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Pundits now merge with journalists in being treated with suitable contempt

By Tony Attwood

I have often commented that the job that journalists and commentators have, is not to describe football matches, but to tell the readers, viewers and listeners what to think.

And maybe many people still follow what they say – including those who will phone into the phone-ins and argue with the pundit that x or y or valid or invalid points, but rarely that they should not be talking about x or y but rather z.

Occasionally such people slip through and get on air, but then after they have had their 45 seconds of fame the pundit and the anchor chuckle about the oddity of the caller and get back to the topic that “we all agree is the talking point of the day”.

As a counter balance to the lively if incoherent commentaries of people who phone the phone-in programmes there are the TV pundits, who accept the key points of the anchor and answer the questions they are given because emotion is dangerous.

Even Thierry Henry who can be funny, and Patrick Vieira who ought to know better, are bowed by the process although Patrick did have a bash at Roy Keene – who can when standing by the side of the pitch attack anyone who moves, and quite a few who don’t.

And that is what we need – passion. Because emotion is what football is about, which is why so many football fans treat pundits and commentators with the same contempt that they now treat journalists.

But why is it like this?  Why can’t journalists and commentators and pundits treat football as their readers, listeners and viewers do, as a matter of excitement and passion.  Why was the most interesting thing that Five Live broadcast on the night of the England defeat this week was the recording of the Uruguayan commentator after the goals?

Why can’t these commentators treat some of us at least as intelligent beings with our own thoughts and views, which are fundamentally different from those held in the press boxes?

Look at this from the Independent

Song was given his marching orders for a shocking elbow on Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic, leaving referee Pedro Proenca no option but to show a red card to the former Arsenal midfielder.

Not “Song – the player Arsenal moved on in despair because of his attitudinal problems…” but “Song the former Arsenal midfielder”.

No, we have as journalists and pundits people who are employed more than anything else to keep up the status quo.  Five Live did this very well in the aftermath of the latest England defeat by asking people to phone in with their reasons why England were defeated twice in a row.  They came out with the same old same old stuff, and not one, nor the people running the programme said…

“Hang on, we have had some research into this which concluded that success in the World Cup is not primarily linked to number of players, how many of your players play in your own league (as the FA endlessly proclaim), nor to your population, but to the number of qualified coaches the country has per head of population.”

But no, everyone could have their say, and there was no mention of the research.  It was all rather like the way they made TV news in the 1950s with everyone speaking with a plummy accent and then having the jolly chirpy cockney with a bit of home-grown philosophy.

Boring is the order of the day – and in one sense I can see why.  Because the England football team is boring, the FA is boring, the Premier League chief exec is a boring old fart with 19th century views….

The only thing that makes the Premier League any good are the Premier League clubs and their supporters.

The Independent did make one good point… that the best way to watch Thierry Henry was with the sound off, just like so many people now watch the TV.  Mind you if it goes on like this I’ll be listening to Radio Five Live with the sound off.

But the Independent, although as guilty as other papers of talking in chicles, did suggest that the British MP George Galloway should be brought in as a commentator.  If that option was chosen, they said, this would be the likely commentary…

“This is a midfield as pusillanimous as it is deleterious, its passing not just wayward but certifiably devoid of any identifiable direction, a disgrace to the upstanding heroism of the Cameroonian people they deign to represent.”

And Gary would say “OK George, clearly not impressed, but what are your thoughts Dalai Lama?”

Anyway, if you want to see a bit of match fixing by a ref look at the foul on Joel Campbell in the penalty area with about five minutes to go in the Costa Rica v Italy game.

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32 comments to Pundits now merge with journalists in being treated with suitable contempt

  • nigel hill

    Um huh? Let’s get this straight pundits are generally footballers who have retired, generally also have a connection to team they being a pundit for! Journalists they. Get off their bums spend large amounts of money on a daily basis to try find the top stories some even break the law to get to the truth! Commentators do nothing more than explain to the deaf what most can see! Blogger (this is you) reads papers and rewrites in own words often poorly what was read, also pluck things from thin air and claim it as gospel! I don’t like way you written a book to sell when you could have put it up for free and used advertising and good seo to rack up much more from advertising and do what your site is ment to be about sharing arsenal with arsenal fans! Its expensive enough supporting arsenal without buying unofficial crap! I got the official book thanks it wasn’t a compilation of cut n pastes

  • ClockEndRider

    Is it me or are FIFA controlling the replays shown particularly around offsides? There seem to be very few in ths Italy game despite plenty of offsides being given. Could FIFA be tying to strangle debate around quality of linesmen and links to betting scandals?

  • Vikrant Dogra

    When was this written? Because lo and behold, Chiellini barges through Campbell and, guess what? No penalty! As I have stated somewhere else, the referee clearly knows what club he plays for!! Also, considering Balotelli (formerly of Manchester City) and Suarez (currently of Liverpool and England’s top goalscorer) beat England and Ruiz (ex Fulham) knocked them out, is it safe to say that the Premier League knocked England out of the World Cup?!

  • oldgroover

    Vikrant Dogra

    Sorry, but I can’t agree with your logic. England were beaten by better sides and because they were poor. That’s all there is to it. Nothing to do with who plays for what team in what league. Do you think the referees have a list of players teams so that they can discriminately judge against them?
    Stop this silliness!

  • Vikrant Dogra

    It’s called sarcasm! I know myself that Italy and Uruguay were better than England player for player, the FIFA rankings show that! The ref jibe was also sarcastic…

    On another note, half an hour into the France game and the usual suspects are taking potshots at Olivier Giroud despite him scoring a great header and doing more in this period than most of England’s players in 2 matches…

  • jambug

    Vikrant Dogra

    Who the hell is having a pop at Giroud?

    He’s just made Frances 3rd with a blistering run and inch perfect pass.

    Giroud and France are playing excellently.

  • oldgroover

    Yeah, Olivier’s playing brilliantly, scored one, made one. Any views on him kicking the guy in the face? Not very Arsenal!

  • oldgroover

    Vikra, Sorry didn’t spot your sarcasm.

  • Yassin

    what the hell has just Olle done right now? Awesome, if he was not an Arsenal player, every Arsenal blog would have his name as a must buy.

    When Oliver is not under pressure he is awesome. hope AAA get it.

  • oldgroover

    Something I’ve been wondering about…..do you get Nectar points for referencing AAA. If so please sign me up.

  • The reason that the ref didn’t give the foul on Joel Campbell is he was still back on the halfway line and probably didn’t see it clearly.

  • bjtgooner

    The Campbell not given penalty was a very poor decision by the ref; he made quite a few strange decisions.

    Giroud is a really good player – but his strong points are never admitted by the AAA – c’est la vie!

  • Arvind

    oldgroover: No I dont think you do. It’s just a fun analogy to refer to that section of the Arsenal fanbase that’s all. It was invented about 2 or 3 years ago on this website as an easy reference to the ultra negative bile spouters on this site and elsewhere.

  • Mandy Dodd

    And so it comes to pass, years of buried heads in sand, neglect of coaching and modernisation of football, jobs for the boys, corrupt refs, Stone Age stoke and the like a protected species , thinking we are better than we actually are, and finally, this year, an England manager to weak to see the media Liverpool wankfest for what it is……..the result, England , home of the richest league in the world, out of the World Cup after eight days. Pathetic, but somehow, correct.
    Memo to Roy Hodgson….when the media tell you to make the England team from Liverpool, don’t forget who Liverpools best player is, who got them a good share of their goals and dodgy pens this season, especially when he plays for the opposition.

  • Tom

    Mandy
    Well said!
    The only thing I would add to your succinct comment is the lack of attention to tactical details by England’s team and Hodgson. Even the ‘tiny’ Costa Rica know better than to let Pirlo dictate play uninterrupted .

    If there’s one player not to be left unmarked England should know all about, its Suarez and they couldn’t even do that.
    There was one funny moment in the Uruguay game when Henderson frantically protested to the ref about Suarez’ diving. Oh the irony!

  • jambug

    Mandy Dodd

    As much as the medias Liverpool ‘wankfest’ wasn’t helpful I feel the bigger problem is there insistence that the whole god dam thing revolved around Rooney. Where he should play. Where he shouldn’t.

    Okay he scored a tap in but he missed 2 sitters, yet the SUN still made him our MOTM.

  • Mick

    The w*****r A Durham on talkshite couldn’t resist having a pop at Wenger during the France match when he remarked that it was no surprise Switzerland’s central defence (Djourou and Senderos) was so bad bearing in mind who coached them when they were young.

  • Mick

    @jambug
    Spot on, if you play for Liverpool or Everton you are first choice now, doesn’t matter if your play justifies it or not. Wilshere has hardly been given a mention this World Cup, he is the forgotten man of English football.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true Tom, England were all over the place, Roy got a hell of a lot wrong. Pirlo…Suarez, think England built up inferiority complexes of such players before the games started.. In complete contrast to the wonderfully refreshing Costa Ricans..with the exception of course of Hodgson who said Suarez needed to prove himself in the World Cup to be considered world class…….nice one Roy….that one worked didn’t it!
    On Suarez, footballisfixed is saying the hired sports psychologist told the players….including the Liverpool masses to ignore Suarez in the tunnel before the game…..would say…please tell me that is not true….but sadly I believe it may well be especially given the LS tweets after the game.
    Jambug, Rooney has his faults, but didn’t think he was too bad against Uruguay? If anything would say the undroppable Steve g was the real problem…along with the defense? Him and Henderson just did not work the way it does with Liverpool but don’t want to single out individuals for our crapness, this goes way beyond any players. This is an issue over decades of complacency, of fear of change, of thinking we are the best, despite the results. Relatively poor nations with players we have never heard of with populations a fractions of ours will achieve far more than England. It should be a wake up call as such things have been with our cricket, rugby, swimming, gymnasts, cyclists in the recent past…..why is football so different?

  • jayramfootball

    It is rather funny how much control the media have on team selection, squad selection in fact.

    The single most astonishing selection – maybe in the history of England squads – is the inclusion of Jordan Henderson. Not just the squad but the team! Incredible. How can a player with so little talent be a starter for England.. oh I forgot he plays for Liverpool (just like Glen Johnson, another utterly useless footballer). Seems like if you are a scouser or play for the scousers the press will do everything possible to get you in the England team. Can you imagine the abuse Wilshere would have got had he played and performed like Henderson (or Gerrard for that matter).

    England will never progress until they stop the media picking the team. Once they do that they can work on grass roots football and proper coaching.

    I do find England’s utter humiliation quite funny – it’s being positioned as positive for the future just because of all the scousers in the team. Anyone would think they won something last year. Even funnier though is the reaction to Rooney – after missing two open goals (one from half a yard) he gets the MOTM award in the paper. It’s just brilliant to read.

  • Mandy Dodd

    And on the subject of cyclists, maybe the FA should involve Chris Brailsford……..helped create two Tour de France winners and a multitude of Olympic cycling golds….he may or may not know about football, but he is doing something right….Englishman and teams winning the Tour de France …..just doesn’t happen.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Jayram, just pleased Jack had little to do with this…..and the ensuing fallout. Those Liverpool players in the England team just don’t look the same without Suarez up front…..perhaps with the exception of sterling in the first game.
    Hodgson has shown himself as a media manager. Not only the Liverpool players. Wellbeck?????

  • bjtgooner

    The danger now is that Jack & Ox (if fit) will play in the last match and will be targeted for some injurious tackles. Lets hope they don’t play.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ bjgooner – My fear is that to ‘freshen up ‘ the team 9 and save his hide ) Hodgson will play them and there is a distinctive possibility of them sustaining an injury, although I don’t think that the Costa Ricans will be unduly rough with them or specially target them .

  • oldgroover

    It’s a nothing match and Costa are more likely to worry about their team getting injuries so will rotate to keep star players safe, so don’t expect any heavy tackles (by them) going in.
    I’d like to see Jack & Ox play if only to show the world we do actually have talented footballers.

  • jambug

    Jayramfootball @ 12:01

    I have to agree with every single word.

    Here’s an example of what you are talking about, this is The SUNS Goals pullout on Thursday morning:

    “C’MON Roo…the whole country wants you to break your World Cup finals duck today. (Well except for the fact that half the country thinks he should be dropped) We at The SUN are right behind you as you bid to inspire us to a crucial win over Uruguay. (Yeah right, because his record of ‘inspiring’ us in previous World Cups is amazing)…..” it drools on.

    So that’s it then, Rooney’s playing.

    The bottom line is what would you do if you where Manager?

    You can be brave and go against the media line and pick what you think is best for England. You can play the format you think will best suit those players.

    But here’s the rub, God help you if it all goes wrong. (which it probably will eventually because we are just not good enough).

    YOU WILL BE SLAUGHTERED.

    What is it The Sun does to those they take a sudden dislike too?

    Turnips

    Brollies

    Gallows

    I know it’s there job but it does take a hell of a lot of balls to do it. I mean you’re going to trouser your 20 odd Million anyway so why not just go with the flow. It’s a dam sight easier.

    Roy did what any self respecting coward looking after his own skin WOULD do, and did exactly what he was told.

    At least when the inevitable did happen he could say ‘well you picked ’em’

    Also, as you say, Wilshere. Hardly a mention. He played 25 minutes the other day and didn’t put a single foot wrong, yet we all knew he never had a chance of starting because the media had made it clear Gerrard and Henderson where inseparable.

    Also I don’t think I once heard AOC’s absence lamented, let alone poor old Theo who surely on his pre injury form would of had at least some impact. But no, not a mention that he was missed.

    Mandy Dodd

    “…………..this goes way beyond any players. This is an issue over decades of complacency, of fear of change, of thinking we are the best, despite the results.

    This is also very true.

    And I agree, you have a point about Rooney, as bad as he was he wasn’t the worst. The way way past his best Gerrard. The worse than basic Henderson and the pathetic Johnson where even worse. But it’s the way that despite all the evidence to the contrary he is still held in such regard. He is still afforded iconic status as Englands saviour. He is still persistently hailed as ‘World Class’. He is regarded as un droppable. He is MOTM in virtually every single game BEFORE IT EVEN STARTS. All this just epitomises so much of what is wrong about the England team and all the shit around it.

    The media picked the players.

    The players fucked up.

    But one things for sure, the media will find someone else to blame.

  • Pat

    Many wise words, Untolders! This is the analysis that should be in the media!

    Rooney is England’s second equal top international goal scorer, if I understand it correctly. Yet the pundits yesterday were saying, he’s good but not great. What does that say about the England team, not just this year but for many years past?

    I know this is a controversial issue on this site, but I can’t help feeling pleased for Suarez. His tears afterwards show how badly his brutalization by the English media and the Manchester United machine affected him. His reputation was savaged and he was dubbed a racist. There is nothing more terrible than to be called a racist when you’re not one. And this from a mass media that day after day churns out crude propaganda against immigrants in Britain.

  • Pat,

    I am also happy for Suarez but for a different reason: his goals sent England home. I love watching the smug English pundits who love nothing more than to denigrate my beloved club, which is way more successful than their Three Pussycats, while contorting themselves into pretzels to spin some positives for their over-glorified bunch of Pussies.

    About the racism charge, I am one of those who is against him on that. I don’t know if he is a racist or not and neither do you. Unless an individual confesses to being a racist, there is no way anyone can ever know for sure. Suarez made a comment that is considered racist in a country in which he is a foreigner. Irrespective of the ‘fact’ that the term is one of endearment in his native country (I’m not saying it is), what a decent human being should do is explain their ignorance (of the meaning of the term in the new country) and apologise to the offended party. If he had done that, I would have let it go as an ex-homophobe who only let go his bigotry through education and exposure to a more tolerant society.

    Suarez and more shamefully, Liverpool, failed to do this and the stigma that he carries is his fault and theirs only.

  • bjtgooner

    The difficulty Jack & Ox will have if selected for the final match is that they are used to playing a short passing game where everyone moves intelligently off the ball. Few of the other England players have the intelligence or movement or close control (or experience in that type of play) for this, consequently it is harder for Jack/Ox to be as effective as they otherwise would be.

    Having said that, they both looked a class above the others in the warm up matches.

  • jayramfootball

    @Bootoomee, I agree with your first paragraph above completely. I listened and laughed at Andy Townsend (I think it was him) when he began his Uruguay vs England match commentary telling us how England would be too good, too fast and too strong for Uruguay. He seemed to actually really believe himself that England are the better team. So funny. The team was exactly what the media and pundits wanted. Full of Liverpool and Utd players, no sight of anyone from Arsenal. Perfect for them. This means of course they have to lie to themselves and everyone else to pretend they are actually top quality and were ‘unlucky’. It is so satisfying to hear them try and twist this around to an ‘unlucky’ England that have ‘great potential’.

    Your point about Suarez I partially agree with. He should have come out and explained himself and apologised. If he had of done that then the English public would have forgiven him I am sure. We can’t know what happened behind the scenes but we do know that Liverpool publicly supported Suarez. They should have condemned Suarez’s role in the incident and behind the scenes explained to him why they had to do this and advised him properly – i.e. to make a public apology. They did not do this of course because they were interested in themselves and making sure they did not lose the player. So yes, they made their own bed. However, the media were also disgusting in the whole episode. They used the incident to sell more papers and they simply would not let it drop. They blew it out of proportion and persecuted an individual. This would almost be acceptable if they applied the same rules to others that were accused of being racist. For example, the John Terry incident seemed to much lower key in the media and they were even campaigning for him to play for England again… go figure.

  • jayramfootball,

    I am glad that we agree today and I hope that we do more often.

    I blame Liverpool FC more than Suarez for that Evra incident. What the guy needed was someone educating him on British culture and encouraging him to apologise rather than printing silly solidarity T-shirts. They failed the poor guy and in effect, failed themselves.

    You must know where I stand where the media are concerned. As a black man, I know that they don’t give a damn about minorities and immigrants but would often incite the British public against the latter with their deliberately misleading/dishonest reporting on the impact of immigration on the country.

  • finsbury

    Saw an anti-Arsenal headline, as usual, in the UK press this morning:

    “World Cup star rejects Arsenal!!!!”

    This story was about Carlos Vela.
    You couldn’t make it up. Except they do.