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Untold Media: (snigger) The Sun admits to eating “humble pie” on previous Arsenal coverage.
Within the last month, while the media coverage of Arsenal remains at odds with what I would consider to be entirely “fair,” it would be wrong to fail to acknowledge that we have nonetheless experienced a somewhat dramatic change in the tone of media coverage towards Arsenal. And while the precise reasons for this recent decrease in negativity remain a matter of speculation, if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that the following two factors weigh heavily:
1) Arsenal has played good football for long enough that those who continued to proclaim that Arsenal was in “crisis” were turning themselves into laughing stocks; and
2) Arsenal fans rebelled against media coverage claiming that Arsenal fans do not support the club.
While the above topics will be covered more in depth in future UM reports (assuming the media keeps this up), please consider the following to be a brief introduction to your “new and improved” media.
Turning first to the “Arsenal in crisis” line that we have been documenting since the beginning of the season, what better place to begin analyzing this new trend in media coverage than by analyzing the Sun’s coverage (which is looking quite different these days from the coverage we first began to document back in July)?
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I believe Ian Wright best summed up the Sun’s “new line” on Arsenal in his column of 6 December, 2011, when he said the following:
“There is…a lot of humble pie being served up to those who criticised [Arsenal] earlier in the season — me included.”
Yes, I believe that “humble pie” is a good phrase to describe some of what has been going on in the media lately (and if I was feeling less diplomatic, I think I might prefer the phrase “eating their words.”) But it is, after all, the holiday season. And in the giving spirit of that season, I’ll just proceed with the Sun’s preferred term of “humble pie.”
And what exactly might this “humble pie” entail? Well, if you’re the Sun, it means that you suddenly find yourself in the strange position of publishing statements like the following, commending ArsèneWenger for his resilience in the face of “pressure” earlier in the season:
“What has Arsène done to lift team?
BELIEVING that his players could turn things around.
And by not walking away himself when he faced the biggest test of his 15-year career at Arsenal at the start of the season.
Wenger last week likened that period to ‘hell’ but, at the time, he soaked up the pressure and stayed calm…”
On a side note, since the Sun chose to mention the “pressure” onArsène Wenger earlier in the season, that calls to mind, for some reason, an Untold Media report that we published way back in August… In that report, we documented a “certain” paper applying “pressure” to Arsène Wenger with a casual reference to Arsène taking a bullet between the eyes if he didn’t spend cash in the the transfer market…
Since the Sun has now chosen to commend Arsène for withstanding such “pressure,” I’m going to (once again, charitably, in the spirit of the season) interpret this new position as a long-overdue apology from the Sun for printing the following (in response to Arsene’s defense of Arsenal’s responsible spending policies):
“Fair enough but something most Gooners are shouting for should be smacking Wenger right between the eyes though.
He needs to spend. Or he may be spent.”
So, thank you, Sun, for doing the right thing, and retracting the above (very creepy) comment with a full apology.
Incidentally, the above comment also transitions us nicely into another topic that is worth mentioning here. Specifically, the topic of what “most Gooners” may or may not be “shouting for” with regard to Arsène Wenger’s continued employment. Because it appears that, in recent weeks, the Sun has also backtracked on previous claims (such as the above) that most Arsenal fans want Wenger out.
In fact, the Sun appears to have backed away entirely from its previous “talking point” claiming that Arsenal fans are dissatisfied with the current direction of the club. Since the beginning of November, the Sun’s only comment on the position of Arsenal fans with regard to the club is the following (which, to me, looks a heck of a lot like an actual retraction of their previous position):
“While the vast majority of fans back boss Wenger, who has been in charge for 15 years, some supporters feel it is time for a change.”
As the above indicates, rather than claiming that most Arsenal fans are screaming for Wenger’s head, the Sun appears to have finally acknowledged the “uncomfortable” truth that most fans did, in fact, support Arsène the entire time. And if you need further proof of that, even AK (Antony Kastrinakis) has recently stated:
“Though the majority of fans backed the Arsenal boss, there were numerous angry calls for Wenger to go.”
The Sun’s repetition of this same phrase (or “talking point,” if you will) on more than one occasion suggests to me a change in the Sun’s editorial policy regarding coverage of Arsenal fans, and their position on the club. We will be observing the Sun closely in the future for further such evidence of an editorial change.
And incidentally, we can also turn to our old friend “AK” for an indication of a possible shift in the Sun’s editorial policy with regard to reporting on Arsenal as a whole.
Because, Untold readers, despite the fact that we have not entered the twilight zone (or at least, I don’t think we have…), AK nonetheless published the following article on 5 December, 2011, commending Valencia for rebuilding themselves as “the Arsenal of Spain.”:
“Many wonder how a team [Valencia] that lost so many top players can remain so competitive.
The answer is by using Arsène Wenger’s recipe… buy promising young players and sell big stars for profit.
Just like Arsenal have done over the years with stars like Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
A Mestalla insider revealed: ‘Valencia is following the Arsenal model.’
‘The club do not admit it publicly but it is evident if one looks at the facts. Identifying talented youngsters before they ‘explode’ is the key.’….
Valencia are one of the youngest sides in La Liga with an average age of 25.1 years…yet last season they finished third in La Liga. Admittedly, they were 25 points behind Barcelona. But Arsenal finished fourth — 22 points behind champions Manchester United.
And remember what Arsenal did to Chelsea last month.”
While the above could still be regarded as less than entirely complimentary towards Arsenal, it is still worth noting for its contrast to the manner in which AK has covered similar topics in the past (for just one brief example, see the following from 15 May 2010):
“…Wenger has meticulously planned the development of his current side. But if your best player is ready to exit, it means it is time to question the entire set-up and make radical changes to your approach. Or leave yourself.”
Another example of the recent change in the Sun’s coverage can be found in the Sun’s match report on Arsenal’s Carling Cup defeat against Manchester City. Note the following excerpts:
Arsenal “were unable to find the killer touch in front of goal despite their dominance…
[The Nasri transfer] cost only a few quid less than the entire cost of the side Arsène Wenger put out.The difference? Hardly any…
The Gunners, a collection of first-team wannabes and future hopes, took the game to City…[who] were given a lesson in passion and desire by young kids who know their only hope of a game is in the Carling Cup…”
If you don’t see anything surprising about the above, please remember that this is the same Sun that, as we documented back in July, could not go two days at the time without criticizing Arsenal for both its youth policy, and its refusal to “splash out cash” on big name signings.
During the same time period, the Sun also never lost an opportunity to mention Arsenal’s “6 year trophy drought.” Yet, in the above report, the Sun doesn’t mention Arsenal’s “trophy drought,” or even the word “trophy.”
And this is despite the fact that the report was covering a match in which Arsenal was actually eliminated from contention for a trophy.
Taken alone, the above is contrary to every historical pattern that we’ve documented in the Sun’s reporting. However, going even one step further, the Sun also reported on Arsenal’s past performances in the Carling Cup with a distinctly positive spin:
“Arsenal were beaten finalists back in February and have been to the semi-finals five times in nine seasons.”
The above sentence is phrased in such a way that it deliberately highlights the positive aspects of Arsenal’s achievements in the competitions, and detracts from the fact that Arsenal ultimately lost and was eliminated. And I guess I can only say that, coming from the Sun, I find such positive spin to be… unexpected (especially in combination with their apparent decision to pass up a chance to report on Arsenal’s “trophy drought”).
Based on the above findings, I have conducted a somewhat in depth analysis of the Sun’s “humble pie,” going back to the date of 7 November, 2011 (when it apparently began). If this change in coverage continues, Untold Media readers can expect further articles detailing my findings on this.
But for now, please feel free to take a few moments, just to relax, laugh, and say “I told you so.”
I certainly would, were I not so overcome with the generous spirit of the Giving Season.
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