How free thinking and alternative visions for football are constantly suppressed.



By Tony Attwood

If it is anything, Football Commentary in England is unidirectional.  It is not that all commentators agree on everything – clearly they don’t.  But they agree on what are the key topics that are worthy of debate.  

Now of course Untold Arsenal does this too – we define the topics we are discussing.  But there are two points here.  One is our topics and points of view tend to be the ones that the media in general ignore, and when (not often but occasionally) someone writes in and says “You are missing a key issue” I try and give that person space.  (If you have an article for Untold write to me directly at Tony@schools.co.uk and tell me the idea, or send me the article as a word file.  Otherwise send in a comment).

As a example consider this from the Telegraph as their summary of the season so far for Arsenal.  At the top of the article they ask, “Is your team under-performing, over-performing – or playing to par?”

That in itself is insulting – suggesting as it does that us mere supporters might not be able to tell if our club is under or over achieving.  And this is part of the newspaper game as they imply, “You need us to tell you how well your club is doing.”  In short: the Telegraph proclaims that we are so stupid, that without them we don’t know how well or badly our team is doing!!!

The claim in itself is preposterous, but made worse by what it says about Arsenal: “Dreadful start has been followed by remarkably steady progress, leading to an unusually buoyant mood at the Emirates – particularly given the pre-season expectations. Youngest team in the league will have dips but the top four is within reach.

Verdict: Over-performing

Happy with the manager? He’s treading that gossamer fine line, only ever a couple of poor performances away from losing credibility.”

That is not actually a reflection of what fans generally are saying, but a reflection of what the media is saying.   The alternative approach, based not on opinion but on facts and statistical analysis, says, “Last season manager introduced a radical new approach to playing which took until Christmas to get sorted, by which time Arsenal had sunk to 15th.  This season he could have let the highly successful post-Christmas results develop, but instead changed the entire defence, resulting in two spells in which, each time, Arsenal lost three and won one in four.   But in between those blips there went ten unbeaten, and currently the club are on five wins in a row.  If manager doesn’t change the system again, fourth could be theirs.”

That at least would be fair, and doesn’t require the over-heated journalist actually to understand what radical transformation Arteta established, nor for the poor sap to ask, “why did the Telegraph never mention this revolution?”  Or “Revolution? When was that?”

The Guardian is playing similar games and they wheel out as propagandist for their point of view, regular writer Jonathan Liew.  He does make a serious point, saying, “Sheriff Tiraspol made it six titles in a row in Moldova, Red Bull Salzburg eight in a row in Austria, Bayern Munich nine in a row in Germany, Ludogorets 10 in a row in Bulgaria. Across Europe, clubs are partnering with cryptocurrency companies with the sole intention of further milking their fanbases for cash. In England, virus-emaciated squads are being forced to play three games in a week because nobody is brave or foolish enough to slow down the gravy train.

“And yet even in these grim days of midwinter, it remains possible to glimpse something better. The Super League protests showed us that when fans and players and genuine football lovers speak with a single voice, not even the most powerful men in the game can thwart them.”

But hang on – “fans, players and genuine football lovers…”  The biggest force defining what can and cannot be talked about is the media.  And the “conversations” we are supposed to be having, have to fit the media’s agenda.  So no blaming the FA for its incompetence.  No talking about the court cases against Blatter currently raging.  No mention of Fifa’s takeover of all African football.  No discussion of why English refereeing is so different from the rest of Europe.  No discussion of transforming English football so that the money is more evenly distributed.  No long-term pointing the finger at the outrageous comments of the owners of Palace and West Ham with their demonization of the reform of football as a Maoist plot.

And of course as we saw last season, no analysis of what Mr Arteta was actually doing in moving Arsenal from being the most yellow carded team to one of the least. Or why Arsenal are forced to be refereed by the same ref five times in a season.

That is the issue: the media define the subjects that can be talked about, and ignore multiple others.

And so just in case you are interested, you could try, Football is absolutely not sustainable like this: here are the six crash points.

The authorities, Arsenal and football

5 Replies to “How free thinking and alternative visions for football are constantly suppressed.”

  1. Tony

    These hacks really are something else. By something else I mean a bunch of brainless numpties.

    “Happy with the manager? He’s treading that gossamer fine line, only ever a couple of poor performances away from losing credibility.”

    Which of course is absolute garbage because as you say:

    “That is not actually a reflection of what fans in generally are saying, but a reflection of what the media is saying”.

    Basically they report their own eternal negativity as the negativity of Arsenal fans.

    Which is all in a very similar theme to the one I picked up on yesterday following the table I had seen in transfermarket (link below) showing a table of the calendar year 2021 which reveals just how well we have been doing:

    https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/premier-league/jahrestabelle/we

    You said: “The alternative approach, based not on opinion but on facts and statistical analysis”

    Which is very similar to the the thoughts I expressed yesterday regarding Untold Arsenal:

    “Not bad for a team who until recently were still being endlessly ridiculed and were touted as relegation candidates early in the season on the back of 3 results, including by some of our own ex players that should know better, and by way too many of our own fans.

    Unlike the regulars on this site that have kept the faith. Not on the back of some blind, head in the sand, deluded loyalty, but on the back of sound logic and sensible analysis of whats been happening and why.

    It’s why I love this site”.

    When I see the media garbage you have highlighted it just reinforces why I don’t read the media anymore and use Untold Arsenal as my window into all things Arsenal.

  2. I thought while I’m sitting here in the warm glow of another wonderful win, with a stomach full of festive fare and sipping on my Christmas Sherry, I thought I would have a trawl around the media to see if it really is still as bad as Tony suggests. And yep it is. Not even going to mention most of it but it has to be said that foot.lon is a joke.

    Consider this from it’s parent publication, The Mirror:

    “Mikel Arteta shares his theory on Arsenal’s sudden upturn in form after Norwich hammering”

    SUDDEN UPTURN IN FORM !!!

    As Tony pointed out, for the last 2/3 rds of last season we were the 2nd best team in the league and apart from those first 3 games (more anon) we’ve pretty much continued that good form right up to this point, hence our calendar year position.

    They go on to say:

    “Arsenals 5-0 thumping at Norwich also helped them boost their goal difference which was -11 after their first three games ended in defeat without them scoring a goal amid a Covid outbreak way back in August”.

    So NOW at least we have a concession we had COVID issues. Still doesn’t mention the injuries. Still doesn’t mention bedding in a new back line. But hey, something at least.

    I know it’s only 2 small things but 2 very telling things.

    The first, yes acknowledgement that we are pretty damn good, but a total failure to acknowledge that their reaction to those 3 defeats was completely over the top and utterly misleading.

    The second, yes they now mention the COVID outbreak, but that just highlights how they avoided telling the whole story at the time because it didn’t fit their agenda.

    But that’s because ‘over reaction’ and ‘lack of context’ is what they do. It’s what the media will always do, hence that Telegraph comment that Arteta is “only ever a couple of poor performances away from losing credibility”.

    Is he ? Losing credibility with who ? Not Me.

    How following such an impressive year 2 defeats would lose Arteta his credibility is beyond me, but I’m sure the media would do their utmost to convince me otherwise.

    Anyway, back to the Sherry.

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