By Tony Attwood
In one way Untold seeks to turn the world upside down. The media’s view is that the thing one should do is attack Wenger and the club, and throughout the season they have been going into this BIG TIME. Our view is that we should not be attacking the manager, the players and the club, but rather the media who portray football in a very, very warped way. It’s a reversal of vision type of thing.
Because each part of the media has a vested interest in its bit of football (because it pays so much money for it, or because it is desperate to hold on to readers) the media constantly warps what football is about and pedals a wholly false image of the game.
This has been going on for years, but now it is at such a level that all you have to do is stand back for just one minute you can see how bizarre it is.
Supporters of Arsenal and the management, and the players are now under constant, wholesale attack. Indeed over eight years I have been writing about the media’s attitude to Arsenal I have never seen attacks of the top that we have had in the last couple of days.
I suspect it is happening because Untold’s theme (that the media influences the perception of football in a wholesale manner) has been taken up by a few others, and the word is slowly getting out. The newspaper industry, for years the arbiter of what was right and what was wrong in football is in total collapse, as newspapers meander in the mire, unable to find any way to make money either from printed papers or on line. The live football TV companies have paid so much money to show their product they cannot possibly criticise the product they have bought (and indeed what they can show and say is incorporated into their contracts). The recorded highlights TV companies are out on the fringe and so rely on pundits to put across their point of view, creating “personalities” to turn out their vision of reality, even when those of us present saw something quite different.
But all the while lurking in the wings are other media outlets, like little Untold Arsenal. How come we get noticed? Well, maybe its because our view of reality is what you actually see when you look properly, and shock horror, it is backed up by evidence and logical analysis.
Let’s take one of the Guardian’s pundits of the year, “Danny Murphy”. According to the Guardian, “Murphy and Jermaine Jenas are the jewels in the BBC’s footballing tiara, the quality of their analysis a couple of steps ahead of the corporation’s other regulars. Murphy is particularly eloquent, and admirably unlikely to stumble into random footballspeak.”
And so what did he say this Danny Murphy, as Match of the Day had to pick itself up from its joint Leicester/Tottenham 1, 2 celebrations on Saturday night. I have run the tape back half a dozen times to get it word for word.
“Penalty was a dive, it kind of killed the game, it was a turning point, not a turning point, Newcastle played well, it was the end of the game for Spurs, I hate seeing that…”
I am planning to run a weekly report on the wild ramblings of Match of the Day men (for they rarely seem to invite women on the show) next season just to examine the Guardian’s perception of Murphy. Every word, Mr Murphy, every word.
The Guardian then does a fans’ view of Arsenal’s season. It is from GoonersDiary – a blog that has links to lots of other blogs, although not to this one. Here’s a recent take…
Not many of our spoiled, far too entitled fans would’ve lingered for the post-match lap of appreciation, if Newcastle had failed to do us such a fabulous favour and doubtless the protestors banners’ will be back with next season’s first defeat. Yet even if it should’ve prove fleeting, it was great to be able to enjoy the emotion
Which is fair enough. But what the author then wrote for the Guardian was…
In the stale micro-climate around London N5 there’s scant consolation in a top-four finish. We’ve blown it, big time. With the big spenders failing, this should have been our time to shine – and it would have been if our blinkered stars had shown 10% more desire. The laissez-faire approach of our scientific gaffer might have been OK if we’d had a genuine leader on the pitch – but without one we’re starved of inspiration…
We need a 30-goal striker. At the back, why couldn’t we have signed Alderweireld, instead of a liability like Gabriel? It’s hard to imagine Arsène will spend his way out of our depression.
It’s funny but the two approaches and styles don’t seem to match, and I wonder why this is. (Incidentally “laissez-faire approach of our scientific gaffer” doesn’t make sense to me either, but maybe I read New Scientist too much.)
But still the Guardian got their rampantly aaa piece and the attack’s momentum was continued (although to be fair to GoonersDiary if they hadn’t written such a negative piece someone else would have stepped up for the glory of appearing in the Guardian).
Moving on, at least the Telegraph gave us a laugh by running the headline, “Is Arsenal v Tottenham really one of the most one-sided rivalries in sport?” and then failing totally to answer the question.
The Independent tried to join in that sort of fun but got a bit confused running the headline, “Arsenal players and fans labelled ‘pathetic’ for celebrating second place and finishing above Tottenham” and then failed to tell us who and where and when anyone labelled Arsenal players and fans “pathetic”.
As you will know if you are a regular, it was Robbie Savage who said, “pathetic, pathetic, pathetic” to an Arsenal fan who called in to “606” on Five Live. But he didn’t call the players pathetic. Still, evidence eh? Who needs it.
But it is back in the Guardian that the most worrying development is seen in its column “Guardian gripes of the season”. Tom Davies, a sub-editor for Guardian sport, did this one, and his article is preluded with a note inviting Guardian readers to vote for their ref of the season.
The article has the usual gripes such as “The return of the Euro Super League breakaway threat ritual,” “Shockingly poor penalties,” and “Pointless badge redesigns” but tucked away in between these is “Excessive focus on referees”.
So this is the Guardian’s new stance – let’s have a referee of the season, and avoid excessive focus on referees. The two seem a little contradictory to me, but still, it’s the Guardian sport. Let us not talk about the extreme oddity of PGMO which runs refereeing. It’s ultra-secrecy, its closeness to some of the clubs, its decision to organise refereeing in a way completely different from anywhere else in the whole of Europe (apart possibly from Albania), its decision to have such a tiny number of referees that clubs can get the same refs six times in a season – enhancing the dangers if any ref were to be bought, its refusal to answer enquiries from without, its refusal to engage properly in the video ref trials, its refusal to instruct refs to follow the same rule interpretation as happens in the rest of Europe (except possibly Albania)…
These are the questions which in the past the Guardian would have loved to dig into, not because there is open evidence of wrong doing, but because quite often scandals are revealed by looking into situations that just don’t look right. It is how investigations into the most awful aspects of British society come to pass (police incompetence and cover up at Hillsborough, local council incompetence and cover up in the Rotherham sex abuse case etc etc etc etc etc) and it is the same method that can be used for much lesser things, like match fixing. It doesn’t mean that Type III match fixing does exist, it just means that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence, and logical analysis suggests something could well be dreadfully wrong.
But instead the Guardian says, “there remains an excessive focus on referees – their mistakes, foibles and perceived biases – that perhaps most obviously manifested itself in the removal of Kevin Friend from the Stoke v Tottenham match in April, even though Friend supports neither side.”
It’s a clever piece. No mention of course of the week by week analysis that we have done, nor that by referees supporting various clubs on Referee Decisions. No – just a statement. My goodness, with that lack of evidence or supporting logical analysis, the article could have been written by a rant-raged paid-up member of the aaa.
But still, there are some hilarious moments in the article, such as this one
“When do you see him get a major decision wrong?” asked former referee Mark Halsey in an homage to Mark Clattenburg earlier this year.” One might mention the entire Chelsea Tottenham game.
But no they won’t do that. Instead in a clever bit of manipulative writing they now elevate that game into mythology by calling it the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and describe it as “a marvellous evening of cartoon violence which could have been ruined by a more fussy official.” (No mention of two points deducted from Arsenal after a bit of handbags at 50 paces against Man U).
(Oh, and just in case you didn’t study history in an English school, The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of that name in Yorkshire on 25 September 1066, between King Harold Godwinson’s English army on the one hand and the Norwegian army of King Harald Hardrada and Godwinson’s brother Tostig on the other. It was after this battle that the Anglo Saxon troops then had to march to Battle in Sussex to have another pitched fight against the Normans and lost. Just thought I’d clear that up).
Now take a look at this comment, from the same Guardian article….
Let’s not kid ourselves – it is easy to blame referees for the various injustices visited upon our teams and of course they often have bad days at the office and get things horribly wrong. But in a high speed game where they are forced to make split-second decisions without the benefit of TV replays, it seems churlish to criticise match officials for making mistakes in an environment where the players they are attempting to police are constantly try to con them.
And the truthful version would be…
Let’s not kid ourselves – it is easy to avoid all the embarrassing evidence that something is wrong when you are determined to write a newspaper article that supports your investment in football. The high speed game where refs are forced to make split-second decisions without the benefit of TV replays has only come about because of the abject resistance to TV replays by PGMO for whom the refs work – it is their decision, and you cannot use that as an excuse for the failings of their employees. It seems it would be churlish not to criticise match officials for their appalling performances given that they have chosen to accept employment from an agency so secretive that it makes the Masons look like a Come All Ye down at the local pub. If the refs are straight, they could stand up against the monopoly employers of referees, and speak out against the route English refereeing has taken all on its own (with the possible exception of Albania).
- How Tottenham always fall apart how Arry is always good for a larf, and how Motd rearranges reality.
- HINDSIGHT OR BLINDSIGHT
- Savage calls Arsenal fan “pathetic, pathetic, pathetic” on radio for celebrating victory.
- guess what…?
Insult of the Day: (for the Guardian team who made “Danny Murphy” the pundit of the year, and instituted a ref of the season award while asking for less focus on refs)