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Pundits and their simple world image; Per Mertesacker and his total brilliance.

By Walter Broeckx

For years I have been wondering what it takes to become a pundit. Now maybe I am myself not the smartest person around but I think that I have finally found the answer to it. What makes you suited to become a person is to have the most simple world image possible.

There are only two colours for the average pundit: black and white. That there are dozens other colours in between is not important. You either are black or white. You are good or you are bad.

And to underline their black/white opinion they will use evidence. They cut and paste some short clips from games and show this as evidence to the audience. Audience that in many cases is treated as having only half a brain each.  And maybe that is how they are.   Some will have a normal working brain and some only a sponge where their brains should be. A sponge that just takes whatever the pundit is saying as the one and only truth.   That is the ideal audience for the pundit.

In showing those clips the pundits want to see their black/white image confirmed.  If I was a pundit and if I would want to make Thierry Henry look bad I could do it in one minute. If I  would I could make images that would make Thierry Henry a bad footballer.  That is not that difficult to do in fact. Henry scored lots of goals. But he also missed lots of goals. So if a pundit would make a short video and show Henry missing 5 or 6 chances (and if possible chances he shouldn’t have missed of course) people who don’t know the real Thierry Henry might think: my god what an awful striker he is.

On the other hand you can make the worst footballer look  great. Surely any PL footballer during a season would be able to make some 5 to 10 passes that come to a team mate. And you just put them together in a short video and say things like: “look at how he keeps the game of his team flowing” or some other nonsensical things that pundits say because they are pundits. And you might end up thinking: why on earth didn’t Wenger buy this amazing player?

Followed by:  Wenger out! by some of the pundit’s followers.

It is the youtube scouting avant la lettre one could say.  [Actually Walter I am not sure you could say that – could you do that one in English please? – Tony].

During each transfer window we get links telling us to look at that world beater and then you click on the link and you see a player score 6 goals. You think to yourself: the new Thierry Henry. And then you find out that he scored 6 goals in total from playing from the U8 till celebrating his 10th anniversary as a first team player.  That is of course the work of the player’s agent in trying to sell him and to make people put pressure on their club to buy that “top scorer”. But in a way pundits do the same.

Maybe not with the thinking of selling that player (I may hope this is not the case come to think of it…) but they want to make it easy for the audience that doesn’t like thinking for themselves. The pundits will decide what those people should think about each player. Is he a good defender? No he can’t be because Alan Hansen told us so. Is he a bad striker with only scoring a handful of games a season? No, he is great because Hansen showed us a clip of Heskey scoring goals for Liverpool so he must be better than Thierry Henry.

Of course you and I know that Henry is 100 times better than Heskey but a pundit can make you believe otherwise.

It all became clear to me with the case of our BFG. He usually uses the word Friendly himself when he refers to the F in the BFG. I think he is a f*cking great defender. And a real friendly guy in his daily life. In fact we should call him the BFFG from now on. The Big F*cking Friendly Giant.   Someone actually made merchandise of it and Per Mertesacker modelled them and they are up for sale. Which makes me wonder if they will be for sale in the Armoury. I might buy one.

But let us turn back to the pundits. And Per Mertesacker.

First of all I must mention that I am a huge Per Mertesacker fan myself. I am not jumping on any bandwagon. And I can prove it. Look at my first article on him if you want to see how happy I was at the time.   I loved him and admired him before he came to us. I admired him in those days as being one of the best defenders in Germany.  And yes I know he has some weak points. As every player has weak points. But what I had seen from him was enough to convince me that he would be a great player (in all meanings) for Arsenal.

But according to the pundits he would and should become a failure. Before he had kicked a ball he was declared as bad. And the word was repeated. And while adapting to a new league, a new club, new team mates, new environment, … Per made some mistakes. No denying that. And it gave the pundits ammunition to show in their short video clips what a laughable defender Wenger had bought. Neglecting and forgetting the fact that for years each German manager had chosen Per Mertesacker to play whenever he was fit.  When he came to Arsenal he already had 75 caps for Germany.

But no, the pundits knew better than every single German manager and declared him unfit, not good enough, bad, slow, couldn’t turn, blah blah blah… And so the word was spread amongst not only the brainless football fan but also amongst many brainless Arsenal supporters.

True, he never got the abuse Ramsey got. Maybe they were afraid that that friendly looking German was too big for them if they ever crossed roads in the underground, but still, amongst some parts of the fan base it was considered the right thing to do to slam Per and Wenger for buying him.

I sat there and wondered: where is the green I see and they don’t see? Where is the red I see and they don’t see? Where is the blue? Where is the yellow? Where is the brown? Where is the grey?  Where was the white? I saw all those colours passing by when Per played. But all the pundits could do was show the black side.

I could write a whole new article about Per himself (and probably will) but this is about the pundits and how they paint the player in one dimension. Not showing all these colours. Maybe a reason why I am not a pundit and never will be one.

But now that this useless, too slow, can’t head, turns like a container ship in an oil slick, BFFG has not only scored the winner for Germany at Wembley but also kept another clean sheet and captained his side in his 95th cap for one of the best football teams and football countries in the world…. the pundits are crawling back into their little holes in the ground.

Because now even some brainless football follower might ask those pundits the question: “now wait a minute, you told me for years he was no good at all and now he has beaten us almost single headedly. How do you explain this to me?”

So the best thing to do when pundits are talking and showing things is to ignore them. Don’t listen to them, don’t watch them. Press the mute button. And if you are an active supporter: write to Sky, BBC, BT, and whoever gives football games on TV and ask them to stop this nonsense. And remove the pundits from football. It’s not because of them not having the capacity to see more than two colours that they should think that the rest of the world is also as stupid as they are.

Make them know that you do have your own brain and that you will make up yourself if a player is good or bad. And believe me most players in the PL are rather decent. They have good moments and bad ones. Just try to look for it yourself.

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36 comments to Pundits and their simple world image; Per Mertesacker and his total brilliance.

  • WalterBroeckx

    This article was based on the comment I read on social media. A supporter of another team had watched the England – Germany match. And he said to his friend (an Arsenal supporter) something like: Hey, I’ve seen that Per Mertesacker guy playing for Germany and he was great. So he probably is just bad when he plays for Arsenal…..

    A clear example on how people just make up their mind without ever seeing the player in action themselves.

  • colario

    Walter
    From Walter.
    ‘Just try to look for it yourself.’

    I agree with you, Walter.

  • ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I liked this piece,infact the pundits are most if not all shit h…. if you want to get that clear wait the day The Great Arsenal loses a match ooh my, its as if the world have come to an end.
    So what I tell my fellow Gonners in Kampala is to avoid any newspapers or any radio talk shows not until the storm is settled.
    Thankfully that’s what they do and they are really enjoying. Can you imagine wining against The Great Arsenal people Slaughter cows and goats which they don’t do to other teams that’s how Great The Arsenal is.

  • Agree with you entirely. You don’t get 95 caps for Germany by accident. Carragher is the worst. Couldn’t get a game for England yet spouts mindless critiscm about our BFG.

    http://www.notanotherarsenalblog.wordpress.com

  • TommieGun

    Hi Walter

    I really liked the conclusion and the bottom line of this piece, but not really with the reasoning behind it.

    I do not think that youtube scouting is the problem. You can watch a youtube video clip and think to yourself “wow he’s a great footballer”, and in fact he’s going to be a crap one, but sometimes even when you properly scout the player turns out to be not so good, and even Arsenal have signed numerous players that were thought as “promises” but turned out to be not so good, or in fact quite crap. Mind you: when we signed them, we thought that they are going to be good, and it didn’t work out. I don’t think that it’s anybody’s fault.

    To me, the problem with ENGLISH pundits (and yes, that’s the main problem, since Arsenal play in England) and as a result, with the media giving us a very unfair treatment, has to do with the quite frankly ridiculous preception of English people of their football.

    I can plainly remember articles from more than a year ago on eurosport UK, Sky sports and BBC sports constantly mocking Zlatan. For YEARS ! And to me, this guy is probably one of the best footballers I have ever seen. A true genious, a unique player. But it did not matter to the (sorry for the generalization) Joe English. Zlatan was nothing because he did not play in a time that beat the crap out of Man Utd or Chelsea (and that goal against us was just one goal in a match that ended 2-2 and we were better). All of that changed after the 4-0 drubbing of the 3 lions and that crazy overhead kick. And to me, THAT’s the problem with English punditry.

    Arsenal has been, for years, the MOST non-english side. And they don’t like it. They don’t like it that all around europe refs do not allow NFL tackling and are angry that Arsenal play “european” football and not physical, unaesthetic foot-rugby.

    And I’m sorry for the detour, now I’m coming back to your point. The pundits are shallow, they have an agenda and unless it is ENGLISH they disrespect it. So it’s easy to see how they will disrespect a defender who’s been in the Manschaft starting lineup since 2005, played in all their major tournaments, captained his side and has been considered for probably 5 or 6 years PRIOR to joining Arsenal to one of the best defenders in the world. So it took him a few months to adjust – BIG f****ng deal…

  • nicky

    “a pundit can make you believe otherwise”.
    Don’t you believe it Walter. They can TRY of course but can you honestly imagine anyone with a tad of common sense accepting the rubbish spouted by Alan Hansen?

  • Andy L

    Nice article Walter but I can’t let this opportunity pass to cite the overly smug pompous Henry Winter . From day one he has said that Arsene must deal with the Mertesacker problem .As if a German International with 80 odd caps was not good enough to play in the Premiership . This man is given too much credit for his knowledge of football when he knows no more than you and I, and in this case a lot less . He along with all other football journalists are the most fortunate people in the world getting paid for watching football and merely churning out lazy article after lazy article which is quickly forgotten , except when they overstep the bounds of reason.

  • Walter,

    Annoying as the pundits maybe, they are not the biggest problem (although they are a huge one). The unthinking or unwilling to think information consumer is the real problem. Many, as you rightly pointed out, are happy to outsource their reasoning to other people. They love to quote what somebody on the telly said as gospel. But aren’t these people paying attention? (Don’t mind me, that’s a rhetorical question). Any moron can get on TV now. Absolutely any idiot! Therefore it is no longer rational to give credence to what some talking head says without giving it some serious thought and personal reflection.

    The same attitude is displayed where popular blogs and journalists are involved. Quoting Amy Lawrence or Arseblog does not make anyone’s comment more relevant or valid. It simply means that you agree with them. Now, if they turn out to be wrong, you will not just be automatically wrong too but you would have been a vessel for spreading misinformation.

    Permit me to rephrase your last sentence:

    Think for yourself.

  • Va Cong

    That was a brilliant read Walter! I remember he’s first few games and you mentioned he’s caps I could see he’s brilliant defender brain and was thinking is his body fast enough for he’s brain, but as we everyone you work with your limitations to improve!

    Tomiegun I just wonder why Rooney gets different treatment than from Wilshire as he is constantly hacked down with no fouls! Really annoys me especially when Rooney gets no card constantly always swearing at the ref definitely double standards against the arsenal!

  • Sav from Australia

    Great article Walter.

    In relation to it, I saw this on Youtube a while back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqAZsoF-ghw
    Its an interview with Brian Clough. In particular, around 6.50 mark, he tells the journalist something along the lines of ‘I am infinitely more qualified than you to speak about football’.

    I think pundits are not the problem. Its poor pundits, biased pundits. If Gary Neville was the norm for English speaking football commentary and not the exception, there would not be a problem.

  • Agree with the comments that it’s how English pundits see English football. In the studio before Dortmund away Jamie Redknapp singled out BFG as our weak link. Michael Ballack practically laughed at him!
    http://www.notanotherarsenalblog.wordpress.com

  • AL

    It was a pleasure to read this piece, Walter, from start to finish. And I’m so glad you wrote this, Per has taken so much stick a weak character could’ve been destroyed. But thank goodness he’s German, aren’t they as tough as they come. I must confess I had no idea Per had 95 caps for Germany, he can surpass 120 caps easily, esp with Germany likely to progress to the latter rounds at the WC.

    I did post a quote from one German newspaper yesterday about how the German media loved him having the last laugh. Its in the link below for those that are interested;

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/10461839/Wembley-is-now-German-media-reaction-to-Germanys-1-0-victory-over-England.html

    Kampala,
    Nice to hear how the fellow gooners from Kampala celebrate an Arsenal win. Not sure the goats and cows will agree with me though:)

  • On creative editing, is it just me or do MoTD pundits always have clips to show how poor the losing and how good the winning teams are? In some games, as it is generally in life, some things just don’t work for you no matter how hard you try. MoTD creative editors on the other hand ALWAYS have clips to justify the final result, irrespective of how much it contradicts the actual game to those who actually saw it and have a more balanced view.

    It is not very surprising that to most English football followers, only the results, and by extension, trophy collections that matter now. The major reason why in spite of Arsenal’s great achievements over the last 8 years, the club is presented and viewed as a failure.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bootoomee,
    something I also noticed.
    It is as if the pundits on MOTD always want to be ‘on the winning side’

  • AL

    TommieGun
    “Arsenal has been, for years, the MOST non-english side. And they don’t like it. They don’t like it that all around europe refs do not allow NFL tackling and are angry that Arsenal play “european” football and not physical, unaesthetic foot-rugby.”

    Absolutely spot on. Is it any wonder Baptista had this to say about his stint in England;

    “”The teams from the north of England are terrible,” Baptista said. “When we play them I have counted their centre-backs booting up to 30 long balls upfield per game.

    “The moment you stop to think, someone has taken the ball off you and knocked you to the ground.

    “Over here they value a corner kick more than a fancy flick. I am lucky to be with Arsenal, as they are a team that likes to play proper football.”

  • WalterBroeckx

    It seems I was not the only blogger with the same idea this morning 🙂

  • Shakabula Gooner

    I think that the English pundit boxes himself (rarely a woman) to a corner too quickly, driven, as it seems by his sense of what the “English grit strength and game” are all about. And he hates to get out of the corner, in the face of mounting evidence that his punditry is a farce – as a patriotic necessity. All the greater pity that the game, the refereeing and the pundit is stagnated. The field is clear for subversive English pundit to thrive but will that class ever emerge?

  • Gord

    @Walter

    I believe some of the proceeds for those BFG t-shirts goes to charity. I don’t remember which one.

  • BILL FROM MANHATTAN

    Here in the States it’s the same problem. On ESPN Craig Burley and Stewart Robson are the worst. Even the show’s moderators have accused them as being Anti-Arsenal. When it comes to our team everything out of their mouth is negative. The rest of them are better, But not by much. Everyone keeps droning on about no trophies in 8 years BLAH BLAH BLAH. Now that we are in 1st place and looking good, It’s because Wenger has taken their expert sage advice and finally spent some money. I kid you not. If those stupid clowns weren’t ex-players, They could not get a job anywhere in the REAL WORLD. Only on these football shows. The only ones that make any sense are the journalists on the show, Not the ex-players.

  • Pete

    And another blog along similar lines (although rather more forcefully expressed!)… the ever entertaining:

    http://poznaninmypants.com/2013/11/20/hard-out-there-for-a-pundit/

  • OMGArsenal

    Here is what we live through in North America (especially Canada):

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/xKy2lLNQYrI?rel=0

  • Ben

    I always remember when the media compares an up and coming player that they like to an Arsenal play that player ends up awfully rubbish.

  • Pat

    Great article, Walter. I’m so proud of our BFFG.

    That comment you quoted underneath the article just takes your breath away doesn’t it?

  • colario

    Four surgeons are discussing who makes the best kind of patient to operate on.

    The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.”

    The second surgeon responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians!
    Everything inside them is colour coded.”

    The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; Everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”

    But the fourth surgeon shut them all up when he observed:

    “You’re all wrong. Football pundits are the easiest to operate on. There are no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the ass
    are interchangeable.

  • soglorious

    Bootomee, did I hear U ask that some people should “think for themselves”? This is why I don’t like you and sometimes disagree with U ( of course I have never done that before). How would U ask such a herculean task of morons? Someone who can’t think on what he is been told, how would he think for himself? Seems U are bent on ridiculing their low level of reasoning and that, my brother, is unfair.
    Walter, my new policy is this, anytime the press talks about Arsenal not winning anything for 8 years, all I ask is ” when did your country win a rubber cup?” Simple as A,B,C.

  • Soglorious,

    I hear you my brother. Nothing pisses me off more than non-thinking people who are eager to express their ignorant opinions or repeat those they heard from others of similar intellect. They are all over British (and American) TV spreading stupidity in a sad but tenacious vicious cycle.

    Remember those days when only smart people talk on important issues on TV? Those days are gone. Morons are now given the chance to give their opinions too. Kind of remind of the movie “Idiocracy”, where the retarded remnants of human population kept repeating: “but it’s got electrolytes” without having the faintest idea of what “electrolyte” mean.

  • Double canister

    Boo
    That movie was a crowning moment of glory.
    And to think it was made before TOWIE or Geordie Shore.
    Prescient, or what?

    BBC, ITV and Sky have been dumbing down footie for years to the lowest common denominator.
    They assume most of their viewers are as knowledgeable about the sport as a Surrey Manu fan.

    What vexes me is there are a whole bunch of ex-gunners on telly, but with no interest in defending the club or Wenger from the inane drivel being spouted back to them.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The ought to have a code of ethical behavior for pundits , just as doctors have for their patients .

    http://www.ahajokes.com/med040.html

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Pete & Dom – nice links .
    @ colario – You ‘re getting the hang of humour thing I see !

    There is still hope ?
    http://www.instanthumour.com/compulsory-course-for-doctors

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Promises , promises ..

    One Fine Day
    Husband to wife: Today is a fine day.
    The next day, he says the same thing. “Today is a fine day.”
    This goes on for a week.
    After a week, the wife can’t take it and asks her husband. Since a week, you’ve been saying ‘Today is a fine day’. What’s the matter?

    Husband: Last week we had an argument, you said, “I will leave you one fine day.”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Do onto others…. sweet ultimate instant karma –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1TrDMcaiLM#t=10

  • ARSENAL 13

    Per. People say his weakness is his pace, rather lack of it. I think thats bullshit. His lack of pace is his greatest strength. If he had pace he would do what all the pacey defenders do these days, cavalier defending.
    Due to his lack of pace, he has learnt to overcome it by honing his ability to read the game. And I consider that skill as an art. A dying art ie….

  • bjtgooner

    We could see last season that the BFG brought a sense of calm and composure to our back line. As he got used to the Premier League he settled in more and more and as he and the rest of the back line became used to each other they developed into a very dedicated unit – just what the club needed. I also think that aspects of his game have improved in his time with Arsenal – and he in turn has brought many benefits to the club.

    As for pundits – they have largely deteriorated into wasters. Unfortunately, they do influence the weak minded and are directed to do so.

  • colario

    Brickfields
    I like your ‘one fine day’. Nice one.

  • Mahdain

    There is a reason i dont read any of any idiotic football sites and their columns. Too much shit is spread by these idiots trying to tell me what i should think and believe when i have my own brain to do so. I even skip the pre, ht and post match “analysis”.. dont need anyone to tell me how should i interpret what i saw…