By Tony Attwood
The media never fails to surprise me. Just when I thought that the anti-Arsenal pro-Liverpool! hate/love in would last forever, suddenly voices arise to suggest a moment of change.
Will it last? Could the media turn and knock the exclamation out of Liverpool’s self-perception? Could they actually admit that P. Morgan Esq is in fact living in a little world of his own, and is not carrying the whole of the Arsenal support along with him?
Until today I thought not. Indeed, looking ahead (as is the duty of the publisher of a blog that can get 6 million page views in a year) I have in my list of articles to publish in the summer, a piece about how next season will be more of the same, with Mr Wenger to be labelled a lame-duck leader, and Klopp to be elevated to the role of the Almighty.
And then what do I find:
Liverpool should not be in Europa League after Mamadou Sakho’s failed test
Sakho is culpable. The club is not. But both have gained an unfair advantage, however minor. And both should have been stood down from the competition, whatever the shemozzle of timetabling, as should any other club in the same position. The rules say otherwise. The rules are wrong.
Wow, wow and thrice wow. A newspaper report that agrees with Tony Attwood!!! Has this ever happened before? I think not.
The piece goes on to speak of “fudge and compromise” and noting that Sakho made “18 drug‑assisted clearances and tackles, and playing a key drug-assisted role in a landmark result for his club.”
And Mr Ronay doesn’t leave it there.
He has played six more club games since, including scoring a vital late drug-assisted equaliser against Borussia Dortmund. At the end of which Liverpool – who have acted commendably throughout all this – still have a decent chance of drug‑assisted silverware, and beyond that a drug‑assisted place in next season’s Champions League.
He also gives us the run down on Uefa rules. “One player tests positive: player gets punished. Two players test positive: same thing. Any more than two and only then could the club face sanctions. Or in other words, in football it’s fine if 20% of your outfield players are on drugs. No problem. You still get to win….
“As the World Anti-Doping Agency itself has suggested there are times the “more than two” rule just isn’t strict enough. In athletics, the entire British 4x100m relay team lost their 2002 European gold medal because of Dwain Chambers.”
And then this – oh how I wish I had written this myself…
…just imagine the change of internal cultures should the burden of keeping your players clean fall on the clubs, as it does with every other major form of discipline. Field an ineligible player and the match result is instantly overturned.
As he concludes, “The Europa League will be written up without an asterisk or a footnote. And meanwhile the show rolls on, the background music turned up a little higher.”
I was, I must admit, shocked by all this. The Guardian, in an article, agreeing with the line Untold has always taken. Make the club responsible for the player’s drug tests.
I was still trying to get hold of that when I found the headline in the Independent… “Arsenal fan anger in short supply at the Emirates” above an article by Matt Gatward – and this in the paper that reckoned yesterday that 10% (so around 4500 to 5000) or those present in the ground on Saturday, were holding up anti-Wenger banners.
This got closer to the headline in the Telegraph…
Premier League review: Arsenal fans’ mixed reaction to Arsene Wenger shows folly of trial by social media
above a piece by Charlie Eccleshare, John Percy and Adam Hurrey. Yep, I can tell you for sure that this article writing lark is tough, and I could certainly wish for a couple of colleagues to help me along from time to time.
By now I was pretty much nonplussed about the change of heart that the media I have been raging against all season could collectively have. And then scrolling down the Eccleshare, Percy, Hurrey collective piece I found this…
Don’t take the word of the angry social media mob
What??? The Telegraph which all season had been doing exactly that, was now telling us not to? Oh Big Brother where art thou? Living in Buckingham Palace Road it seems.
If social media was to be believed last week, Arsene Wenger would barely have been able to leave his dugout at the Emirates against Norwich for fear of being lynched by his own supporters.
The Arsenal fans, we were told, had had enough and wanted to see the manager leave, and possibly be subjected to a public flogging for crimes against football.
As it turned out though Saturday’s protests such as they were fell rather flat, with the ‘Time for Change’ message sounding like a vacuous American Presidential campaign slogan.
What???? Could it be that just because a handful of ne’er-do-wells have spouted something on Twitter we SHOULDN’T believe it? Really? Is the Telegraph actually siding with Untold?
When the pre-designated protest point of the 12th minute arrived, the smattering of half-hearted boos and raising of printed sheets of paper were more than matched by chants of ‘there’s only one Arsene Wenger’.
Well, yes, my point exactly.
The mixed response to the protest demonstrated that in reality the feeling at the Emirates is a lot more nuanced than social media would have us believe.
And yes again. There is only one Untold Arsenal and 83 trillion anti-Wenger bloggettas, but still, nice of them to recognise we are here. Was it something we said?
So where are they getting this change of heart from? I’m not sure, but the conclusions are not bad…
Social media being misleading is hardly a revelation – after all if it did reflect reality there would not be a single journalist who is not stealing a living, Joey Barton would be the philosopher du jour and Piers Morgan would be the most influential man in the world …
And then there is the dealing with the “Fourth is not a trophy” issue, in a far better way than I’ve ever managed to do it. I take my hat off, for the first (and perhaps the last) time to the Telegraph (although I have always admired their ability to find a nice turn of phrase in the obituary column).
The Arsenal Twitterati’s ‘Wenger Out’ campaign plays in perfectly to many observers perception of Arsenal as a spoiled brat of a club whose anguish at finishing third scarcely engenders much sympathy when set against the background of what is happening for instance at Charlton, Aston Villa and Leeds.
Of course I can’t let that go totally, for surely one ought to add Man U (who had the arrogance to think the Sir F Word could proclaim new manager and the Champions League would be their’s, or at the very least eternal entry to the competition would be part of the deal) and Chelsea whose utter belief in the inalienable right of money to buy the League, Cup and CL has been given a nice little battering this season – although we will all be cheering them on tonight.
But even so, for once I say thank you Telegraph, not least for the conclusion…
If Saturday’s protests achieved anything, it was to remind us that there are other voices worth listening to besides the angry social media mob.
So a day of revelations – but it is not over yet. For the Independent, now without a print edition but still going strong on line has Mark Steel taking the issue of the Yorkshire constabulary a step beyond that which has been said before…
It’s unfair to say Hillsborough police were incompetent – it takes great organisation to tell such shocking lies
One touching side to the aftermath of the Hillsborough verdict, is how few people responsible for the tragedy, the lies or the cover-up appear to show the slightest signs of remorse, which is heartening because there’s no point in adding to the suffering is there?
This is excellent news as it should save on counselling. For example, Paul Middup, who as chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation blamed the disaster on a “rampaging mob”, has refused to make a further statement.
That is a good one. My only wish is that they might also include the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal. Or the West Midlands child sex exploitation scandal. Or the Roman Catholic Church in England child sex abuse scandal. I could go on, but it is all too awful; if I start listing all the ways in which our police forces and governments have failed us I’ll go even more bonkers than I already am.
Let’s return to the media. Maybe they have turned the corner and realised that just because social media says x does not mean x is what we all believe. And just because the police say y, that doesn’t mean y is the truth or anything remotely like the truth. And just because… well you get the picture.
If this is the day the world changed, it might be worth to note it in the diary.