By Tony Attwood
I have often wondered whether other clubs in the Premier League have the same level of dedicated “failure” stories aimed at them as Arsenal does.
The problem is that seeking out newspaper stories and trying to follow them through, is time consuming, and although there are six people who regularly contribute stories or background to Untold, that is nowhere near enough if we want to compare Arsenal covering in the media with that of other clubs on a regular basis.
Of course this issue leaves aside the notion that Arsenal deserve to get wallopped, which is what the aaa always say. Arsenal really are useless and laughable. In this “analysis” they are following a tradition that goes back at least to January 1933, when the “boo-boys” really got going at Highbury.
I mention that because it is clear now that the “no trophy since 2005” tale that the media so loved was dropped (obviously) in 2014, but is now replaced with the notion that we are clearly not good enough because we didn’t win the league last season. So I wonder, did Chelsea, Man C, Man U, Tottenham and Liverpool? all get thoroughly questioned and beaten up in the press last season on the grounds that they were so bad they couldn’t even end up above Arsenal?
I really wish I had time to research this fully (which is an invite to anyone who would like to track negative media and blog coverage of other clubs for a few days to get in touch with me – TonyAttwoodofLondon@gmail.com – so we can discuss doing the research).
And I particularly thought on this on reading an article from a bloggetta this morning in which Arsenal were described as in need of total top to bottom reform because we couldn’t even end up above Leicester. The implication of which is that every club needs a total reform (since everyone finished below Leicester, obviously). In short Trotsky comes to the Premier League: Permanent Revolution Comrades!
A very quick snap analysis suggested to me that Arsenal certainly do get many more stories written about them than most other clubs. Looking at NewsNow while I wrote this, Arsenal had 12 stories listed in the last hour, Chelsea 8, Man City 9, Man U 15, Liverpool? 11, Tottenham 5.
With Man U the most written about in that snapshot, I looked quickly at what’s behind their stories in this past hour, and I couldn’t really see any that were doing much other than reporting positive news with a fair amount of suggestion that whatever Mourinho is doing, it is good. There was only one mention in the last eight hours of the Glazers, the previous hate figures, and that wasn’t at all negative. And all this from a club that didn’t qualify for the Champions League. The current story about the awful pitch for the “derby” game, the “lost” flight, the press conference room that was too hot… all these were dealt with fairly moderately. Certainly no question of “Man U trip descends into chaos” or “Man U fiasco”.
So, there are reasons to suggest that maybe, somehow, Arsenal are singled out for special negative treatment both by bloggettas and by the national media. To show what I mean, here’s a few articles from the current crop.
1: Ivan Gazidis worries Arsenal with new quotes.
I wrote about that the other day; I can’t see what any of the fuss is about, but clearly some people can. It does seem to me anyone who can get worried by what is in that interview really is living on a knife edge and can be tipped into misery by anything. Perhaps it is that I am slightly happier person. There was no announcement of a new direction for the club in that, just an expression of where the club is – which we all knew anyway.
2: Arsene Wenger’s decision not to allow Thierry Henry to combine his Sky television commitments with coaching Arsenal’s Under-18s has backfired further.
This notion from the Telegraph requires the backstory to be read in a certain way. “Backfired” suggests that the decision was part of a cunning plot or conspiracy, rather than a straightforward view that it is not appropriate for a person to be employed at under 18 level and be commentating regularly on TV – either because of inside knowledge gained from the job, or because of the time constraints. We might accept that this is a valid reason or not, but either way it is a straight decision of the type that all businesses take every day. “Backfired” suggests a plot.
Now the Telegraph imagines that part of the plot was to get Tony Adams to take over. But the paper says, “he has turned down the same role with the club to take a job in China.” That’s the backfiring bit.
Actually Adams was offered a trial period – obviously important because he has never worked with youngsters before, and as we all know, just being a good footballer does not mean one can be either a good commentator or a good coach. Tony Adams committed to the trial period but then handed in his immediate notice, and has apparently gone to China. No conspiracy, he just took another job. If anything we might think it doesn’t reflect too well on Tony Adams, but for that we need a lot more info about how he was doing in the job.
3. Although ex-midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is back at Arsenal working with the club’s Under-15s and Steve Bould is assistant manager…
I have seen no figures on how many ex-players work for clubs, and suspect no one has compiled them, but we know that success as a player is not an indicator of success in any other job. So it is possible that having two ex-Arsenal men as coaches is actually quite high a number compared with other clubs. Strangely I can’t recall huge levels of fuss about Giggs leaving Man U, no “backfire” headlines. Just thoughts about how it was good for him to expand his career elsewhere.
4: With the Italians reportedly giving Arsenal 48 hours to come to a decision, a deal looks like it has been agreed that will see the Pole return to Rome on loan.
This is typical of so many tales – Arsenal dither in the transfer market, and others have to come in to tell them to sort things out now or not at all. And the evidence for dithering? Actually none. The evidence for the ability to make deals quickly and smoothly despite all the background activity trying to undermine the move: Ozil is the most obvious. Alexis and Granit are two good examples.
5: Dennis Bergkamp turned down an offer to scout for Arsenal and Wenger after retiring from playing, and instead returned to Ajax to start a coaching career that saw him promoted to assistant manager under Frank de Boer.
Yes, Dennis went back to his homeland, which really is not too surprising since he has an absolute aversion to flying. Now you don’t have to fly to be a scout, but it is actually very difficult to do the job without flying. Players are scouted across borders, and to do it all by car is tough.
6: Marc Overmars also went back to Holland and is director of football at Ajax, having started work as a youth coach in 2011.
This really is my point. Every club surely can list loads and loads of ex-players from around the world who return to their homeland. Is it that we really are saying, “anyone with any sense would of course come to England?”
The fact is that Overmars has business interests in the Netherlands. In February 2005 he became a shareholder of Go Ahead Eagles and then joined the board and it wasn’t until 2011 he moved on Ajax and ultimately left Go Ahead. He’s also got a Dutch family and a Dutch family business, Overmars Vastgoed founded in the 1990s which invests in commercial and residential buildings. He also runs Overmars Classic Cars and is on the list of the 500 richest Dutch people. And you think this guy is going to leave his family and home, and come to that wealth, and work as an under 18s coach with Arsenal?
7: Second is a failure
“Even the most ardent of Arsenal fans would have been hard pushed to say that last season’s second place finish was a success. The fact that the side above them in the table were Leicester City, is enough to show they under-achieved.”
Well, what can I say? The definition is one team each year is a success, and everyone else fails. OK, if that’s how you want it.
8. Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Napoli look to scupper Mauro Icardi deal
These quotes all come from today’s press and bloggettas. Always the theme is the same – Arsenal cannot take control. They are incompetent, they let other clubs determine who goes where. Forget Ozil, Alexis, Granit etc etc.
This headline from the Star caught my attention because I wanted to know what the Blow was, but when I read the article, there was no mention of Arsenal in it at all. They had seemingly just added “Arsenal blow” to get more readers to the article! I am beginning to think they are all out to get us!!!
10: Arsenal need ‘wow’ signings because Ozil, Sanchez and Xhaka aren’t good enough – Collymore