to.

    Also, given there are now 3 mega spenders they should, if the law of averages where to apply, still only win the PL once every 3 years, and as we know the law of averages is a law unto itself. So that being said, even if you’ve spent big and wisely, you still may not win the title for years if another rich club spends even more wisely and perhaps even bigger.

    Then of course you could do a united and let the old boy blow the kitty on short term glory, then employ a couple of duffers to rebuild the mess and end up finding yourself in a very deep hole.

    So no, spending big money is not an exact science, and other factors can affect things.

    Duff managers can blow fortunes on duff players, a la Moyes and LVG.

    Great managers can overcome the disadvantage and still do well, a la Wenger, but even he didn’t actually start winning things again until the purse strings where loosened.

    So yet again I say to you Tony, that your fixation on trying to prove that money doesn’t buy you titles and trophies is utterly flawed, and no amount of statistical manipulation is going to change that.

    As shown above, the basic undeniable fact is that spending big, season in season out, WINS YOU TROPHIES.

  • Nitram


    3 Fa cups and 3 CS’s

    A 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th placed finish and all you do is whinge.

    Sad sad bast’d.

  • Nitram

    By the way, small correction on my original post. It’s obviously 3 Fa Cup wins, and not all 4 as I stated, since we started spending big again.

  • Nitram


    The fact that yet again you refuse to even acknowledge my post is a shame, but the fact you never once refute the statistics or my conclusions suggests they are irrefutable.

    Tony, you get upset, and eventually ban from posting, people who come here without ‘evidence’ or ‘statistical support’ for there argument, yet when they do, as I always strive to do, you seem, unless I’ve missed something, reluctant to engage.

    I am not suggesting you agree, but I think your insistence that big money spending is not a significant factor in winning trophies, is flawed and at least deserving of further debate.

    Yet when you are challenged and someone produces what you ask for, evidence, you simply ignore it.

    As you know, and as I have said before, I love this site. I agree with much of what you as an individual say, and the stance of the blogg as a whole.

    I just think this blind spot you seem to have regarding spending, and the fact you keep repeating the same thing time and time again without it seems ever acknowledging counter arguments, is a little sad, and not a little hypocritical.

    Oh well, off to work now. Hopefully you will of attempted to knock my argument down in flames by the time I return.