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This web site is not intended to be unbiased

A moment’s reflection on life, politics, bias, blogs, commentary, motoring, tackling, football and the Daily Mail

By Tony Attwood

Every now and then Arsène Wenger speaks out on the tackles that Arsenal players suffer, and saying they should not be allowed in the game.   Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey are examples that we all know.

What then happens is that various lesser managers around the league express outrage, claiming that Arsenal do much the same. Followers of these managers then come in with similar comments.

It is an interesting bit of illogic: the notion that one cannot comment on bad tackling if the club you are involved in is never involved in a bad tackle.

If this approach were to be replicated in life in general we would never see anyone comment on anything – apart perhaps from the occasional saint suggesting that we should not tell fibs.

So we have the bizarre notion that issues pertaining to truth are secondary to the person making the comment.  It is a reversal of the idea that there is no truth, only interpretation, and rather says that there is a truth (that illegal tackles are made) and that this truth can only be commented upon by those who are not in any way involved in an organisation that is guilty of doing anything amiss.  Ever.

Put this way, I can never comment on roads and traffic in the UK because last month I was caught on a speed camera doing 34 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour limit.  (But please have no fear fellow drivers – I went on the driving rehabilitation course two weeks ago, and was truly impressed.  I am now annoying everyone else on the road by actually going at 30mph in urban areas).

I must admit that those following this route of illogic (fans, managers, journalists etc) do cause much amusement in Untold Land.  And yet discussion does need to happen.   The criticism by Mr Wenger of evil tackling from players in the lesser clubs has first of all raised the profile of the issue – and this is obviously good.  No one in their right mind would feel that career threatening tackles can be ok in football.  Less we forget, it is a game, not a way to mutilate others.

So that’s good, but it leads on to another problem: one might hope that all the publicity will alert the  EPL and referees to the issue and that will be to the benefit of the game.

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But here we have another problem.  Untold Arsenal has run a long campaign to analyse the ups and downs of refereeing technique in  the Premier League, and in passing the relationship between the League, the FA and Fifa.  What we said was that there were clearly issues that needed answering, and the fact that those involved in the game refuse to answer them suggests that something is seriously wrong with the game.   This was not to say that just because Untold raises issues about refereeing that everyone should jump; of course not.  Rather it was to say that ignoring the subject just adds to the weight of evidence that something is wrong.

In response we had a number of correspondents who claimed that we had no proof, and that until we actually had a recording or film of a ref being bribed we should shut up.   Again, if we were to take such an objection into the world beyond football, then it would be rather likely that the police would never close in on any criminal.

True, to bring a prosecution you need hard evidence.  But to start an investigation you need strong suspicions and passing evidence that things are not as they should be.  That is what we have.

So what we have had in both cases are people writing to Untold saying that we can’t speak on a certain subject because we are not whiter than white, and we cannot point out what is wrong with refereeing because we don’t have absolute total golden proof.

And during this dull celebration of nationalism this week I have been wondering why these people really want us to shut up.

There’s another thread that comes up out of this: that we shouldn’t discuss the issue of referees or indeed other teams, but rather focus on our club only.  I must say that this is  rather odd as well.  The league has changed completely in recent years because of the amount of money that has be poured into various teams, and the way that some clubs have run up huge debts.  This changes the way in which clubs can operate, and so affects the players Arsenal can buy, and how much it costs to keep them on the books.   To try to discuss football without discussing the world around football, is rather like trying to discuss a game of tennis without taking account of the fact that one end of the court has a huge puddle in it, while the other does not.

My argument therefore is that the endless comments that we get in about the nature of the arguments that we are having (you can’t comment on this because your club does it too, you can’t comment on refs because you don’t have concrete evidence, you should only focus on Arsenal’s game, and not the world of football in which it is played) are more than simple distractions.  They represent a world in which discussion is to be limited – an attempt to say, “you must not talk about this”.  Not a very pleasant point of view.

But then the forces of silence say, “you can’t talk about this – you don’t allow people to criticise Mr Wenger on your site.  Why doesn’t Untold develop a more “balanced” view – to the effect that Mr Wenger is right some times and wrong others?

I would argue that Untold is fairly unusual in that we proclaim our bias at the top of each page – we support Mr Wenger – that is what this site is about.  Why then would anyone expect us to be unbiased?  Would such people also expect us to be even handed when it came to commentaries on Manchester United or Tottenham?

All commentary starts from some biased point of view (otherwise there is no context for the comment), and at least we spell out what our position is.  And yet because of this we get criticised for being biased!

Would these self-same people who criticise Untold for its bias write to the Daily Mail in England in support of the European Union and advocating British adoption of the Euro as the currency (if that were their point of view)?  Of course not.  The Mail is a right wing anti-European organisation, which, as my dear pal Roger used to point out, still thinks that Oswald Mosley and the Black Shirts got an unfair press.  (Which I know means nothing unless you know your history of pre-war UK politics, but Untold is nothing without its occasional meander into other worlds).

Let’s consider this for a moment.  You come across a web site that you think is tripe.  What’s the most obvious thing to do?  The answer must be, go somewhere else.

It is a bit like watching a rubbish TV programme – you can turn it off, you can keep watching it while shouting at the screen, you can fire off emails saying “this is crap”, and “you should give up showing programmes like this.”

Turning off seems fairly sensible, the approach of most reasonable people.   You are not going to have much effect on the programme, or the channel, and so it is best to expand your energy elsewhere.   And this is especially so if you bother to look around and see that the TV programme actually gets an audience.  (It is why I never buy the Daily Mail; I don’t want to give them any of my money and I have better things to do with my time.)

Untold exists to explore a point of view, using specific approaches to argument which have their own internal logic.  I am very sorry if you don’t like it, but at least you know that there are several hundred, if not thousand, Arsenal blogs that propagate a different point of view.

But I do believe that the areas we explore are important, and to those jolly chaps who think it is a good idea to write in and say, “if you think Denilson is a decent player you are blind” I would say, yes, ok, that’s your point of view, but it is hardly an argument or debating point.  Throwing statements at me doesn’t really have much effect.  It is a bit like me sitting next to someone reading the Mail on the Underground and saying to them, “if you can’t see that what is in that paper is a load of crap, you are an idiot.”

It might be what I think, but I am not really sure that saying it makes much difference.

33 comments to This web site is not intended to be unbiased

  • Gooner80

    When I first started reading Untold I commented about the propaganda and the unbalanced view, after being awakened to how anti arsenal the rest of the world and even it sown fans I now applaud the BIAS of untold, I get to hear reasonable and rational points of view, and if i want a different point of view there is many blogs that will slate wenger if I need a fix, I recognise Wenger is far from perfect and in a very calculated way he has become indispensable, but we would be put back 10 years without him, If MrWenger was put on a hypthetical arsenal trial it is without question he would be exonerated from all charges his accuses have alleged against him .

    Thanks to Untold I see the bigger picture, I see the long term planning in a football league full of shortermism, and IMO Wenger has been the best thing that has happened to arsenal EVER, I only pray they groom someone to allow a smooth transition when the great man does leave

  • Rhys Jaggar

    A lot of valid points, but there’s one important thing which delving into world affairs will also teach you and it is this:

    IF YOU ONLY SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE THAT AGREE WITH YOU, PRETTY SOON YOU BECOME A HAS BEEN.

    Of course, if you surround yourself with those who hate you, you either become a bully or a wimp, an autocrat or a broken man, so the other extreme is pretty stupid too.

    Would you clarify your views, though on the following:

    1. You believe in an EU which tells countries which vote No in a national referendum to ‘vote again and deliver the right result’?
    2. You believe that the Euro would be good for the UK economy?
    3. You believe that the fiscal policies of the last Labour Government were consistent with what Ed Miliband said at the cuts protest at the weekend?

    I don’t agree with quite a few things you say, but I’ll defend your right to say them.

    I’ve not said you shouldn’t investigate referees but I’ll retain my opinion that your initial approach was so far from being scientific that your assertions remained opinions not facts. And your failure to highlight decisions of equal dubiousness where Arsenal benefitted against lesser teams rather reduced your role as arbiter of fair play.

    I’ve not said you shouldn’t support Arsenal, but I had to laugh hysterically upon reading your friend Walter saying that he thought Wilshere spitting in a taxi driver’s face for being a Spurs fan. Any statement more inconsistent with ever refereeing a fixture again I could scarcely credit. What’s so special about an area of grass with two goals on it where proper behaviour is concerned? If Wilshere can spit at a taxi driver, he can spit at a referee. Preferably Walter Broeckx. And Mr Broeckx will congratulate him for it, not send him off.

    Wilshere spitting in any taxi driver’s face is totally unacceptable and any person worthy of poncing on about standards, ethics etc etc would know that.

    Think about that………

  • walter

    After reading my ‘spit comment’ again I really cannot see where I approved it. Or maybe I need to do something about my English. But I will comment on this spat in the comments of the article where I wrote it down so the point of this article will not disapear over here.

  • Gooner80

    @Rhys

    I agree with some of your points and you put up logical arguments whereas the vast majority who give opposing arguments tend to have little basis to their argument. So UNTOLD ends up being a blog where everyone agrees, and some of the arguments are so foolish it is not even worth arguing with them, and there is so many blogs that cater for the sadist Arsenal fan who doesn’t want them to win, so they can say I told you so. In effect blogs end up becoming more fundamentalist/ extremist divisions

  • Mandy Dodd

    I personally find it interesting to read a blog which highlights some of the things going on. I have at times been sceptical as to any anti Arsenal agenda however some of the events I have seen this season – the Barca ref, Dowd, the ref in the league game at OT, the crazed decision in the Everton game, the Sunderland games and so on….well they make you thik dont they. Then there is the general media coverage..
    The fact is that one club and its manager in particular have far too much clout in this country. This manager will use any means to get an edge and I am convinced we have been on the receiving end since the days the Invincibles threatened the status quo. In those days, Utd had to kick us and get the ref onside to beat us. Things are unfortunately different now but the kicking remains – ref Scholes in the recent cup game. The kicking is also dished out by a few of Fergies followers as well – we all know who they are, physical teams who try to kick seven bells out of our players then go to OT and do not put a tackle in all game.
    Carry on this bias – because the UK media certainly will not be highlighting anything that puts Arsenal in a half decent light.

  • menace

    @Rhys – I do not condone Wilsheres behaviour. He is not behaving like an Arsenal player is expected to. He will suffer the consequences and will be sold on if he continues. Even TH14 was sold because of his behaviour. Your Euro crap is not for this article and the Mail sucks, just like the Sun and Murdock media.

    Wenger is without doubt the greatest manager ever at Arsenal and the greates catalyst for change in the behaviour of footballers. The like of Terry, Boyer and the morons that have been released from prison are not within his control and should in my opinion be removed from any responsible position where they can be considered as role models for our youth.

    There is so much good that this site reports on but as usual it’s only controversy that attracts comment.

    In my opinion, the referees in Englands Premier League (and the FA) are absolutely disgraceful in their behaviour. They do not take any moral responsibility and allow their egos to influence youth. This ensures moronic behaviour on the playing fields and subsequently poor representation at world level football.

  • Mike J

    Rhys,

    In no way was Walter condoning Wilshere spitting. Yes this is totally unacceptable but Walter’s comments were not directly about the spitting itself but the fact that as the victim is a Tottenham fan it implies that Wilshere is a stauch Arsenal supporter. Walter comments on his view of spitting in one line only “Okay if Jack would be my son I would say to him: Jack, don’t do this again (please)”. It is reason to be pleased that JW appears to be an Arsenal supporter and this is all Walter said.

  • Dark Prince

    For me, the issue is not about supporting Wenger. Bcoz i’m a supporter of him. But what i dont support is underperformin players.

  • Faisal Ali

    Every1is biased! Every arsenal blog hates tottenham and vice versa, so you probably will see alot of insults towards the scum from our blogs but no1 seems to complain! When myles palmer calls for wenger to be overthrown everyone seems to be aiding him and not claiming that he is biased against wenger which is VERY evident from his articles!

    Tony im with u 100% and i share your bias! Keep on writing for us pro arsenal fans and NOT the retards that think insulting your team will get the best out of them! I promise u anti wenger fans want arsenal to lose to be proven right….and thats y i discredit them as arsenal fans…as far as i no this is the only pro arsenal blog and its the only blog i have saved in my bookmarks

    Keep it up!

  • Faisal Ali

    Another point id like to add is, i live in dubai and frequently travel between dubai and london, and the difference in how the media portray arsenal in both cities is extremely disturbing! In england its known as another ‘french club’ (which is surprising due to none of our spinal players being french) and in dubai they are preceived as the team that try to do things the right way and the backwards minded refs and media seem to only enjoy it when united or chelsea win! Now dont get me wrong i dont think its arsenal vs the world or that everyones out to get us but NOONE can deny that there IS a bias out there in england against arsenal and other teams that dont deploy a physical approach! And the sad part about all this is how its affecting our OWN fans n supporters by spliting us up! Yes we need a signing or two ( imo we only need another top striker to replace bendy as frimpong will replace denilson, ramsey will replace diaby, and miquel/bartley will replace squilacci and our two GKS are adequate and our wingers are more than good enough) but we need unity amongst fans!! Vicoria Concordia creset! Victory through harmony!

  • marcus

    I agree with Rhys completely…if Walter thinks gobbing on 61 year old Taxi drivers is acceptable, then he has lost me completely.

    I had no idea that the refereeing debate was going to sprawl into a Manchester Guardian versus Daily Mail debate. I rather like the Mail these days, it is like Hello magazine with a bit more topicality.

    I guess if a criterion of being on this blog is that we need to be right on custodians of the liberal middle class conscience, then this will be my last post.

    Shame really, because before becoming so unashamedly partisan, this was an interesting blog, imo.

  • Gooner80

    @Tony

    I think I mentioned it before but I think you need a few links on UNTOLD to articles written answering some of the stupid comments because they do get tired when someone comes out with the same old drivel. some times it is just a lack of education, there are some arsenal fans that are are close to being Neanderthals,

  • walter

    Marcus, I think there is difference between what Rhys thinks I have said and what I actually said.

    Well it happened before that Rhys completely reads it the other way than I mean it. So nothing new under the sun in fact. But I wrote a comment about the spitting in another article (where I first mentioned the spitting) and tried to explain what I meant. Not what Rhys said I meant.

  • IvoryGoonz

    I think you should do stats on “players injured by arsenal players” comparative with the rest of the league… That should shut down some critics…

  • Paul

    I’m an untold fan.
    When I first started reading Arsenal blogs it quickly became clear that there are just far too many sites out there set up to slate the team and the manager.
    I’m an ARSENAL fan. I don’t want to read about my team or the manager being slated by so called fans. I don’t support Arsenal blindly and i, like any other fan I get frustrated too but that’s a private thing for me.
    Honestly it doesn’t matter to me what team takes the field. I hope that they’ll give thier all for the cause and if they don’t then hopefully next time they will.
    I won’t sit and sift through all the garbage written about Arsenal or the manager. I come here as I truly believe it’s written by fans for fans. If it’s biased then so what who cares. If it’s only being read be Arsenal fans then it shouldn’t matter.
    Keep up the good work.
    Gooner for life.

  • Alex

    For me UNTOLD is not a blog for those who want to see an immediate glory but is rather a blog associate with the long term plan of Arsenal the club in general.Hence the critics that we hear about Wenger have no place in here.
    It requires a bit of maturity to stay a consistent reader on this site.There are no the usuall critics of individual players.

    While i agree in what the club is doing so far .Surely there are certain things that are bit hard to swallow it,specially being as a supporter.

    When certain players the likes of Almunia and Denilson(the usuall culprit in the eyes of many)they uderperform in many of theyr start and surely certai games are lost due to theyr underperformance every blog have theyr exagerated or moderate point.Untold the next day you dont say anything about the game rather than referee statistics when the whole world is talking about an absolute agreeable TOPIC.Yes i am saying a topic.
    Therfor next day you guys you come up with the topic kind of the history of 1940-50 of the club.Thank you for enrich us with the history of this great club but the timing of certain topics look like posted wrongly time wise.

    It does not take anything from any arsenal fan to cricise the underperforming x or y player.So even for you guys to respond adequately on the latter it does not take anything from you.
    At the end of the day we are human an we make mistakes.Be it a manager or director they all do mistakes.A large pool of fans i dont think for the sake of opposing critisize certain individualls.
    Yes i agree to most of your writing but surely there are some issue that it make you look like blind supporters.
    Thanks

  • Bexxy

    I’m not biased. I’m too confused to be biased. LOL. Sometimes I love Arsene, and other times he leaves me furious. I don’t fall into either the pro or anti Wenger camps. I enjoy this site, more than the venom of others, but question the sites true purpose. Is there any point in a biased site?

  • Sorry to combo-break the thread chaps but you might want to have a wee look here:

    http://numbersgameblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/quantifying-impact-of-bias-of-arsenals.html

    It should be noted that the big fat juicy SECOND part of this blog will be appearing on Untold.

    God bless the interweb!

  • Shard

    @marcus

    Lighten up man.. I don’t get what offended you about this article.. I don’t think Tony ever mentions having a certain point of view as a necessity to be on this blog.

  • I don’t always support Arsene Wenger, though I always want to. I always support Arsenal, even when they drive me crazy. Anybody who doesn’t like this site because it’s biased, the Thames is THAT way, and when you get there, keep walking!

  • New Appointments are out:

    http://refworld.com/news/4/article/appointments-01-04-2011-05-04-2011/128562

    Oh no shit, it’s only PHIL FUCKING DOWD!

  • Shard

    @Dogface

    I can only hope the Emirates crowd gives Dowd all the abuse that he deserves

  • Yomi

    Dear Untold, I seldom make comments but I say this. TTHIS IS THE ONLY Arsenal blog I read, because out there in the land of the interweb other arseanl blog seem so ANTI-ARSENAL.

    It takes a great deal to support our team with a level head after a poor game. But Untold always seems to have it in abundance. Your arguements are rational and logical.

    Sometimes I find that some so called Arsenal fans are devoid of ‘commmon sense’. Please dont waste your time on them.

    I hope the Untold team continue with all their great work once this international hiatus is over.

  • Mandy Dodd

    And Utd have Lee Mason – Howard Webbs apprentice!

  • walter

    OH NO DOWD….. a clear statement from the FA and Mike Riley and the PGMOL.

    They want us to lose our next game.

  • marcus

    Oh ok, sorry for that Walter.

    That is a very poor show of Rhys to misquote you like that.

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Marcus,
    Rhys is our resident ‘agent provocateur’. His bark is is worse than his bite, take it all with slightest pinch of salt, he is prone to slip one in every so often, keep your eyes pealed or he will have you going!

  • walter

    No problem Marcus, believe me the day I accept spitting at someone as normal behaviour I will ask Tony to remove me from this website. 😉

  • Gooner80

    Key words from Henry ” When I talk about Arsenal I can never be objective” so bias is not always a bad thing

  • MK

    @Rhys

    I find this site is very interesting and can see that it is attempting to show there is a bias against Arsenal (which after viewing their and other evidence I personally agree with, but perhaps not quite to the extent argued by some and which obviously requires more solid evidence to be ‘proven’).

    However this does NOT mean that there also isn’t a Bias against your own club, nor even competing biases in the league.. such as Chelsea getting preferential treatment over Man Utd in games between the two etc (Example only). So before making illogical arguments that because Arsenal got a good decision or two against a particular team that it doesn’t mean that overall Arsenal aren’t disadvantaged by the Refs and the appointment of them by the FA.

    Also in defense of this particular article Tony is not saying that he is ignoring valid criticism of the site, just that you need to provide some sort of basis for that criticism that isn’t just your opinion. Ie someone saying ‘Denilson is rubbish and should be sold, Wenger out!’ doesn’t add anything to a discussion and he would rather not have his site filled with these types of pointless comments that fill up so many other Arsenal blogs at the moment.

    If you want to prove them wrong then please provide details of your issues with their statistical methodology, re-watch Arsenal games and point out the specific errors/inconsistencies in their reports on the referee’s decisions and the overall effect that had on the results of that match (Ie one arguable decision they give for Arsenal in a match doesn’t automatically mean their overall point is not correct) and then perhaps your constant supply of comments on this blog might actually be appreciated rather than derided for the mindless trolling they appear to be.

  • Observer

    @Rhys

    I’ll just add to the comment by MK, stop talking in ‘hyperbole’ and start adding some substance to all your rhetoric – then, maybe you’ get more buy-in from more people.

    Personally, I just ignore all your comments after having ‘endured the ordeal’ of reading the first few.

  • Mahdain

    oh no…you are telling me the prick dowd will be the ref vs blackburn? looks like we`ll either or draw that one and it will all be thanks to fat phil…hoping our players will be up for it..wenger should tell them that they should expect a lot of kicking allowed by the twat..hopefully we will get our FIRST victory with him as ref this season

  • C4

    Oh crap, Dowd is the LAST guy we should be getting against any of the EPL rugby sides. He’s blind as a bat when we get hammered (see Diaby against Newcastle, just b4 he lost it). And when an opposition player collapses in the general vicinity of an Arsenal player, he remembers how to blow is whistle (see Rosicky almost knocking down Barton in the same game).
    What a prick.
    And what a statement of intent by the PGMOL.
    Wow…