- Carragher and Neville distraught as their anti-Arsenal attitude exposed once and for all
- Carragher and Neville should feel ashamed of their behaviour at Arsenal
By Tony Attwood
There is an extraordinary story in the Athletic today headlined “Fake Man United news: Tracking down the people making thousands out of fictitious stories.”
What is strange is that it takes the notion that vast numbers of stories each day about player transfers are just made up by people who run websites with advertisements on them… and then suggests we hadn’t realised.
Indeed we are told that these fake stories bring in readers and then the readers click on the adverts so the fake news story inventors make money, (For example, three weeks before the summer window closed in 2019 the media had tipped 84 players to be coming Arsenal’s way, and the number kept growing). That season wsa tyypical, and the percentage of stories that turn out to be true are normally between 2% and 3%.
Except there is one difference: the story in the Athletic focuses almost totally on privately run blogs (like this one, only we don’t feature because we don’t invent such tales. We include the national newspapers and major online news outlets too, because they are guilty of spreading these nonsense tales.)
So why does the Athletic not complete the story by making it clear that many national news outlets such as the Daily Mirror, the Express and the like, run these stories on their websites day after day?
If you have a subscription to the Athletic it is worth looking at the piece (I wouldn’t say worth reading it all) just to explore the extraordinary naivety of the publication in suggesting that this is news, and that readers might not know, and that the part played in the tale by the national media can be ignored.
But if you want to get an Arsenal related flavour of this, as I write on the morning (UK time) of 7 February 2024) the lead Arsenal stories on NewsNow are
‘Talks ongoing’: Arsenal in negotiation to get new deal done for in-demand winger – Romano Arsenal in negotiation to get new deal done for Amario Cozier-Duberry”
Exclusive: Arsenal entering race to sign Everton star Arsenal entering race for Everton star Amadou Onana.”
So there is one question as to why the Athletic thinks this is news. But there is another point: why is the process of publishing such nonsense successful?
Answering questions like that involves a certain amount of supposition and guesswork, but one credible answer has to be that it is because so much of the football news run by broadcasters and by the media is not directly attuned to the feelings and interests of the fans.
This article by the Athletic is a perfect example of that – we all know there are thousands of fake transfer stories every day, and anyone who glances at Untold Arsenal each summer will know that Arsenal are generally tipped to be signing over 100 players through the summer window. So why is that news?
But more to this running of gibberish transfer rumours than that. Large numbers of fans are interested in what appears to be the curious behaviour of referees, and most of the media won’t cover that story at all. Instead the media run with the notion that clubs could be buying top players but are inept, buying the wrong players and failing to get the right players, which these clever journalists would buy, if only they had a proper job.
Meanwhile vast numbers of stories suggest that managers should be sacked or are about to be sacked. My favourite of those was
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tipped to be first Premier League manager sacked next season
That was published in June 2022 in the Express. You might recall that in 2022/23 Arsenal came second.
The fact is that the media feeds on invented transfer tales and nonsense predictions becuase it costs nothing to write them, and because there is an agreement between the mass media not to focus on other issues such as why PGMO is a secret organisation, and why the number of referees is so limited.
Nor will they focus on factual stories such as how Chelsea got 77 yellow cards in the whole of last season and this season have got 73 with 15 more games yet to be played.
Or why the Manchester City enquiry is still ongoing. Or on a more positive note how Arsenal moved from being the most yellow-carded team in 2019/20 to the 18th most carded team by 2022/23, cutting their cards by 40%.
Or how this year they look like being the least yellow carded team of all, currently running at just on half the number of cards Chelsea have. Now that would make an interesting story. Why is no one running that?
- Is the Premier League getting more exciting or simply ever more predictable?
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England