All the things you are not allowed to say about football because, well, no one does.

by Tony Attwood

It is a great tragedy within football, in my opinion, that there are so many ideas and opinions that seem to be beyond acceptable conversation in the media, and indeed for most fans.

While it seems perfectly ok to say that (for example) Arsene Wenger was the cause of all Arsenal’s perceived problems, it is not acceptable to suggest that the FA is the cause of many of our woes.  

Likewise, while the occasional comment that a referee might have got a decision wrong, talking about the secretive organisation that controls refereeing (the PGMO) is not allowed.  Come to that, neither is the fact that the PL is the only major league in western Europe without VAR.

Yet we have a situation in which Parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in the FA, and Sport England have withdrawn funding from the FA because of its misuse of funds.  And there are so many examples of the FA’s inability to run things properly (from bidding for the world cup to giving us enough qualified coaches and having suitable facilities for junior football), which do not become a topic of discussion, even when the FA, or youth football, or coaching or England in international tournaments are mentioned.

Part of the problem I think is that for some football supporters football is only about today – what happened in the past is irrelevant.  Thus examples of the past cannot be considered – and anyone who considers the past is an idiot. The past is boring. History is unnecessary.  Only today counts.

The Arsenal History Society gets regular emails to its website from Tottenham supporters saying that our interest in the past reveals everything that is wrong with Arsenal.  Mind you up until about two years ago they also used to point out that Arsenal was fundamentally unsound for moving grounds, although this seems to have stopped of late.

Now we get criticism from people who describe themselves as Arsenal fans for the fact that Untold celebrates the recent heritage of the club by keeping the Wenger quote and a picture of Mr Wenger on the homepage of this site.  If we supported the club, they argue, we should now have a picture of the current manager.

Yet to me having a picture of the most successful long term manager we’ve had is a celebration of the club in itself – and indeed I am pleased do see that the managers of Arsenal Stadium have shown no sign of removing our banner (paid for by generous supporters of this blog) at the ground.

I thought of all this when reading an article in the Guardian today which notes that “Under current UK law criticism of Scholes is still punishable by anything from a lifetime ban to being stabbed through the ear with a skewer by the Queen while weeping, reproachful children stick pins into the back of your hands….

And as the article continues, “ Paul Scholes has been very critical of José Mourinho but has failed to pour scorn on the owners and directors of Manchester United.”

Which makes the point.  It is very hard to find commentaries and articles which try to acknowledge that a broader perspective (be it an international, historical, political or any other perspective) exists.  

Yet what is strange about the Scholes approach to José Mourinho is that it is so unbalanced.  He has said that Lionel Messi would be unable to play well under the man, oh yes and that Lukaku is also to blame.  It is a very limited perspective.

So we have a double issue.  One is ignoring the past, and the other is ignoring the multiple sides of most problems and thinking that there is a single solution that the commentator can see but the rest of the world can’t.

Combine that vision with the “last game” vision of history (the one that says nothing is important other than what happened in the last game) – oh and the desire to ignore properly used statistics, and we really do have the problem in discussing football.

We don’t talk about certain things because they are not the things we discuss.  We ignore most evidence. Everyone’s opinion is of equal merit no matter how lacking in evidence it is.  There is no relevance in history.

So on that point let me end by showing why history is relevant.

108 years ago Arsenal were bust and teetering on the edge.  A couple of guys from Fulham came in and rescued the club and made it profitable.   They had no dreams of owning the whole show – what they wanted was for everyone who could afford it to have a £1 share in the club.  In fact they never owned more than around 15% of the club each. Rather unlike our current owner.

These two guys ran the club for 17 years, and turned it from bankruptcy to being the most supported club in the country and on the edge of being the most successful club in the country as well, known throughout the world

Now the name of one of them is forgotten and the other is treated with derision, if remembered at all.  Which is a shame.

Understanding the real history is important.  It is part of what makes our club.

9 Replies to “All the things you are not allowed to say about football because, well, no one does.”

  1. On a more serious note, I would like to invite attention to the increasing contempt for contracts in professional football.
    Once upon a time, contracts meant allegiance to an agreement over a set period of time.
    Now, there is club panic long before a contract ends.
    No sooner has a contract been signed, than (probably at the instigation of greedy agents)steps begin to negotiate a fresh contract.
    Those who spawned Bosman have a lot to answer because
    player power has now taken over in a way that was never envisaged.
    For instance,players’ wages have now escalated into a quite obscene
    level, one that simply cannot be sustained (imo).
    When the bubble bursts, as it is bound to do, I would hope that sanity will prevail and the governance of the “beautiful game” will revert to a more principled and pragmatic level.

  2. Apparently, Blackpool supporters _may_ boycott the Carabao Cup game against Arsenal in London.

    If parts of the stands also have empty seats, I suspect the medja will take this as Arsenal fans supporting Blackpool’s boycott.


    Over at the Bridge, ManU have inflicted three treatments on Chel$ea with no apparent need for Mike Dean to discipline a Chels$ea player for acting or a ManU player for roughness. ManU cards than Chel$ea. The game ends with both teams dropping 2 points.

  3. A good result at Stamford Bridge for us. A 6th minute stoppage time equaliser for the home side and an Chelsea assistant coach doing cartwheels in the ManU technical area made for a Mourinho explosion and lavish Schadenfreude throughout the land.

  4. Gord, “The game ends with both teams dropping 2 points”. Wow! I love this. But do you know why the outcome of the match has gone this way? It went that way because Arsenal have to close the gap on Chelsea and further distant themselves from Man U in the table when the Gunners will thrash the Foxes compulsorily on Monday night at the Ems.

    Let’s for the outcomes of the Spurs, Man City and Liverpool games to see how far will Arsenal have the gap in the table on these trio clubs when the matches have ended later today.

  5. Over in Manchester, Kompany was carded in the first minute, and yet within 1 minute of that, a Burnley player required a treatment. At half time, Man$ity lead 1-0 and have committed 6 fouls to Burnley’s 2. Burnley have 2 yellows to Man$ity’s 1.

    Over at StateAid, the spuds have inflicted 2 treatments on StateAid players, one of which required the player to be replaced. According to Martin Atkinson both teams have fouled 3 times, and no cards were necessary. The spuds are leading 0-1.

  6. Over at StateAid, in the 54th minute StateAid inflicted a treatment on the spuds (Moura). It was 9 minutes before that player returned to play. No card? It’s possible the player in question hurt himself, I don’t get context with these commentaries. It is just odd how little discipline is meted out with these treatments (either simulation or roughness).

  7. Full time.

    Man$ity outfoul Burnley 10:5 and require treatments of 1 to Burnley’s 2; and the cards come out even (2 each).

    StateAid required 2 treatments (one required a substitution) to one for the spuds (9 minutes). No cards. The spuds (according to PGMO “expert” Atkinson) outfouled State Aid 8:10, but all the cards (3) go to State Aid.

    Just more 98.5% accuracy folks.

    Oh, Metro was reporting that Chel$ea had a player (Alonso?) lying on the pitch with an apparent head injury (like when he elbowed Bellerin) when Martial evened the scoring. That treatment was never mentioned in the commentary I was following.

  8. I think players’ contracts will end up like the NBA players no fee to buy the player just huge contracts upon signing which will then make it easier for oil-rich clubs to have a monopoly on players.

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