By Tony Attwood
I tried my best with a silly April Fools gag today, and then looked around at what the rest of the world was doing in terms of April Fools in football. (I should explain it is a day when one is supposed to tell stories that are really silly but are dressed up in such a way that for a moment people think they might be true).
The trouble is that the newspapers have become so whacky in the last couple of years that they regularly do say the craziest things, so there is no way of knowing if they are having us on or not.
The Telegraph has a story in pictures (they do that a lot these days, undoubtedly reflecting the literacy level of the audience of the increasingly odd sports team at the paper) of which the headline is “who are football’s most over rated managers?”
Cultivating the aaa vote they nominate Arsene Wenger in third place, forgetting in their profile anything about a couple of doubles, an unbeaten season, finding the finance for a new stadium and making Arsenal the most successful FA Cup side of all time. So what you get is a big pic of the manager (in case you had forgotten what he looks like I suppose) and three lines of explanation.
April Fool? More like a bit childish, but that’s the way they’ve been going.
The Independent has a story tonight which alerts us to the fact that Chelsea “will win the Premier League title by a staggering 13 points this season with Arsenal finishing ahead of Manchester City in second, according to a simulation run by Sports Interactive, makers of the Football Manager series of video games.”
That’s interesting – are we supposed to take Football Manager seriously? I thought that idea was laughed out of town with the 12 year olds playing the game and having Arsenal win the league, and thus showing that Mr Wenger was rubbish.
And what of their language? Was that the April Fool? I mean 13 points is a big gap, but is it staggering, when we had a difference between first and second of 12 points in 2005, 11 in 2004, and 18 in 2000.
Actually I think it is the work of a PR agent who knows journalists are lazy and a journalist who mentioned the other big gaps, but then forget to remove “staggering”.
Plus, there’s Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky in reserve. All very good. The front of their team looks set. All peachy up top. Some fine attackers there. Don’t really need any more. Now if they can just buy a rascal of a midfielder, a proper goalkeeper and perhaps a more consistent centre-back, then they could be on to something. A bit of steel in their side. No new flighty attackers though. Loads of them already. Well stocked in that department. No concerns there. Don’t waste your time trying to buy more of those.
And then quote one of their own invented stories…
“Arsenal are expected to make a bid of around £11.8m for Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy in the summer”?
Of course the issue is “expected by whom?” but no, the Guardian won’t tell us that. Nor will they tell us why they are applauding some of the purchases while they have spent most of the season denigrating Arsenal and saying how utterly hopeless the side is.
Maybe if one of the newspapers had come out and said, “Actually we haven’t got a clue what is going to happen, we just knock Arsenal, and are under the strictest of instructions never to cast any doubt on the probity of the referees’ organisation despite its extraordinary behaviour” then we might actually wonder.
I mean, whoever heard of a newspaper’s football department telling the truth?
Now that would be an April Fool