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August 2021

Cesc, the hidden truth in the transfer saga in the media – part 2 – Why it suddenly stopped

Note from the editor: This is the follow up on the the first article which you can read here. In fact both articles are part of one big article but because of the length we had to split it in two. For those who haven’t read the first article I would strongly advise to read both of them. It really is worth it.

By Anne, a critical analysis by a Barcelona fan who also supports Arsenal

Back to England. Towards the end of the summer, as the World Cup concluded and the Barcelona players left for their vacations, the sheer volume of “interviews” with Barcelona players appearing in the English media had reached levels that defy belief. Just as one example, the Sun published 5 interviews with different Barcelona players in 10 days. And this was while all the players allegedly “interviewed” were vacationing on various tropical islands, mind you…Did they like the Sun reporters so much that they invited them along? And also, as you would expect by this point, every single one of these five interviews was completely unsourced. All of the interviews said something along these lines:

LIONEL MESSI has piled even more pressure on Arsenal by urging Cesc Fabregas to join him at Barcelona.

The Argentine forward is the latest Barca star to call on Fabregas to quit the Emirates and echoes similar pleas made by Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Xavi earlier this week.

Now the campaign has even reached Panama, where Messi is set to play in a charity match.

The striker said: ‘I would be delighted if he came. We played together as kids in Barca’s youth team and he knows the club.’

Messi’s comments will cause attitudes to harden at Arsenal, where club bosses are already furious at Barca’s continuing attempts to unsettle their skipper.”

-The Sun, July 14, 2010

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With

See also: Pique, July 4, 2010 (; Xavi, July, 10, 2010

(; Iniesta, July 13, 2010

(; Busquets, July 15, 2010


Note that the Sun would have us believe that they actually followed Messi to Panama to obtain this “interview,” but I digress…

Now, we have another interesting twist. Because at this point in the summer, we begin to see the same phenomenon that we witnessed earlier with the Spanish media begin to occur in the English media as well. Earlier in the summer, any “interview” with a Barcelona player that appeared in any English publication was immediately picked up and published ad nauseum by all the other papers. However, where the above “interviews” are concerned, we see a significant drop in the number of other publications that picked them up and re-published them. Although a number of footballing websites did pick them up, the other British papers seemed reluctant to do so.

Now, why would that be? Could it be that they had just lost interest in the Fabregas transfer saga by that point? (Doubtful) Or could the explanation possibly be that they were afraid to publish? Did they fear that they were at risk of getting into trouble? Well, if that was the case, they were right. Although you probably never heard that they did get into trouble, because for obvious reasons, none of them was nice enough to tell you about it.

Moving on to the end of the summer. It’s August, and the Barcelona players are returning home from their vacations. It’s at this point that we get the first indications that FC Barcelona has finally realized just how out of hand things have gotten in England, and is attempting to put a stop to it. We first see it in the form of Barcelona players personally coming forward and denying that they made certain statements.

And that brings us back to those two “interviews” in the Sun with Puyol that were quoted earlier in this article. On August 2, 2010, Carles Puyol formally denied giving either interview. This is what he said on his personal blog:

“Hi everyone, in recent days a British news media outlet has published some declarations that are supposedly mine and that are totally false. I’ve just seen them now, and I can assure you that I didn’t say anything nor have I spoken with anyone about this topic. Saludos.”  (note my emphasis on that last part)

We also saw David Villa come forward on August 1, 2010, and deny giving an interview that appeared in the Daily Star concerning Fernando Torres transfer rumors:

Barcelona striker David Villa wants to refute the statements that the British newspaper ‘the Daily Star’ put in his mouth concerning a claim that the Asturian player was surprised that Fernando Torres had not signed for Chelsea and abandoned Liverpool.

‘I’ve never spoken about the future of Fernando Torres with any English publication or with any journalist,’ [Villa] stated categorically.

Villa, who is vacationing with his family, said he was shocked when he heard the information that had been published by this English newspaper and echoed in some Spanish media outlets. Villa assured that he had never made such declarations.”

In September, 2010, Gerrard Pique issued a similar denial:

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has denied giving an interview to a British tabloid in which he is quoted saying Liverpool’s ‘sub-standard’ football is ’embarrassing’ for Fernando Torres, according to reports in Spain.

Pique was quoted by the Daily Star as saying the Reds were ‘really testing Nando’s loyalty’ and that the club ‘looks completely unstable’ and ‘hadn’t delivered on their promises’.

However, the former Manchester United player has since told Spanish journalist Guillem Balague he ‘strenuously denies making comments attributed to him’ and ‘did not even give an interview to the journalist in question’.”

Read more:

Note that the statements attributed to Pique concerning Torres and Liverpool greatly resemble similar comments attributed to Barcelona players concerning Cesc and Arsenal.

Although I’ve been unable to find any other personal denials by Barcelona players aside from the three above, it’s entirely possible that there are more out there. They’re very difficult to find, due to the fact that the publications that engage in the mischief don’t like to publicize it when they get caught. But as far as I can document, the personal responses from Barcelona players stopped after this last denial by Pique.

However, within that same time period, and following these public denials, the transfer saga died down as well. By the early fall, nearly all of the reporting had come to a halt, and interviews with Barcelona players about transfer rumors had largely ceased appearing. You’d still have the occasional, odd “interview” (as we still see now), but the volume had dramatically decreased.

This is a trend that has continued into the current transfer season as well. Although the media is still pushing the Cesc transfer rumors to some extent, what’s missing is the influx of “tapping up” comments allegedly made by Barcelona players that were so prevalent last summer. And the question is, what changed? Well, to answer that question, the logical thing to do would be to go back to the time that the changed occurred; namely, the late summer and early fall of 2010, and ask what happened.

As I documented above, one thing that we know happened around that time was that several Barcelona players formally accused the Sun and the Daily Star of publishing fabricated interviews, in which insulting comments regarding transfer rumors were attributed to those players . But was that all? Could it be that there was also something ELSE occurring behind the scenes? Something that would explain why such “interviews” ceased appearing at that time?  Well, as it happens, there WAS something else occurring. However, the full details have never been released to the public.

What we do know comes from the following statement that appeared on FC Barcelona’s official website on October 21, 2010:


In recent weeks a number of invented interviews with the club’s players have appeared in the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday. FC Barcelona wish to make it known that none of these interviews are attributable to the players therein cited and also to explain to our supporters throughout the world that the information and declarations made in these articles are totally and absolutely false.

FC Barcelona has officially sent the media outlets concerned a formal complaint and warned them that it will not allow any further situations like this to be repeated. Should this happen, the club will not hesitate to act in defence of its own image and the honour of its players.”

So, now we know! Between August and October of 2010, FC Barcelona was taking legal action against English tabloids, and formally threatening them with litigation. Although the Daily Star was the only publication that they named publicly, I strongly suspect that others were also threatened (remember that Puyol did formally deny making statements to the Sun, as well). It’s worth noting here that, between them, the Daily Star and the Sun were the original sources for a substantial majority of the Cesc “tapping up” comments that appeared last Summer. Although the Star was by far the worst offender.

In the end, we’ll probably never know the details of everything that went on behind the scenes. However, there’s one thing that we do know: Ever since FC Barcelona threatened the Daily Star with legal action, we’ve had no more Cesc transfer saga. Or at least, it’s not what it was before. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the implications of that…

To sum up, I know that this article is not sufficient to debunk the entire transfer saga. It’s actually just the beginning of an effort to do that, and it barely scratches the surface. But I hope that it will get you thinking nonetheless.

Final note from the temporary editor: I would like to thank Anne for her great article(s) on this subject.  The first article got a big reception and some great comments. I think after reading the whole article (if I can speak in my name) nothing is the same when I read something in the press.

If you have an article you would like to have published on Untold Arsenal you can send it to the mail address mentioned on the site. If it is something you want to get published as soon as possible you can send it to my mail address walterbroeckx(at) Next week Tony will be back and will take the site back in his hands.

194 comments to Cesc, the hidden truth in the transfer saga in the media – part 2 – Why it suddenly stopped

  • WalterBroeckx

    A final remark. for anyone new to this site and who want to comment. I must warn you that your first comment is always held in moderation. As I will be away for a few hours now I will not be able to release your comments for a while. Sorry about that.

  • Shard


    Well researched stuff, and I’ll admit there were one or two things that I was completely wrong about.

    But I must ask you this. What was the ultimate point of this article? If it was only to show that the media twists and turns the truth around, and sometimes even creates a story out of nothing, then there is no argument. If at the same time it is your submission that Barcelona have behaved properly and courteously during this whole saga (irrespective of who created the saga) then we might have to disagree.

  • bob

    @Shard: I agree. I also would like Anne’s analysis of last week’s host of media stories on how Villa/Iniesta/Pique are back at the Cesc tippy-tap dance. Is the media wholly responsible for this? Does Barca manipulate it’s players to do this dance? Are the players innocents, or do they know how the English media will play out their comments? This may or may not be ongoing, and I sincerely hope that Anne’s expose of last summer’s dance helps to pour ice cold water on any further such tappy-tap dancing this summer (good luck)! I’ve posted a set of links on David Villa for Anne to consider, just above, but it’s in moderation for the moment as Walter is away for a few hours. If Anne, anyone is curious, just Search on: Villa Cesc Barcelona and you’ll get lots of links from the Mirror, Sky, Guardian, etc. etc. The story is about Villa’s alleged comment that Cesc “deserves” to return to Barca. Deserves, deserves, deserves. I find that – if true – very disturbing and since Anne has real context and hopefully perspective enough to provide some meaningful commentary, I’d love to hear it. Any thoughts?

  • walter

    Bob, just caught it and now I really have to go home 😉

  • Dale

    Great time to publish these articles as news just in

    Is this the Spanish media reporting something against the idea that Cesc will move to Barcelona? That’s not gonna sell papers.

  • bob

    @Anne, Shard, all: Here’s just one of the many on PIQUE from last week’s media campaign where the Mirror (I don’t cite them out of respect, believe me) accuses Barca’s first team of tapping up Cesc. I mean now that Barca has smashed United, suddenly some newspapers – hypocritically, yes, but – are both repeating and “exposing” Barca’s tappy-tapping against Arsenal. For one (of many):

    The Mirror, June 7th: Revealed: How almost all of Barca’s first team have been tapping up Cesc Fabregas

    Should we be piqued?

  • bob

    Sorry, you’ll have to copy and paste the link above because it keeps truncated. Anyway, I’ll try again but please copy and paste the URL for yourselves: html#ixzz1PLkggEFj

  • Kris

    The article was very good. I must say that the Barca players als o were very co-operative to the story though they deny it. Examples are putting Bara shirt on Cesc, Pique and Puyol twitter pic….

  • bob

    @Anne, all: Ok, here’s the third of the trinity of Iniesta, Pique and Villa. Anyone could add more, as these were all over the media in the last week-10 days. It is a rotten campaign and the media gain their misbegotten dosh/attention by BOTH reporting on what the Barca players allegedly have said about Cesc-come-home and exposing what they are and have been saying. Anyway, we can and should analyze the media’s motives both last summer and this summer if/as it unfolds. But the difference between last summer and this summer is that Barca has JUST THRASHED Barca and perhaps the craven media are still smarting about. But that said, what to make of the SEEMING collaboration of the Barca 3 – witting, unwitting – and of Barca the Club – or is it all down to media malfeasance?


  • bob

    Ok, here’s the third of the trinity of Iniesta, Pique and Villa. Anyone could add more, as these were all over the media in the last week-10 days. It is a rotten campaign and the media gain their misbegotten dosh/attention by BOTH reporting on what the Barca players allegedly have said about Cesc-come-home and exposing what they are and have been saying. Anyway, we can and should analyze the media’s motives both last summer and this summer if/as it unfolds. But the difference between last summer and this summer is that Barca has JUST THRASHED Barca and perhaps the craven media are still smarting about. But that said, what to make of the SEEMING collaboration of the Barca 3 – witting, unwitting – and of Barca the Club – or is it all down to media malfeasance? Anne, any takes on this?


    I’ll forward the second link after Walter gets back…

  • pierrejones

    Anne what about Cesc and Arsenes heart to heart where it appeared that cesc asked arsene to leave?
    Also the world cup pic with Francesco “put” in the a Barca shirt? Pepe Reina was in that pic so it kind of makes me feel that it feels more like an underlying truth that is acknowledged by his spanish colleagues that he may yearn to play for barca. can you shine your well reseaerched light on it?

  • bob

    p.s. aachh! sorry, meant to say that a possible difference in context, right now, this summer, for this media flurry is that Barca has just thrashed MANURE (…not Barca, obviously)

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Very hard to make sense of this situation.
    On the one hand Barcelona cannot deny that if they want to keep their competitive advantage over Madrid they need to find a replacement for Xavi. And the absolute best option in that regard is the current Arsenal captain.
    On the other hand, what they really need right now is a replacement for Puyol, not another tipi-tapas midfielder paid vast sums to keep their bench warm.
    The press need to sell papers, it’s an open secret that Barcelona want Cesc but don’t need him, what better way to sell papers than to make out Arcelona as a feeder club and Barsenal as ‘més que un munt de cons’

  • bob

    @Anne: How about joining in on a UA community-wide Media Watch team, as the next season unfolds? You so clearly see through the oh so crafty lens-crafters.

  • bob

    @Woolwich Peripatetic
    C’mon, mate. For the sake of the great unwashed like me, say what? (translation, pllllllease): ‘més que un munt de cons’ I mean I could guess, but, you know…

  • Anne


    The ultimate point of the article is to raise questions, rather than draw conclusions. To seriously evaluate the credibility of the Cesc transfer saga in its entirety, the only way to go about it is to consider each article individually, and independently evaluate the sourcing and credibility issues with regard to that particular article.

    I have 120 pages worth of articles that I myself have evaluated in that manner, and I have not found ONE SINGLE “tapping up” article that I deem credible. I also have not found a single article containing an insult directed at Arsenal that I deem credible. However, there is absolutely no way humanly possible for me to write up an analysis it like that and present it in a forum where Arsenal fans have access to it.

    In other words, I can’t do the work for you 🙂 What I DO want to do is make you question the credibility of English media reporting about Barcelona. I’ve spent a lot of time reading Arsenal blogs, along with comments from Arsenal fans, and something that I’ve seen time and time again (even in some posts on this blog), is Arsenal fans who are indignant, angry, and outraged at “classless” Barcelona over alleged “comments” that aren’t even worth the paper that they’re printed on.

    In general, Arsenal fans are extremely skeptical of media reporting about ARSENAL, and show more familiarity than most with different types of media trickery (when it targets ARSENAL). But for some reason, the trend among Arsenal fans seems to be that media reports about Barcelona are not treated with this same level of skepticism. In fact, they’re often taken at face value, with no questions asked.

    And I’m not saying that’s true in EVERY case. I know it’s not. But I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Arsenal fans in a state of outrage over some media report that’s so ludicrous that, if they had taken even a SECOND to consider the credibility of the report, they would be laughing at it, rather than railing against Barcelona’s “classless” conduct.

    My goal in writing these articles is to inspire you to take that extra second before you believe something that you read about Barcelona.

    I’ll be honestly interested to know what you guys have to say about my comments here, because what I’ve just given you is the average Barcelona fan’s perspective on the way Arsenal fans view Barca. A lot of Barcelona fans have come to the conclusion that Arsenal fans simply WANT to hate Barcelona, so that whenever you see a media report that makes Barcelona look classless, you suspend your disbelief about the credibility of the report.

    Now, that’s not my PERSONAL opinion. But I’ve been listening to Barcelona fans make this complaint all year, and I’ve never heard an Arsenal fan’s take on it. I’d be curious to know what you think.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    “More than a bunch of cats” only cats is spelt un not a 😉
    If my Catalan slang is correct.

  • Naren

    Painstakingly researched articles. Excellent.
    Its quite intriguing-whom do you support during Arsenal vs Barca?
    If only Barca could really be ‘mes que un club’…a pity.

  • Shard


    Where i disagree that each article has to be taken separately. About checking the veracity yes. Totally agree. But ‘tapping up’ doesn’t have to be ‘tapping up’ in each article. Innocent enough statements made repeatedly and at seemingly every opportunity are not to be taken in isolation.

    I’d like to think I am not one of those fans that simply take ‘news’ at face value. I don’t do that with any event in the world let alone football transfers where 95% of the ‘news’ is entirely made up anyway. And I grew up really liking Barcelona, and yes, even what they stood for. It is not simply media reports that have made me lose respect for them. And I actually want to LIKE Barcelona. It’ll take more than saying that the media play around with the transfer talk (which I agree with) to convince me that Barca have acted properly.

  • TommieGun

    Thanks Anne… I remembered actually there was ONE guy in particular writing for the Mirror who was caught being the “inventor” of a lot of those hoax stories. And to a few of the guys who wondered “why” – I think it’s rather simple: It’s summer, it’s boring, nothing is going on, they want to sell, it’s a bloody business and they have little to write about. Easy. Oh, and if they can unsettle Arsenal while going at it – it’s even better.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I imagine the constant tapping up of Barcelona youth doesn’t go down too well in Catalunya either but never seems to make the English media.
    On the other hand when you see Barcelona players committing red card offences and getting away with it (Abidal grabbing RvP round the throat) and the referee doing his level best to help them progress against serious opposition (Arsenal this year, Chelsea previously) it’s hard not to dislike the club.

  • Anne


    I would not submit that “Barcelona have behaved properly and courteously during this whole saga.” However, without knowing what exactly it is that you consider improper and discourteous, I don’t know if I agree or disagree with you about that particular conduct.

    So, could you give me something specific? I’ve heard you make a lot of general statements about not liking Barcelona’s behaviour, but what was it exactly about Barca’s behavior that bothered you?

    Other than the shirt prank, btw 🙂 Whatever any of you have to say about that one, I agree with you, so there’s no need to bring it up. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t, because thinking about it still makes me want to cry with shame. So moving on from that one 🙂

  • Dan


    Thanks, Brilliant articles. Incredibly well researched. I knew journalists twisted and distorted what players have said and translated words to suit their needs. However, i wasn’t aware that they totally made interviews up. These ‘interviews’ have done huge damage to the image of Barcelona, particularly amongst Arsenal supporters. These papers thoroughly deserve to be heavily fined for their actions and the ‘journalists’ dismissed. Amazing the sheer quantity of propaganda and lies that gets through. And us poor fools believe them!

  • bob

    @Anne: your method is to take one story at a time and blow each of them up, one at a time. This summer, thanks to your work about last summer, I’ve been collecting some links to the SEEMING Cesc-come-home game that the English-media and/or Barca-players and/or Barca is now playing. You have definitely raised awareness and my/our antennae are out. I’m not jumping to blame Barca now, as I would have previously. So kudos. But, again, there is something on, and it may or may not continue. Surely you’re right about how Arsenal fans (and others) were/are propagandized this way. But, I’d like to add, that by keeping to one story at a time, it MIGHT be possible that you aren’t allowing for the possibility of a pattern of complicity by Barca/players in this game, which does, it seems, help to undermine Cesc’s relationship to both the fan base and the side. Do you find that pattern possible – not conclusive, I fully realize – this summer? And is your mind open to the possibility that Barcelona both are and “are not” working at prying loose Cesc (who might wish this, quien sabe?) I would like us to do a Media Watch on this as it unfolds and see what we see. And I, for one, can’t have helped but been bombarded last week by the English media on alleged comments, for a few days in succession, that Iniesta, Pique and Villa were back at the tappy-tap around Cesc. Your work on last summer is convincing and a classic case study of media manipulation. But I wonder whether, at least this summer, if any players are doing the management’s bidding (which may well coincide with their own professional interests, to say the obvious, as none of us are angels).

  • Jack Straw

    Anne – great work and an enlightening read! Seriously can’t understand why anyone bothers to get worked up about anything that either the British or Catalan press say about this or just about any other situation. They have only one goal – money. Honesty, credibility – their business models can’t afford such frivoliies.

    Look at the Nasri to United rumours. Nasri having contract issues, United needs a Scholes replacement, newspapers think, “let’s casually mention Nasri as a replacement for Scholes, it kind of makes sense”. Then based on the strong reaction from both, very large, sets of fans it’s obvious the newspapers have a “hit” on their hands. The stories become more frequent and more audacious, right up until the time the player actually makes a public statement (“don’t believe what you read in the papers”), and suddenly it goes quiet. However, the damage has been done – Arsenal fans across the world are calling Nasri a money-grubbing traitor while the newspapers and websites have gotten the increased business they needed.

    It’s a joke. I read a lot of stuff during the summer to keep myself occupied. I believe only what comes directly from the players and managers on, twitter or a video interview. Everything else is embellished at best, completely fabricated at worst, and not beneficial to the club or any of its supporters’ mental health.

  • SomeRandomGunner

    Well written article also you put in lots of efforts to write this article thanks for that.
    What do you think about Cesc being forced to wear Barca shirt ? I was expecting a mention of that but disappointed that you did not mention it.

  • Anne

    Wow, these are a lot of comments that I have to respond to 🙂 I’m going to get to each and every one of them, I absolutely promise, but analyzing all those different articles and such will take me some time. The fact that the first article was posted at 2 AM my time, and I’ve been up all night (I wasn’t going to miss my own comments thread 🙂 ), isn’t exactly speeding me up either.

    Anyway, point is, you might have to check back later. But please do remember to check back 🙂


    Yes, I would definitely be interested in being part of your media watch project. And I’m doing the articles you linked to first. Just starting on them now, so responses should be up in a bit.

  • bob

    @Tommy Gun: “easy”? well, selling newspapers in a “boring” summer? well, it hasn’t been that boring with high-level scandals and the annual fever of transfer window speculations. To my lights, that practiced filling in with Arsenal stories and the undermining of Arsenal’s allure/attractiveness/vulnerabilities in this season of negotiations becomes a double-edged sword. I’m not really willing to assume the “innocence” of business-as-usual, unless you wish to connect your summer-filler observation with the de-stabilize Arsenal intention. And, btw, these journo’s are well-practiced at wielding the double-edged sword and know where their bread is buttered and, sadly, how to get off (innuendo) Scot (Alas) Free (SAF, just in case).

  • SomeRandomGunner

    Anne- you are proven right today with plenty of proof. The latest Cesc quotes where he says he is happy at Arsenal means different to media.

    Fab coy on Gunners future ==> EatSleepSport
    Fabregas admits frustration ==> Sky Sports
    Fabregas happy to stay at Arsenal ==> BBC Sport

    Cesc Fábregas admits frustration at Arsenal but will not ask for transfer ===> The Guardian

    For the same message the above are the interpretations of media. Except BBC others just dont want Fabregas at Arsenal.

  • Dark Prince

    As i said in your last article – bravo!!!! Keep it up!!

  • Naren

    Anne, here are some links which are ‘specific’.×220.jpg
    Then there is one of the articles in the series criticizing Barca here at this very site and that too by the editor.
    For starters here is one link, an article written by Tony Attwood. You don’t need to read the article, the headline alone will suffice to know what the editor really has in mind.

  • bob

    @Anne: cheers on joining force for a dynamic Media Watch to be! The second INIESTA link that I couldn’t get in a half hour ago or so (while Walter is in transit home) is this one:
    I think we could connect some dots here.
    Which writers for which media are doing this? Are they an “old boy” network – rather than independent so-called competitors – who just coincidentally cover the same stories in the same way? I mean it doesn’t really serve truth-seeking to rule out either coincidence (breathing separately) or conspiracy (breathing together) in advance. So lets – all of us – stay on the beat.

  • Shard


    I’ve been trying to find some articles with direct quotes about Cesc from people in the Barcelona camp. So far I have only looked at one paper (Sport) and only for a period of about 1 year from the summer of 09 to last year. I have already book marked a good number of articles. Not all of them (what you will argue I’m sure) constitute ‘tapping up’. And while that may be legally the correct position, morally I feel barca are only too happy to conduct their business through the media.

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Every time a Barca player or executive opens his fat mouth, the price for Cesc should go up by a million pounds. They already can’t afford him. They know they can’t afford him. Wenger will either sell Cesc for Arsene Wenger’s price, whatever he thinks that should be, and no one else’s price, or else he won’t sell Cesc at all. If Barca can’t accept that, then maybe they should remember that, in the last 2 years, they’ve won 3 La Liga titles, 2 Champions League titles, and the only league-national cup-Champions League Treble in Spanish history. Without Cesc. So, clearly, they don’t need him. So shut the fornicate up.

  • bob

    @Anne: your trump card is that Barca showed it’s teeth at the English media and appeared to threaten a law suit with strong language on the club’s website. That is startling to read and a breath of fresh air, as far as truth-seeking is concerned. That said, my further thought is to wonder what took Barca to the fall to post that disavowal and warning? That is, MIGHT Barca have decided to let the English media do the undermining until such point as the stories had reached such a fever pitch that Barca had to so act or else face the possibility of Arsenal’s lawsuit against them (Barca), and who knows what else behind the scenes like complaints to UEFA – I’m remembering something, but can’t quite nail it down now. That is, Barca may finally have done the right thing, as you show, but might Barca not have had to do the right thing when it became vulnerable itself – for legal reasons – as Arsene/Arsenal may have bared its own legal teeth at THEM, if I recall correctly (does anyone?). So, if anything I’m saying here holds water (and I’m not invested in wrongly nailing Barca), it’s important both to note that Barca disavowed and threatened the English media-barfers but that it may well have done so out of necessity, rather than out of virtue. And, if so (IF so), then you’d need to re-balance that part of your interpretation to that extent. Anyway, upping the auntie, so to speak…

  • That should be “In the last 3 years” they’ve won those things. Nobody can win 3 league titles in 2 years, no matter how many refs they buy off.

  • zdzis

    Good piece, very instructive. I didn’t follow the whole let-our-lovely-boy-go-oh-you-evil-Englishers debate last summer and I frankly don’t care too much about the current installment in the series, but still.
    Some truths that emerge.
    1) Cesc wants to go to Barca
    That’s pretty obvious. They didn’t let him play when he was a teenager, but now that he’s grown oh so, it’s high time they did. Barca is officially THE team, ask anybody with good sense and they’ll tell you they like watching them play and would love to be given the chance to join. Cesc is no exception, and he’s a native. This is simply an E.T. kind of situation.
    2) Barca players want Cesc to join Barca
    That’s another obvious thing. They play in the same national team, and cesc is an important part of it. He plays top-class football and is still very young for a player of this calibre. Plus they were friends at school.
    3) Barca managers would like to get Cesc
    If Arsenal didn’t have Cesc, they would want him, too. Besides, Xavi is already 30 years old, Cesc can be made to take over quite easily. Even if it costs them dearly.
    4) Arsenal will only release Cesc if they can get good money for him
    Otherwise, it wouldn’t make no sense.

    Now for the conjectures (and stuff).
    The volume of reports on Cesc “set to leave/leaving/tired of Arsenal” is directly equivalent to Cesc’s skills and the quality of his game. Denilson doesn’t get as much attention because he doesn’t merit it. Cesc does, so you keep reading those “reports”, “rumours” et al., the majority of which are simple conjectures founded on those few quotes from diverse sources, often given an unwarranted spin. I guess we can well expect Cesc to leave, either now or next year, maybe in two years, but that’s (almost) set (unless Barca’s finances collapse totally and they’ll have to sell, not buy). There’s no controversy in his wish to go back home, the only controversial thing is the way media recycle the same material over and over. It’s rubbish already, don’t know why we should bother to look at, let alone read the stuff.
    As for the Pique-and-Puyol-are-c**ts controversy, I must say I can’t sympathise with those who are so shocked. Imagine Lady Gaga going into a studio where a Madonna photo is perched quietly on the wall. She takes it and there’s a photo with her making stupid gestures and faces to Madonna. C**t? :] It’s childish behaviour, but the revulsion it’s caused is simply unwarranted. It’s as if a stupid photo would suddenly make Cesc go: “Oh, will you lookit that, they took a photo of my photo! How sweeet!” Unlikely. The Barca shirt controversy is much more justified, because it relates to a player’s loyalties. But then, Cesc broke a leg just to score against the same Barca that he wants to join so. He’s kicked more than one Barca ankle and shin, pushed back more than one Barca shoulder and shouted in more than one Barca face in those few Arsenal-Barca games that he played in of late. I don’t think there’s any issue with his loyalty, but he should avoid such broad gestures. It’s enough he says he’d like to go.
    Any talk of some “collaboration” between different Barca players, or between them and the Barca management: that’s again a petty issue. They play in the same team, G’damn! Imagine Nasri saying he’d like to play with Willian. Even if Wenger made no such move, the media would report talks et al. That in itself is innocent enough. It only gets problematic when people like us start to mouth off about how annoying and insulting this is. Why, actually? Why should players be castigated for broaching their preferences to the public? Why should they avoid comments about possible transfers if their club doesn’t encourage them to do so? And what if it does? There’s no law that would allow you to actually sign a player without paying a fee, you know. And you can’t control what all the people do. If Pique urges Shakira to talk Cesc into going (he already is talked into it, so what’s the fuss about?), what will you do? Steal her passport? or hijack Cesc’s phone? Now, as far as the media are concerned, they will continue to report partly false occurrences and developments. The only thing that can be done is to avoid information that sounds too good (or bad) to be true.
    Ahhh, another thing: notice how the stories are built into huge waves of information. Villa says “Cesc deserves to go to Barca”. The Sun takes it up, Mirror repeats, Star cuts out the hottest pieces and pastes them so they sound controversial, and so on. Instead of a single sentence, you get about 10 reports, each with a slightly different spin – some taking a column, others half a page. And Villa uttered just one sentence. Now is Villa responsible? And is that news at all? No sir, that’s no news, it’s an opinion that once was isolated, but suddenly grew to become NEWS. If you assume you can “tap” Cesc by just keep talking to him (and others) how well he would fit into your team, this by necessity means Cesc has no brain and can’t think for himself. If someone kept yapping on how well-off I would be if I did something that I can’t do at that particular time, I’d be furious. Should we be furious? I don’t think so. This kind of news belongs in the bin.

  • Shard


    Why not talk about the shirt incident? Do you feel it was an isolated case? Was the Cesc photo thing also a one off? Barcelona players and officials have often said how Cesc would be brilliant in Barcelona, how great it would be to play with him, how he wants to come back. None of which in isolation is too bad. But when it happens constantly then there is something to it wouldn’t you think?

    I know that they get asked about Cesc and only respond to it. I also know that at times they say that cesc has a contract with Arsenal and that must be respected (though at other times they refer to it as a problem). You may be right that the media creates a lot of these stories. But are the Barcelona players unaware of that? Do they not provide more fuel to the fire? Of course, that may not be intentional, and moreover they may not see that as their concern. Yet, it is also possible that Barcelona don’t mind all this talk of Cesc.

    In that regard I know Rosell has spoken about how this being played out in the media drives up the price. Yet, it is usually barcelona players and officials doing the talking while saying there should be no talk.

    Lastly, I know you dismissed the notion of Barcelona wanting Fabregas and trying to lower his price by tapping up the player through the media. You made a good point, but is it your belief that it is a tactic that does not happen in general? And if it does happen, it is because it has a chance of working? (Note, I said in general. Not in this case specifically)

  • bob

    @Uncle Mike: not even Fergie? I mean, is the Rednose 20th NOT already in the bag? (I mean there’s a now 2-BILLION EPL to keep on a stable footing.) And that would make, let’s see, 3 titles in two years, no? Ah well, surely we jest (?)…

  • Wrenny

    Brilliant articles, and what a phenomenal amount of work and research has gone into them. Thank you and well done Anne.

    Like Shard I don’t believe Barcelona are entirely innocent (and I don’t think you believe that either) but you have done an amazing job of showing how a great deal of the malice and intent to tap-up Cesc in those interviews is added by the press, and that’s when quotes aren’t entirely fabricated. It’s far too good a story for the papers NOT to exaggerate and embellish it where they can for maximum impact and profit 😀

    Regarding the way Arsenal are treated by the media I’d like to present a question for people to think about, from the viewpoint of the media themselves. If big transfer talk is a big seller, and Arsenal rarely chase after big name players, what can the press do to sell papers to Arsenal fans?

  • bob

    @Uncle Mike: jeesh, my apologies: Chelski did win two seasons ago…I’m pretty bad (and self-serving) at math. But surely you catch my drift (wink, wink)

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan


    What a work that must have been. Hats off to the good work.

    Like you though not on your levels, I have also tried and did some work about the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga last year and came up with conclusion like Fabregas mostly won’t be going on a transfer to Barcelona but still there was this shirt episode which haunted and many people here and also in other websites where I commented were more and more skeptical.

    Also one real fact that I wish the Arsenal fans understand much of the British media is Anti Arsenal or rather pro Manchester United and I don’t understand for what real reasons. The best example is Liverpool last won something years back(except for that CL victory) and nobody really cares. Even when Kenny Dalglish took over the talk was like KING KENNY takes over blah blah blah and not the flip side of the history.

    I don’t know but something really is wrong with the way the British media sees certain things.

  • bob

    @Wrenny: what can they do to sell us papers? well, play on our fears, our paranoia, on the fact that management doesn’t (perhaps understandably) issue (many) public denials of the rumors. I mean they’re masters at fear-mongering and reactions to the pressing of the fear button are not, how shall I say, measure and rational, however smart we may otherwise be. So they go for the fear button, press hard, and we react – only (a year later), as with Anne’s article and today’s valuable discussions, come to our senses. Fear sells and we have to be Watchful. That again is why I think a Media Watch would help us all stay thick-skinned about the tried and too true to be good fear-mongering. Would you play on a Media Watch side?

  • bob

    @Prasanna Veeraraghaven: I’m wondering why you think that (many, at least) Arsenal fans don’t understand that the media is anti-Arsenal/pro-ManU ?

  • Anne


    Ok, the David Villa comments. I say that they’re bogus, and my reason for saying that is that there are some serious sourcing problems.

    The first thing to point out is that there are actually two different Villa quotes that both appeared on June 4, attributed to different sources. However, both of them have the same general theme, which is that Villa has said that Cesc “deserves” to return to Barcelona.

    Quote 1 appears to have originated in the Sun. Here’s the full article:

    “DAVID VILLA has told Cesc Fabregas to join Barcelona.

    The Arsenal skipper remains the new European champions’ No 1 transfer target.

    And Spain superstar Villa said: “I have a soft spot for Cesc. You know what he would give to the team.

    “I hope he can come to Barcelona. Not only as a player but as someone who deserves to return.”

    Arsenal have put a £54m price tag on the midfielder.”

    So, not a whole lot there. Note that the Sun does NOT provide a source for these quotes, and nor do they say that they themselves conducted the interview. However, the other media outlets that picked up these quotes sourced them to the Sun, which means that the Sun is most probably the outlet that originated the quotes. The article you linked to took their story directly from the Sun, quoted the comments above, and sourced them to the sun.

    Moving on to Quote 2:

    This one seems to have first appeared on Sky Sports:

    “David Villa believes Cesc Fabregas deserves to return to his boyhood club Barcelona.

    The Spanish striker told Cadena COPE radio: “As a player, everybody knows what Barcelona brings. And as a person, he [Fabregas] deserves to return to Barcelona, his family is here and it is where he started.

    “Having him would be a great joy and I’d be happy for him because he deserves it, and I’d be happy to have him as my team-mate.”

    This second quote is sourced to Cadena Cope, which is a Madrid-based radio station. Note that, although the Sky article and the Sun article published completely different quotes from Villa, they’re still working the same talking point: notably that Villa said Cesc “deserves to return”

    Both of these articles were published on June 4, 2010. However, Cadena Cope is in Madrid and the Sun is in England. If we are to believe that Villa gave a radio interview to Cadena and a print media to the Sun within the same couple of days, he seems to be getting around a lot.

    Note: One thing I would normally do here is try to figure out where Villa actually WAS at the time these interviews were published. Given the date, I’m guessing that Villa is on vacation, and probably nowhere near either London or Madrid. However, I’m not worrying about that this time because I think that the sourcing problems alone are sufficient to debunk the quotes.

    And here’s the BIG problem with the Sky article, which debunks their quotes by itself: FC Barcelona is currently engaged in litigation against Cadena Cope. They filed a slander suit in mid-April, and legal proceedings are still ongoing.

    Thus, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that a Barca player would grant an interview to Cadena Cope at this time. Barca would never authorize it, and would most likely fine David Villa into negative figures for the year if he so much as said a word to them.

    So, I’m going to go ahead and call the Sky quotes completely bogus.

    And if that wasn’t enough by itself, look at the article you gave me:

    “Barca star Villa has now spoken out to encourage his Spain team-mate to leave Arsenal, reports the Sunday Mirror.

    ‘As a player, everybody knows what Barcelona brings. And, as a person, Cesc deserves to return to Barcelona,’ the striker said.

    ‘His family is here, and it is where he started. Having Cesc at the Camp Nou would be a great joy, and I would be happy for him because he deserves it.’

    Notice that Metro have taken the exact same quotes that Sky sourced to Cadena Cope, but they’re sourcing them to the Sunday Mirror. Btw, I looked on the Sunday Mirror’s site and tried to find these quotes, but I couldn’t even locate an article on the topic.

    The final Villa article you linked me to was the Sunday Mirror, and all they said was:

    “David Villa has told Arsenal that Cesc Fabregas deserves to be given the chance to return to Barcelona.”

    So, no direct quotes, no sourcing. And since the only thing that they said is that Villa said Cesc “deserves” to go to Barca, they could actually be using the quotes from either the Sun or Sky as a source, and both would fit equally well. Verdict? Not good enough.

    So, basically, all we’re left with here are the quotes from the Sun, which haven’t been COMPLETELY debunked. But consider that they’re unsourced, non-specific, and suspiciously similar to the other quotes while still being inconsistent with them, while also being published in the Sun, which is a notorious and serial fabricator.

    When all of the above is considered together, I think we’re left with no choice but to call BS on the Villa quotes.

  • zulu gooner

    Journos are as “popular” as politicians – enough said. thanks for a great post.

  • Shard

    Ok Anne,

    I’ll try to put some articles and quotes one by one, in chronological order as far as possible.

    Joan Laporta first. This in Feb 2010.

    “Arsenal came fishing for our young players,” he said. “One of them was Cesc. Now he is playing very well at Arsenal. I can’t say any more about this.

    Asked if Fabregas could be a summer signing, Laporta replied: “He is not a temptation.”

    This is not the only time (I think) that Laporta has called Arsenal as ‘fishing’ for talent. There was (I think) another quote when the Toral signing was announced. Even if it is the one quote though, it is clearly disrespectful to Arsenal.

  • Lanz

    Thanks a lot Anne for this brilliant work. I still strongly feel however that the Barca Leadership were up to something. What about the Laporta (hope I spelt his name right) quotes? Or was it not him? Some top guy that also went on about buying Cesc at 30m, etc? He has never denied the quotes. Rosell, I think, came in and admitted they must have offended Arsenal big. How come he said that? Did he observe anything other than the terse yet classy response that Arsenal gave to their bid? I think the Leadership over there used the statements of these players to get Fab4 at a cut price. As to referee favours, there is no doubt about that. It is not just Barca. Their first considerstion is which team (club or country)will bring in more money? Second is the anti-England thing. FIFA, the very, very interesting FIFA!

  • Shard

    By May, Barca had changed their tune. Or rather their public tune from “he is not a temptation” to He will arrive before the elections.

  • bob

    @Walter, Tony, All: If UA were game for this, maybe one way to have a fan-based Media Watch team post our media monitoring assignments (me the Guardian, Stevie E the Evening Standard, etc.) would be to give us a page every Thursday or Friday night, say, as our deadline, for filing our individual reports on media behavior. Then it’s open to all the readership to Comment. And, this way, we educate each other on how the media has been spinning our matches – especially when there’s an egregious call, and generally which writer/photog/paper-TV-blog is doing the dastardly spinning-coverup-whitewash. This way we have a public conscience that is parallel to the RefWatch and Match Review and whatever other Watches (Vidic, Dowd, etc.) that UA may wish to take on. Anyway, one proposal for going forward with a Media Watch.

  • Shard

    Laporta then said that Cesc would fit into the Barca system well, but that various parameters will decide his price, including what he has won, his achievements and needs of the club.

  • Shard

    Barca then say that they have contacted arsenal and are waiting for a response. But add that the player has publicly shown that he wants to come.

  • bob

    @Anne: Sourcing BS to Sun may well (and that’s fine with me) take David Villa off the hook. (Then again, not being in London or Madrid means nothing these days of telephones and other long-distance means of overcoming space…C’mon.) That said, if The Sun is the source of evil in this case, and a prime mover last summer too (I’ll re-check your analysis), then we might wish to look to who controls the Sun and what possible interest the controller of the Sun might have in de-stabilizing Arsenal? I mean is there a, ahem, possible link up between the Sun and say Sky (each the other’s echo-chamber with the desired multiplier effect on people’s psyches)? Quoting each other to multiply the same message, then? Let’s look at who’s at work both last summer and this summer and ask the simple question: who benefits by destabilizing Arsenal? This takes us into business realms where you seem to want to draw the line; but methinks we need to crossover the line from the biz to the pitch if these analyses are actually going to strike gold (in the sense of truth) as we pan away. Alright then, my Verdict: Sun and Sky anyone? Not exactly my idea of a day at the beach.

  • Shard

    I always thought that Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch, same as Sky. Though now you bring it up I’m starting to doubt it. However this was one of the things I thought was generally known and this is what I always thought was true.

  • Notoverthehill

    Well done, Anne.

    I too kept a file on the Barça press in particular, for the Cesc sage.

    You seem to have omitted the two main “players” in the former Barça President and Darren Dein, and the secret contract drawn up and stashed away in a Swiss bank vault!

  • bob

    @Anne: your analyses, for last summer, and now for this summer, do suggest to the merely curious a potential link-up to further check (whether a formal business, or informal working alliance type link) amongst the Daily Star, Sun and Sky. All very celestial. A Coincidence? a Coordinated campaign?
    @Shard: someone named Murdoch, you say? Never heard of the bloke. (grin) Any link there, just for a thought experiment mind you, to a ManU business-success in a 2Billion enterprise as per your great link of yesterday to the Business press? No, no, that would be a link too far. (even wider grin)

  • bob

    @Shard, Anne, Wrenny: a link too far?: It is published by News Group Newspapers of News International, itself a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation:

  • Shard


    A few more links. I’m not sure all of them are sourced (I didn’t feel like reading through all the Spanish. I’m a little slow at it) But you can tell me if you feel there is a problem with any of them.


  • bob

    @Shard: are you finding there in the Spanish press that Pique and Iniesta were then being cited as the main so-called spokespersons?

  • WalterBroeckx

    I’m affraid Ann will have no time to sleep in the next days 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    your question to a weekly media watch will be discussed with Tony. I don’t think he will have anything against it. In fact the series we have in the present and which we hope to continue in the future are all having their regular readers and fans. And I can imagine that it could be rather interesting to have a look at how the media covers the same incident. And by saying cover I also mean “covering”. I don’t know if this joke works in English….

  • bob

    Yes, “covering” has both meanings in English, definitely!
    Having a Media Watch that associates with the calls/non-calls/turning points on the pitch (and some good ones off the pitch, no doubt) could really get interesting, and very specific, and maybe pull a few covers off (oh god!) the Cover-ers … It shouldn’t be too hard to organize a team and have people choose what they want to (un)cover and then commit to a scheduled weekly write-up that could sync up nicely with the other UA reports. Cheers!

  • Joe

    Are you seriously saying that it has taken until this to realise that tabloid newspapers exist to sell covers, not to print facts. Anyone believing their nonsense in the first place is obviously rather challenged or so desperate for some gossip they will believe anything that is hung in front of them.

  • bob

    So far there’s me on the Guardian, and Stevie E on the Evening Standard, etc. The Mirror, and Sky, and the Sun and other juicy “opinion-leaders” as they once were called are open for the choosing. I hope readers who’ve shown interest so far will consider claiming any media outlet that wish to watch as their bailiwick for the upcoming season. It all helps, online, offline, radio/TV/Internet/newsprint…any media source with substantial influence in the marketplace of public opinion.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I must say I am impressed on how Anne took on the Villa quotes and showed in a very short time that they all come from the same source. And a source who is having some legal problems with Barcelona.
    Like Anne said it is very unlikly that Barcelona would let Villa do an interview with them.

    The problem for most of us is that we don’t know these things (legal actions against that radio station) so we take it for granted.

  • bob

    p.s. If there’s interest now as the transfer window approaches and Arsenal makes it specific moves, perhaps the Media Watch could have a pre-season run on an ad hoc basis where media reaction to actual Arsenal moves is documented and analyzed? Just a thought… but, eagerly awaiting Walter and Tony’s conferring on this. Tony, come home sooon.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think most of us felt something was wrong but until Anne who has acces to both media channels could put it together and who knows more about the media and press in Spain than most of us, were not sure on who said what.

    Anne has been looking for patterns in the reporting and this is something I have never done to be honest.

    So in a way this is new as now we can see how it went last summer. And still goes on if you look at the Villa quotes.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I was just wondering if this Madrid based radio channel could just want to add some controversy on Barcelona by doing this. I think of the fact that in Madrid they like to rub the Cesc name under the nose of Barcelona because they have let him go and this was clearly a big mistake.
    So by publishing the “Villa quotes” they just want to have a go at Barcelona. Maybe not intented against Arsenal but just for internal Spanish use?
    All picked up happily by the English media who can use it against Cesc at Arsenal of course.

  • bob

    @Walter: please pick up on The Sun/Sky threads as well, which appears both last summer and this summer in the tappy-tap. Anne may well have exposed and quashed the Madrid connection to Villa, but the Sun/Sky celestial machinery was also detected in the mix by her work. This is a potentially rich source of further understanding (should anyone wish to pick up on it).

  • Stevie E

    @bob – “untold media” (if I may ;)) seems to be a gooer which is really good, and with Anne on board I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before more join in SHARD, DARK PRINCE, BOBBY P etc etc.
    @Jack Straw – you mentioned you will be reading a lot over the summer, why not get on board, the sooner you get in the less chance of getting the Sun you get 🙂
    @anne – again, fantastic job, I have a feeling we’ve just witnessed the birth of a media eating star!

  • bob

    @Stevie E: good one! “Untold Media” it is (if/when Walter-Tony help launch the ship. I hope the champagne for the christening is being readied.) (Boo hoo, can it still be Untold Media [aka Media Watch]? Doesn’t matter, I think UM is great. Ummmmmmm!

  • bob

    @Wrenny: you clearly have a good eye for the biz/linkages, etc. I hope you consider claiming an Untold Media outlet(s) to follow; or at least will chime in under the cover(up)s.

  • Stevie E

    @bob – our 1st installment is a begrudging 200 worder in Sport Latest – “Cesc: I’m happy at Arsenal”. Opening with “no decision on future”, closely followed by Cesc “I’m happy, I’m happy, nothing to see here”. Damn, better stir the pot with “Cesc seen as Xavi replacement by Spanish giants” only to be told to “eff off and talk to the boss”. So, even after denials and protestations of happiness in London, they just can’t resist having a little poke. That’s it today, but to be fair, Wimbledon’s just around the corner so they’re busy building up Andy Murray for his annual fall. The UK press, it’s not all fun, fun, fun 😉

  • Shard


    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d say Pique is by far the most vocal about Cesc. It is not all ‘tapping up’ really because if he’s asked about Cesc he will say he’s a good player. But the number of times he says things like Cesc would be great at Barcelona, cesc is a real Cule, Cesc wants to come back, is basically what makes it. Usually it is also accompanied by a But he’s under contract with Arsenal, it may not happen this year, the sooner it happens is good but it is not in our hands,.. stuff like that.

    Anne might disagree and say that it is the media that ask them that question and how else are they supposed to answer? After all they do say he is under contract. Again, if it were one time, or twice that it happened, then it is excusable. Not so many times, and it isn’t just one player either. In a link with Xavi above, is a video from March, where Xavi is asked about Cesc, and he says I am happy that Cesc wants to come to Barcelona. To be fair, the question he was asked isn’t shown, it is only written below and may not be the question Xavi was asked. But to say that Barcelona are totally innocent in all this is a little hard to believe. Pique, Puyol, Iniesta, Messi have all at one point of time said something about Cesc at Barca. The officials at Barca have more than once LIED about the situation.

    In the end, I think the media make up the stuff, but Barcelona have been more than happy to provide it with the fuel it needs. If they wanted to avoid it, they could.

    And much as Anne attributes the lack of tapping up quotes to the legal action threatened by Barca (to only one paper though), I think it is because THEY themselves have told their players to back off. Rosell (the new president) has publicly said that Arsenal were angry and hurt and that relations had to be rebuilt. Although he himself has spoken about Cesc it has generally been in more respectful terms than Laporta did. I believe he has sought to repair the relationship, and maybe that gesture was acknowledged by Arsenal when they allowed Barca access to London Colney.

  • sad

    Well after Circus Ronaldo left for Real Madrid there is nothing fun happening in the PL. The only team with classy players that makes it FUN to go to games are Arsenal. Not because they are the best, but beacause they are the preattiest. There is never a dull moment with Arsenal. They both win and loose with style! Face it. Arsenal is the only club that sells. Nobody wants to read about United, they are so dull, after Ronaldo left its nothing there. If suarez nibbles someones chin again, then maybe Liverpool will be exciting.
    However the real profiles of todays PL are in Arsenal. Cec, Samir, Sanga, the selfsentered world chapoion Nik and the young briths Gibbs and Wilshere. We also got a loud mouthed polish keeper.
    We got all the personalities!
    Murdoc needs to sell papers. Arsenal to me is the only vialbe option for him.
    What els is there to write about in Pl? Who els have such colorful characters as ARsenal off and on the field?
    WHo els does everything in style both loosing and winning?

  • bob

    @Shard: I agree with you. I think the constant comment, rather than a club policy of no comment, amounts to a coded “siren song” that then and/or continues to show Cesc how his top-flight brothers always have him in mind. Being hugely public figures means you are not merely a private child voicing an opinion. So I don’t feel – however legalistically accurate Anne’s analysis may be – that Barca are babes in these woods. I also think that letting them train at Colney before the CL was Arsene’s double-edged signal that they Arsenal had made its peace, for now, with Barca whilst, at the same time, sticking one to Don Fergus (and this after Arsene had made a comment to the press saying that he backed MU in the championship match to come). I loved Arsene’s gamesmanship in all that. This said, however, I’d like to see what Anne comes up with re. Iniesta and Pique’s recent comments – are they also part of the Madrid media’s swipe at Barca. And, are the celestial hands of Sky/Sun also in this last week’s cookie jar? Are their comments also made up out of whole cloth? And, again to your points, I’d like to see Barca players take a public no comment stance on any questions posed about Cesc’s coming home. That would not be hard to do, IF there were a will to do so.

  • bob

    @sad: yes, but they don’t write about how pretty we are, but how ugly we and our “deformed” French manager really are. I don’t know. It could be part of the puzzle, but even if true, there seems something more afoot to make sure we are the clowns at Fergie’s circus.

  • bob

    @Stevie E: yes, there is the obligatory poke at Arsenal in those quarters, even as the story is the Cesc has not jumped ship. Let’s have an eye for the patterns of these pokes. This pattern is “the obligatory poke when the news is at least somewhat in Arsenal’s favor.” Maybe we can categorize the patterns. That would be a nice touch. Compile the patterns and who uses them and when. Was there an author’s name for this little nasty?

  • Stevie E

    @bob – I’m gonna start a file with each “authors” name and an list of arsenal stories he or she writes (or copies from another hack). I’m afraid as this was placed in the “SPORTS_latest” sidebar, no-one needed to take ownership of the story. Maybe it was lifted directly off a website?

  • bob

    @Stevie: yeah, starting a table is great; we could assign nuanced codes to the descriptions at some stage, or as we go on; and, by having some decent sort of coding, we could arrive at a content analysis of coverage that’s keyed to certain events, or time periods, or journals, or writers, etc. It’s not an exact science – nothing is – but it would allow some level of quantification and an ability to arrive at, to use marcus’s lovely phrase, patterns of bias. Anyway, let’s fine-tune some categories in this run up to the transfer-window and perhaps, by the start of the season, we’ll have some very viable categories for the types of media coverage that we find. This could really be fun and productive. What do you think? Cheers!

  • bob

    p.s. when there’s no author, then its Anonymous and, I think, we just assign authorship to the specific source itself (newspaper, blog, whatever).

  • Shard


    I just saw your post on part 1 of this article. Yes, I will monitor some UK publication’s online edition for any Arsenal related news. I am not sure what will be the flagging process though. Arsenal are going to be in the news everyday. How will we decide what is fair reporting and what isn’t. How will we compare notes of reporting from different newspapers. All these are issues I’m not clear about, but perhaps that will just come about simply by doing it and seeing if it works. Modifying it if it doesn’t. Trial and error.

    I wouldn’t put any blogs on that list though. It’ll only give them legitimacy. Something the media has by default.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I don’t think that Anne wanted to wash Barcelona whiter than white.
    And maybe at the beginning Barcelona was thinking they could force a transfer like that. Or maybe the presidential elections had something to do with it? Because if one candidate promises to bring Cesc back home the other could not but tell the same story.
    If the players being told to say how much they wanted Cesc back is something we cannot find out. We must remember that a few of the Barcelona players have played together with Cesc in the youth teams so they know him very well.

    So I do think Barcelona made mistakes (deliberate or not is hard to tell) but when things got out of hand they tried to do something about it. If this was under pressure from Arsenal again something we don’t know but the fact that a club goes public on its website and tell a paper to shut up is very much unseen and unheard.

    So both the management and the players of Barcelona have made mistakes but this doesn’t make the media any better. Because if they invent stories they are far worse than what Barcelona has done (or not done). In fact Barcelona only has to look after their own interests. But the media have a public task and should be working to tell the truth. (Oh I’m and old fashioned boy 😉 ) They are not there to invent stories. If I want to read a good invented story I will take a book from S. King. 😉

  • Shard


    I know that. Not arguing about the media at all, and for the record, I can’t imagine how much work and effort it would have taken to compile all of this data and then draw some meaning from it. I do not intend to take anything away from Anne. I’m just providing her the uphill battle she asked for 🙂

  • Stevie E

    Bob & Shard – im keen for input from the ua guys and I think annes input will be key. We need to decide what we are trying to do, what’s our mission if you will. We also need to narrow down which papers we’re looking at (is there any point looking at the daily sport?) and define what reports we target. I’m thinking we focus on match reports, as Shard rightly points out, arsenal are in the press every day, if we only look at match reports, we can link into untold refs. Which decisions did Walter spot that were ignored by the press. My personal mission is to note which evening standard reporters like/dislike arsenal, but I think as a whole, we need to focus on a specific. Your thoughts?

  • bob

    @Stevie E, Shard: for starters, let’s agree on a top 15 or so set of media outlets to monitor; trial and error will work. I like keying into Walter’s ref reports, but if anything outrageous like a banning or something comes up, we should be responsive to that as well and slaves to our methodology as it evolves. I also think we need to be sensitive and develop categories that describe the type of coverage that is being given to the type of events we decide to cover and be open to added to these as we move forward. Anyway, just for (more) starters!

  • Aussie Jack

    Intrique worthy of an Ian Flemming novel, sleuths come out of the woodwork, but where is Mr.Bond? On holiday in Barcelona or on a plane to Russia with Mr, Arshavin? Meanwhile, back to football.

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, I meant NOT be slaves to our methodology. That method should develop organically as we all move forward. In general, I feel we’d need to look for a specific event (keyed into Walter for the most part) such as a key call or non-call, the award of Fergie time, an injury assault, perhaps that is instrumental to deciding the game result, or that impacts the next game (by a dodgy red card to a key player, for example). etc. We can list some of these in advance and see what comes up along the way. Then we could look to our 15 media outlets and see (a) whether and (b) how the media outlet covered or covered up that event. Our descriptions of how the media covered the event could be both general and more specific: our reporter’s sense of whether it was fair coverage, mixed coverage or unfair coverage; plus the reporter’s reasons why. There will be comments, of course, from UA readers who could weigh in and that could well lead to modifications. At some stage we may feel that there are clearer criteria for evaluating fair, mixed, unfair and non-coverage. What’s important is that we start, proceed honestly, tweak our methods and categories along the way, and be open about how we interpret the coverage and be willing to give reasons, defend them and/or change our minds based on what comments come our way. Patterns are bound to emerge: certain outlets and writers/commentators/presenters will do their thing, and we will see it, and think about what generalizations might be possible. It’s a collective educational journey that may or may not bear considerable fruit, though I think it will. And lastly, let’s not cave into demands that it all be precisely quantifiable or its worthless. That’s crap. It may later be subject to one or the other form of content analysis, if/when/as we put our observations into tables, and then we can come up with a mid-season and end of season report. Anyway, that’s it for now – something to get the ball rolling a bit further. Looking forward to feedback….

  • bob

    @Aussie Jack: say what? well, ok, mate. yep, guess it’s back to football for the naughty geeks. now, can you add in your next sentence? or does that “back to football” just speak for itself? say it all, does it? guess i’m kinda curious which match you’re watching now? the foster’s cold enough? ok, how ’bout some real football, bring it on…

  • Aussie Jack

    Bob…To me football is still about a Saturday afternoon watching a ball being kicked around a paddock and the atmosphere of the crowd. I`m that old. Fosters? No mate when I did drink it was Watney`s Red Barrel, but that`s a while back.
    Incidentally you missed the `r` out of Greek`s and it does have a capital `G`…only fun, have a good one.

  • bob

    @Aussie Jack: ok, let’s leave it at fun. I’m Greek and I’m proud.

  • Anne


    Ok, on to your Mirrorfootball article. That one actually links to a lot of different interviews with different players (you’re really making me work, aren’t you? :), so I’ll do one player at a time, starting with Messi. All of these articles were published in the Mirror LAST summer:

    First article, April 14, 2010:

    Lionel Messi expects former Barcelona youth team colleague Cesc Fabregas to rejoin him at the Nou Camp because the Arsenal skipper has the club “in his blood”.

    Ok, there’s not a lot for me to do on this one because it’s completely unsourced. If the Mirror won’t tell me where they got a quote in the first place, I don’t know where to look to see whether it’s accurate. Personally, I consider the failure to provide a source to be an admission of guilt in itself. Quotes are supposed to be sourced, and typing the name of a source takes all of 2 seconds. I don’t see why you would ommit one unless you had a reason.

    But if that’s not enough, you can try to discredit the quote circumstantially. Since this was published in April, Messi was still in Barcelona, so that’s where he likely have made the statements. I don’t have time now, but I would normally go check the Spanish papers around the time that the statements were published, because they’re the ones who would actually have access to Messi at the time. If there is no such interview with Messi in the Spanish press (as I strongly suspect there isn’t), I would consider it to be “strike 1” for the Mirror.

    It’s also worth mentioning here that Messi almost NEVER gives interviews. He’s shy, and he really hates talking to the press. So the fact that the Mirror is linking to so many interviews with Messi in such a short time period is suspicious in itself. Strike 2? Nah…Strike 1 1/2 for that one 🙂

    Also, consider the comments themselves: The whole Cesc “has Barca in his blood” statement attributed to Messi here is essentially the same “Barcelona DNA” quote that circled the globe around 100,000 times last summer, the only variation being the name of the person attached to it. Add to that the fact that Messi is Argentine, and the “Barcelona DNA” phrase is more of a local Catalan thing, and I think we have Strike 2.

    I’m going to stop there, because strike 3 comes from the fact that the Mirror’s next “interview” with Messi can be proven as a fabrication. So, moving on to that….

    Next interview, June 17, 2010:

    “I would like to play with Cesc again because I know him like (Gerard) Pique (from the youth team),” he told Sport in an interview.

    “We’re in contact,” he added. “We speak and sometimes we send each other messages.

    “He wants to come to Barcelona and we’re all waiting to see what will happen. I hope he ends up coming and that we can play together again.

    “Nobody imagined that one day we could all be together in Barcelona’s first team, especially when Cesc and Pique left.

    “For us to be together again would be special, a lovely situation for those of us that were there back then.”

    Unlike the last interview, this one is really easy to check out because the Mirror sourced Messi’s statements to an interview in Since Sport is a print publication, all we have to do is look and see if the quotes are there.

    At the time this interview was published, Messi was in South Africa for the World Cup, so he wasn’t giving interviews to Barcelona tabloids at the time. To find the last statement from Messi given to Sport, you have to go back to May 15, 2010, and then to 2009 for the one before that. In May, 2010, Sport published the following quote from Messi, responding to a question about Cesc and Villa:

    “They’re great players. If they come it would be good for Barcelona. They would be players that would adapt here very well.”

    That’s Messi’s only quote.

    So basically, none of the statements that the Mirror attributed to Messi in this article have ever appeared in the publication that the Mirror named as its source for the comments, which means that they were fabricated.

    Next Messi interview, June 17, 2010:

    So, apparently, the Mirror published two interviews with Messi on the 17th. In addition to the fabricated “interview” above, they also published this:

    Messi reveals he’s been ‘tapping up’ Fabregas

    Lionel Messi has revealed he has been sending “tapping-up” text messages to persuade Cesc Fabregas to join Barcelona.

    Argentina forward Messi has paved the way for Barcelona to launch another bid for Fabregas by admitting he is desperate for the Arsenal midfielder to move to the Nou Camp.

    Barcelona have already had a £30m bid turned down by Arsenal but the Spanish giants are believed to be preparing a fresh attempt to sign Fabregas.”

    OK…I don’t really need to debunk this one, do I? 🙂 My position is that this article is so ridiculous that it debunks itself, and I’m going to just move on to something else.

  • Aussie Jack

    bob….just for the record I`m English from Highbury and proud of it.

  • Anne


    Ok, now I’m doing the Xavi quotes from the same Mirror Football article I addressed above. After Xavi, I’m going to quit with that particular article because I think that whatever there is to prove about its credibility will be established by then. So, here we go:

    1st interview w/ Xavi, May 15, 2010:

    Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez has added to the furore surrounding Cesc Fabregas’ potential move to Catalonia by publicly admitting: “Yes, I’d love for him to join us.’

    Arsenal star Cesc caused a storm by reportedly telling friends he’d sign for Barcelona before there World Cup, and today Arsene Wenger responded by begging his skipper to stay for two more years .

    The Arsenal boss will be dismayed by Xavi’s words today, though, which are sure to cause further controversy.

    “He’s a very close friend of mine,” added the Spanish star, “and a footballer with Barcelona’s DNA.”

    First, there are some serious problems with the sourcing on these quotes. The Mirror’s article is entirely unsourced, but these same quotes were published in other places as well, and nobody seems able to agree on the original source for the comments.

    For example, sourced the comments to the Sun:

    “Yes, I’d love for him [Cesc Fabregas] to join us,” Xavi told The Sun.

    “He’s a very close friend of mine and a footballer with Barcelona’s DNA.”

    But the Sun, in turn, sourced them to someone else:

    Spain star Xavi insisted: “Yes, I’d love for him to join us.
    “He’s a very close friend of mine and a footballer with Barcelona’s DNA.”

    XAVI was talking on behalf of – the home of fan opinion.

    I’m not sure what that even means. Xavi was “talking on behalf of” That seems like kind of a strange way to phrase it. And when I looked on, I couldn’t find any interview with Xavi anywhere. The search features on the site aren’t the best, so I can’t say for absolutely certain that there was nothing there, but I didn’t find anything.

    But anyway, the fact that the media outlets publishing these comments were contradicting each other about what the source was is a real red flag in terms of the credibility, I think.

    Second, these statements were published on May 15, during the time when Xavi was still in Spain preparing for the World Cup. This was the time period when the Spanish papers had access to the players, and most of the comments from the players at this time originated in the Spanish media.

    However, these statements originated in the English media. No one can agree on exactly who originated them, but they definitely weren’t published in the Spanish papers, either before or after they were published in England.

    Third, if you look at part one of my article, you’ll see that the comments attributed to Xavi here are VERY, VERY similar to the “Barcelona DNA” comments that Xavi made way back in November, 2009. In fact, all of the “Barcelona DNA” comments that were published during the summer are very similar to those original comments by Xavi. And as the summer went on, no matter who it was that the DNA comments were attributed to, the comments themselves didn’t change much at all.

    Really, by the end of the summer, it felt like we were all listening to a “Barcelona DNA” broken record, that just kept playing the same thing over and over again. It occurs to me that, for a reporter who’s just feeling in the mood to publish on the Cesc transfer saga, it would be very easy to just go back and grab some earlier comments and re-publish them as a new interview. Re-publishing old comments that had actually been made at some point would be much safer from a libel standpoint than inventing something new, because the player couldn’t deny that he had actually made the comments you published at some point.

    I think that there was definitely some of that going on in the media, particularly with regard to the DNA comments, because we just kept seeing them recycled over and over again.

    With regard to this particular interview, considering all of above, I don’t believe that the quotes are credible.

    Next Xavi interview, June 1, 2010:

    Barcelona ace Xavi Hernandez today claimed it is “more clear than ever” that Cesc Fabregas will join him at the Nou Camp next season.

    Arsenal are desperately attempting to fend off Barca’s advances for their skipper, putting an infeasible £80million valuation on the midfielder’s head.

    But with Fabregas’ father having upped the ante last week by urging the Gunners to let the 23-year-old return home after seven years in North London, Xavi turned up the heat.

    Xavi said: “It is right that Cesc will sign for Barcelona, and it has to be.

    “Two years ago I said that Cesc would end up playing for Barcelona and now it is more clear than ever.

    “In addition he has already expressed publicly that he wants to come to Barcelona and when a player wants to go it is a matter of when he leaves. It is clear that Cesc will come to Barcelona.”

    Ok, we have something new here. These particular comments by Xavi are by far the most credible that we’ve looked at so far. In this case, I think that Xavi definitely did make some comments about Cesc. However, I also think that what he actually said has most likely been distorted to some extent. I’ll explain.

    These comments are taken from an actual interview with Xavi in the Spanish media that was published on June 1 in Here is what Sport published. This was the first question in a longer interview:

    “Q: Is it clear to you that Cesc will sign for Barcelona?

    A: Yes, definitely. And it has to be like that. It’s been two years now that I’ve been saying that Cesc would end up playing in Barcelona and now it appears to me more clear than ever. He has already publicly announced that he wants to come to Barcelona and when a player wants to go to a place he ends up going. It’s clear that Cesc will come to Barcelona.”

    Ok, so, it appears that Xavi did give an interview to Sport, that he was asked about Cesc, and that he did in fact make some comments about Cesc. However, I do have some reservations about the way these particular comments read.

    First, and it’s hard to explain exactly what I mean by this, but the comment published in Sport just doesn’t read like XAVI. I’ve heard him give a lot of interviews, I’m familiar with his manner of speaking, the way he expresses himself, etc., and this just…I don’t know. It doesn’t quite sound like him.

    However, what this DOES sound like is Sport’s talking points on the Cesc transfer saga. Particularly the part about how Cesc has “already publicly announced that he wants to come to Barcelona and when a player wants to go to a place he ends up going.” You see the Spanish tabloids publishing this line a lot, both in their own reporting and attributed to various people. Like I said, it’s one of their talking points. Also, the whole “it’s clear Cesc will come to Barcelona” thing. That’s another one where you see them banging on that particular drum a lot.

    However, when you watch interviews with Barcelona players that are actually on video, as opposed to just printed in the tabloids, it’s very unusual to hear them making that kind of definitive statement, like “yes, this player’s definitely going to come.” They tend to be very noncommital on stuff like that, so for Xavi to say that he’s absolutely positive that Cesc’s going to come, it seems out of character to me.

    One other thing that’s worth noting is that Sport didn’t mention exactly when they conducted this interview, but I think it must have been a lot earlier than they actually published it. Because Xavi and the Spanish national team were already out of Barcelona by early June. In fact, this is what they were doing around the time that the interview was published:

    “May 31, 2010.
    Day 8 of the training camp was also the first full day in Schruns. The players had a double session, and the sessions gained intensity.

    June 1, 2010.
    Two more sessions for La Roja in Schruns yesterday. From morning to afternoon, it appeared that all they did was chase each other around and jump on each other when they finally caught their targets.”

    So, this definitely doesn’t seem like a time when the players would have been giving this type of interview to the media. It appears to me that Sport had an earlier interview with Xavi that they held off on publishing, and that they waited to publish until the players were out of the vicinity.

    With the players out of town and occupied with training and everything, it’s a time when Sport could definitely get away with fudging a little bit on what was actually said to suit their own agenda, with much less risk of getting called on it or getting into trouble.

    So, that’s my take. I think that Xavi did give an interview, and that he did say something about Cesc. However, I also think that Sport distorted Xavi’s comments to make them fit in with Sport’s official line on the transfer saga. To what extent, I have no idea. But it’s definitely true that these comments from Xavi are much more credible than the others we’ve seen so far, and whether you agree with my take on them or not is something that’s very much open to your own interpretation.

    3rd interview with Xavi, June 6, 2010:

    “I would love him to come. I have already told him so,” Xavi told Barca TV.

    “He’s a footballer made up of Barca DNA.

    Ok, I’m not sure exactly what I think about this one. This is the kind of statement that’s difficult to analyze because it IS sourced, but it’s a source that I can’t check to verify accuracy.

    On the one hand, this doesn’t seem like a time period where Xavi would be likely to be giving interviews. This is where he was:

    June 5: After day off, team returns to training in Madrid.
    June 6, 2010: It was extremely hot in Madrid, and in the morning session, the players looked more interested in cooling off than in del Bosque’s chat. There was also an afternoon session.

    But on the other hand, if anyone would have access to Xavi at this time, it seems like Barca TV would be a likely candidate.

    Mundo Deportivo published the comments in a little bit more detail. From the way it’s phrased it sounds like Xavi was responding to a question:

    “Personally I would really like it if he came, and I’ve already told him that. He’s a local boy. I don’t have any doubt that Cesc would do well at Barca.”

    (“local boy” is how I’m translating “Barcelona DNA.” More accurate).

    The way that these particular comments are phrased is much more consistent with how I would expect Xavi to respond to a question like this, as opposed to the “it’s clear that Cesc will come” response that was quoted above. There’s nothing forceful or arrogant or anything about these comments, he’s just saying “yeah, it would be great,” which is similar to stuff he’s said in other interviews that I find credible.

    So yeah, I think there’s a good chance that Xavi actually said this. I don’t see any harm or malice in it, though.

  • Gooner murphy

    Well some INFO on Cesc Transfer At 01.45 16th june on radio 5 live (Prog up all nite)Cesc’s interviewed confirming IN HIS Own words he’s happy at Arsenal and we have a great footballersat the club with “the potential to be the Best Team IN THE World ” Now I wonder how the English press will report that.

  • bob

    @Anne: To your super work on the Messi stories I offer two (hopefully relevant) rants as my thank-you.
    Rant 1: It’s interesting and depressing how now one seems able or willing to sue them for sheer fabrication (no pun intended, well kind of). The relentless paid job is to constantly blur truth and fantasy, and over time it’s rotted the public’s ability to see through it and demand otherwise, or simply to object at all. It’s a threat both to sanity and to democracy, all in the name of a free press of course. They have rights but no accountability. What protects them so well is the alleged bottomless public hunger for these stories. But is it so? I’ve never heard of a poll where the public was actually asked whether they felt well entertained or mainly irritated and too hopeless to mind the squeaky chalk on the blackboard. It’s more like the public is being you’re being entertained by this, so like it. The new normal= we make it up and call it fact and you’ll buy it.
    Rant 2: I do find it disturbing that Barca doesn’t just announce – as club policy – that its players and personnel have been instructed not to publicly comment on speculative questions from the media about Cesc Fabregas’s future. Why not, do you think? Given your liking Arsenal a lot, does this not bother you? Would you defend Barca’s not doing this? Would you demand they do this, for fair play? Say like an open letter on behalf of reconciliation between two sides devoted in principle to the beautiful game? Would you argue it’s in their interest to announce that policy for the good of the game? It wouldn’t be an admission of guilt; just taking a stand for best practices, so to speak. And why don’t you think they wouldn’t listen? Is there a heavy price that we could specify that a club like Barca would pay for NOT giving the English (indeed, the international) media the red meat they demand? The Cesc-come-home story is really a cash cow, and perhaps beyond its own interests, maybe refusing to quash it would invite revenge by the media. Or, perhaps, revenge by a rival faction within Barca itself. Questions, questions, but I’d very much welcome your thoughts on some of these sometime soonish maybe?

  • Anne


    Thanks so much for all your feedback on my posts here. Just wanted to say again that I AM going to respond to everybody who took the time to register their thoughts, so please do keep checking back 🙂

    Right now, I’m trying to respond to everyone who asked for my opinion about a specific article or comment, which takes some analysis, so it’s taking me a little while. After I get finished with those I’m going to come back and respond to other comments.

    Thanks again.

  • bob

    p.s. Sorry to be murky above. To make it clear: In Rant-1 I meant to write: “It’s more like the public is being TOLD: you’re being Entertained by this, so Like it.” And, in Rant-2 I meant to write: “maybe DECIDING to quash it would invite revenge by the media.”

  • Anne


    Ok, on to Iniesta. I swear, I’m going to have to start charging you by the hour for this 🙂

    As for the specific comments by Iniesta you were asking about, I’m pretty confident that they’re not credible:

    “Let’s hope so. Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season. We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club,” he said today.

    “His arrival would give us a huge jump up in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here.”

    These statements by Iniesta were part of the Sun’s infamous 5 interviews w/in 10 days series that I mentioned in my post. However, I did realize one error I made in my post with regard to those interviews. I said in my article that the players allegedly interviewed were “on vacation” at the time. However, I was actually a little early on that.

    These interviews were actually published just BEFORE the players left for vacation, during the week that Spain was celebrating its World Cup victory. However, I think that strengthens my argument rather than weakens it 🙂 Considering the players’ jam-packed schedule of parades, meetings with dignitaries, heavy drinking, etc., it seems ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to me that they were also taking the time to give that many interviews to the English media about transfer rumors.

    More on the Iniesta comments. First, I’d like to note that Iniesta’s comments begin with the phrase “Let’s hope so.” This would indicate that he was responding to a question. However, we have no idea which media outlet allegedly asked the question, because no media outlet has actually claimed to have interviewed Iniesta. In fact, we don’t even know who published the comments first, because nobody has been willing to either claim them or source them. (It was the Sun, but I can’t actually prove it :))

    And speaking of the Sun, they made a rather amusing error when they published Iniesta’s comments, which tends to reflect negatively on the credibility of their report. Specifically, I’m talking about this:

    “ANDRES INIESTA last night admitted he is desperate for Cesc Fabregas to leave Arsenal and join Barcelona.”

    Since the Sun’s article was published on July 13, “last night” would be the night of July 12. In other words, the Sun has Andres Iniesta giving this interview smack dab in the middle of Spain’s World Cup celebration party in Madrid. I find that highly unlikely, personally.

    Although I suppose it would be the ultimate irony, if, just as Pique and Puyol were pulling a Barcelona jersey over Cesc’s head, Iniesta was simultaneously tapping him up in the English media 🙂 But I digress…

    When the Guardian published the same comments on July 13, they corrected this mistake:

    “Andrés Iniesta TODAY reiterated his desire…” So, in addition to the omission of a source for these quotes, we also have a contradiction regarding when the comments were made. And incidentally, although it’s a substantial improvement on the Sun’s reporting ( 🙂 ), I still don’t think it’s likely that Iniesta was speaking to the English press from Madrid on the morning AFTER the World Cup celebration either. In fact, the other media outlets who published these quotes just chose to omit the date entirely.

    Anyway, to sum up, I don’t find these reports on Iniesta’s comments to be credible, mainly due to the timing and volume of the interviews that were being published at the time. Although the lack of sourcing should also not be overlooked.

  • bob

    @Anne: a last one: Do you think a would-be president or chairman of Barca could have publicly announced something like this and still won his election bid?: “Barcelona FC announces its policy that players are not to publicly comment on anything related to Cesc Fabregas’s future.” Do you think that Barca’s last summer election politics made it impossible for any candidate or official to say anything publicly other than promising to bring back Cesc?

  • Kentetsu

    Thanks again for the article, Anne. Part two was just as great a read as part one.
    It is no news that media fabricate or exaggerate stories or take things out of context. And yet it is so easy to fall into their trap if you are not careful. At least, your article will bring awareness to UA readers – insofar they were not aware yet – that anything read in the media should not be taken at face value. And yet, the media will maintain the power to incite people against certain players or clubs. As an example, Hodgson was a national hero after he took Fulham to the Europa League final, then castigated at Liverpool after a poor half season while they were poor for a year before he became their manager, and then back to ‘most likeable manager of the whole wide world’ (I might be exaggerating a bit) when he took up the job at West Brom. To some extent of course the Scousers were unhappy with Hodgson, or at least with the results, but the media surely poked the fire.
    Now, back to the Arsenal-Barcelona saga. Another thought I had: do you notice any difference in reports (related to Arsenal) between media based in Barcelona and those in Madrid? I believe Marca is the unofficial Real Madrid newspaper, don’t know which one fulfills that role for Barcelona.

  • meditation

    Great article Anne. Here is a link that might shed some light on these media outlets. Please watch its useful for understanding mechanisms of the media.

  • sahil

    The sun is owned by rupert murdoch. A word of advise to fellow gooners, never believe anything that comes out of a media outlet owned by rupert murdoch.They give the most biased views.

  • sahil

    @Anne: A well researched article.Nice job.

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    Barcelona already does have a replacement for Xavi. Thiago Alcantara. He’s being promoted full time to the first team next season, and they’re sort of bringing him up behind Xavi in the same way that Xavi was brought up behind Pep. I actually have real difficulty envisioning Barca bringing Cesc over and putting him in line ahead of Thiago. It’s just not their style.

    They reward their youth players for showing loyalty to the club, and they’re not afraid to start them young and allow them to develop into their position over a couple of years. I would honestly be shocked to see Cesc transfer to Barcelona. Anytime soon, at least.

  • Shard


    So did I provide you with a worthy challenge, or have you not had time to look at the links? 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard and Lanz:

    Both of you are definitely going in the right direction by asking questions about Barcelona management. This is an issue that I really need to do some more research on myself, but I’ve done enough to recognize that, if you’re looking for wrongdoing by Barcelona, that’s where to look.

    Particularly with regard to last year’s elections and the way that Cesc was used as a political pawn. Barca could have done much more than they did to keep the media under control and quash these rumors before they got so out of hand, but one of the main problems was that they didn’t start trying until AFTER the election. And then there was LaPorta’s ridiculous low-ball offer which was designed to be rejected, but was supposed to make it LOOK like he wanted to sign Cesc…

    I’m not trying to say that Barca management had ill intentions towards anyone, or that they’re bad people, or anything like that. It’s just that they’re politicians, and electoral politics have a huge impact on the way Barca is run.

  • Anne


    LOL. Good timing. No, I haven’t had a chance to look at your links. Up until this point it’s been enough of a challenge to just read all the posts 🙂 I’m trying to go through now and just get an idea of everything I need to respond to tomorrow 🙂

  • Anne


    I’m actually really looking forward to reading your links because the issues you’re raising about Barcelona management are one of the things that I find most interesting myself. And it’s also the one aspect of this stuff that I haven’t looked into yet in a lot of depth

  • Anne


    Yes, I suppose I definitely omitted the “former Barça President Darren Dein, and the secret contract drawn up and stashed away in a Swiss bank vault.” But the reason for that would be that I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about 🙂 Care to elaborate?

  • Anne


    I’m not sure that the Madrid media exists for any purpose other than to create controversy for Barcelona 🙂

    But as for the Villa quotes, I think that they probably originated in the English media. You tend to see a fair amount of dubious quotes turn up that are sourced to interviews with foreign radio stations, and I think the reason that it’s done is as a way of providing a source, but one that can’t actually be checked

  • Anne


    I do wish that Barca would make some sort of formal effort at reconciliation or something like that. And I wish that they would take a more proactive approach to protecting their own image, which has really suffered as a result of all this stuff.

    But for whatever reason, that’s just not the way that Barca does things, and not just in this particular area. They prefer to handle things behind closed doors, and particularly where the media is concerned, they tend to just sit back and let the storm go on around them.

    One thing you have to understand about Barca is that, although they have a big international following, the club itself is very Catalunya-centric. They prioritize their domestic affairs over everything else

  • Anne


    I’m really not sure what the domestic political mood over there is with regard to Cesc. It’s hard to know unless you live there. I do know that Barca would never make a public announcement of a no Cesc comments policy, even if they had one, because that’s just not the way they do things

  • Anne


    The Spanish newspapers (Madrid and Barcelona) really don’t do much reporting on Arsenal at all, actually. Not much more than match results. Obviously, the Barcelona papers do report a lot on the Cesc transfer saga, but even in that area, the reports aren’t very focused on Arsenal. They talk more about Cesc and Barcelona, and just mention Arsenal as the need arises.

    It’s not like in the English media, where every article is about lack of trophies, Arsene Wenger, etc. And the Madrid papers are a lot less interested in the Cesc transfer saga because they don’t have a dog in the fight. Although if the English media comes out with something that makes Barca look really classless they do like to jump on that 🙂

  • Shard


    I agree that there will never be a declared no comment policy on Cesc by Barcelona, nor do I feel there is a need to. In fact, I think this has been done behind the scenes. The last reports I found in Sport, of any direct quotes from Barca players was around March or April. (Pique might be an exception here, don’t remember now) You attribute it to legal measures threatened by Barcelona but I disagree. Rosell has probably tried to repair the relationship with Arsenal and as I mentioned earlier, Arsenal have probably recognised this when they opened the training ground for them.

    Regarding officials, I haven’t included many quotes that were around, and I do remember there were many more. Laporta and his fishing quote (which I think he’s used twice), Bergstain (Cheeky Burger Stain is what I know him as) had an awful lot to say about Cesc wanting to come home, and there were one or two more. Rosell has gotten his nose in too and has contributed to the media circus at points but his comments aren’t as insulting.

    You are also correct to point out that they are after all politicians. I do believe that it is one major reason why they themselves treat the Cesc case differently, at least in public. That might be the reason for their behaviour, but it makes it no less annoying, and in some sense even more so.

    Regarding the players, I think they have often been encouraged by the Barca officials, to talk to, and about Cesc, whenever they can. Also, I do believe that Barca players (or some of them) are so caught up in their own history, their own traditions, and finally their own success, that they do not realise how they might be disrespecting Arsenal.

    The media is just the joker in the pack. Arsenal face a lot of media nonsense at home and in all fairness do know how to deal with it, and keep a distance from it. If it were only the media playing this game, the two clubs officially would not have had a strained relationship. I think it is clear that Barcelona at some level, were using the media to TRY and further their agenda; whether personally as politicians, or as the club for buying the player (Is there any difference in the end?)

  • chris

    A very good article concerning words being put into Barca mouths by English tabloids (!) I am very glad you published this exposee.

  • Anne


    I’m about to take a break from this for awhile, but I’m planning to look at all those links of yours tomorrow, so check back. Cheers.

  • I think if a players heart is not with Arsenal then he can get on the next bus out of town

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    @ Bob:

    I believe I have put my views straight. By and large its been lop sided as I don’t want to call it one sided. Still its the same old story when it comes to Arsenal fans. They continue to put their words based on the same old stories and reports that emanage out of the same media.

    Every day I get to read about Arsenal news from various sources but the end source is the same as what is being put here. The British tabloids and television channels. Its well understood that they are Anti Arsenal but still I don’t know why such weightage is given for what they write.

    I really wish somehow the fans esp those in your country push for a reliably free sources like this run by others to create a pool of information that will not only thwart misinformation campaigns but also help in real information being circulated.

    When I wrote last year in many other forums about Cesc Fabregas continuing to be Arsenal skipper all I got was skeptical retorts. This is main reason why I believe the media is Anti Arsenal because they understand that is the best way to instigate us fans.

  • Shard


    Enjoy your break. It’s definitely well deserved.

  • Shard



  • C4

    For those who visit and comment on a lot of other Arsenal blogs, don’t you want to post links to this article all over the place? Hopefully it goes platinum, and people start to question the garbage being deliberately put out there for us to consume. Personally, I’m not a fan of garbage, it tastes like… well, garbage… I’m now very skeptical when I see certain headlines, and usually don’t bother clicking when I can see it’s clearly rubbish. It might help reduce the number of hits these lying scumbags get. I’d be REALLY happy if the foul-mouthed masses I’ve seen on some blogs start demanding sources for articles in unison. That should dampen the “creativity” of the “bloggers” and “authors” who perpetuate this AA crap.

  • Notoverthehill

    Anne, my apologies for the lateness.

    The source is dated 14/02/2011 by Francesc Aquilar. I believe it is very important to name the author of the article as well.

    I would also point out that Cesc had a broken leg in the Spring of 2010. He rented the flat that Deco used to have in Barcelona. His mother has a franchise at the Spanish Grand Prix and Cesc did the honours for his mum and financed the venture? The Port Aventura and that “monster” ride he so loved as a boy and still does from the photo taken at the time.

  • Norm

    Illuminating 2 articles, Anne. So much hard work, research and referencing that you have put in…. and guess what? It reads like the truth. Thank you.

  • Anne

    Ok, I don’t know how many people are still checking back on this, but I said I’d come back and respond to everyone so I’m going to do it. There are 2 things that I want to address here that have been mentioned by more than one person.

    First, that twitter pic with Pique and Puyol pointing at Cesc.

    Second, the shirt prank. Enough people have asked me about it that I guess I can’t justify avoiding it anymore 🙂

    I’ll start with the twitter pic because it’s a much easier response:×220.jpg

    My advice to you guys about the twitter pic is you REALLY need to stop worrying about this one! Seriously. Think about what it is that you’re worrying about. It’s a picture of Pique and Puyol pointing at a picture of Cesc and making goofy faces. They’re obviously kidding around, and I just don’t see what there is to read into that one.

    One thing you need to understand is that Pique, Puyol, and Cesc are really good friends. When they’re playing with the Spanish national team, the three of them hang around together, and they’re all complete goofballs.

    Here’s just a passing reference from, a blog that followed the national team during the World Cup:

    “people also listen to Carles Puyol, another of the veterans, who has his own trio, formed with Cesc and Piqué. They never stop joking around.”

    I really think that the reason Pique and Puyol posed for that picture was so that Cesc would see it and laugh about it. That’s it.

    On the other hand, I think that someone really needs to sit them down and talk to them about the tactfulness of that kind of behavior.

  • Anne

    Ok, on to the shirt prank (sigh). The reason that I haven’t talked about it up to this point is that I’m still kind of dumbfounded, honestly. I just can’t BELIEVE that they did that. I still can’t. I really do believe that it was meant as a joke, and nothing more, but it was in SUCH bad taste that I can’t even FATHOM how on earth they came to the conclusion that that was something that they should do.

    I’m not going to defend it. All I can do is try to explain why I think that it was meant as just a joke, as opposed to something nefarious and malicious.

    First, to understand why something like that would seem funny to the PLAYERS (albeit not anyone else), I think you need to step back for a bit and think about what it must feel like to be on the inside of this massive media storm that is the transfer saga. Everywhere these players go (Cesc included), people are asking them about all this stuff, and they’re surrounded by these journalists who are just constantly waiting to jump on ANYTHING they say that they could possibly turn into a controversy.

    Being on the inside of something like that, what else could you do besides laugh about it? I’m sure that when all of these guys are together, they joke around about it a lot. What else could they do? Otherwise they would go crazy. Another thing that adds to that aspect of it is that, I believe, all of these players knew all along that the transfer was NOT in the works, and was never going to happen. Which would add to the ridiculousness aspect of it from their perspective. I think that, from where they’re standing, something like the shirt prank would be more of a mockery of the whole situation than any kind of indication that they were taking it seriously.

    Aside from that, all I can do is show you a little bit more about the circumstances and the context in which the prank occurred. If you look at that, you’ll see that the atmosphere was very jovial with a lot of joking around. Oh, and also, everyone involved was COMPLETELY wasted.

    On the day when the prank occurred, things started out early with a parade through the streets of Madrid. That lasted all afternoon, and the beer was flowing the entire time. Here’s a brief report from conlaroja about what was going on between Cesc, Pique, and Puyol (good friends, remember) during that parade:

    “From the act at Moncloa, the team boarded an open top bus that would take them through the streets of Madrid. As soon as the players got on the bus, they started opening cans of beers.

    On the bus, Piqué was the life of the party (i.e. the most drunk). He was seen at least twice going down to get more beer. Other things he was seen doing: practicing karate moves on Cesc, being held onto by Cesc as he climbed on to the railing, mock fighting with Cesc and Xavi (Valdés separated them), throwing things at Cesc, getting beer poured on him by Puyol. At one point, his shirt came off and Cesc poured more beer on him.”

    So, you can see that, from early in the day, Cesc, Pique, and Puyol were ragging on each other and picking on each other in a joking way. As the parade concluded, the players got up on the stage and the official celebration began.

    The shirt prank occurred as part of the introduction of the players, and here is how it all went down (I edited out some of it for the sake of brevity):

    “And then it was time for the presentation of the players one by one. Pepe Reina was emceeing the presentation. Note: some of the translations don’t work well in English, and other things are probably private jokes amongst the players, so they don’t make any sense to the rest of us.


    ‘One. On May 20, 1981, a saint was born in Móstoles. He stopped the penalty against Paraguay in the quarterfinals and blocked everything that came from above against Germany. He stopped Robben in the final with his foot. He stopped Robben in the final with his hand… Iker Casillas!

    Two. The friend of famous people, he’ll kill to get a [Blackberry] pin, he loves his Blackberry, his mouth sings… Raúl Albiol!

    Three. The friend of show business, the dandy of Spain, the central defender of the world… Gerard Piqué!

    Five. The head of Spain, he sent us to the final with his head and his Tarzan of Africa hair. The man who eats shinbones… Carlos Puyol! [Pepe said Carlos].

    Ten. He doesn’t want me to say “empanado” but let’s see… Cesc, where is Cesc? Come here. With the 10, he has a heart… [Piqué and Puyol put a Barça shirt on Cesc]. With the 10, the future of Barça, the future of Spain… Cesc Fàbregas!

    Eleven. The owner of the left touchline, the incombustible one, the phenomenon, he’s extremely ugly… Joan Capdevila!

    Sixteen. For me, the man of the World Cup, the snowplow of Badía, the octopus of Badía, the tentacles of Spain, the man who steals (balls), gives, takes away, plays and creates hesitation… Sergio Busquets!”

    So, there it is. You can see from the context of the other introductions that they were ALL supposed to be jokes, and that they were all sort of ragging on the players as well (although not in a malicious way).

    And I think that the presentation of Cesc with the Barcelona shirt was just a joke too. They were ragging on him about the transfer rumors. I’m not suggesting that it was a remotely FUNNY joke. In fact, the level of bad taste that it demonstrated is absolutely appalling, and it seriously makes me wonder about the overall intelligence levels of Pique, Puyol, and Reina.

    But there you have it. That’s my take, and I guess you can form your own conclusions. As a fan of FC Barcelona, I sincerely apologize to all of you for what occurred there.

  • bob

    @Shard, All: Thank you Shard for your AMAZING LINK. All interested in media-watching should be ready to scrutinize the process of mass genuflection that has been signaled and set in motion as the run-up to Rednose 20.
    I trust that Shard won’t protest if it would go viral hereabouts, as it already that sickening; and perhaps, this way, it will produce its own vaccine if our body impolitic here at UA (and beyond) redouble our efforts. To wit: the gist of this press release from the BBC (masquerading as a (cough) news story) is this: Hear ye! Hear ye!:
    “A campaign has kicked off at Westminster to make Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson a Lord.”
    For the rest: ]
    @ Gooners-All: Is The Rednose 20 now a Done Deal!? Has it finally become Unpatriotic to stand up to His Lordship-to-Be and say no…? Surely it is a time for All Things Untold (and a new Untold Media) to redouble our efforts, marshal our wit and wisdom, and shine our collective Truth-Ray into Sauron’s Eye. To Expose the cockroaches on the pitch and in the press; all those who would genuflect to serve the Grand Occasion. There is another way: Let the ire in The Shire be stoked. All this to say – and by any means necessary – Go Gunners!

  • bob

    @Anne: For the Barca Boyz to do this at Colney really is appalling. They don’t deserve your Decency in offering up an explanation (yes, not a justification) for them who are surely too arrogant and narcissistic in their privileged fun-time to even care to realize exactly where-they-are, and just what (the literal, symbolic and emotional landscape) they have so ignorantly made their personal playpen. If I were to advise Unicef, I’d urge them to think twice.

  • bob

    @Anne, all: my post above, of course, is referring not to The Shirt, but to The Picture (the merry pranksters at Colney).

  • bob

    @Anne: last bit: I think The Picture is worse than The Shirt: We invite someone on the eve of their climactic major event into our house – as a favor to them. As they’re invited to dine, they come over to your dinner table and _______ on the plates. To me, it’s the behavior of pampered narcissists; and while ‘boys will be boys’ may explain it, it just doesn’t cut it.

  • Anne


    Responding first to your links about Laporta and the electoral stuff. I have to admit that, reading all these comments from Laporta and Txiki, that I was laughing a little bit…because to me these comments bear the classic hallmarks of politicians who are backed into a corner, and are trying to get out of it by talking out of both sides of their mouths.

    Here’s how I read the situation. They have an upcoming presidential election, it’s the time when they need to be doing absolutely everything in their power to appeal the voters, and thanks to all this “Cesc wants to come home” media pressure, the voters want Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona. But at the same time, the club doesn’t want Cesc, Arsenal wouldn’t sell him even if they did, and they know that there’s no way in hell that the transfer is ever going to happen.

    So they’re trying to give the impression that they really, really do want to sign Cesc, but then simultaneously make excuses for why it isn’t going to happen.

    Let’s talk about Laporta’s 30 mil offer for Cesc. He made that offer because he wanted to make it LOOK like he had made an offer to sign Cesc. But then he also made the offer deliberately too low to be accepted. He knows damn well that that was a ridiculous, lowball offer.

    But he’s going on about all this stuff about the market rate to try to convince the voters that “no, really, that was an excellent offer for Cesc! I tried my hardest to sign him, I swear I did!” Rather than admit to the voters that he’s not willing to pay for Cesc, he’s trying to give the impression that Arsenal is asking too much, and that the whole situation is out of his hands.

    Personally, I don’t think he was ever able to actually sell the public on that. Note that his candidate did NOT win the upcoming election 🙂

  • Shard


    You already know my position on the Twitter photo. I don’t care about it. I just think it was disrespectful and shows barca in a poor light.

    I did not know about the player introductions and that does give more perspective on it. (Being drunk on the other hand is no excuse for any sort of behaviour in my book)

    But, this is where I go on a rant about Barcelona. I do it not just out of annoyance at the way I feel they have acted towards my club, though that is the main trigger. But also, I say this because I have been a follower of Barcelona for some years now and I feel frustrated at what they have become, despite them having become what they have on the football field.

    Almost all of these incidents, as indeed some of the interviews by the players, are passed off as a case of friends wanting to play together, friends appreciating each others’ talents, chums playing a joke on each other. Except these aren’t schoolboys. They are professional footballers who represent their club(s) through their actions. Besides, you would think it is only Barcelona which foments friendship amongst footballers. The football world is filled with friends playing for different clubs and this sort of thing doesn’t happen elsewhere. This is less about a Catalan friendship ritual, and more that Barcelona now believe that with their recent successes, anything they do is acceptable. (Sometimes this manifests itself on the field too by the way)

    Another thing that I think has happened/is happening, is that Barcelona are becoming more and more insular. The academy has served them well and it seemingly will continue to do so. While Barca were always a symbol of Catalan pride, they have stepped that up another level. The propaganda of Barca being Catalan is often seemingly used as a synonym for superior.

    This insular attitude, combined with the arrogance that winning has seemingly bred is what leads to the players acting the way they do. Whether it be the shirt prank, or saying them winning is a victory for all of football. Whether it be talking about Cesc, or not knowing South Korea from North. Barca feel they ARE football. Their traditions, their culture matter very deeply to them (which it has always done). But they are now so ‘drunk’ with their superiority, that they do not even consider other clubs or cultures as being worthy of the same respect.

    It’s human in a sense. We have many Arsenal fans doing pretty much the same thing when there is a rumour linking us to some player from a smaller club. We assume that the player would want to come to us. We accuse the other club of playing hardball when it is clear that the player wants to come. We feel cheated when the transfer doesn’t materialise.

    You see what I’m saying here is, that ironically, by getting closer to their roots, their culture, Barca have actually forgotten where they came from. They have lost perspective. It is all well and good when you are winning of course, but we shall see when the wheel turns a bit further, how they cope.

    Does this stem from the players? Not at all. It is the top management. The players always are forced to represent the club the way the club itself projects itself.

    As for Cesc, and their behaviour towards Arsenal. They want Cesc not because he’s Catalan. But because he’s good. (I don’t see the same clamour for Fran merida) But Cesc is now used as a political figure. He’s good, and he’s Arsenal’s. But he’s actually ours. Arsenal can’t keep him, Madrid can’t have him. He’ll always be a local boy. We’ll get him back one day. But it won’t be for a reflective price because we created him. All nonsense, and not a creation of the papers. It is the club which propagates this.

    Largely, it is at the higher level that Barca operate this way, not the players. Yet this sort of thing filters down to the players too. The reaction and even the words in the buildup to the Arsenal match at the Nou Camp was revealing to me. Here was a club that could not tolerate the notion that someone else could play passing football and match them. After all Barca ARE football. They never miss an opportunity to let you know that. Pep saying there are many Wilsheres in Barca B and that Arsenal can play him only because they have no pressure to win. Xavi saying after the match that Arsenal just did not play football. other players presuming to speak for our fans. I think it was xavi who said that the referee was right to send Van Persie off. During the time, before and after that match, essentially, THE MASKS CAME OFF.

    Maybe this entire rant is meaningless and you will dismiss it as just reactionary nonsense. It is possible you are right. But it is my perspective on where Barcelona are now. Their actions towards Arsenal are simply symptomatic of that.

    P.S. One other small thing. Something that annoyed me a good 6 years ago. When Barca first put Unicef on their shirts and marketed it as a great symbol of charity. I said from day 1 that it is simply a ploy to get their socios used to the concept of something being written on the shirt, before they sold it. It isn’t the action by itself that annoyed me of course. Nothing wrong with selling the shirt front. But hypocrisy annoys me every time.

  • Anne


    I’m not sure that they realized that Arsenal fans would take it that way, and I’m sure that their intent was not to offend or disrespect their hosts. The problem is that they just need to THINK before they act, and use better judgement about what people might find offensive. Part of the problem is that neither player is exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you get my meaning.

    But I don’t think it’s fair to judge people in isolation just based on the worst things that they do. Watching them on a regular basis, I haven’t seen a regular pattern of disrespectful behavior from either Pique or Puyol. On that occasion they behaved badly, and I’m not going to excuse that, but I guess that I can forgive them for it. They do engage in a lot of good behavior as well.

    To tell the truth, they probably come off looking a lot better than I would if I had journalists following me around 24/7 waiting for me to make myself look bad.

  • Shard

    Apologies for the ill written post above. It came pretty much from the heart, and also it is 4 am over here right now 🙂

    Anne. once again. I do not mean to offend you, and I do not even disagree with you about the players being friends and joking, Barca not really wanting Cesc etc. I agree with that. I also agree that the media has managed to trick a lot of people with their antics and I congratulate you for demonstrating how to look past that. What I do feel is that Barca have been using the media as well, and also that their officials and players have shown disrespect and arrogance. Whatever be the motivations (politicking, jokes among friends etc) doesn’t make any difference. Not as a fan of Arsenal when we are being disrespected. And not when I remember the Barcelona of old.

  • Anne


    Fair enough. I don’t see that as a reactionary rant. You’re entitled to your opinion, and you’re entitled to be angry if that’s how you perceive Barcelona and the players’ actions. I guess that the reason I feel differently is because I just interpret the club’s and players’ actions differently than you do. I don’t perceive that kind of arrogance from them, but I suppose that some things are just a matter of interpretation. I’ll agree to disagree and leave you to it 🙂

    I do agree with you about the Unicef logo, though.

  • Anne


    When you talk about the Barca of old, how far back are you going? I’m not sure how old you are, but there’s a good chance that I don’t remember them at all 🙂 Especially considering that I wasn’t able to watch football regularly over here until I could afford to pay the extra money to do it. Maybe that’s why I see things differently…:)

  • Shard


    Genuinely asking your view here. Not on the players words and the whole Cesc stuff etc. (I can take distance from such things too you know) But about the Barca turning insular thing. and one more question, what was the whole disagreement between Cryuff and the Barca board?

  • Stevie E

    @bob & @shard – guys, whilst I appreciate you’ve got a lot to say and a lot of questions to ask, please let somebody else get a word in!!! All I’ve seen so far is bob & shard q&a, others have questions too, please back off!!!

  • Shard


    LOL. I mean only going back about 15 years. (That should give a clue as to how old I am :)) A bit less if it’s about watching them regularly.

  • Shard

    @Stevie E

    With respect, that’s not your call. Besides, I don’t see how I stop you from getting a word in. But, just to let you know, I’m going to bed now, so the floor is all yours.

    @ bob
    Yes, reading that article did have the effect of making me more determined than ever to contribute to the UA effort.

    Goodnight folks.

  • bob

    @Stevie E….no problem, all yours…

  • Anne


    I’m not sure exactly what you mean about Barca turning insular. They’re definitely very localized to Catalunya, but I don’t see that as a bad thing, or perceive it as arrogance. I guess I don’t know what I think. And I also haven’t heard about a dispute between Cruyff and the Barca board. Was it something recent? If it was, I was probably on here at the time 🙂 Could you point me in the right direction?

    And just one general comment…You seem to have some sort of gift for going on a rant and saying absolutely horrible things about my football club, but still making me like you at the same time. I’m not sure how you pull that off, actually, but I guess I have to give you credit for it 🙂

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    Was there something you wanted to ask me that I overlooked earlier? 🙂

  • Stevie E

    @shard with respect, you guys have been throwing questions at Anne since yesterday and haven’t given her chance to respond to all the other people who may have questions to ask or just congratulation to offer. I don’t think you appreciate just how much of an impact annes article has made. Many comments have been unanswered because of your constant probing. anne, no I don’t have any particular questions ask, I just wanted to extend my congratulations on an excellent article. @shard,we’ll finish this tomorrow…

  • Shard


    I don’t know how to respond to that actually. Probably a little embarrassed. I think I’ve been guilty of a little bit of reverse arrogance if you will. Arsenal not having won a trophy in however many years and facing censure from all and sundry, I think I forgot that words can hurt even with the armour that multiple trophies provide. Equally though, a lot of those horrible things are said only because I do/did (can’t decide if I still do) have some feeling for Barcelona. So it isn’t meant maliciously, and perhaps that is why you don’t feel like cracking me one on the jaw 🙂

    Oh and I looked it up. There was no dispute. I came across something while looking at the Cesc stuff and remembered that Cruyff had been removed from some official position, but it was more about politics between Rosell and Laporta, and Cruyff was elected back. So my bad 🙂

  • Shard

    @Stevie E

    That sounds an awful lot like a threat 🙂

    How about seeing how many of the 150 odd comments here are mine and have a look at comments on the first article too. Then factor in that many of those comments have simply been links which I posted separately because I didn’t want them to await moderation at the time. Then also consider that I probably would not have made the effort to scan through 2 years worth of Cesc articles in Spanish newspapers if Anne actually hadn’t challenged me (in the nicest way possible) to do just that.
    On top of that, I don’t see how me commenting on topic means you can’t get a word in. It’s not like I block your access to the site or that I’m carrying the discussion in a different path (this comment being an exception) Plus, as I said, it is not your call which questions should be answered or who should ask how many. Anne, and the admins of the site, decide that. So all in all, while I’m completely willing to accept my faults, I don’t think your statement was fair or correct this time.

    Having registered that protest, I have no problem backing off as you put it.

  • bob

    @Anne, goongerry: At the end of your Part One, a UA posting by goonergerry – today June 17th, 2011 at 3:26 am – raises the issue that Cesc’s agent had filed a written transfer request and avers that the team kept it secret. Is that accurate? If accurate, would it be possible that (a) the Barca Boyz or (b) Barca management could NOT have known this? If so, how does it impact your analysis? It seems there are some implications worth considering. goongerry states that: “Guillaume Ballague was the first Spanish journalist to go public on this.” Goongerry gives no date on this report and perhaps should so it can be factored into the chronology of events and deciphered(?)

  • obichibz

    Anne’s article is an eye opener to the saga that is every summer “CESC: Where would you be come August?” but I agree with Shard’s ‘rant’ as it is clear to see that Barça’s stance is such of arrogance at any other team. Look at their President’s comment about our captain and talisman. For a person who never played professionally to say that about a 23 yr old world cup (24 now) winner is just plain disrespectful and classless. So one day Barça will come out and say they are no longer interested in him as they have better in all departments and as such slight us even more. The only way we can put this right is by being better than them on the pitch. I pray for a meeting in next champions league

  • bob

    @Anne, Goonergerry: If Cesc’s agent had filed a transfer request and If it were known to the Barca Boyz and/or the Barca Brass (management), then would this be evidence for and/or evidence against the charges leveled re. Tapping of Cesc by Barca?? Knowing more about the journalist(s) you cite, Goonergerry, is obviously important. Also, the date/source of any such citations. Would you provide that for us to further digest? Anne, does the Goonergerry/Ballague posting hold up or not? I don’t think this trivial in the least, as it speaks to information management in a variety of places (ahem) and its impact on fans who care.

  • Notoverthehill

    Anne, to have Puyol and Pique pointing at a picture of their close friend, Cesc, is just that and nothing more! Even if it was at “Buck House” for the Gunnersphere.

  • bob

    @Notovertehill: yes, and this patch of sand with the oil leak is only valueless dirty sand.

  • Anne

    To everyone who took the time to just register their congratulations, thank you very much. I’m not going to go through and respond individually to all of you but that doesn’t mean that I appreciate it any less.

  • Anne


    No need to worry about how to respond to that. I just meant it as a compliment 🙂 I think that it’s good to be passionate about the things that you believe in.

  • Pat

    Just came upon these two great articles and hot debate. Thank you Anne for following this up in such detail. Walter is right. It reminds me once again to always read the papers with a very sceptical eye.

  • Laundyender

    I have just caught up with, and enjoyed your wonderful piece of journalism, it demands that description and exposes the tabloids and gutter press for what they are, viva la revolucion!!

  • Anne


    You asked earlier “what about Cesc and Arsenes heart to heart where it appeared that cesc asked arsene to leave?”

    I remember looking at those news reports awhile back and thinking that they were absolutely ridiculous. The original paper that published it just came out and said that it had happened but didn’t say anything at all about how exactly they got that idea.

    However, there were other news reports that Arsene Wenger was out of the country at the time these talks allegedly occurred:

    “If the ash cloud that has caused flight restrictions across the UK does not force him into a rethink of his travel plans, Fabregas will return for treatment on the crack in his fibula that forced him to miss the last five weeks of Arsenal’s season.

    Yet it is understood that there are no immediate plans for Fabregas to hold showdown talks with manager Arsene Wenger, who is currently overseas.”

    That came out on the same date as the news report about the “’emotional’ face-to-face meeting.” Also, there was this news report from June 14, 2010:

    “Arsene Wenger: I’ve never talked to Cesc Fabregas about his Arsenal future.”

    Personally, I’ll take Wenger’s word on this.

    Btw, sorry I can’t give you the links for those articles. When I was doing my research, it looks like I accidentally copied and pasted the articles and dates but not the links

  • critic

    So it’s safe to say, barcelona are a disgraceful team on the pitch and not so disgraceful off it…
    :p :p

    Anyways, Anne, a very very nice article and after a very very long time on Untold Arsenal.

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    You said: “I imagine the constant tapping up of Barcelona youth doesn’t go down too well in Catalunya either but never seems to make the English media.”

    I wouldn’t consider what Arsenal does in regard to Barcelona youth to be “tapping up.” A lot of the Barca youth end up going to other clubs eventually, because it’s so hard to make the Barca first team. The reason there is conflict between Barca and Arsenal (and English clubs in general) on that score is because of differences in English and Spanish law that give English clubs an unfair bargaining advantage in the signing of players.

    For example, English clubs are allowed to sign a player to a contract at age 15, but Spanish clubs can’t until age 16. So English clubs come in just before the players turn 15, and time their signings for that one-year window when it’s still illegal for Barcelona to conduct any negotiations with the players to persuade them to stay. Basically, they deliberately time their transfer negotiations so as to shut Barcelona out of the negotiations entirely.

    I believe that it’s not uncommon for these clubs to not even inform Barcelona that the negotiations are ongoing. And naturally, since Barca doesn’t have the players under contract yet, the English clubs don’t have to pay Barcelona for them. The only thing that Barca is entitled to is some sort of fee to compensate them for their own expenses in training the player.

    Arsenal, just like the other English clubs, takes full advantage of this non-level playing field when signing Barca youth players. From their perspective, you can’t really blame them for doing it. They’re not in a position to pay Barca extra money for a player just to be nice. But I think it’s understandable that Barca gets a little upset by it at times.

  • Anne

    Further to my previous post, I’ll go ahead and give you Sandro Rosell’s “immoral” comments with regard to the Toral transfer in context. They look a little different from the way you’ve heard them so far (Rosell was actually responding to a question about what was said during the earlier argument between the 2 clubs that was reported as occurring at the Emirates). You can see that what I described above was the kind of thing that Rosell was referring to with the comment:

    “”Rosell did not hide his displeasure [re Toral], and explained that during the meal prior to the game against Arsenal the previous week, he spoke about the Toral situation with the English directors. He said ‘I explained to the directors of Arsenal that we knew that they were after [Toral] and we told them that we didn’t like it. It’s what any president would have said. For us, it’s very important to maintain this group of boys who grew up together, and that they don’t go to those clubs with the money to sign them just before they turn 16. We told them that it was something a little bit immoral. Their response was to whistle a little bit. It’s clear that we won’t be doing anything economic to make him stay.’

    The representative of Toral is Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, and [Rosell] was asked what role he had played in the case. He said ‘Pere Guardiola represents three players, two of whom were wanted by Chelsea and Arsenal, and he avoided them going. That happens very often. In the case of Toral, he decided to leave, without forgetting that he also went because his mother is English.'”

  • Anne

    And on a nicer note, I thought you’d also like to know that Xavi Hernandez publicly DEFENDED Arsenal on the Toral issue:

    “Asked about Jon Toral’s decision to leave, the former la Masia graduate replied, ‘It’s difficult to solve [these kinds of things]. The law is so complicated and it is a person’s right to choose where he wants to go. It happened with Cesc and Gerard. It all depends on whether the player wants to stay or leave. I believe it was the wish of the player to leave and we can’t stop him.’

    ‘In truth, I don’t think it was Wenger himself [who persuaded him]. It was the player himself, and his family who chose to leave. It just so happen it coincided with the [Champions League] tie but I don’t believe they are looking for any controversy.’”

    Naturally, the English media didn’t report those comments by Xavi because they couldn’t use them to make Xavi look classless. Also, there’s the risk that they might have made some Arsenal fans happy…

    Read more:

  • Anne

    @Jack Straw:

    “I believe only what comes directly from the players and managers on, twitter or a video interview. Everything else is embellished at best, completely fabricated at worst, and not beneficial to the club or any of its supporters’ mental health.”

    I COMPLETELY agree. For me personally, I don’t take ANY of it at face value unless it comes directly from the club or I see it on video. Cheers 🙂

  • Anne


    Just taking a look at your links…Let’s see, I’ve already addressed the Toral transfer issue and the Puyol Pique twitter pick.

    As for your picture of Busquets diving in the match against Inter, I’ll agree that Busquets does dive too much. Of course, he’s hardly the only player in modern football of which you could say the same, so I’m not sure how you can necessarily use that to condemn Barca’s entire program. Should I go find you a video of an Arsenal player taking a dive? I daresay I could if I made the effort…

    Your other picture is of Abidal raising his hand to RVP’s throat during the CL second leg. I agree that it was wrong of Abidal to do that, and that he shouldn’t have lost his temper. On the other hand, that’s the only time in my life that I can recall ever seeing Abidal raise a hand to anyone. It doesn’t excuse the conduct, but I’m guessing that RVP said something less than nice to him to provoke the incident…In the end, everybody makes mistakes sometimes.

    So, there you go. Incidentally, I don’t remember defending any of these incidents in my article, so I’m not sure why you presented this as a response to me 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob, goonergerry:

    If Cesc had submitted a written transfer request to Arsenal, do you honestly believe that the English media would have overlooked that fact, or failed to report on it? I haven’t seen this Spanish media report that goonergerry is referring to, but I wouldn’t believe it for a second. I can respond in more detail if someone finds me a link to it, but I’d be willing to bet everything I own that it’s complete BS 🙂

  • Anne


    Sorry, but I am now officially WAY too burnt out on this stuff to get around to addressing your links to the player interviews. I’m guessing that at some point in the future I will be motivated to go back and analyze them, and I’ll let you know when that day comes. 🙂

    In the meantime, I still need to watch my Arsenal match and do my data spreadsheet. 🙂 Cheers everyone.

  • bob

    @Goonergerry: Were you winding people up with your report on your reports from the Spanish press about the secret transfer request? Anne’s report is serious. You raise a seemingly serious forgotten dimension. I take you seriously, report it to Anne, and she bets the farm that it’s total BS and I’m left feeling totally had by your alarming posting. If you are serious then provide the link to that article as per Anne’s challenge, or please don’t intervene in this way. Either you’ve got a link to provide, or you’re being part of the problem that Anne’s effort is trying to snuff out. Your turn now.

  • Anne


    Be nice 🙂 I’m sure goonergerry didn’t mean any disrespect with his post. He made his comment, and I gave my opinion. We’re all here just to clear this stuff up, after all, aren’t we?

  • Shard


    I know you meant it as a compliment and I thank you for it 🙂 I meant the last post to you as an apology for saying horrible things about your club. I didn’t realise I was being so mean. Even though I meant what I said 🙂

    And I did not expect you to go through each link and dissect them all separately. If you do get the time and inclination to read them, just let me know your general thoughts on them, and if you feel some less than proper statements were made. Even if you don’t feel like reading it though, no worries. I think we have reached an understanding of sorts anyway.

    Lastly, once again, I wanted to commend the effort you put in for this article, and indeed the article itself. Really appreciate it.

  • goonergerry

    Your research is based on what is or was published and your interpretation of that.
    This is stuff that does not get reported to the media. hence why I cannot reveal the source. If Arsenal as a club were not so secretive it would not be necessary. No the media do not know everything- there is a lot they don’t know. Like Wenger’s role in transfers for example and a hell of a a lot more besides. Don’t believe me? tell me what was discussed at the last Board meeting?
    @ Bob-I did not state that Cesc had written a transfer request- only that his agent wrote to the Board in 2010. Understand that is not the same thing. This is not a wind up by the way. You can believe what you want to- you usually do- but that does not constitute the truth. By the way Bob- I am not going to reveal the source of this information. Given the fact that the player himself has repeatedly stated that he wants a move to Barcelona I don’t quite know what your issue is? Are you still trying to claim that Cesc or his agent has never asked for a move?
    I know its nots not what you want to believe but sometimes thats the truth.

  • bob

    Goonergerry: I may or may not want Cesc to wish to stay (I do), but I want the truth even more. (So “what I usually do,” according to your snide comment, actually means nothing to me.) You wrote: “This whole furore about Cesc was not sparked by the media at all-but by Cesc’s agent submitting a written transfer request to the Arsenal Board on his behalf. I dont think he would have done that unless Cesc himself was at least ambivalent about his future at Arsenal. Whilst Arsenal tried to keep this fact quiet-no one at the club has denied it either.” Now that’s very important, so I passed it on to Anne – so it didn’t get lost because it was posted at the end of Part One, so I took you seriously enough to repeat it to Anne, my god, and, in the spirit of her article – which sources everything – I asked you to provide your source. Ok, you have an insider source and don’t want to divulge it, so that’s fine and every reader is left to wonder for themselves. Ok, fine.
    Also, your wrote: “Guillaume Ballague was the first Spanish journalist to go public on this.” This implies there are one or more articles on this very specific matter that was surfaced – the alleged written request for a transfer, by Cesc’s agent. So, I ask, in the same spirit as above, for your source – a link – to any article by Guillaume Ballaque, and to any other journalist who surfaced this. Published article, mate, not your insider source. A link, like those provided in Anne’s article and the many comments that followed. So how about it: is there a link you can provide to this and any other journalist who went “public” with “this” – implying that one or more of them went public with the fact of this written request and presumably the Arsenal Board’s keeping that a secret, which is what you appear to be saying. I am not inclined or disinclined to believe that. And what I prefer doesn’t matter a fig. It’s only what happened that matters. The facts. So, yes, I would like you to provide these public links, even one, to get Anne’s take on that link – not the secret source you claim, how could anyone know – and let’s see where we get. If you provide that link – the published link – then you will have helped the fact-seeking process which seems to be what Anne’s article and your posting purport to do. This is not about egos. Just provide a link or two to support your claim and it can help people understand our recent club history.

  • frodo

    I was even talking about this point the other day. If we’re able to hang on to Fabregas for the next couple of seasons, stop this perennial media circus and get him playing for us again with passion and purpose, then I will eat my words. But I think we’ve kept him one season too long already! It happened with Henry – we had good money offered for him in 2006 after the CL final, but decided to keep him one more season. But he was injured for a lot of his last season and didn’t contribute as much as he could’ve. I remember his last CL match for us (when Alex singlehandedly dismantled us with his set piece goals) when Henry came on as a sub with all our hopes on his shoulders. It just broke my heart to see him simply unable to perform like he used to. We ended up letting him go for a lot less that he was worth… Anyway, Arsene has a decision to make – and it shouldn’t be one made solely with the heart. It sounds nice if we can keep Fabregas, but what’s the point if we’re not getting the best from him? As good as he is, we need his best consistently to help us push on as a team. Otherwise, we should thank him, wish him all the best and send him on his way.

  • frodo

    Even PHW has said Barca have made contact about Cesc – thats not media hype

  • WalterBroeckx

    A strange thing about those PHW words. They remind me to something similar last season. And also the fact that Barcelona comes flying in to talk about cesc is so similar to last season that I really do wonder if this is not the same quotes from last season again?

    I also find it very strange that in my part of the world the media also wrote about PHW and his quotes and they call him the “manager” of Arsenal.

    Now from that moment on I really was thinking: how can anyone make such a mistake and call PHW the Arsenal manager… unbelievable…

  • WalterBroeckx

    TH was injured before we sold him. In fact in his last season he was more out than in the team.

  • frodo

    seems like there could be some developments on the LB front.plenty of reports yesterday to suggest roma are going to offer something in the region of 8 million for clichy.i think considering his deal is running down 8 million would be a fair price considering how poor he has been of late.this morning the times are saying we have started talks with jose enrique about a move.i would prefer baines to be honest but looking at the LBs in the premier league there arent many exceptional options but enrique is certainly one of the best.alan pardew has been quoted as saying enrique wants champions league football and has turned down a very good contract from the toon…..

  • frodo

    @Walter: If you read Cesc quotes last week then I’m not exactly sure how you take this, but a lot of the Arsenal sites and a lot of the papers have taken this as “Cesc stays at Arsenal”… but I see a cryptic message within these words. Words that imply that he “won’t say he wants to join Barcelona”, thus implying he does. Heck, he said so later summer, so obviously he does.

    Sandra Rossell, Barcelona president threw in some annoying quotes too: “Cesc? I guess he’d like to join us, like a lot of players would, but we won’t go mad and offer silly fees. Last year we offered 40M for Cesc, this season his value is less. What we can offer will also depend on his salary.”

    Personally, like Real Madrid did when they wanted Ronaldo, pay the silly money – give us £100m in cash… and then and only then, will you get your player. Otherwise, just stop talking about him like an obsession! Barcelona fail to remember that Cesc has 6 years left on his contract (well done Arsene for tying him down)… His value is still the same – invaluable!

    What do you make of the quotes?

    One player who is obviously worried about his place in the team is Johan Djourou – who despite a mid season purple season – has been pretty bad at the end of the season and was frankly shocking for England vs Swizterland. The Swiss defender said:

    “I’ve been here a long time, I want to keep my place and become a better player. When you play in the top flight each player has to push himself and battle for his place, and I am no different. I know I can improve and that I have a lot in me, so now I have to improve in time for pre-season and be ready for the team. I hope it’s the case that other players look to me because I have experience, and that the manager continues to have confidence in me. Last season, I had a little shoulder injury at the end, but I think overall it was very good for me.”

  • snehal

    ere we are four weeks after the season ended and our most important summer in the market and what do we have .surprise surprise the same i have stated this guy could not do a deal in a sweet all the fans i am keeping in touch with newsnow but i know this is going to be a carbon copy of last year.if we really meant buisness we would have signed somebody big by now.ivan read my lips if you think the arsenal fans are mugs your misguided. .if august 30th comes and you have not done the deals the fans backlash will be enourmous.if the board thought the booing was bad at the last game wait until you hear us if nothing is qutie unbeleivable at the moment.because this guy has no real contacts in the soccer world here we are going to be put through the ringer by all and sundry. the fans need a deal so that they can believe something is happening.lastly the new shirt is looks like an olympic games must be the worst shirt there has ever been.funny that ivan did you approve that.

  • Anne

    @Walter and Frodo:

    I think that Walter is hitting the nail on the head about those PHW quotes. They are sourced to the Sunday Mirror and there’s not a whole lot to them. Here they are in their full glory:

    “Barcelona have made formal contact with Arsenal about Cesc Fabregas.

    Chairman Peter Hill-Wood has revealed that the Champions League winners have made their interest known in taking Fabregas back to Catalunya.

    Hill-Wood said: ‘Yes, they have spoken to us about Cesc. They have been in touch. But so far they have not made a bid and we do not want to let him go.

    ‘But he comes from Barcelona so it is understandable if he wanted to go back. However, they have not made an offer so far.’”

    Notice the now-familiar problem that the Mirror has failed to provide a source for these quotes. Are they claiming that PHW made the comments directly to them? If so, why not directly state that he gave them an interview? Or that he made the comments at a press conference? Or something?

    Personally, I don’t understand why any such high-level Arsenal official would publicly make such potentially destabilizing comments about Arsenal and their captain. Even if it was true, why would he be announcing it to the press?

    Notice that Arsenal officials aren’t coming out and blabbing about other potential transfers that are in such a speculative stage. It’s not really their style is it? And if PHW DID want to comment on something like this, why the hell would he give someone like the Mirror an exclusive on the story? Does Arsenal have some kind of relationship with them? I don’t think so.

    Oh, and Frodo, just to disabuse you of the comfortable notion that the English media is ABOVE fabricating quotes from someone like PHW, I direct you to the following comments from Arsene Wenger on April 16, 2010, that I found on Arsenal’s official website:

    “Wenger doubts Hill-Wood’s Cesc quote”

    By Chris Harris

    “If you want my opinion, I’m not sure he would even get in their team.”

    That quote, referring to Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona and transfer speculation linking the two, was attributed to Peter Hill-Wood this week. But Arsène Wenger does not believe the Arsenal chairman actually said it.

    The manager cast doubt on those midweek reports when he faced the media at his pre-match press conference on Friday and reiterated his own belief that Fabregas could be a star anywhere in the world.

    “I don’t know about that [quote],” said Wenger. “I don’t know if that is true.

    “I think Cesc can get in any team in the world because he is one of the best players in the world and I am not completely confident that Mr Hill-Wood has said that.”

  • Anne


    Cheers 🙂

  • Anne


    I’m going to make my initial response to you relatively quick, because I’ve made this comment before: Cesc HAS NOT repeatedly stated in public that he wants to return to Barcelona. In fact, I believe that I have conclusively debunked a large portion of the news reports making such claims, and you can find my evidence in the last 2 comments here:

  • Anne


    I’d particularly like to draw your attention to the fact that, two days after these misleading claims were initially published, Cesc made a FORMAL PUBLIC DENIAL, stating that:

    “I did NOT say that I was going to leave Arsenal to go to Barcelona.”

    You can watch this public denial ON VIDEO here, where it was published by AS (Madrid-based tabloid). A full translation of the video follows:

    “The truth is that I’m an Arsenal player and I don’t think about anything else. I’m not going to say no to anybody, nor am I going to say yes to anybody.” [AS edits video at this point, takes us to another portion of press conference].

    “I did not say that I was going to leave Arsenal to go to Barcelona, because equally Barcelona doesn’t want me. I’ve always said that I would like [to play at Barca], of course I would like it, but…”

    AS cuts off the video here, because they apparently found whatever Cesc said next to be too sensitive for your delicate ears 🙂 But based on what I saw at the original press conference, I’m going to go ahead and finish Cesc’s sentence here with something along the lines of “but I never said that I actually wanted to leave Arsenal to transfer to Barcelona in the near future.” I’m confident that that’s what he was trying to say.

    I would also like to point out Cesc’s interesting comment that “Barcelona doesn’t want me.” Personally, I agree with this statement 100%, which was subsequently echoed by Joan Laporta on February 14, 2011:

    “Speaking to Catalunya Radio today, however, Laporta denied that the club had made an approach for the Gunners playmaker, insisting that Villa was always their prime transfer target.

    He commented: ‘We did not want to sign Cesc. I chose to sign Villa at that time. We thought that Cesc was a great player, and I would like him to come to Barca in the same conditions that [Gerard] Pique returned from Manchester United.

    ‘What happened at that time was that we wanted to make an investment in Villa before the World Cup, he could have had a bad tournament, but turned out to have a good one. We tried to get him the previous year, and could not because Valencia asked for a lot of money. Cesc is not urgent while we have Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Keita.’”

    The more you dig into this stuff, the more questions end up being raised…

  • Jnice

    Wonderful stuff, Anne. Seriously, great job.

  • Anne


    WOW. I cannot BELIEVE that I went through this entire comments thread more than once without picking up on the youtube link that you posted. I seriously doubt that you’re even checking this thread anymore, but I still have to applaud you for that link.

    What you posted is going WAY beyond the immediate topic of this article, and venturing into the territory of what I would refer to as “soft mind control,” i.e., “mind control through information control.” Excellent analysis of that subject, and yes, what I’m describing here would be a derivation of that.

    Although you’ve definitely gone off-topic on my post, what I’m describing in my post is certainly a derivation of the same larger topic that you’ve highlighted with your link. And you’re absolutely correct in identifying the school of thought that I’m coming from, and on which I’ve based my particular analysis here.

    En corto, mucho, MUCHO credito a ti para reconocer la verdad mas grande. Que podria decir ademas de los “Cheers, Saludos, Felicitats,” o cualquiera otra cosa que podria expresar mi felicidad inmensa al descrubrir que hay otra persona que reconoce los origines de mis pensamientos?

    Entonces…Muchas gracias, “Meditaciones,” si ya estas leyendo lo que estoy escribiendo aqui 🙂

  • Anne


    Gracies 🙂 Judging from your pic, you came hear from a Barca blog. Glad to see my fellow Cules are finally showing up to give Untold credit for being willing to publish something like this 🙂

  • yelena

    excellent work anne!
    -from a bfb lurker

  • frodo

    I was taught to never show any man more respect than he shows me… or yet, any more respect than he has for himself. The next few weeks will dictate how I and my fellow Arsenal fans will regard Cesc Fabregas and/or remember him when he’s gone. We have seen Barcelona try every trick in the book to land their man. They have openly disrespected our club in how they’ve handled their interest in Cesc. They know that Cesc wishes only to go to them and the only offer that matters is THEIRS. So they choose to quote to us what price THEY’re willing to pay for him, seemingly ready to wait until his contract runs out. They have openly disrespected Cesc by continually undervaluing him as a player and a person, making derogatory comments about him (the wear and tear comment, among a few others), and rubbing salt in the wound by expressing more desire for an unproven player in Sanchez. Basically, they don’t want him as much as he does them. Carl Jenkinson really impressed me when he expressed his desire to join us, BUT wanted to look after Charlton’s interest by making sure they received adequate compensation for him. I foresee nothing of the sort from Cesc. Rather, he is forcing the club to take into consideration his selfish interest in Barca, putting us in a terrible situation of having little bargaining power over the monetisation of our prized asset. The mere fact that Cesc is encouraging Barca to continue in this underhanded manner means that he has little respect for himself, and no respect for our club. And as a result, I’m quickly losing respect for a club I enjoy watching, and a young man I once held in the highest regard imaginable.

  • Anne



  • Anne


    I believe that you’re basing your opinions on conclusions that you’ve drawn from inaccurate media reports. I’m not going to bother arguing with you about the Barcelona “tapping up” because it doesn’t sound like you’re remotely interested in re-evaluating your opinions about Barca anyway.

    However, what I will say is that you should show the captain of your own club, Arsenal, a lot more respect than you’re showing him right now. Specifically, you shouldn’t be taking every single media report that appears about him at face value.

    What exactly has Cesc ever done or said to pressure Arsenal w/ regard to his alleged “selfish” interest in going to Barca? And what even makes you so sure that Cesc wants to leave Arsenal for Barca to begin with? What evidence is there that Arsenal’s bargaining power has been weakened in the slightest in this area, by Cesc or anyone else? And even assuming for the sake of argument that Barca has engaged in the sort of “underhanded” conduct that you describe, what the hell has Cesc ever done to encourage it?

    As you go through that list, and as you (hopefully) are able to think of answers to those questions, try to remember exactly where it was that you got that information to begin with. And if you even remember where you got it, ask yourself whether you made ANY effort at all to verify its accuracy before you jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst.

    And just so you know, I already know that you did NOT, in fact, make any effort to verify the accuracy of your information. Because if you had, your conclusions would be different. Even as a Barca fan, I never jump to conclusions about Cesc or any other Arsenal player without making sure I’ve checked on the credibility of my information source. And having done that, I have to say that I don’t believe that Cesc is guilty of EVEN ONE of these accusations that you’ve leveled against him.

    You speak of Cesc’s “lack of respect” for Arsenal. But before you point fingers, I think that you should take a moment to question whether you yourself might be showing a “lack of respect” for Arsenal, which has, after all, deemed Cesc worthy of the title of Arsenal Captain.

    Would Arsenal select as captain a man who was “forcing the club to take into consideration his selfish interest in Barca,” or putting it in “a terrible situation of having little bargaining power over the monetisation” of his own contract, or “encouraging Barca to continue in…underhanded” behavior towards the club?

    Personally, I would have to answer “no” to all of the above questions. And I would actually go so far as to say that Arsenal, apparently, holds Cesc in much higher regard than you do, and clearly does not share your view of his behavior. If YOU have respect for Arsenal as a club, you should seriously ask yourself why that is.

    Sorry, I guess that was a little bit of a rant on my part. It came out of frustration at the damage the media has done to Cesc’s reputation, not any condescension on my part or disrespect for you. If you’d like my help analysing any media reports about Cesc, just let me know, because I do have a lot of research on him. Cheers.