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Slowly, very slowly, the media are starting to realise that in football terms, they have utterly screwed up.

Ever since I first studied sociology (in about 2 million years BC) I have known that the media’s first need is to see to the continuation of itself by keeping up its audience.  It does this by telling the audience “this is how it is” and then, having got the audience fixed on this version of reality, it proclaims, “you only get this reality here.”

“Football is great,” says Sky, and when it thinks you agree is says, “and you can only get it here.”

But there is a problem with this approach. And that is that you can get stuck  in a groove.  Papers and broadcasters have a view which suits them for a time, but it can become self-perpetuating, long after is has served its point.  It carries on in the old style, because, well, it does.

The Match of the Day approach is like this – the vision that the football audience is so stupid that it doesn’t know a bent ref when it sees one, that it finds mindless chit-chat somehow a worthwhile way of passing the time, and that we want to know the opinion of some boring jerk who is famous for being a boring jerk and who knows very little.

But the media got away with it in the past for two reasons:

First, there was a limited choice of media, so if you liked football (for example) you took what you were given, because that’s all there was.

Second because you couldn’t talk back.

Now that has gone – although the un-reconstructed 20th century media likes to pretend it hasn’t.

Consider today, when the press and broadcast media gobbled up the line that 300 Arsenal fans had written to Shawcross to tell him he was an ok dude.   Really?  Are we expected to believe this?  In their unreconstructed modernist way the media think they can say it and we will scoop it up.

We are expected not to ask if these were really Arsenal fans and not Stoke or Tottenham fans in disguise?

Indeed it seems as if I expected to forget that in the wonderful days when Ossie Ardiles was Tottenham manager and he trotted out and said that he had hundreds of letters from fans begging him to stay, I dropped my pint of beer on the floor and screamed, knowing that at least 50 of those letters had been written by me and my mates.

The fact is that for a long time the press has existed in a time bubble that suits its own perception of reality.  A perception that says the world cup is important, rather than being something many of us dread as the moment when our players get crippled.  A perception that says that if you keep on and on and on and on saying Shawcross is a nice fellow, we might believe you, even though he destroyed Jeffers and Ramsey.

A perception that says Liverpool are a decent club that plays good football.  A perception that says (as happens while I write this) when the Everton manager comes on TV and says how well his club are doing after a SLIGHTLY SHAKY START we have to nod.   A slightly shaky start?????????????????

The difference is of course that now we blog each other, and we each of us know, we are not the odd ones out, we are not the only people who have a strangely bent view of reality – it is the media.  It is the loonies stuck in their little towers spouting gibberish who are the nutters, not us.

I once had the temerity to report here that I was rather chuffed that the odd phrase of mine first displayed to the public on this site had entered the domain of commentators.  I meant to say that this proved blogs had power, although several correspondents accused me of disappearing up my own arse.

But I do think that very slowly the fans are beginning to get a little bit of power back – not least because some of our prognostications have been proven right.  We are starting to define the world – and we are not letting the media do it.

After quite a bit of time of site like this one saying that the whole football edifice is unsustainable, people are listening.   They notice that the old English way of believing that we are automatically worth ten of those johnny foreigners is no longer holding sway.  The old, “you need an English spine” gibberish is vanishing.

And they note that as the Manchester Arab model fails to get off the ground so the Roman Abramovich’s model has come back down to the ground.  The KGB has had success, true, but not every year as he imagined it would be.  And this “break even” campaign he has promised, this “youth academy” thing, all seems as distant as when the Oligarch spouted it three or four years ago and the uncritical media lapped it up and said “yes your almightyness, anything you say, can I have an oil well?”

But there is more, because in a tiny, tiny way the media are noticing what little us have been saying all this time – Arsenal have a young team, the KGB  have an old team.  We make a profit, they make a loss.  We have a conveyor belt of young talent, which took 10 years to set up, but now delivers the goods.  They don’t.  When our players get into personal difficulty (Merson, Adams) our club quietly supports them and turns them round.  The KGB in true KGB style re-write history.  It never happened.  We play football.

And here’s the big issue that the media is just scratching its way towards.   Where is the fun for a man like Abramovich of being second and having a captain and left back who can’t tell a screw from having a screw loose?  What’s the point of hanging around when that’s all you get out of life – a loonie with a mobile phone and a captain with a drug dealing dad, a shop lifting mum, and a propensity to show people round the training ground at £20k a time?

But fortunately a change of stance is not completely impossible for the hardened hacks.  They have been brought up on “1984” – that most prophetic of books, in which you simply change your stance, and write out the old approach.

Arsenal bad, Chelsea good, Man U better becomes Man U best, Chelsea inept, Arsenal actually doing rather a good job old chap, becomes Man U rather dodgy and a bit, well, un-English, and Arsenal become foreign and odd, but still, fairly sound…

But there’s another twist.   Mourinho is ordered not to speak to the press by the Inter boss.  Sir Alex F Word doesn’t talk to anyone.  John Terry’s wife orders him not to talk, and the manager of Liverpool plays games – remember his “the referee was perfect” piece.  Even I loved him at that moment.  And if there is one thing the press don’t like, its people not talking.   Let’s go and talk to Wenger.

The point is this.  Had Portsmouth gone into the liquid hand basin three years ago they would have been seen as a one-off odd ball.  Now they are seen as the icing on the iceberg.  The press haven’t quite got around to calling West Porno, West Porno, but everyone is watching to see how such a basket case can escape reality.  An alternative universe would help.

To think that Man U might disintegrate into fireworks is too much, even for the nouveau media, but they have got the hang of the fact that Liverpool are just about to fall over the edge into the void as the banks ask for their money back.

This doesn’t mean we have any sort of version of reality from the media that you or I would recognise as the truth, when we open door in the morning.  But today’s version is half an inch closer to the world that I see, than it was when I was born during the Late Stone Age (I was in one of those families that finally realised we had run out of stones and so invented the Bronze Age).

It’s a step.  One step.   But the journey of ten thousand miles starts with a single step as Mao said.  Or was it Plato.  Sorry can’t remember.

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31 comments to Slowly, very slowly, the media are starting to realise that in football terms, they have utterly screwed up.

  • Paul C.

    The thing I love about the media and the way they treat Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger is this:

    The BBC run a documentary which says nasty things about SAF’s son and he stops talking to them forever. He has a childish whinge about one documentary and blames the whole BBC edifice. Everyone knows they have to write nice things about him or else he will have a whinge and cry and moan and stop talking to them. Instead of calling him out they actually go along with it and he gets portrayed as a “strong”, “mature”, “smart” man etc etc.

    Arsene Wenger gets negative pieces written about him ALL THE TIME. He gets snide comments written EVERY DAY it seems. He gets ripped apart when he dares to talk about dangerous play, persistent fouling etc etc. He gets his whole vision and philosophy questioned virtually every day. And yet has Arsene EVER stopped talking to the press? Doesnt he in fact go out of his way to talk to the press about anything and everything, answering EVERY question with honesty and openness, so much so that he gives them huge ammo to turn things around and sting him with his own words? And does that stop him talking, ever? No, he just keeps on answering the questions no matter what the press say about him because he knows that is his job.

    And then who gets protrayed as the whinger, the moaner, the bad sport? Arsene of course. And still he takes it and keeps talking to the media. And Ferguson gets portrayed as the wise, stoic, fair godfather of football, though the media know that if they treated Fergie with even a FRACTION of the disdain they treat Arsene, he would cry and moan and have a hissy fit and threaten to never speak to them again, as he has done before.

  • walter

    A great piece to round my hectic week, Tony.

    So to all those who sit with me and my friends in the Emirates tomorrow: let us all give everything we got to help our Gunners.

    Looking forward to seeing some of you tomorrow.

    ps: Tony, I just answered your mail.

    Now off to bed, as it wil be early day over here.

  • walter

    Just have seen that Martinez, the Wigan manager, has supported AW.
    Just hope he is the first on that the rest may follow

  • LRV

    The media wheel of change is moving far too slowly at this time to make a difference. Arsene needs to start treating them the same way as Alex F-word, otherwise, they will keep getting to big for their shoes.

    Patrick Barclay is probably the most sensible of all the hacks. Twice I have read articles where he actually puts his neck on the line, broke with the status quo, to defend Wenger.

  • Paul C.

    LRV – the thing is, Patrick Barclay actually knows what he is talking about. Most of the other journos don’t. I know one of the chief football writers at one of the major newspapers in the UK. He isnt a friend or anything, but I knew him through a girl I once went to Uni with. He hated sports, he had never played sports at all. But he had studied journalism and thought sports was where he could make his name. I followed his articles for a long time just out of curiousity. He followed the “status quo” as you say, wrote very nicely, and now, as I said, he is chief football correspondent (I will not say his name because he seemed a solid and nice guy each time I briefly crossed his path, it isnt his fault it takes no knowledge of football to become chief football correspondent).

    That is why I always take EVERYTHING the media says with a pinch of salt, especially any predictions that they may make.

  • Shevo

    by refusing not to talk, AW has more guts in his little finger than any of those snidey cunt wipes from the media put together. I think to be honest, Wenger is taking the piss out of them without them realising it. He knows any comments he makes gives them ammo to shoot him down. But at the same time it means his message about how decent football should be played and how a proper Football club should be run continues to get lots of column inches. Sooner or later these same muppets will start to question their own judgement about a man who has the foresight to realise that sooner or later the premier league will start to implode unless changes are made to how some teams/clubs approach the game. Teams like the Stoke’s, Blackburns and yes even the Chelski ,Man City Liverpool or Manure could soon become another Wimbeldon or Leeds. These same media cunts will then one day be writing headlines like “Arsene was right. WE JUST DIDN’T SEE IT”

  • Rhys Jaggar

    It’s not just football mate, it’s masses of things.

    ‘Global WARMING’ is gospel truth to scientists, who are defined to be ‘skeptics fuelled by a desire to destroy a hypothesis’, as well as many journalists bowing down to green religion. It’s suffering a spectacular fall from grace……..through nifty international operators using the blogosphere to great effect……..

    Politics: a young woman on Question Time this week told the Mayor ‘you really don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re spouting twaddle, why won’t you please SHUT UP?’ Cue applause…….

    Teaching: you don’t learn to write a job application from maths equations. You don’t learn to sell drawing diagrams of glaciers. You don’t learn to argue reading about it. You learn to argue arguing. You learn to work by getting a job, trying to do it and learning on it. With some study for some, of course…….try telling the teachers that……….the school-uni shop floor is showing signs of strain…..

    Bankers: preaching cuts in public spending whilst being bailed out for £200bn+, then cooking the books to justify another £1.3bn in bonsues. Ditto the politicians on expenses. Probably ditto the Trades Unionists who still exist………the masses are getting restless………

    Best summed up by Sir Simon Rattle, who’s enjoying himself in Berlin these days. He said ‘the old country appears to be facing an ENDGAME.’

    He’s right of course.

    America or Europe, both or neither? Capitalism or socialism, neither or both? Christian or multicultural, neither or both? Olympics or World Cup, one or both? EPL or what? English ownership or not? Billionaires or not?? It’s all in the melting pot…..

    The great charades of the past 70 years are starting to need new masks…………

    Ah well. Arsene made me laugh today; he said that ‘Theo has a footballing brain. More important, Theo HAS a brain.’ Taking a sideways swipe at a media pundit who he clearly thought was lacking one……..

    Here’s to another win tomorrow.

  • GREAT ARTICLE,I have just been refered to this site by LADY ARSE & I have got to say that the first two artcles as well as the comments that accompany them are excellent, I salute the honesty, dignity, passion, motivation & skill that you have shown in writing these heartfelt articles.
    Keep up the good work!

    VICTORIA CONCORDIA CRESCIT!

  • arsenal tone

    i gave up on the media when i heard that 3 (three) towers fell on 911 from 2 (two) planes…

    anyway, you’ve once again hit the nail right on the head tony.
    always a pleasure to hear your thoughts.

    up the gunners……..

    xx

    ‘making the arsenal’ great great book.

  • arsenal tone

    @ rhyss jaagar

    brilliant. that is exactly what i would write if i were able.

    NAIL-ON-THE-FUCKING-HEAD.

  • tim

    Cheers Tony. Keep up the good work.

    @Walter — I’m looking forward to a great post match day report!

    I’ve been so depressed with the press coverage that I’ve started to tune out. But I saw AW’s press conference yesterday, and it was brilliant. Compared to those stupid hacks, his intelligence is on another wavelength (and the best part, as was commented above, is that the reporters do not even realize it).

  • well-endowed gooner

    So Rhys, you really don’t think global warming is occurring? You’ve got to realise that most people are idiots, most bloggers are people, ergo, most bloggers are idiots. The problem with the internet is that it gives the man in the street the same sized soapbox as the guy who actually knows what he’s talking about. Global warming is happening, there is a general consensus amongst scientists in a multitude of fields, and the only people trying to shout it down are either ideologically against “left-wing propaganda” or have a vested interest in fossil fuels or rampant consumerism.

    And Arsenaltone, 3 buildings DID fall in 9.11, WTC 7 falling due to fires caused by debris from the collapsing WTC 1 and 2. Other buildings were later condemned because of structural damage.

  • Steve D.

    Global warming maybe occurring, but we are technically in an ice age at the moment, so it’s hardly surprising. I think what Rhys is saying is that journos and others preach the fact that human beings are causing the global warming, as opposed to it being a natural progression of our planet, and this despite there being NO definitive proof. And this to serve their own ends, as the Green industry rivals the oil industry for profit and turnover. Ditto with football…certain people shout loud enough and lazy crap journos follow the party line like sheep. This in turn causes your average member of the public to believe what he reads, and before you know it, a statement based on complete bollocks becomes the truth.

  • MOMONEY

    Dont believe the science because the scientists are skeptical LOL

    Anyways I am posting to say: I LOVE THIS BLOG. Intelligent articles and honest perspectives with great discussion (forgive my comment above…). Cheers to all contributors

  • Phaze

    This –vv
    “Before you know it, a statement based on complete bollocks becomes the truth.”

    I mean we are seriously reading “articles” that state that Aaron broke his own leg BEFORE Shawcross even “tackles” & that Wenger needs to apologise to him, only to have these views perpetuated by the readership.
    well-endowed gooner has t right, it’s like the BNP appearing on Question Time alongside the other parties.

  • critic

    nice article gr8 comments…tell u what u can write an article using comments on ur blog…

  • Cannon Man

    The sport has moved on several times in the past: at one point, there was no such thing as the offside rule, back-passes or indeed a crossbar! Arsene is one of the visionaries of the game whose past and present contributions to the sport have been undervalued. The main reason, aside from the xenophobia (mainly coming from these shores), is money. To keep on topic, the media hacks hang onto their jobs through sensationalism. The media companies survive through sensationalism. Like someone mentioned, the media help Wenger to propel his vision (shared by many WORLDWIDE might I add). He also helps them by giving them fuel for their fire – perhaps that’s where global warming comes from! The dynamic is interesting because it appears they need him more than he needs them and I’m sure that Arsene, being the intelligent man that he is, is aware of this. He knows that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The football world will come round to the fact that when owners spend £**m on a player in fees and wages, they will not be prepared to “just accept” the said player being incapacitated through recklessness and neglect. In an ideal world, simple decency and integrity would be good enough reason. Tony, this blog is by FAR the most intelligible, credible and enjoyable Arsenal blog on the Web. Keep it up! Cheeky suggestion: I’d love to see the last sentence of Shevos post above, incorporated into the site somehow! “ARSENE WAS RIGHT, WE JUST DIDN’T SEE IT” I’m saving that one for a few people!

  • ibbs

    ‘The ref was perfect’,lol!
    Arsene SHOULD just keep it simple like Rafa with these idiots,still can’t believe he still speaks to the media.

  • Yes, the complete statement.

    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.

    I feel like writing that over and over again

    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    Arsene was right. We just didn’t see it.
    etc

  • ibbs

    Esp the ‘sack Arsene’ brigade.

  • Hartwick89

    @WEG,
    Define consensus? What the …. does consensus have to do with fact? Prove to me the theory of relativity or evolution. Don’t cite your arrogance of being an elite scolar and us as idiots when you cite consensus as gospel. So prove to me Global warming or Global cooling I am all ears…

    I hate to be cruel to you but you are exactly the dumb arrogance Tony writes about…

  • Finsbury

    Lol.

    Excuse the nibble back Hartwick89, love your last post about Theo, will always agree with you regarding football!
    I thought we’d attempted to have a mature GW debate on this blog, & so we could all move on & focus our energies on winning the league!

    ‘Back in the day’ people used to build like aqueducts and sewage systems even though they had no ‘specific proof’ about say, bacteria etc.

    Who cares about proof?
    I just don’t want to live surrounded by shit.

    And smoke from coal stacks across the city.
    And mercury in my medicine.
    And leaded petrol. Although a Nobel winning scientist poisoned herself in the 30’s to prove her point, it took another 50+ years for ‘industry’ to admit its ‘problem’.

    And the list goes on.

    Common sense is a wonderful thing.

    For Example:

    The more astute property developer would have noticed that Dubai doesn’t have a sewage system.
    It gets up to 50 degrees out there. So, I wonder what they were up to out there then, building a city in the desert, without any sewage system?

    Xanadu it isn’t, Wordsworth would struggle for words.

  • Finsbury

    Anyone who believes a structure will suffer a total symmetrical collapse due to impacting ‘debris’, from one direction, needs to think again about how buildings, or anything, collapses due to structural failure.

    For three buildings to collapse symmetrically, for all structural framework to fail instantly at the same time is highly improbable.

    To believe that, I’d need to indulge in some of Samuel Coledridges opium, not Willy Wordsworth’s, sorry for the obvious error above.

  • Hartwick89

    Finsbury,

    Sorry…Just irony is all…?Dumb arrogance the point…not politics…or environment

  • Finsbury

    Oops,

    Sorry to venture off track.
    Didn’t mean to sound serious myself either.

    Back to the game, I particularly enjoyed Nasri, Diaby, Theo and Fab today, yet everyone was impressive.

    Diaby’s runs, Nasri’s control…breathtaking stuff.

  • well-endowed gooner

    Hartwick, are you really saying you don’t believe in the theory of evolution or the theory of general relativity, or just that you don’t understand them? I find it hard to believe that you could believe in Almunia, but not in things that have either been proven (relativity) or have so much observable evidence that it’s pretty bloody hard to discount (evolution). (1) With relativity, take two synchronous clocks. Put one on a plane and fly it around the earth for a while. Keep the other on the ground. Put them together again, and the one that’s been flying will be marginally behind. (2) with evolution, fossil records, comparative DNA, selective changes in phenotype prevalence in populations (google peppered moth evolution)… no one’s directly witnessed a species forming, but I’d like to see you find a better explanation.

    I’m not a structural engineer, but this sounds plausible re: Tower 7 in 9/11: http://tinyurl.com/llds4

    With regards to global warming, I can’t believe I’m sharing the same planet as you people.

    My point is that if there’s a rational explanation behind something, it’s usually right. It’s not “dumb arrogance”. With footballing punditry, yes, in the main it’s stupid, but you got to realise they’re catering for people who can’t see the reality of global warming, understand relativity or connect the dots on evolution, and who would rather believe in conspiracy theories about 9/11 than in explanations that make sense. If you keep that in mind, it’s not a big stretch to see that Ramsey should apologise to Shawcross for making him cry.

  • well-endowed gooner

    Anyway, my point was that Rhys’ point was faulty. In some field, “experts” are poorly chosen (i.e. football punditry). In real life, most experts are, well, experts in their field. They know what they’re talking about. And I’d give a climatologist’s take on relativity more credence than the opinions of a man in the pub. Rhys was arguing that in the age of internet bloggery, where everyone has equal opportunity to be heard, they’re both hold equal merit.

  • Hartwick89

    WEGster…. I can say I honestly don’t know. I might add that is reasonable right. Most intellects could agree to that right. People who have all of the answers usually are always proved wrong…

    As for Almunia…I can also say if he is good enough for Wenger he is good enough for me!

    I support Wenger don’t you?

  • Hartwick89

    Finsbury… I agree w/you I much rather not see or smell smoker’s…

    My points of theories are they are theories…

    Well the bacteria bit… I have to say has been proved… no questions there…

    Mercury.. well it’s been proved too..

  • well-endowed gooner

    Hartwick, it’s a reasonable right to say you don’t know. What isn’t a reasonable right is to say that someone who DOES know is in possession of “dumb arrogance”. Just because you’re too lazy to do the research, doesn’t give you the right to sneer at those who have. Of course, theories are just theories and can be disproved. But if it’s the best explanation for a certain phenomena, you might as well take it as fact.

  • Hartwick89

    Nope WEG not this time son… You are barking up the wrong tree… You can’t know my work ethic.. and you certainly can’t claim me to be lazy… You don’t know me.. And, there are some things even you don’t know… Your dumb arrogance is not derived from your faith in what you believe… Rather it is derived from your attitude of others who don’t believe as you do… And, that is dangerous!