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COUNTERFACTUAL ARSENAL

Research on counterfactual thinking has shown that people’s emotional responses to events are influenced by their thoughts about “what might have been.”
When Less Is More: Counterfactual Thinking and Satisfaction Among Olympic Medalists Victoria Husted Medvec, Scott F. Madey, Thomas Gilovich

Despite my awareness that football fans, including yours truly, often react irrationally to the fortunes of their club, overreacting to both victories and defeats, I found myself totally unable to comprehend the continuing pall of negativity that currently lingers among certain supporters since end of season. Despite our club sensationally snatching 2nd place from the loose, slippery grasp of Tottenham Hotspurs on the very last day of the season and the resulting spontaneous eruption of joy across goonerland, it seems to me there is a large group of fans that cannot let loose of a negative mindset which they adopted since April when our title chances mathematically started slipping away.

Thus for example the following memes repeated adnauseam during the past season persist to this day despite being blatantly false:

  • Giroud is useless and ineffectual, a virtual lamppost. Yet he ended the season as our top goal scorer and the only one of our strikers to hit his Expected Goals (xG).
  • Wenger condemned the team to failure by signing no outfield players during the summer transfer window. Yet a prominent statistician using his xG model, estimated Arsenal should have scored about 58 goals, the highest in the division, and apart from own goals, ended up scoring 46. (It is noteworthy that of all our expected goal-scorers only our useless French lamppost hit anywhere close to projected numbers.)
  • Arsenal was destined to come fourth all over again due to usual failings. Yet the club came 2nd in 2016, 3rd in 2015, and last-time coming 4th was in 2014.

In no sphere of human life, have I seen three years of constant improvement met with so much derision and hand-wringing by those who should be most excited. Despite compelling evidence of constant progress in what is regarded as the most competitive of all the top football leagues in Europe, coming 2nd in 2016 has been met with an underwhelming “meh” by many supposedly knowledgeable Arsenal fans.

I came to this conclusion after listening to three separate podcasters doing their traditional end of season review. In one particular case the moderator asked his colleagues to give a letter grade to the season. The best one of his panelists could assess the club was a C-. His other two panelists ranged between D- and D+. In other words, for coming 2nd, Arsenal was adjudged by this podcast to be closer to an F (Failure) than to an A (Outstanding). Yet the club had surpassed all its traditional top-four rivals (every single one of whom spent shitloads more money on transfers) as well as dramatically overhaul on the final day of the season its North London neighbor, who until their hilarious implosion at Newcastle, had been universally adjudged by the mainstream media as having its finest season in a generation.

For days I struggled to come to terms with what was to me clearly irrational thinking. In such circumstances, when one is unable to explain the inexplicable, self-doubts emerge. At times I wondered if I was an aberration, a hopeless optimist fulfilling the naive Pollyanna caricature that we at Positively Arsenal are often accused. I am happy to report that throwing in the towel and conceding to our nemesis was never an option for me.

It was in the the middle of this disquieting period that by sheer chance I discovered there is a perfectly valid scientific explanation for this negative outlook by many genuine Arsenal fans. Apparently it is completely consistent with a well established psychological phenomenon known as Counterfactual Thinking which is defined as
“the human tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred; alternatives that are contrary to what actually happened.”

According to wikipedia Counterfactual literally means contrary to the facts. A counterfactual thought occurs when a person modifies a factual prior event and then assesses the consequences of that change. A person may imagine how an outcome could have turned out differently, if the antecedents that led to that event were different. For example, a person may reflect upon how a car accident could have turned out by imagining how some of the factors could have been different, for example, If only I hadn’t been speeding…. These alternatives can be better or worse than the actual situation, and in turn give improved or more disastrous possible outcomes, If only I hadn’t been speeding, my car wouldn’t have been wrecked or If I hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, I would have been killed.

In light of our failure to win the 2016 title, it is perfectly understandable and predictable that on twitter, blogs and podcasts, the counterfactual is now rampant among both the great and the good, i.e. our lapse was basically due to not signing a world class striker. This collective revision of history completely ignores the fact that there were no quality strikers on the market as exemplified by Manchester United taking the unprecedented risk of taking a £55-£65 million punt on a striker with potential, a gamble which saw them come 5th in the league with no champions league football and the eventual bloodletting and sacking of LVG.

In fact some supporters go further to blame Arsenal’s failure in goal scoring to its doomed attempt to sign Suarez three years ago; they imagine if only the club had plumped for Higuain he would have scored 35 goals for us this year just as he did for Napoli in Serie A. Consistent with counterfactual thinking , such imaginations completely negate the well known fact that Madrid jacked up Higuain’s price at the final stages of the negotiations making him unaffordable to AFC and that Higuain himself was not enthused about coming to England and had a preference for Italy with its well-known Argentinean connections. Moreover being counterfactual, the advocates of this point of view conveniently ignore the eventual reality, that having jerked us over with Higuain, Florentino Perez, Madrid’s president, felt he was obligated to give Arsenal a fair crack of the whip in negotiations for Özil. One wonders, in retrospect, who would they have chosen then; world class Özil or the less celebrated Higuain who often comes off the bench for Argentina.

As is familiar to those of us who are constantly exposed to Arsenal fans on social media, counterfactual thoughts have been shown to produce negative emotions. But the literature emphasizes that it may produce beneficial effects. On one hand there are downward counterfactuals which are ideas that create a more negative outcome versus upward counterfactuals which are those thoughts that create a more positive outcome.

Hence we have the spectacle of a fairly respected statistical-oriented blogger having initially made the case that Arsene had built a title winning squad, completely contradict himself by early April, describing Arsene as having the most dysfunctional squad in years and proclaiming “Arsenal Need An Overhaul”. A series of miserable blogs followed including a declaration he had decided not to make his annual trip to support the Arsenal.

Contrast this downward outlook with the upward bias of our own Stew Black in his previews over the same period.

April 17 2016 (after the 3-3 draw with West Ham one week earlier):
“The players have to contend with the baying of the psychophysically damaged as they enter the fray and so it is vital that the rest of us, you and I included, make as much noise in their defence and in positive support as we possibly can between now and the fifteenth of May. There might not be a trophy waiting for us, we may be a little spoiled by recent success, but we still have plenty to play for. Let’s see if we can’t cheer the boys over the line.”

April 21, 2016 9 (after the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace 4-days earlier):
“As far as 2015/16 is concerned, there is still a job to be done, still matches still to be played. Nothing is yet certain, nothing can be taken for granted. I intend to carry on enjoying the season today and for the next few weeks just as much as I enjoyed the charity shield back in August when the whole thing started. Enjoying the spectacle is of course all any of us can hope to do. Nothing I nor any other fan says will have the slightest impact on managerial nor boardroom decisions and that is absolutely how it should be. You wouldn’t have told Shakespeare how to write and you don’t tell Arsène Wenger how to manage. If you are so special that King Lear simply isn’t good enough for you, then stop watching it, leave the theatre and let the rest of us enjoy the show.”

Stew was obviously being upwardly counterfactual in not letting recent negative results damage his conviction that there was much to enjoy as Arsenal tackled the critical final games of the season He also had the psychological reward, which we at PA gladly share, of enjoying the fruits of his optimism as a resolute, fighting Arsenal snatched second place from not only the hands of the Spurs but from the negative miasma that some of our own fans were wishing and willing to engulf the club.

While psychologists may have initially concluded that counterfactual thinking is an indicator of poor coping skills, modern research and studies now indicate that it may be a helpful behavior regulator. Apparently thinking counterfactually is a way for us humans to prepare ourselves mentally to correct for past mistakes and avoid making them in the future. For example if a person has a terrible interview and thinks about how it may have been more successful if they had responded in a more confident manner, they are more likely to respond more confidently in their next interview.

The problem with our blogging and podcasting community is they will never have a chance to do an “interview”. In other words they will never be able to experience the transfer market in the manner of an Arsene Wenger or a Dick Law. Despite having little or no knowledge of the transfer market and targets being pursued by the club, their downward counterfactual that the club will never sign a quality player is increasingly being proven to be wide of the mark:

2012: Santi Cazorla
2013: Mesuit Özil
2014: Alexis Sanchez
2015: Per Cech

No wonder they are relatively quiet when the club can bring forward the transfer of an Elneny six months before it was due or the signing of Xhaka Granit long before the end of May. Apparently I am not alone in this observation. In the Comments section of PA on May 27th Northbank1969 observed:
“I find it quite surprising that there’s not been a big buzz on the Arsenal Blogosphere about Granit being bought early in the TW unlike when Wenger bought Ozil and Sanchez when the Arsenal world exploded.”
In my opinion the lack of excitement is entirely due to the fact that their downward counterfactual has trapped them in a negative feedback loop. They were mentally prepared for “dithering” Wenger to make a big signing in the waning days of the transfer window. Wenger and the club have flipped the script and there is no “interview” scheduled for the end of August. For them an entirely frustrating and boring transfer window looms or a brand new counterfactual must be created. Stay tuned.

In my set up to this blog, I quoted the abstract to a research paper which studied the role of counterfactual thinking on Olympic-level sportsmen and women. As defined, counterfactuals engage in “what might have been.” The authors documented a familiar occasion in which athletes who are objectively better off nonetheless feel worse. In their analysis they found that the emotional reactions of bronze and silver medalists at the 1992 Summer Olympics—both at the conclusion of their events and on the medal stand—indicates that bronze medalists tend to be happier than silver medalists. The authors attribute these results to the fact that the most compelling counterfactual alternative for the silver medalist is winning the gold, whereas for the bronze medalist it is finishing without a medal. I will not bore you with the details of the study. It is available at a cost http://psycnet.apa.org. While I was unable to conduct research into player reactions (whether Arsenal or other) to coming 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th place in the League, the picture of Arsene’s reaction after the winning goal to come 4th on the last day of the 2012 season speaks more than a thousand words.

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Talk about that 4th place bronze medal! Ha, Ha, Ha.

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56 comments on “COUNTERFACTUAL ARSENAL

  1. Best Arsenal article I’ve read in quite a while. Cheers. Proud Gooner since 1977.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Illuminating Shotta, illuminating.

    Certainly as coping strategies go, both negative and positive variants can be imagined to having definite ‘real-world’ benefits and by the same token, excessive reliance on one or other could conceivably be considered risky.

    I shall in future temper my positive outlook with a touch of negativity from time-to-time.

    Ramsey OUT!

    (Too risky?).

    Great read Shotta, thanks!

    Also enjoyed Andy’s piece from yesterday but missed the narrow window of opportunity to comment. For someone who has supposedly lost it, it’s instructive to note how the entire football world still sits up when Arsene splashes the serious cash. And in a way that really is not as true for other clubs – including, and in particular, City and Chelsea.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Excellent!

    Like

  4. Nice high quality densely packed post to get my teeth into – thanks Shotta. You’ve made me examine a few recent cases of counterfactualism in my own life. My mountain bike buddy broke a rib, both arms and his neck during one of our recent trips to the woods and our reactions to it were interestingly different. I was watching appalled as he made his fateful error and assumed I’d just seen him die. It was only when I heard the awful bellow rise up from the pit into which he’d fallen that I knew he was still with us.
    Chatting to him in hospital later and all I could express was my relief. Thank God you’re still alive, it’s a miracle you’re not paralysed, a fall like that, an impact like that you ought to be dead – that sort of thing. He on the other hand could only see how unlucky he was. If I’d taken a slightly different line, if I’d made the same mistake but been going just a little faster/slower etc etc
    The curious outcome to all this is that he (who actually suffered the trauma) talks only of recovery and getting back out there, spends days watching mtb videos whereas I (who only witnessed the event) never want to see a bike again never mind sit on one.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. I love you people.
    You know who you are.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well, that was another excellent, informative and scholarly piece Shotta. Counterfactual thinking certainly proffers a good and plausible explanation of the strange conclusions people make with regard 2nd place Arsenal. Wow, what next on PA?

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Shotta, while Steww takes our imagination on a long summer walk and A5 reviews on a whispy cloud of enthusiasm, your factual pieces are up there with any sport or political commentators I can think of.
    I loved this and it explains alot about the brains adjustment to any particular situation.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. Shotta, while Steww takes our imagination on a long summer walk and A5 reviews on a whispy cloud of enthusiasm, your factual pieces are up there with any sport or political commentators I can think of.
    I loved this and it explains alot about the brains adjustment to any particular situation.

    Like

  9. Good morning Shotta – another insightful piece that I shall muse over as I thrash the garden into order for the rest of the day.
    The only addition/comment I would add is that as a species we just have to explain, we have to order the randomness of the world into a format that our (my) unsophisticated brain can process. I can see the world as I want it to be. Counterfactualisation is not just a helpful mechanism, it is wired in

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  10. Brilliant Shotts.

    No doubt many of those indulging in the flagrant Higuain gibberish will also be adding another verse to one of their favourite songs, and they’ll be singing it with gusto and great energy no doubt about it:

    “There were ‘X’ Tottenham points in the gap. (in the Gap!)
    There were ‘X’ Tottenham points, ‘X’ Tottenham points, ‘X’ Tottenham points in the gap. (in the Gap!)
    Then….the….boys….from the Arsenal knocked 1 down (Knocked one down!)
    Then the boys from the Arsenal knocked 1 down (Knocked one down!)
    Then the boys from the Arsenal, boys from the Arsenal, boys from the Arsenal knocked 1 down (Knocked one down!)

    There…..were…….’X-1′ Tottenham points in the gap. (in the Gap!)”

    And repeat.

    A wiser soul then I once considered the diagnosis of Acute Dysphoria for these numb nuts. It is hard to disagree with this understanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Slight edit:

    2012: Santi Cazorla
    2013: Mesuit Özil
    2014: Alexis Sanchez
    2015: Per Cech
    2016: Captain of those minnows Bayern 04 Leverkusen (3rd biggest club in Germany?)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It tickles me that the expert bloggers never list Cazorla amongst the stellar recent signings.

    The reason why they don’t is because it would require an acknowledgment of the clubs successful vulture transfer policy. And we couldn’t be having that!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pellegrini would’ve preferred to have swooped for a Cazorla once he ended up at City but that evil Wenger left him with Navas pickings.

    Like

  14. shotta that photo of Wenger clutching Rice during the WBA game is not his reaction to AFC scoring the winner, if memory serves, it was to Gibbs’s last ditch tackle that kept us in the lead

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  15. Sometimes a tackle can be as big as a goal.

    “There were ‘X’ Tottenham points in the gap. (in the Gap!)…”

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  16. on the subject of how athletes feel about finishing position, I had seen data on this before, where those that finished 4th and missed out on a medal actually in the main mostly stated they would have rather finished 5th, 6th or lower, than come in 4th, much like how some silver medalists stated they would have rather finished 3rd than 2nd, the “what might have been”, gnawed at them. Of course for some finished 2nd or even 4th was the inspiration to try again, work harder, do all they could to not face this awful feeling of missed opportunity again, and to make sure they go higher next time, lets hope that is the feeling among the Arsenal players, and that next season we go that one place higher.

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  17. Eddy @ 11:46 am – Thanks for that clarification. We poor bloggers have no staff editors or army of fact checkers, except for readers like you. I am sure all the writers for PA would agree with me that the informed feedback of you and others is what sustains us.
    .
    Nonetheless that image of Wenger clutching Pat Rice as we made that last desperate stride over the finishing line to be among the top-four (bronze) medals certainly validates the science of counterfactual thinking. As Eddy observed coming 2nd is certainly a big motivator to our disappointed players to do everything necessary to win the title next year. We at PA will certainly use that factor in our favor unlike some of our fellow bloggers and podcasters.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Have DM’d you Shotta as this isn’t the place to respond.

    Like

  19. They’re negativity, in my opinion, goes way beyond a coping strategy. These people want the team to fail in order for there to be an administrative realignment which would have us spending like Man City or Chelsea. These spoiled children want us to become just like the nouveau riche clubs and they will not be satisfied until this happens.

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  20. Finsbury: “Pellegrini would’ve preferred to have swooped for a Cazorla once he ended up at City but that evil Wenger left him with Navas pickings.”

    He never sorted out his midfield. I’m sure a tough tackling, creative genius like Santi would’ve helped him a lot more than having to rely on Fernandinho.

    Like

  21. You wonder if Arsene or Ferguson or even Jose would have put up with YaYa and his whining Gains – Pelligrini ended up with a disruptive liability at the centre of his team. Birthday cake indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ferguson had no time for an unfit Rooney

    I’ve felt Yaya has past his ‘peak seasons’, older then Rooney when he fell,out with Slurgus, and in the last one or two years been incapable of the combo of PL and CL games at the same standard or consistency that he was previously capable of. And that his current or recent manager understood that.

    When MP spoke at the end of the season of the disruption to Abu Dhabi’s campaign caused by one or two obvious actions I believe him.

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  23. Gainsy @ 2:46 pm: Amen. Being a downward counterfactual is consistent with a desire for the club, and Wenger in particular, to fail with their self-sufficient strategy, i.e. a club which does not compete by making spectacular signings at the biggest prices.

    Now they are even more miserable that “a resolute, fighting Arsenal snatched second place from not only the hands of the Spurs but from the negative miasma that some of our own fans were wishing and willing to engulf the club.”

    Like

  24. An Arsenal squad in ’03 had a memorable or even legendanry reaction to not winning the league.

    Like

  25. looks like there will be one big name striker on the move shortly, as its being reported that the Gabon coach, Jerge Costa, has said that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang asked to be left out of their game today as he is in the process of changing clubs

    Like

  26. Twitter is the breeding ground for “What might have beens.” Be alert to the counterfactuals during the champs league final.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Eddy will no doubt keep us up to date with the tweets speculating about the forwards we might have signed that would have won us the title and the downward counterfactuals anticipating Wenge’s dithering and lack of ambition costing us the chance to sign Aubameyang despite the well-known fact of his childhood ambition to play for Real Madrid.

    Like

  28. it will be interesting to see if he moves, if its to his stated first choice, Real Madrid, and if it is, might that mean the merry go round goes into action with someone like Benzema then being surplus to Real’s requirements, and if PEA is not off to Real, I’d say AFC stands as good a chance as anyone else of getting him, we know Wenger can charm a top player or two when the opportunity arises

    Like

  29. Paddy Power ‏@paddypower 1h1 hour ago
    Howard Webb has had a look at the Sergio Ramos offside issue and concluded that it should have been a Manchester United goal.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Benze-meh

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Chuba AkpomVerified account@cakpom
    what a feeling !!!

    Like

  32. there is something satisfying seeing a defensive team lose in a penalty shoot out,

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  33. Liam Brady has just said that he is “convinced” that refs are being told at half time, when they have made a big mistake, and that they go out in the second half looking to even it out, he said that Atletico were given that penalty tonight cos the ref would have been told at half time, that they Real Madrid goal should not have stood due to offside.

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  34. Thanks for this extremely informative article, Shotts. At the moment, I’m dealing with the disappointment of having my iPad lock up and lose 20 minutes worth of typing a thoughtful response that I’m now too tired to try and recreate. My counterfactual will be to imagine that it had instead posted my half finished rambling for all the world to read. Could have been worse…

    Anyway, my thoughts on the CL final are that I’m glad Real won. Not a fan of Simeone and his touchline antics, and I really didn’t want to spend the summer listening to people go on and on about how he should come to AFC. Yuck.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Dear all

    Another excellent piece from Tony Attwood over at Untold to complement Shotta’s brilliant piece:
    http://untold-arsenal.com/archives/53202

    The upshot? where blogs like PA and Untold insist on evidence-based opinion you get much more robust articles!

    Liked by 3 people

  36. in Wenger’s time as AFC manager we first qualified for the CL for season 1998/99, and these are the team that have won the CL since then,

    Real Madrid 4 times
    Barcelona 4 times
    Bayern Munich 2 times
    AC Milan 2 times
    Man Utd 2 times
    Porto
    Chelsea
    Inter Milan
    Liverpool

    that is 18 CL titles, and surpirse surprise its only 9 different clubs, with only one “new” winner, that being CFC, what a triumph for the little man.

    when you also consider the teams that were runner up in those finals we also see some very familar faces,

    Bayern Munich 3 times
    Man Utd 2 times
    Liverpool
    Milan
    other former winners of the CL to lose in the final in that time are
    Juventus 2 times
    Dortmund

    and teams to lose finals who had never won the CL(at the time of the loss)
    Atletico Madrid 2 times
    Valencia 2 times
    Arsenal
    Chelsea
    Monaco
    Bayer Leverkusen

    so in those 18 finals, (36 teams), we have in fact only seen 16 clubs make it to the final, Arsenal being one of them.
    Again I repeat, that Chelsea are the only new club to win it in that time, and this was in their second final.
    By the way, in the 18 years, we have only seen 4 first time finalists,
    Bayer Leverkusen(02),
    Monaco(04),
    Arsenal(06)
    Chelsea(12)

    So to sum up, my advice to a manager who wants to win the CL is simple,
    firstly, your chances of winning it are greatly enhanced if you are at a club that has previously in their history won the trophy.
    Secondly if that club happens to be Real Madrid or Barcelona, you have a much greater chance of winning it.

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  37. Eddy, have you been reading my Twitter feed?

    Like

  38. Going by the criteria set out on twitter by the malcontents, Wenger is not a great manager cos he has never won the CL, so oddly enough two of their “great manager” who should replace Wenger are not judged by the same mantra, cos if they weree then it would mean Simeone and Klopp are not great managers either, oddly enough they don’t like CL winning manger Di Matteo being thrown into the argument, oddly enough the CL winning manager is out of work for over a year now, since resigning at Shalke O4, in 2015, yet none of the WOB want him as AFC manager.

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  39. have just had a look now george, and I really like this

    positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 2h2 hours ago Blackburn, England
    Arsene was not afraid to step up from the J league to AFC, yet we are to believe he was scared of the step up to Barca, Bayern and Madrid, the frailty of the logic here is frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Woah, excellent Shotta.

    I’ll have to read again later but I think any response I might’ve had has been covered well in the responses.

    Sorry, Steww. Outrageous trauma. Completely, successful healing to you both.

    Like

  41. Once again while I wanted a new team to win am just glad for Dell preservation dat athletico did not win it. We would no gave heard undoubtedly dat he to replace AW

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  42. I’m a bit late to this post, alas, it’s very informative and thanks for that Shotta. I always enjoy reading your mental munchies – just like I do that of the rest of the PA community.

    When it comes to how the media, pundits and superfans give opinion on Arsenal it’s clear that they are shallow and more interested in being alarmists. There’s no attempt to tell us what is factual, but rather what they believe the alternative truth should be, and in that mixture lies always emerges.

    And even in those rare times where what they say are accurate, they deliberately don’t bother explaining the context – like you did – as that in itself make a huge difference. The recent “Ramsey wants to move the Spain” articles springs to mind.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. Héctor Bellerín ‏@HectorBellerin 21m21 minutes ago
    Very proud day for me & my family! Unbelievable feeling to get my first cap for @SeFutbol! Boyhood dream come true🇪🇸

    Like

  44. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 1h1 hour ago
    Del Bosque: “We have two days to give the list of 23. From what the doctors tell us [on Carvajal], Bellerín stays.”

    Like

  45. alabamagooner @ 5:59 am – I must say I am disappointed with that Ipad. Your rare interventions are as precious as gold.

    Like

  46. What an absolutely brilliant read…..explains what seems at times….the unexplainable ….so well.
    Anything the club now do is surrounded by negativity……and yes, anything positive is counteracted by the negative ones…..for example , in recent years, they said we would never again win another trophy under Wenger, and when we did, they had to relegate the FA Cup to a non trophy for a couple of years…..then get extremely upset when the team had the temerity to go out of their non competition. How does that work?
    Whatever the scientific or psychological explanation, just get the impression some of our fan base just aren’t very well.
    As someone who has close relatives who are WOBs (more in the critic spectrum than the hater), I have tried to fathom their perspective. I am not going to list their gripes on this, of all sites…..but the common thread with them, the club/manager have not delivered what was promised a decade ago…ie .dominating Europe and that sort of thing.
    Yes, seem to remember some lofty promises were made, but I don’t remember timescales, and we all know why not all have not come to fruition.
    I would call fans like that ……living in the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Congratulations to Callum Chambers who captained the England U21s in the final of the Toulon Tournament yesterday afternoon in what was a first victory in the competition for 22 years.

    The tournament and England’s performance I see earned barely a mention in this morning’s sports media, an ommission that is no surprise when there were ‘huge’ stories to consider such as Rasford’s alleged £20k a week contract and the entirely unexpected (coughs) violence that occurred when Millwall went for their seasonal dose of misery at Wembley yesterday. No doubt if England had got a tonkin’ then we would have heard more.

    Liked by 2 people

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