By Tony Attwood
I realised from the very start of Untold that I would learn a lot from reading the comments made by readers. But what I didn’t realise was that I would find therein a whole group of people who run their lives in a way so very different from mine that I can’t actually think of a word to describe how they see the world.
That’s not to say they are wrong and I am right – not at all. Maybe I am living in a fairy tale land and everyone else is part of a mainstream reality I can’t get into. But that’s not so much the point: it is that through football I have come to understand that there are people who see the world in a way so different way from me, that communication can’t actually happen.
What brought this home was a Manchester City supporter recently commenting that I couldn’t comment on something Man City were doing because I didn’t condemn Arsenal when they were doing the same thing in the past.
Now maybe I was doing the usual supporter thing of seeing the world through Arsenal coloured glasses. But even if that were so, (and the heading of Untold is “from an Arsenal perspective”) how does that affect the reality of the issue I am reporting?
For example, if I went out and stole £100 from a Manchester City supporter, but then later saw a Manchester City supporter stealing £100 from a Celtic supporter, that would not make the Man City’s supporters actions right. My duty would still be to report him to the police. It doesn’t exonerate my actions earlier, of course, but the Man City fan’s actions are also still wrong.
That all seems quite obvious to me.
Here’s another one: the assertion that no one who writes for Untold lives in England and goes to Arsenal matches. Two questions arise: one, how do you know, and two, does it matter? Walter, as he openly says, gets to about six games a year, and I am utterly in admiration of the fact that he does this, what with the 3am leaving time from Antwerp to do the journey.
But does the fact that he sees most matches on TV, take away his ability to write interesting and entertaining articles about Arsenal and football? I can’t see that – and that point leaves aside the fact that several of us are season ticket holders. Indeed time and again I exchange the thought with those who sit next to me at the Ems that “I need to see that again on Match of the Day” to know exactly what happened.
Then there was the comment – which again takes us back to Man City – which called the Court of Arbitration for Sport a “kangaroo court”. It was an interesting point, but without an explanation as to how or why the CAS could be so called, we’re not much further on.
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Here’s another – and these all come from the last week or so: “You don’t need a psychologist to know that…” The piece in a national newspaper was about the mindset and attitude of some players, and since it was to do with the individual’s minds, I would have thought a psychologist was exactly what you needed.
The implication is that specialists are now no longer valid or needed. The world is so obvious that we don’t need experts. (Back to the British decision to leave the EU – “the country has had enough of experts.”)
OK – so when my tooth aches I’ll pop to the dog trainer who lives next door and ask him for help. When my computer goes wrong I’ll ask the guy who comes round once a year to look after the trees in my garden. Hmmm, not sure of that one.
So we are back to my old bugbears – the “evidence of my own eyes” and “You can prove anything with statistics”. The evidence of my own eyes shows me that Arsenal lost to Liverpool and beat Bournemouth, but it doesn’t immediately tell me why. I have an impression from watching the games, but I feel the need for more analysis.
Certainly, as I mentioned in the earlier piece today, some people think that Granit Xhaka is a problem in the Arsenal team, but the figures in terms of passing show something quite different. Now it is possible to argue that passing is not enough, that Xhaka should be doing more, and that’s fair enough, we can have a debate on that. But the figures are much more information than impressions.
Xhaka is one of the best players Arsenal have. He completed a high-profile transfer to Arsenal in May 2016 for a fee of £30 million. Arsenal has a huge fan following around the world. And bookies love to bet on Arsenal on these best betting apps. Although, Arsenal’s record this season so far is not good (with 2 wins and 2 losses out of 4 games played and 11th in table standings), but they have all the potential to come back strong.
So just saying Xhaka was poor, without any statistical evidence? No, no help at all. If I want to find out what is making my tooth ache, I go to an expert. If I want to make sure my car is legally maintained, and is not likely to breakdown or suffer a major failure while I’m doing 70mph on the motorway, I ask a qualified mechanic.
And that’s what makes me wonder about the people I criticise here. Do they really take their car to be serviced by the vet?
As I said the other day, all the pundits the media put out to comment on Arsenal’s management have either never been managers, or when they were managers they failed. I give Merson and Adams full marks for having the guts to have a go at management, but I give O’Leary higher marks for having tried management, made a cock up of it, and then decided to stay quiet (most of the time).
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