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Untold Media: [snigger] The Sun admits to eating “humble pie” on previous Arsenal coverage.

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Untold Media: (snigger) The Sun admits to eating “humble pie” on previous Arsenal coverage.

By: Anne

Within the last month, while the media coverage of Arsenal remains at odds with what I would consider to be entirely “fair,” it would be wrong to fail to acknowledge that we have nonetheless experienced a somewhat dramatic change in the tone of media coverage towards Arsenal. And while the precise reasons for this recent decrease in negativity remain a matter of speculation, if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that the following two factors weigh heavily:

1) Arsenal has played good football for long enough that those who continued to proclaim that Arsenal was in “crisis” were turning themselves into laughing stocks; and

2) Arsenal fans rebelled against media coverage claiming that Arsenal fans do not support the club.

While the above topics will be covered more in depth in future UM reports (assuming the media keeps this up), please consider the following to be a brief introduction to your “new and improved” media.

Turning first to the “Arsenal in crisis” line that we have been documenting since the beginning of the season, what better place to begin analyzing this new trend in media coverage than by analyzing the Sun’s coverage (which is looking quite different these days from the coverage we first began to document back in July)?

I believe Ian Wright best summed up the Sun’s “new line” on Arsenal in his column of 6 December, 2011, when he said the following:

“There is…a lot of humble pie being served up to those who criticised [Arsenal] earlier in the season — me included.”

Yes, I believe that “humble pie” is a good phrase to describe some of what has been going on in the media lately (and if I was feeling less diplomatic, I think I might prefer the phrase “eating their words.”) But it is, after all, the holiday season. And in the giving spirit of that season, I’ll just proceed with the Sun’s preferred term of “humble pie.”

And what exactly might this “humble pie” entail? Well, if you’re the Sun, it means that you suddenly find yourself in the strange position of publishing statements like the following, commending ArsèneWenger for his resilience in the face of “pressure” earlier in the season:

“What has Arsène done to lift team?

BELIEVING that his players could turn things around.

And by not walking away himself when he faced the biggest test of his 15-year career at Arsenal at the start of the season.

Wenger last week likened that period to ‘hell’ but, at the time, he soaked up the pressure and stayed calm…”

On a side note, since the Sun chose to mention the “pressure” onArsène Wenger earlier in the season, that calls to mind, for some reason, an Untold Media report that we published way back in August… In that report, we documented a “certain” paper applying “pressure” to Arsène Wenger with a casual reference to Arsène taking a bullet between the eyes if he didn’t spend cash in the the transfer market…

Since the Sun has now chosen to commend Arsène for withstanding such “pressure,” I’m going to (once again, charitably, in the spirit of the season) interpret this new position as a long-overdue apology from the Sun for printing the following (in response to Arsene’s defense of Arsenal’s responsible spending policies):

“Fair enough but something most Gooners are shouting for should be smacking Wenger right between the eyes though.

He needs to spend. Or he may be spent.”

So, thank you, Sun, for doing the right thing, and retracting the above (very creepy) comment with a full apology.

Incidentally, the above comment also transitions us nicely into another topic that is worth mentioning here. Specifically, the topic of what “most Gooners” may or may not be “shouting for” with regard to Arsène Wenger’s continued employment. Because it appears that, in recent weeks, the Sun has also backtracked on previous claims (such as the above) that most Arsenal fans want Wenger out.

In fact, the Sun appears to have backed away entirely from its previous “talking point” claiming that Arsenal fans are dissatisfied with the current direction of the club. Since the beginning of November, the Sun’s only comment on the position of Arsenal fans with regard to the club is the following (which, to me, looks a heck of a lot like an actual retraction of their previous position):

“While the vast majority of fans back boss Wenger, who has been in charge for 15 years, some supporters feel it is time for a change.”

As the above indicates, rather than claiming that most Arsenal fans are screaming for Wenger’s head, the Sun appears to have finally acknowledged the “uncomfortable” truth that most fans did, in fact, support Arsène the entire time. And if you need further proof of that, even AK (Antony Kastrinakis) has recently stated:

“Though the majority of fans backed the Arsenal boss, there were numerous angry calls for Wenger to go.”

The Sun’s repetition of this same phrase (or “talking point,” if you will) on more than one occasion suggests to me a change in the Sun’s editorial policy regarding coverage of Arsenal fans, and their position on the club. We will be observing the Sun closely in the future for further such evidence of an editorial change.

And incidentally, we can also turn to our old friend “AK” for an indication of a possible shift in the Sun’s editorial policy with regard to reporting on Arsenal as a whole.

Because, Untold readers, despite the fact that we have not entered the twilight zone (or at least, I don’t think we have…), AK nonetheless published the following article on 5 December, 2011, commending Valencia for rebuilding themselves as “the Arsenal of Spain.”:

“Many wonder how a team [Valencia] that lost so many top players can remain so competitive.

The answer is by using Arsène Wenger’s recipe… buy promising young players and sell big stars for profit.

Just like Arsenal have done over the years with stars like Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

A Mestalla insider revealed: ‘Valencia is following the Arsenal model.’

‘The club do not admit it publicly but it is evident if one looks at the facts. Identifying talented youngsters before they ‘explode’ is the key.’….

Valencia are one of the youngest sides in La Liga with an average age of 25.1 years…yet last season they finished third in La Liga. Admittedly, they were 25 points behind Barcelona. But Arsenal finished fourth — 22 points behind champions Manchester United.

And remember what Arsenal did to Chelsea last month.”

While the above could still be regarded as less than entirely complimentary towards Arsenal, it is still worth noting for its contrast to the manner in which AK has covered similar topics in the past (for just one brief example, see the following from 15 May 2010):

“…Wenger has meticulously planned the development of his current side. But if your best player is ready to exit, it means it is time to question the entire set-up and make radical changes to your approach. Or leave yourself.”

Another example of the recent change in the Sun’s coverage can be found  in the Sun’s match report on Arsenal’s Carling Cup defeat against Manchester City. Note the following excerpts:

Arsenal “were unable to find the killer touch in front of goal despite their dominance…

[The Nasri transfer] cost only a few quid less than the entire cost of the side Arsène Wenger put out.The difference? Hardly any…

The Gunners, a collection of first-team wannabes and future hopes, took the game to City…[who] were given a lesson in passion and desire by young kids who know their only hope of a game is in the Carling Cup…”

If you don’t see anything surprising about the above, please remember that this is the same Sun that, as we documented  back in July, could not go two days at the time without criticizing Arsenal for both its youth policy, and its refusal to “splash out cash” on big name signings.

During the same time period, the Sun also never lost an opportunity to mention Arsenal’s “6 year trophy drought.” Yet, in the above report, the Sun doesn’t mention Arsenal’s “trophy drought,” or even the word “trophy.”

And this is despite the fact that the report was covering a match in which Arsenal was actually eliminated from contention for a trophy.

Taken alone, the above is contrary to every historical pattern that we’ve documented in the Sun’s reporting. However, going even one step further, the Sun also reported on Arsenal’s past performances in the Carling Cup with a distinctly positive spin:

“Arsenal were beaten finalists back in February and have been to the semi-finals five times in nine seasons.”

The above sentence is phrased in such a way that it deliberately highlights the positive aspects of Arsenal’s achievements in the competitions, and detracts from the fact that Arsenal ultimately lost and was eliminated. And I guess I can only say that, coming from the Sun, I find such positive spin to be… unexpected (especially in combination with their apparent decision to pass up a chance to report on Arsenal’s “trophy drought”).

Based on the above findings, I have conducted a somewhat in depth analysis of the Sun’s “humble pie,” going back to the date of 7 November, 2011 (when it apparently began). If this change in coverage continues, Untold Media readers can expect further articles detailing my findings on this.

But for now, please feel free to take a few moments, just to relax, laugh, and say “I told you so.”

I certainly would, were I not so overcome with the generous spirit of the Giving Season.

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35 comments to Untold Media: [snigger] The Sun admits to eating “humble pie” on previous Arsenal coverage.

  • Shard

    That turnaround in coverage (from the Sun of all papers) is extraordinary. Of course it won’t be long till someone comes along as says this just proves that there is no agenda (as John Cross says) and stop being paranoid (as Cross and Holt also said recently), which is probably exactly what they are looking for.

    My guess.. They realised they couldn’t keep it up anymore because people just stopped paying attention. So they decide to change tack, and win us gullible football followers over again. So we have articles that are complimentary to Arseal. Why Arsenal are the classiest club in England, Arsenal being a one man team is a myth, Arsenal’s history is so rich that so many other legends could have their statues.

    All well and good. But the same writers then try and sneak in things like Ian Wright should have his statue because of his achievements. He only divides opinion because he has one and cares deeply about the club. Fans can criticise the club so why can’t ex-players. So Wright is just another fan who wanted Wenger out, nothing else.
    Cross also says Wenger gets an easy ride from the media, and for this, his ONE piece of evidence is ALWAYS mentioning the interview in the Times with (I’m guessing) Patrick Barclay, the ONE writer I have found consistently fair and praising Arsenal and the way we do things. Ignore the talk about rictus grin, and smacking him between the eyes, calling us joke club. That never happened.

    Steve Stammers wrote an article about how referees face unfair abuse and they make less mistakes than players or managers. Basically accept all that happens. This was just after he wrote about Arsenal being more than a one man team and appeared on Fans Forum.

    As Wenger says, we must keep some distance from the media reports, both good and bad. They intend to get us listening to, and believing their bullshit again, by flattering us and making us feel better with their hollow compliments. What was that word Walter once used to describe journalists?

  • D star

    You cant have a diss @ my darling arsenal & not feel sorry in d end cos we will make u [in d spirit of d holiday] eat humble pie. I m expecting other media outlets to start sayin sorry soon

  • WalterBroeckx

    Shard and for thos who had forgotten it,

    for some journalists I use the word “whorenalists”

  • bc

    Whilst the tirnaround has been good we still have 4 teams above us and we are 12 points behind the leaders. wenger had also had to eat a large piece of humble pie of his own acknowledging that he could not carry on with just youth the signings of mertesacker arteta park santos benayoun proved that with mertesacker being the baby of that lot at 26!

    lets also not forget the fixtures have been kind to us since the loss to united we have only played 3 teams above us and we have lost 2 of them in addition we have lost to blackburn and olympiacos.

    the match away to city will for me be another test as to how much we have turned it around cos so.far in the only real hard ones we have failed.

  • jitty

    its called the news cycle

  • Bobby Pliers

    Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror wrote an article on Wednesday titled – “Why Untouchable Fergie has earned his free pass should United crash out of the Champions League”. I can’t imagine that the press would have been so laid back if it was us who had crashed out on Wednesday night. All that money and the two Manchester teams can’t even get out of their groups. Its enough to make you shed a tear……Heh!

  • RedCore

    Anne,
    Good work. Appreciate the effort that you put into compiling this article.
    Just wanted to ask you this – In recent times the club has done significant work into its PR, like inviting bloggers to see its Medical facility etc.. So it is perhaps doing something to get better coverage from the mainstream media as well?
    After all how can a stupid tabloid suddenly start to see sense? These are the guys who said that we lacked a spine when we were passing teams off the park for fun last season..

  • @bc,

    Whilst I understand we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, you’re doing your credibility no good whatsoever.
    Liverpool – woeful performance from both sides which they shaded by virtue of an extra man.
    Blackburn – woeful performance from the referee.
    Spuds – shall we just say Rafael Van Zijn-Arm?

  • Dan

    Those of you that are missing the anti-Wenger articles from the momentarily neutral tabloids can always find them among Arsnal ‘fan’ blogs.
    There is a lovely article on le Grove this morning slating Wenger and Arsenals revovery. It also goes on about how there could easily only be 3 Champions League places up for grabs next season which is of course complete rubbish. The author (supposedly an Arsenal fan) was clearly blinded by his rage during is anti-Wenger and all things Arsenal rant and consequently failed to realise that England have by far the highest UEFA coefficient and even have the highest coefficient for the 2011-2012 season so far!
    Classy jounalism.

  • bob

    Anne, Walter, UM, Gooners all,
    These “whorenalists” give the “oldest profession” (prostitution) a bad name. They are spirit snipers whose paid work is not only to falsify events at the time, but, as Anne documents, to erase their own footprints. Flattery = erasing their footprints. Chilling us into collective, smiley-face amnesia. The feel-good smokescreen that hides the fangs they bared not so long ago. This can only succeed as long as they are not called on it. This turnaround is Exhibit A in proving – and remembering – that there was something (rotten) to turnaround from. Their flattery is mendacity. Pure seduction. And while even bad sex is never that bad, it’s incumbent on us to look at them in the face; to continue to hold up the mirror (not that Mirror) that shows them for the falsifiers and spirit-snipers that the are, and to engage in a most healthy refusal. (Or, if you’ve begun to start to really like that they are sounding their current seductive siren song, then some coitus interruptus is a best practice: it will shock them as it restores one’s own equanimity.

    Well, all word play aside, let’s not forget who they really are; what they did (and will try again) to divide us; how they relished the chance and prospect of destroying Arsene Wenger (rictus grins and endless head-in-head photo) and destabilizing our side; and how they loved to play us for flies to yank off our wings. Whorenalists, Walter, is too decent a term for them. ****’em, is way too nice for them. And memory – our collective memory – is our best weapon and defense against their current erasing-game and their next expectable (yes, expectable) onslaught. Major Kudos to Anne, UM, for staying the course. To Ian Wright, Anthony K, Cross John, and David Hytner, and their echo-chamber of stenographers: may you continue to share the same pyre in that hottest place of all. As for Gooners all, let me quote Saint Woody Allen: “Living well is the best revenge.” We have endured and flourish. Up with Arsene! Go Gunners!

  • The Sun might be backing down a bit but the Guardian isn’t.

    Their Friday column which reports on team news from press conferences contains this line today

    “Good news for Arsenal: Andre Santos will be out against Everton with a knee injury.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/dec/09/football-live-blog-9-december

  • bob

    Dan,
    We’ve been on to LeGrovel hereabouts. They lose their “uniqueness” as long as we succeed as a side; and we fans enjoy the pleasures of staying the course and savor the joys (up and down) of Arsenal. As long as we do, LeGrovel will lose whatever subsidy it MAY well have; and any credibility it admittedly had among its readers in our recent hard times. They are neither stupid, nor smart – but cunning. LeGrovel flourished on our dark times, waxes only when Arsenal wanes, and articulates its mission by pouring salt in our wounds and calling it loyalty. Their AAA niche is a profit center; and our continued successes will hopefully board up their windows for good.

  • bob

    Tony,
    Have to agree on our Guardian’s Football Dept staying its toxic course. The writer of this vicious drive-by bit about Santos is named Paul Doyle. I think he’s a newbie to the bash-Arsenal scene. And, on cue, he seems to have taken up the anti-Arsene/Arsenal beatdown with a flourish. Witness this from his live coverage of the last Olympiakos match:
    ” Premable:
    All Arsenal need to do to make the next round is avoid staging an act of extreme and unprecedented obscenity that would force Uefa to boot them out of the competition. So they should be OK … but if they’re not, then I’ll be glad that I pulled the straw that assigned me to this tie rather than the Chelsea-Valencia one, which you presumably came here in search of.”
    He’ll be glad if Arsenal is NOT “OK”. This at the outset, before the start of play.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I think that those are good points. And I agree that this has something to do with the fact that they realized they were losing all credibility.

    However, I didn’t mean for this article to say that everything is “all better.” In actuality (as you pointed out), they are still sneaking in a lot of disinformation. They’ve just toned it down. Although the fact that they felt they needed to is encouraging, to me.

  • Anne

    @Mahesh:

    It’s always really difficult to say for sure about a single interview. I don’t know much about four four two, so I’m not going to pass judgment on this particular one. However, there are two primary concerns with any interview:

    1) The interview could be fabricated in its entirety. Both the English tabloids and the Spanish tabloids have been caught red handed fabricating interviews with Barcelona players about Arsenal; and

    2) Even if Fabregas did grant an interview to four four two, you need to be concerned about the way the interview was edited. And you also need to be concerned about the way goal. com edited THAT interview. The only “interviews” that I’ll give any kind of credibility to is one that prints the interview in its entirety, with both questions and answers. I don’t know if four four two did that here, but goal. com definitely didn’t. If you don’t have the whole thing it’s WAY too easy to edit it so that the comments appear to support whatever editorial position you have. And even if you do have the whole interview, you can’t be sure that it wasn’t edited.

    So, in short, I wouldn’t consider the above article to be trustworthy. With a bit more investigation, you might be able to have a better idea. However, I will say that, in general, it’s VERY unusual for Barcelona players to grant interviews to English language papers.

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    I like that term, personally 🙂 By the way, how did you get your picture as your avatar?

  • Anne

    @bc:

    That’s interesting. I haven’t reported on the new press angle in its entirety yet, but it actually sounds a lot like your comment. 🙂

  • Anne

    @jitty:

    That’s a very vague comment. I’m not sure what you mean, actually. Although I have difficulty believing that a paper suddenly changing tacks on a specific date isn’t related to something more than the “news cycle.”

  • Anne

    @Bobby Pliers:

    Good to know that they admit it openly 🙂 Overall, the Mirror has gotten way too much of a free ride on here. That’s not intentional. Just the way things have worked out.

  • Anne

    @RedCore:

    I think that there’s a good chance that this change in coverage is related to actions the club has taken behind the scenes. The club being more proactive is one thing that has definitely changed recently. The reason I listed the two factors that I did as “weighing heavily” is because the two things that the Sun really seems to have turned around on relates to the “crisis” coverage, and the way they report about fan opinion. So the changes are directly linked to those two factors.

    However, that’s just speculation, really. If I wanted to find out for sure about the reason for the change, I would have to call up the Sun and ask them. Does anyone have Antony Kasrinakis’ phone number? 🙂

  • Anne

    @Dan:

    I think you are being overly generous by using the term “journalism.” 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Well said. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on backing down. They’re already playing up the potential for another “crisis” should Arsenal’s performances suffer a downturn (which they inevitably will at some point).

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    Yes, I’ve noticed some “injury crisis” talk floating around the echo chamber lately. I’ll keep an eye on it.

    On a more positive note, it appears that, for the time being, we can include “one man team” on the list of talking points that the Sun has backed down on:

    “FINALLY, Arsenal are no longer reliant on their Robin.”

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/3976847/Wigan-0-Arsenal-4.html

    However, on my last check, they are still over-emphasizing the role of RVP. They’ve stopped claiming that all of the other players are rubbish, but still laying the pressure on on that score.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Well spotted on that match coverage.

  • bob

    Anne,
    It’s astonishing to me how brazen, how safe, how normal it feels to this Paul Doyle stenographer to START OFF his match coverage with that sniggering comment that he’d be glad to be covering this match (by the luck of the straw) if Arsenal does something so extreme that UEFA would expel it from the competition. Even if he just means it as a joke, it’s at least at inside joke to his cadre of lurkers with intent that he’s on the case (holding his nose). Remarkable but indicative of the truly low level to which the Football Department of an otherwise fine paper has sunk. So, he’s passed square one (Arsenal-bashing) on his way to further football coverage as a newbie on the Guardian beatdown. I wish them only a non-first place finish by ManUre in hopes that they must eat crow when their expected coronation and beatification of Lord Fergus fails to materialize and they will have to type that on their sticky keyboards. Absolutely disgraceful, Paul Doyle.

  • bjtgooner

    Anne, this is an excellent article and it is good to note that the Sun have had to change the way they cover Arsenal. I agree with you that the Sun and others are probably waiting for a downturn in our results to start the Anti Arsenal/anti Wenger routine.

    I’m not sure why the Guardian is so dogmatic in continuing the attack when others have had second thoughts. This paper tries to appeal to a different clientele from that of the Sun and is probably read by many from the business community. I am not sure who owns the Guardian or whether or not it has a benefactor.

  • Simon Bailey

    While I welcome any softening of the medias’ general stance on all things Arsensl, I think there may be more to this than meets the eye.

    As we all know, the british press, and especially News International publications are firmly under the spotlight at the moment. While they were cruising along, making pots of money, someone inside the organisation could quite easily promote an anti-Arsenal agenda, and regardless of the veracity of the articles, they were making cash hand over fist.

    Now that their backs are against the wall, they might be trying to their best to appeal to a wider audience, and having realised that the Arsenal fan base is massive, maybe wrong-headed agenda based tripe has been given its marching orders in favour of real journalism.

    (I’m staggered that I just wrote that about the sun)

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    Glad you liked the article. And I hope that we’ll be able to expound on these changes in coverage in future reports. As far as the Guardian is concerned, I’m not sure that they’re necessarily out of line with what’s going on in the rest of the media now. Because we haven’t seen a complete end to negativity. Let’s just call it a “tactical shift” at this point.

  • Anne

    @Simon Bailey:

    Unfortunately, I think you’re right to be “staggered” that you just wrote that about the Sun. In the sense that, really, deep down, you know on a gut-feeling kind of level that it’s too good to be true. 🙂

    As I said above, I think that this is probably more of a tactical change than anything else (as opposed to some sort of new-found love for good journalism). But we’ll just have to wait and see how it develops.

    Oh, and these changes extend beyond the Murdoch publications.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Good observations. I would appreciate anything you can do to continue to keep me up to speed on the Guardian.

  • bob

    Anne, bjtgooner,
    Guardian’s main move has been to put Amy Lawrence in the lead on the Arsenal beat. As we’ve turned it around, she now does most of the post-match reviews on Arsenal; and she’s been much fairer, even appreciative of elements of our turnaround. What Tony has just picked up on, and what I found were small bits within larger articles that were not focused on Arsenal’s decline. They are indicative of what lurks with intent, should we go through another decline. But, right now, Amy Lawrence is their fair-minded Arsenal beat writer. The likes of David “Hatchetboy” Hytner are still there, just around the bend, serving up some degree of relish in his coverage of our Champions League loss. He’s been the traveling one, starting this past summer on the Asia trip and goes to Europe for our CL matches. But it’s Amy Lawrence who has been regularly handling our EPL matches and she’s better than tolerable (given what testoterone-compensating spirit snipers infest the surrounding cubicles). (On other major matters, Guardian is the anti-Murdoch.)

  • bjtgooner

    @bob

    Thanks for the info.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Ditto 🙂

  • Anne

    Checking avatar