As you will know if you have been paying attention 115 players were linked with Arsenal as transfers into the club between April and the end of the transfer market. 22 players were said to be leaving. 99% of the stories were untrue.
These stories were made up all over the place, and apologies for the misinformation was there none. We were expected to treat it all seriously, and when the transfer failed to materialise we were told it was Arenal’s fault. Never once did anyone say, “actually this was a false rumour” or better, “sorry, have to admit it, I made it all up.”
Instead there is a new game. The Star is now running headlines such as “Higuain, Vardy, Gotze… The XI Premier League summer transfers that were never completed” suggesting that all these players who were listed as moving could have moved – if only these rampant journalists had been in there doing the business instead of the dozy buggers running the clubs.
It is all a bit like Liam Fox, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade – a man central to taking the UK out of the EU and ensuring that actually we do have someone to sell our stuff to after we go. He is, as far as I know, a man who has never worked in, let alone run, any business as the only job he held before becoming an MP was as a doctor in general practice. Now GPs are important people, and indeed one saved by life when I was 17, ordering my parents (who were loving and good people but who thought their son was occasionally prone to bouts of exaggeration and that his complaints at two in the morning of intense stomach pain was typical teenage nonsense) if they didn’t get me to hospital in the next hour I was done for.
That GP was a good doctor. Probably like Liam Fox who has recently announced that Britain;s business people are “too lazy and too fat” with businessmen preferring “golf on a Friday afternoon” to trying to boost the country’s prosperity. He’s just a crap negotiator and politician.
What Fox is doing is turning politics and the frightening issue of what happens to UK trade after we leave the EU into the same sort of game that journalists and bloggettists (a word so silly that WordPress has chosen to believe it is not a spelling mistake) play with football fans. Fox and the journalists treat us like utter idiots, feeding us their vision of reality without any recognition that some of us realise it is a load of cider apples. (Fox has a constituency in Somerset).
Back with football take this from the Mail…
“Time may prove that Everton actually got away with making a huge financial mistake, as the Sissoko who represented Newcastle last season did not look someone for whom you would want to smash your club record fee, but pursuing that deal at that hour didn’t add up.
“Having started the day looking to sign a striker, the pursuit of Sissoko – who had been on the market since May, remember – resembled the last minute dash around the shops on Christmas Eve, hoping to find something expensive.
“Why go for a midfielder when the aim was to sign a striker? Some will counter that Enner Valencia provides the quality back up for Romelu Lukaku but a loan hastily completed at 7pm on deadline day hardly suggests the Ecuadorian was first choice, does it?”
Incompetence, incompetence, it is always incompetence. And maybe, like the work of Fox, it is incompetence. But it might be more believable if sometimes there wasn’t that air of self-satisfied smirking in the writing once again suggesting that if only the writers of the Mail had been in charge of Everton’s transfers, everything would have been done and dusted by July 2 and Everton would have been top of the league by now. Sometimes, if we had a bit more of the background it might help too.
My point is that this “you are all idiots and I know best” attitude is now rampant throughout journalism and politics and we are being fed this garbage day after day.
I thought of this because I am (just of my own volition, not ‘cos anyone asked me to) about to start a campaign to encourage Arsenal FC to recognise 2019 as the 100th anniversary of the club’s accession to the First Division, for an unbeaten run. Everton (who have actually had more seasons in the first division, having joined the league earlier than Arsenal but been relegated a few times) are in second place with 63 seasons.
The problem with my little campaign (which will also try and reactivate the notion of having a monument built to the four great managers who created the modern club: Chapman, Shaw, Allison, Whittaker) is that immediately it will ignite a load of abuse about how Arsenal “bought” their way into the top division. So I will have to prelude my campaign by trying to undo the ludicrous invented tales about Henry Norris that Leslie Knighton (the manager before Herbert Chapman) spread about the man in his Sunday newspaper columns written 20 years after he (Knighton) left the club.
If you are interested in the truth about the promotion, you will find 10 March 1919, Arsenal elected. Find the bribery and get the reward – it is worth a read. There is a lot about Henry Norris on the Arsenal History Society site, but it is spread out across many articles. I’m going to try and pull it together.
What the journalists and bloggetterati (another invention, and one I quite like) enjoy doing is publishing so much make believe, the make believe becomes more believable than the reality.
In fact I suspect that we are not far away from a front page Daily Mail story that says that the insiders have revealed that our government has been drilling for zeonite at several highly secret locations. It is great stuff in that it gives people super powers and can only be found in the UK so we are going to be mega rich from exporting it and world leaders once again. But locals in Somerset where the reserves are found are protesting against the despoiling of environment, and some have reported seeing enormous hounds running from the zeonite mines and heading for Dartmoor and on into Cornwall. (The Daily Express did run a story about a discovery of a child’s doll on Mars last year, and the Beast of Bodmin has an entry in Wikipedia).
Now imagine that the papers not only run the story but everyone starts to believe in zeonite. That is where we are with journalism these days.
The press and the bloggetterati do it because imagination and invention are free (and indeed to be applauded when presented as fiction). It says to advertisers “our readers will believe anything” meaning, you can advertise any old rubbish here and people will buy it.
Thus we are in the world of wholly untrue stories with completely false consequences as promises. As a result denials look like admissions, and serious attempts to write up history in a most truthful manner are swept aside with the assertion that “Arsenal bought their way into the first division”.
Matters get worse as the falsehoods are mixed with misleading statements – the “Only two Arsenal players scored in double figures last season” was one such. “Arsenal’s insane level of injuries under Wenger” is another.
But because multiple outlets run the story, people believe it.
As a result football clubs know that if they chase players openly other clubs can see what they are doing. They start to create their own stories as cover and the journalists lap it up (even to the extent as we have seen, of the Times printing a story about Arsenal signing an eastern European 16 year old wonderkid who was a complete invention.)
So we have phantom transfer stories created just to mislead journalists and vapour transfers designed to send rival clubs on wild goose chases (in the way that IT companies make pre-announcements to send the research departments of rivals off on the wrong path).
But in such a world, image and presentation becomes everything. Arsenal are presented as incompetent in the transfer market, too slow, unwilling to spend. But because most Arsenal fans don’t read the transfer gossip surrounding other clubs, supporters elsewhere don’t realise that other teams are often also moaning about their clubs’ transfer policies. If you look at ManUNews.com today you will see stories such as
- This shocking stat reveals why Mourinho is in great danger at Old Trafford
- Bad news for Anthony Martial as Jose Mourinho’s Man United lacks a Chelsea star
- Man United have had deadline day approach rejected for free-kick master
The good news is that awareness of the manipulation of football and football fans by the media which follows its own interest, rather than the interest of the fans, is growing. Indeed some papers are reporting today that “Mark Hughes believes he was sent to the stands during Stoke City’s 4-0 thumping by Tottenham because the Premier League is trying to protect its image abroad.”
Of course such stories are mostly presented as a way of laughing at paranoid managers, but the fact that they are getting mentioned at all is a step in the right direction.
‘It was basically because I came out of the technical area and waved my hands about. The Premier League doesn’t like that because of their image abroad,” Hughes added.
It is not that I often say this of Hughes, but on this occasion, he could be right.
- Are State Aid Utd getting into trouble? The difficulty with a new stadium you ain’t paid for.
- Emirates security problems (again), catering problems (again), keepers getting cards, and names for derbies.
- Southampton at home; Wilshere as manager
- Maybe we should be more gentle on the Anti-Wengerian journalists and their fellow travellers?
Two anniversaries of the same day
12 September 1998: Arsène Wenger announced that he was looking for a new striker to replace Ian Wright, and would like to sign Emile Heskey. He didn’t but instead used Anelka and Kanu, along with Bergkamp, as the main source of goals until Thierry Henry arrived.
12 September 1998: Freddie Ljungberg signed for £3m from Halmstads BK for whom he had played 79 games and scored 10 goals. He went on to play 216 games for Arsenal and scored 72 goals.
You can find 5000 Arsenal anniversaries arranged day by day on the Arsenal History Society site.