Arsène’s Mood Takes Down the Western Economy

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Arsène’s Mood Takes Down Western Economy

by bob

When Arsenal travels, the Guardian assigns David Hytner to protect its interests in milking the cash cow known as “Arsene Out.”

Last summer, Hytner accompanied Arsenal on the Asia tour, and now travels with them to Dortmund.  In China he was demonstrably fair and balanced, but as I noted in my first Guardian alert, something yet-to-be-determined happened between then and now to move David toward the dark side.

This continued with his Monday piece from Dortmund, wherein Hytner continued the personal (ad hominem) assault on Arsène based on the pre-match press conference.  To set the tone, the accompanying photo shows the very tall Per Metsacker training next to the very short Andre Arshavin.  With weirdness thus established, the headline reads: “Arsène Wenger is still chafing at his UEFA ban.”  Yes, “Chafing.”

Now to me, “chafing” suggests a rawness of the skin that, for example, a frenzied dog brings on himself for trying to free his neck from a too-tight restraining collar. Too strong an analogy?  Well, let’s give it a moment and then decide.

In fairness, Hytner may have begun accurately enough:

Arsène Wenger‘s sarcasm betrayed the depths of his anger…At least, I can sleep in the same hotel as the team,”

the Arsenal manager said, before he left London for the short hop to Dortmund, where his side face the German champions Borussia in their opening Champions League group fixture.

But with his customary factual set-up, Hytner goes for the caricature-kill:

“Wenger still cannot comprehend the two-match touchline ban handed down by Uefa, and which feels like the latest arrow of outrageous fortune to be directed at him.”

Indeed, with neither a review of the event nor a scintilla of his reasons, Hytner draws his matador’s sword:

“Yet to Wenger’s mind, as he seeks to punch off the back foot here in the Ruhr valley, the imperative to make a positive start has been made more difficult by Uefa’s hard line. He was asked whether he felt he had been afforded a fair trial by Europe’s governing body. ‘No,’ he replied, leaving his audience to snigger at his terseness.”

“Snigger?”  Yep, Arsène’s lost the plot.

Since it’s old news, Hytner provides no context to explain “the problem”:

“The problem arose when Wenger served a one-match touchline ban in the play-off first-leg against Udinese at Emirates Stadium, a legacy of his inflammatory comments after last season’s exit at the hands of Barcelona.”

“Inflammatory?” Perhaps. But what exactly were “the comments?” Don’t ask this “reporter” to have looked into that.  Was there any basis for these purported “inflammatory” words?  Not in Hytner’s “coverage”.  No choking? No fast whistle? Not a hint about a red card at the very point when Arsenal was in the ascendancy at Camp Nou?  Nope.  This is David Hytner’s “Bussacca Moment.”

No.  The topic of the day – as that of the last two months – is that Arsène Wenger’s mind is on trial:

“Wenger believed that he would be allowed to communicate with his bench from the stands via a third party – his assistant Boro Primorac – and he did so, openly. But UEFA took issue, dismissing Arsenal’s claims of unclear communication to bring the sanction against Wenger.”

The fact is that Arsenal did not claim “unclear communication.”  It claimed that permission was granted by UEFA’s on-site contact person to allow the contact.  The lingering issue, then, of whether Arsène was set-up, or entrapped, or falsely accused does not even arise within Hytner’s story frame (or, dare I say, “frame-up?”).

Indeed, in Hytner-speak, it is put-upon UEFA, which has shown forbearance and generosity in the face of Wenger’s alleged provocation:

“The club appealed and, while it was pending, Wenger was cleared to take a full part in the second leg at Udinese, in which he gave a vital half-time team talk. But UEFA upheld the punishment and Wenger will also be suspended for the home tie against Olympiakos.”

Indeed, the “chafing,” “inflammatory” Arsène Wenger will be duly muzzled and, amazingly, still put on trial as to whether he’ll have properly prepared for every contingency:

“Wenger will give his team talk at the hotel but when he arrives at Dortmund’s stadium, he will head to the stands and, effectively, sit on his hands for the 90 minutes. He will only be permitted to speak again with his staff and players 15 minutes after full time and he must plan, in advance, his response to every conceivable scenario for his assistant Pat Rice to implement.”

Now this is as close as Hytner would come to showing he might actually enjoy Wenger, considering that Arsène gave the journos a juicy quote they didn’t deserve:

“I will send my vibes and hope they will not be detected by UEFA,” Wenger said, with slightly more than a hint of irony.

“I don’t think I will be man-marked [in the stands]. If you want to respect the rule strictly, you should be marked by two men – one on the right and one on the left. If one is sitting to my right, I can talk to the guy on my left.”

In service to Arsène’s joke, Hytner betrays he’s capable of providing the kind of context that he withheld when it came to Barcelona or Udinese:

“During his time at Chelsea, José Mourinho dodged a Uefa touchline ban by concealing himself in a laundry basket to enter the dressing room. ‘I am too tall for that and the laundry baskets are too small in Germany,’ Wenger said.”

Finally, Hytner’s evidence that Arsène  is “still chafing”:

“But what is difficult to explain is that we just did what we were told to do. They confirmed the suspension but then Michel Platini [the Uefa president] came out and said it’s not right. . . The situation is not ideal and I really don’t understand any more what the rules are. I have to leave things to Pat and he will make the right decisions. For once, I will have somebody else to blame.”

As his parting shot, Hytner displays Arsène’s humor before turning it against him:

“I don’t like to do that,” said Wenger, with a smile, when it was put to him that he never signed players who were taller than him.  Arsène then explained that there is, in fact, a football reason why he usually avoids such tall signings: “Usually, I look at the quality of the player and not at the size because we play a very technical game. I usually choose smaller players.”  But, characteristically, Hytner turns all this into evidence of the manager’s arrogance.  To quote Hytner:

“Mertesacker has a peculiar distinction. The 6ft 6in centre-half is the only player that Wenger has looked up to at Arsenal”.

In Monday’s second article, Hytner probed still further into Arsène’s psyche and then publicized his fears:

Arsène Wenger has spoken of his fear that Arsenal are being left behind by a financially elite cartel led by Barcelona and Real Madrid.  Arsenal’s manager also name-checked Chelsea and Manchester City as part of a group of clubs whose spending power has separated them from the rest of Europe’s sides.”

Not that Hytner would opine or analyze any link between football and finance – an everyday commonplace around Untold Arsenal; but, rather, he psychologizes this entire matter, as if it as a projection of the manager’s overheated psyche:

“The Frenchman foresees an economic meltdown across Europe and he said that it may be the only thing to rein in Barcelona and Real, who have benefited greatly from being able to negotiate individual television rights contracts in Spain. The Premier League has always had a collective agreement.”

Aha!  It’s a French thing, this catastrophe.  Indeed, to quote the “Frenchman”:

“I am convinced that Europe will go into a huge financial crisis within the next three weeks or three months and maybe that will put everything into perspective again.”

And some more from Le Prof (albeit with a Hytnerian twist):

“Football is not untouchable. We live with people going to the stadiums as well and from advertising from people who buy products. All our income could be a little bit under threat in the next few months. Football is not only about money. We believe in ourselves that we can compete with them but it’s as simple as this.”

It is possible, of course, that connecting football and finance might be a link too far for Team Guardian’s keyboard assassins to fully grasp.   But, rest assured, they already have learned to blame any such meltdown on the Frenchman’s psyche.  (Their future headline: “Wenger’s Mood Takes Down Western Economy.”)

Finally, Hytner gives his readers the all-important “take away”:  the last paragraph that was traditionally understood as the reporter’s real point.  In this case, he allows “The Frenchman” to give his own perspective:

“I wouldn’t rule it out but it’s too early to speak about winning it [the Champions League]. Saying that would raise a lot of scepticism about the team and I don’t think anyone would believe it. But we have to do as well as we can and we have to form a team in the next two months. It’s too early to have that kind of ambition.”

No credit, here, for measured honesty.   Rather, if you listen carefully, you’ll surely hear the din of  “well done’s” from Hytner’s  editors  for ending the piece in this less than triumphalist way…   Indeed, the skepticism Arsene expresses is precisely the skepticism that Hytner wishes to reinforce about Arsène Wenger’s ability to “form a team in the next two months.”  If one thing is certain, David Hytner will be there to shovel dirt upon those hopes.

Given Hytner’s now predictable performance, I take license to hope out loud that Arsène and Arsenal give Hytner “the Fergie Treatment”:   leaving him outside a future press conference.  If he were then to become eligible for the sack at Guardian Football, surely there’d be a place for his talents at The Sun.  Then again, his ability to write in multi-syllables might deem him suspect, if not overqualified for the job.

26 Replies to “Arsène’s Mood Takes Down the Western Economy”

  1. Great article Bob! Thought you may enjoy this one, also from the Guardian but this time written by Matt Scott hidden at the bottom of a “I love Man City now they’re rich and may win and give me stories about money and transfers and rich people to write about” story –

    Arsenal stuck in the past
    When Arsène Wenger states, repeatedly, that Arsenal have spent 14 consecutive seasons in the Champions League it is a message that is broadly meaningless to fans. Their focus tends towards the future, not the past. But his intended audience here is not Arsenal supporters. In 2006 the club cashed in eight years of shirt-sponsorship income for an aggregate £55m. Although this and stadium naming-rights sales permitted the club to build the Emirates Stadium and grow match-day revenues, the forward selling has cost up to £20m a year in shirt-sponsorship income at today’s prices. Now, as his club goes to market in search of a new deal from May 2014, Wenger is talking to corporates about the brand value of Arsenal’s heritage and visibility. Until a new order of sponsorship funding comes on stream, Arsenal fans may have to content themselves with past glories.

    How charming, not only is Matt telling us who AW is addressing when actually stating a fact (and don’t you just love the use of the word “repeatedly” at the start), what the fans think about 14years in the champions league (not meaningless, fucking exciting rollercoaster) he’s also predicting the future for us! What an amazing guy! You would think that he would use his powers to look into the future to, I don’t know, get the lottery numbers maybe, instead, he decides to find out how many trophies Arsenal will win, while omitting to find out who will actually win what. What a tosser.

  2. lol – nice one bob – I really enjoyed that.

    In 100 years time nobody will give a flying f$%k about the opinions of these hacks – their articles out of the context of the spectacular narrative will flail like fish out of water – laughable!

    Meanwhile, in 100 years time Wenger’s bronze bust will still sit pride of place in the stadium he built.

  3. very sorry….slightly off topic but almost in line with the current discussion….Andre Marriner has been appointed as the next match’s ref…they are trying really hard to keep us in the bottom half eh???

  4. In China he was demonstrably fair and balanced, but as I noted in my first Guardian alert, something yet-to-be-determined happened between then and now to move David toward the dark side.

    He probably got a bollocking from his boss and Spurs fan Richard Williams, who has been attacking us relentlessly for a couple of years now. You can always tell when he either goes on holiday or is away on other duties, as he is at the moment at the rugby world cup – Kevin McCarra feels able to be a little more balanced in his reporting, as he was in this morning’s Guardian. It’s my daily paper, but by god the sport section is hard work these days.

  5. James,
    I’ve named Richard Williams, Paul Wilson and David Hytner as the Unholy Trinity in Guardian Football when it comes to Arsenal. You’ve now named Richard Williams, Spurs fan, as Hytner’s boss. I don’t know about the internal politics of their very large and aggressive football department, but they’ve nothing less than vicious toward AFC/Arsene over the last 3 months. Anything more you could add about Richard Williams or the internals of Guardian football – such as the roots of its de facto Fergie-Worship (was it from the days of the paper being the Manchester Guardian?) would be gratefully received. And, btw, outside of the football coverage (perhaps the financial dosing that the paper need) the Guardian is my favorite newspaper and often world-class. As for football, please add any tidbits you can offer. (And yes, McCarr is more balanced.)

  6. James,
    Did you notice roughly when Richard Williams began to attack Arsenal? (You write “for some years now”.) Also, has he been a long-time Guardian writer, or relatively new? Cheers.

  7. Stevie E,
    Thanks for the fresh Guardian reference. No need for the writer to predict the future, though, as they’ve already got the “Lord of Football” headline going for this year’s Rednose XX edition; and slight variations on that for next five years. No need to predict; as it’s already been written. Cheers!

  8. Nice article. The newspaper industry was infamous for providing toilet paper in hard times, and it does seem to be heading that way in today’s recession. Hytner will be pleased that he will be closer to the Arse than he dreamed.

    The financial impact on football is very close to catastrophe. Current methods of ownership allow corrupt practice and unless the authorities alter the terms and ensure visibility of owners, the game will suffer.

    The biggest downfall to finances will be any impact on digital communiction and TV.

  9. Great piece of work Bob, i really pity the Matts,Hytner Williams doom group.Arsenal as always have never been able to compete for best players in the transfer market so i get surprised that Matt,Williams and Hytner have not seen that before.
    Wenger have Manufactured players from nothing Cesc,Song,Vierra,Anelka,Henry etc all come from the blue. For your information Arsenal have been in the Champions League for fourteen Consecutive times,i like that So at the end of the Season as always Arsenal will be in all the trophies and have qualified for the Champions league. Hopefully this time around we will be having trophy. This may not sound good to the Matts and Williams of this world, but that’s how it has been and that how it will be.
    And with what i saw yesterday we a having the beginning of what will be another Era at the Emirates.

  10. ‘they’ve [been] nothing less than vicious toward AFC/Arsene over the last 3 months’

    To be fair, bob, I really don’t see anything ‘vicious’ in the quotes contained in the article, particularly by English newspaper standards. Where are the personal insults and denigrations that would qualify as ‘vicious’?

    To be honest, other than you assigning perceived motives to the journalist, and jumping on any adjective or phrase that isn’t exactly to your satisfaction, I don’t see any evidence of bias there at all (apart from the strawman ‘future headline’ you created, which has somehow become the headline for the whole piece). And your demand for full factual background and context for any issue raised is just not realistic for a newspaper piece (with obvious size restrictions for the article).

    While the UntoldMedia pieces have certainly shown some clearly biased articles (i.e. the Sun), I really don’t see how this article constitutes evidence of some anti-Arsenal agenda. Any article about any club/manager/person could be picked apart the same way, but to what end? Save the opprobrium for the obvious Arsene character assassinations, of which there are still too many.

  11. Where Hytner is equally irresponsible (euphemism) is that while he does report that Arsene said a terse “No” to the question that asked if he felt UEFA gave him a fair trial (his word, “trial”), he OMITS (that is, LEAVES out) that, after the alleged “sniggers” from the audience, that Arsene said MORE, which Hytner did NOT report:
    Have a look at minutes 1:07 – 1:43 for Arsene’s Press Conference on Arsenal Player,
    where Arsene says that he does not think the ruling was fair, does not understand this ruling, and does not understand the first ruling that cited him for breaking the rules in the first place. And more. NONE of this from Hytner, who was there, and who may or may not have asked the question that prompted Arsene’s response. Hytner only has time for Arsene’s “No” and the alleged follow-up “snigger” from the audience. What kind of piss-poor (read mendacious and agenda-serving) reporting is this? Disgrace to his calling (profession) does not begin to approach the truth of Hytner’s turn toward the dark side. Richard Williams, when he returns from covering rugby, will owe his protege and underling (if James is right) a stiff pint.

  12. Great piece. Wengers comments on a possible Euro finance meltdown should not be ignored. Maybe some clubs are too big to fail but a huge majority are not. Heard this morning that Birmingham are only existing on their recent transfer money, which will probably not save them beyond the new year.
    The one thing I do not understand is why Platini hates the club so much, being pretty much the embodiment of all his supposed fair play and responsibility ideals, although maybe he has shifted on this stance ref recent favourable comments on rich Arab owners now at PSG.
    On the subject of anti Arsenal stuff in the media – did anyone hear Merson before yesterdays game? Not so much vicious but extremely negative about just about …everything to do with the club at the moment. Just hearing him made me want to end it all! He did cheer up a bit after the game though

  13. Nice one Bob!!

    With the contacts that The Arsenal have, I would expect £200 millions over 10 years in advertising revenues. With Wal-Mart and a certain Russian company/ies, this is feasible?

    For the Match Officials’ room at The Emirates, why should it not be sponsored by “Innocents”? @ £1 million over 5 years? With the number of Scottish managers in the Premier League, the “Away Team” facilties must be sponsored. As a Japanese Whisky has been given a top award by the Whisky industry, that is a no-brainer. Over to you, Mr Gazadis, Action this Day!

    Mr Editor, on topic because of the Lacey article???

  14. Bobby P,
    This piece is part and parcel of my previous two, right here on Untold Media, that have covered David Hytner’s so-called reportage with a close reading of what he does. I find that you don’t consider it vicious by English standards rather disturbing, to be honest. And that’s part of the problem, Bobby P: those standards are so habitual, no numbing, so calcifying that you cannot pick up what’s vicious in this coverage – including what is OMITTED – which I cite in my next comment after yours (for reasons of space, which you are rather willing to excuse poor Hytner for having to labor under). Annoyed that I dissect the piece. I’m more annoyed that you take humbrage to my use of the term vicious whilst forgiving Hytner for providing no significant context for Arsene’s ire at the UEFA judgment. None. That context is allowed to pass out of memory; and you are an enabler of Hytner’s erasing that significant piece of the story by saying, now, now, Bob, a jorno surely has spatial restrictions and can’t give us everything. Really. I’d suggest that your standards for what you get might be examined. Because you are getting, or not getting enough, mate, because you don’t expect or demand enough. Omissions also matter. But, in fairness, at least we agree that the character assassinations on Arsene, which I have pointed out in all three of my pieces, and of which Hytner is one of the keyboard-assassins, are a problem. If only you’d consider writing a bit more on that problem, than whatever has prompted you to slate me for misusing the term “vicious” to characterize David Hytner’s framings (frame-ups) of Arsene Wenger. Then again, you may have had a spatial restriction imposed on you, though surely it’s not by Untold Arsenal.

  15. Bobby P,
    To me, reporting impacts people’s hearts and minds. A lot of people’s. That carries moral weight, even if not by your customary expectations and standards. When reportage warps what went on in systematic and detectable ways, as Hytner has evinced, then, to me, the term “vicious” is too tame. But, if that term bothers you that much, I’d substitute “mendacious” to characterize the recent collective anti-Arsenal work of Hytner, Williams and Wilson. I’d welcome your specific and detailed rebuttals on that, since you do have the space for Untold Arsenal, and will increase our hits.

  16. Bobby P,
    And, last, for lack of income as my leash tugs, I’ll add this:
    (1) what ‘space restrictions’ does Hytner face? ffs, they’ve paid him to travel to Dortmund. surely theirs a perceived value at the Guardian to pay that tab.
    (2) i would suggest that you expand your understanding of the term “vicious” beyond that of The Sun’s personal smears, attacks and denigrations. “Vicious” can apply to more than personal – and it is personal against Arsene, for that is what a character assassination is, personal. And I would use that label to apply to warping of the truth, especially when those warpings are shown to occur in demonstrable patterns.
    Anyway, your turn. See you later in the comments…

  17. and (omg) (3) the Guardian’s trio has been doing to Arsene/Arsenal with their high-brow turns of phrase the exact same thing that the Sun does in the gutters. Two sides of the same kind.
    Sorry, back to you…

  18. Looking at headlines last night it seemed the sun with theirs was going to be the usual bullshit when you compair it to the other headlines.

    The Sun A BULLET TO THE BRAIN Arsenal heads done in by Ivan Perisic’s late leveller –
    1 hr agoScottish Daily Express Borussia Dortmund 1 Arsenal 1: Super strike hits Arsenal –
    2 hrs agoDaily Express Borussia Dortmund 1 Arsenal 1: Super strike hits… –
    3 hrs Gunners draw in Dortmund –
    4 hrs agoBelfast Telegraph Dortmund deny Arsenal with stunning late equaliser – 4 hrs ago

  19. Bob, a really great article, well thought out and well written and a clever headline. It is good to see Hytner the assassin being cut down to size.

    The Guardian is quite a reasonable pape; it is strange that their coverage of Arsenal has deteriorated to the gutter level we have come to expect from some of the tabloids.

  20. All,
    Many Thanks for the comments to everyone who wrote in, and thanks for reading through to anyone who didn’t comment (yet?). And special thanks, as ever to Anne, who stopped the presses and jumped in right away so that this article could see the light of day as close to the Dortmund/CL game as possible. 🙂 If only you could be editor with powers to hire and fire at such places like Guardian Football. (not that I’d wish that on anyone these daze, but you know what I mean!)

  21. I was just reading the Telegraph, an article on ManC´s CL debut and even there they managed to insert some Arsenal bashing…
    Samir Nasri
    Nasri was back to his more familiar recent form: vague expansive passes to no-one in particular and not doing much else. His dawdling when in possession just inside Napoli’s half led to a swift break that cost City a goal. 500 lines Samir: I no longer play for Arsenal.

  22. im sure they will excuse both teams for getting a difficult point (against poorer teams than Dortmund) because Man Utd made a few changes to their team, and Man City were playing in their first Champions League…

    I havent even read them yet, but i am just guessing thats what will happen.

  23. Just as neither Man United or Man City have had anything but positive press for their woeful performances yesterday evening (I personally think we had the much more robust of the opponents with Dortmund), neither will Spurs when they shamble about this evening and probably lose.

    Without doubt the press will fall over themselves to make excuses for and compensate ‘Arry’s and Spurs underperformance on all fronts, financial, transfers, legal cases and performance by saying that Spurs are focused on a CL League qualifying place and as such have sacrificed the Europa League.

    In my book that reads more like “Spurs find themselves totally incapable of playing competitively in more than one high profile competition at a time primarily as a result of being able to secure financially or attract atheastically any credible talent”

    Oh and by the way, Liverpool will rock my World when Spurs get rumbled again on Sunday. Always in our Shadow… MUGS!

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