Football is now all black and white, and we have lost the shades in between

By Walter Broeckx

You know that I do not agree with the way the doom and gloom brigade sees things around The Arsenal.  Like I said before I get  angry by seeing them telling all their silly sentences like “sack Wenger”, “Give Denilson to the spuds” and more nonsense.

But as I always have the habit of trying to look at both sides of the coin and I wonder if there is something so we could say : forgive them as they do not know what they are doing.

Ever since I grew up I had a (very) soft spot for England, London and of course The Arsenal in my heart. My favourite programs on TV were mostly British comedy’s and I really liked the way you could have a laugh with yourself and your society.

As I am a Johnny Foreigner I also have to look from a certain distance and I have noticed some differences between the UK and my own country. Let’s take the media as an example as this is going to be very important in relation to my conclusion.

When I learned English we talked a lot about English society and also about the media. You had The Times which always was seen as a serious newspaper and also thought to take a balanced approach to the news. On the other had you had the tabloids like The Sun, (to name just one). Today perhaps one might argue that the serious unbiased papers are The Guardian and The Independent – but it is a matter of perspective.

They were always looking for more sales and did about everything for that. I must say the page 3 girls are really unknown in my country and I must say we look at it with some amusement  and find it is rather silly to do.   I never would buy any newspaper for the naked breasts that could be in it, not that I don’t like a nice women’s breast but if you want to see that you can also buy more specialised magazines or ask your wife to show hers.  Way off topic.

But to sell newspapers the tabloids are in a fierce competition with each other and the way to sell is to make good headlines or (to be more accurate) write headlines that sell newspapers.

We all know how important a good title is. Even this week I clicked on a link with the intent to tell a writer that he was an utterly big c*nt, just to discover that his article was just the opposite of his title. It was about sacking Wenger and I ended up by congratulating the guy for his great article and it was only because of his title I went on his site. So headlines or titles are important.

In my country we have no tabloids, and no page 3 girls. We have some weekly magazines who tell the interested audience who is sleeping with whom in glamour land but that’s about it. Our newspapers are mostly moderate in their headlines and it is only in exceptional circumstances that they cross the line and make hard headlines.  When Dutroux, our worldwide known paedophile, was caught after years of blatant incompetence by the police it really did express the anger off the people.

But I must say that I really think that this is totally different in the UK. When I run through the headlines in the British press I always stumble in on rather aggressive headlines. I’m going to give some examples which could have been in the papers when it comes for example to the game against MU: “Rooney rips Arsenal to pieces.” “United humiliates Arsenal”.

If someone hasn’t seen the game he will think: Arsenal have been shit for 90 minutes and MU has outplayed them and Arsenal had no shots on goal….  But this was not the case. In fact Arsenal had the upper hand for most of the first half hour until the two goals just flew in, and in an instant  changed the game.

In my country we would have titles if it was a game from over here: “United had the lucky break in an, until then, balanced game” or “United wins on the counter attack”. If you then haven’t seen the game you would be better informed and think: It was rather even but United finished it on the break. And this sums the game better up than the headlines where they speak of ripping a team to pieces.

It seems  to me that in the British media there are only 2 colours left and those are black and white. If you win you are the best, the greatest, and all superlatives are thrown out to hail the winners. Even if those winners played terribly for 90 minutes and won by one shot that took seven deflections before it went in and the other team has hit the post 17 times, had 9 balls saved from the line and had 5 goals disallowed for offside when they were not offside.

No the rule is: you hail the winner and bury the losers with all the mud you can find. The press  seems nowadays always need to choose the side of the winner.   Except when the winner is Arsenal of course. Then it is the other team that didn’t turn up. It is never Arsenal that rips other teams to pieces or humiliates other teams. This is not done but this isn’t my point.

In that black/white world of the media I miss the colour that in fact is the most appropriate namely GREY.  Is it a part of the society that is getting harder on people more and more ? Or is the media by its behaviour setting out the lines to society ?

This is a question I cannot answer as I have to sit in the distance and try to make sense of it all. But looking from a distance I really have the feeling that some 30 years ago your society was much friendlier and more balanced than now. In those days I remember losing teams getting a lot of credit for their performance. Now the winners are hailed and the loser are presented as the worst team ever. Hardly any balance anymore.

So the thing is I have another point to refer to but if you live in the UK you only get the same message in black and white version. And I see the way the same game is talked about in our press and then it is mostly grey.  You don’t have this and so you tend to accept that it is all black and white. I can imagine that when you grow up in such an environment after some years you develop the habit of  always looking for those two colours and don’t even know that there is grey out there.

But, and this is the luck of me being a bit older and more experienced and as I can look at it from the outside, I can see the difference there is.

So the question is now: are those who write in doom and gloom about The Arsenal brainwashed by the press? Have they not have enough experience in life to know that there are other colours? I could say that each person has the duty to think for himself and not letting his thoughts be dictated by the media. We have a free mind and we should use it and not run blind behind what the press is telling us to think.

But maybe not all people have reached that phase in their lives yet and maybe as they say in Dutch: common sense comes with age. And yes I’m a bit older and maybe wiser…..


The secret and generally untold history of Everton (who Arsenal played in the Cup 100 years ago this week)

The most annoyingly repeated advert of all time

Want to write for Untold Arsenal?  Send me your idea for an article – but please do make it clear that this is a piece for this site.

32 Replies to “Football is now all black and white, and we have lost the shades in between”

  1. It is indeed a surprise to learn that “Arsenal had the upper hand” for for any period in the match let alone most of the first half and I saw the match live. From where I was sitting, the comments “Rooney rips Arsenal to pieces.” and “United humiliates Arsenal” were not wide off the mark. As an Arsenal fan I saw us out-fought in all areas of the field throughout the match but more painfully, we were also out-played. To suggest that it was anything other than this would be well off the mark. Whenever we went forward, they invariablly got the ball off us and made us pay.

    It was a reaction to this that you saw in our blogs. There was no commitment from our players and it truely felt like men against boys! The fans also witnessed the fact that Clichy was being targeted in the last few matches, but the manager did nothing to protect the flank. Yes we were truely angry.

    However, we have got a match on Sunday and we have to get behind the team. The manager also needs to listen because the balance of the team last Sunday was not right.

    Arsenal forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. “or ask your wife to show hers”


    Other than that another very good piece. I’m always amazed at how gullible the masses in the UK are !!

  3. Biggy I took a few possible titles on the last game but it could have been on other games, other sports or other matters in society also.

    From my point of view is being outplayed having almost no possession during a game. In fact we got more possession than MU. Remember they killed us on counters. Outcountered would be the right name I would give it.

  4. Walter,

    Our media sells newspapers by promoting conflict. There always has to be a crisis club. Criticism of the crisis club does not have to make sense.

    They’re the worst institution that has any level of power in the country. The football media.

    Most of what they write is worthless and I don’t see how my life would be worse if they did not exist.

  5. Newspaper sales are declining rapidly Walter.

    That’s one reason why the media writes more and more sensational copy.

  6. There are wider forces at work though, but if I started to talk about those you’d think I was nuts.

  7. Walter: I know that in law possession is nine tenths of the law. It would be great if points are awarded for it. But regretably in football it counts for nothing when you are on the losing side. What counts is the number of goals scored. That is to say what they have done with possession.

    Oh by the way, my wife has just looked over my shoulders and she agrees that her breasts should be enough for me to look at. Ok I will complete this as soon as she gets off my back. But seriously…..

  8. I was never a fan of football ”post-mortems” and I’m still not. I cant believe people are still roused up about it. Its over!! She’s never coming back :'( the fat lady has sung!! Lol.. On a more serious note, im having my tonsels removed tomorrow yay!!. Well thats that, hope my comment significantly contributed to this discussion Hahahahahaha

  9. walter, i cant agree more. as an outsider its easy to see how the british press work. and you are right about the grauniad and the indo being the only true bastions of british journalism. the sun and the times and sky are all owned by murdoch and therefore should be given no credence whatsoever. even itv were at it last night. the commentators were literally orgasmic in praise of bentley even giving him man of the match above defoe who scored all the spuds goals. it was vomit inducing to say the least.

    in this run up to the world cup can we really expect the british press to be anything but biased against anyone not home-grown.

  10. While i agree with most part of your view on the media but specially at this moment in time as the world cup is around the corner the media i believe that have a responsibility to hype the english players.
    Bentley yesterday played well ( V LEEDS LEAGUE ONE NOT A PREMIERSHIP SIDE ).So wether we like it or not Arsenal players will not get any praise from the media as there are to many foreign players.

  11. This is turning into a bash the Brits circus. Just because we feel more passionately about football does not mean we lose perspective. We have shaken off the gloom and will be at the Bridge to support the Arsenal in full voice on Sunday.

    With the world cup coming, I wish I could see more British players playing for Arsenal and England. It would galvanize more interest to those who attend the Emirates regularly. From the look of things we may not even have a single player from Arsenal on the team.

  12. All of the media concerns owned by Mr R Murdoch are at best shite. Anyone who thinks that s/he can get any kind of worthy news from them needs his/her head examined. They are only good for propaganda, period.

    Unfortunately, Arsenal has the largest slice of “Can’t-think-for-themselves” fans.

  13. Interesting article Walter, but I would dispute your claim about the Guardian and Independent. They are the same as the others as far as I am concerned. I stopped buying and reading newspapers after reading a racist article in the Guardian about Tiger Woods victory in his first masters. They might use bigger words, but the sentiment is the same. The concept of balance has gone and sensationalism rules. The media is a perfect illustration of that.

  14. I agree that the media has become a product and not news, that to sell their product most media outlets push their views to the extreme to attract viewers/buyers.

    However, I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that there are 2 camps: Doom and Gloomers versus Loyalists.

    I’m very near 40 and have no problem with years of being trophyless or seeing/waiting for potential to be reached. I’ve endured them before. But I also don’t think having an opinion about a certain player or thinking changes would be best for the squad (out here in the ether of the internet with no real impact on the club) is in someway being a Doom or Gloomer.

    If anything, this thing we are on right now is the culprit more so than the media.
    In the old days you would sit with your friends at a bar (mates at the pub)and do exactly what happens on these blogs: complain, moan, rue every missed kick or players bungle, call the ones you like geniuses and the ones you don’t bums, have a beer or 3, argue and agree… and that’s that on to the next match.
    Now people can voice those same complaints instantaneously and permanently on this thing called the web and those voices can find fellows-in-thought and build it up off one another.

  15. You have a point Billiken Gooner, but the moaning on the internet is much more damaging as it reaches a wider audience and the lazy hacks in search of a story use the comments on blogs as a barometer of fan opinion whereas your serial moaner down the pub would have a much smaller audience. The media are not interested in the balanced blog supported by generally positive posters. They tend to home in on the negativity because extreme opinions fit with the ‘everything is either black or white’ polarization Walter talks about in his article.

  16. Walter,

    You brilliant ***tard! The irony of the UK press and or any of them is they are symbolic of the degradation of journalism. Parallel to that is the D&G Brigade Blogs who offer the same exquisite headlines but after reading the headline you are forced to look elsewhere for a real genuine story. So what that means is we all find our way here to Arsenal, Untold Story et al. Not even a fancy name for this blog…Never any misleading headlines but always good genuine stories. Clearly the UK press and the D&G Brigade could learn a lot from good journalism as is the case here. Shhhh! They might hear and then we might have other news outlets. But, the long and short of it is pretty simple; good work or journalism takes ethics, honesty, and hard work! So until then you will have these other outlets which highlight lies, D&G pessimism, and smut. I will be here reading and enjoying the fruits of hard work. Just my thoughts.

  17. PS when I joined this site I believe the title included just 130,000 (Check that Tony!) 10-09…Now it is up to 170,000…. This site has the algorithm for success because we don’t lie, we don’t belly-ache, we get on with it…and, it’s contagious!

  18. Walter, brilliant insights and spot on in terms of your calls for subtlety and nuance in coverage of sports. I would say, though, that I agree with don’t believe the hype, and I would go even further: all journalism is biased, and has been since word one, really. Journalism has never been “neutral” or “balanced”. Ever. This is not to say that the effort isn’t appreciated, or that journalism isn’t valuable.

    Superb post, though.

  19. Walter, isn’t bloodhound that sees images in black and white, no other shades? It looks like human evolution is heading toward four legged animal. It’s not just football media though, it’s media in general. What do they call it, out scooping each other? I don’t think there is time to do a thorough research when you want to beat your competition to the punch. That means, producing whatever it is as fast as possible has encouraged lazy journalism to sip into news reporting. Another point I want to make is that the proliferation of media outlets has a dramatic effect on the quality & quantity of news. On one hand, journalists are more interested to come up with eye catching titles to their articles at the expense of content. That’s called tabloid journalism. On the other, if you are a serious reader, you have more options to read various articles to make your own conclusions. Some media outlets’ motto here in the US is “Beyond the Headlines”, the fact is they never get there! This doesn’t say much about the average reader (consumer?) either, does it?

  20. walter: great article as always..
    I’m afraid it’s not just papers. Same story with the english people. So many people think it was destruction, humiliation and far easy..

  21. Getty, I must agree on you that this is a factor that also can be seen in other parts of society. I even notice the same over here as it slowly slips in the media over here and this is something I really regret.
    Now it is an exception when they make headlines like that but let’s say 10 years ago it was once in 5 years now we see this happening a few times in the year and so I really think that we are going down also but maybe a bit slower than in other parts of the world.

  22. You are totally right in this article but feel it’s wrong of you to single out the doom brigade any more than those who won’t accept that wenger is anything less than god for arsenal and refuse to accept when wenger has made some bad mistakes in recent years. As you said the truth is grey and neither the endlessly negative fans nor the inanely positive fans are right most of the time and I think considering the nature of this article I think you’ve unfairly singled out only one side of the culprits with regards to the attitudes of arsenal fans

  23. I agree that English media is sensationalist, but it was a poor performance by the Arsenal in a pivotal match. We should be doing better (we have the wage bill and finances to do better) but we’re not beating the strong teams this season. The question is why not?

  24. Hi well-endowed gooner

    The reason why we are not able to beat the big teams is a lot due to the mental reasons. Last year we lost 4 consecutive matches against Chelsea and with fair ease. The previous defeat against United this season also seems to be playing in our minds. So though we can clearly see that our team has progressed a lot, we have heavily suffered due to those losses. We outplayed ManU at old trafford but lost heavily at our grounds. Beating Liverpool has not given us much confidence as it is no better than ManC or Aston villa.

    I guess that hair dryer treatment is going on for this whole week as I read somewhere that Wenger was pretty angry on Maonday training. I guess beating Chelsea at Stamford should give us that confidence and I am waiting for it eagerly like all.

  25. Adam, the last thing that I intented to do was to bash the British or English people.
    I have no problems with English people at all. If I would have anything against them I think I never would have become an Arsenal fan in first place.
    I just noticed some differences between England and my own country in terms of media coverage on sporting events. And specific on headlines they use. And so I started thinking what is the difference and why do some people all see it black and white and I just was looking for an explanation.
    I must say that in our fanclub over here in our forum we have all kind of fans. The (maybe) over optimistic like myself and the always pessimistic and the whole range in between. But when we argue on our forum you never see the black/white things I see on other blogs or in the media. The mood was very depressive the first days after Sunday but the colour was just more grey.
    It could be a cultural difference between our countries but I think the press or the media is a substantial part of a society and certainly a very influencial part.

  26. good article, though nothing is ever truly objective is it? even history books are stories told by a man through his set of beliefs, no matter how objective one tries to be.

    anyway, looking at all the media hype surrounding arsenal in the past few years, i am coming to the conclusion that arsenal has overtaken manure as the most hated/disliked club in england. the media seems to be on manure’s side nowadays.

  27. Miki,

    I think you summarized it very well but why is it that so many people think like the media expressed it.

    Now I think of the words “humiliation” how were the headlines when MU lost to Leeds in the FA cup at home ????
    Because as the defending champion and topclub in the PL with a full squad to lose at home from a league one team now THAT is what I call a humiliation.

    So I wonder did the media express it like that ? Because if not than it could well be that it is just the anti Arsenal bias that comes in every time we lose ?

  28. spot on walter,,,,,,,,,,,,,,im from nigeria and u guys dont seem to care about us here.3rd world syndrome i suppose..but u have to see how die-hard suppoters we are here,,just extend some relevance to us here

  29. Good article, Walter, although I recommend a trip down Shite Hart Lane for those who wish to see thousands of tits!

  30. Usually good article.
    Thing which annoys me more than what media say (write) is fact that people who consider them selves as Arsenal Supporters (or they believe they are), sow this game, and they rather believe what journalists said than what they sow.
    It is mystery to me, I am just wandering if Sky Sport would say Tottenham is best football team in history, wold they bite it ??

  31. The football media in England is also heavily laced with former players-these people often take the cynical values of their playing days into so called journalism and brainwash the public. One of the key values is-win at all costs-nothing matters except winning the next game and it does not matter how. These people are not interested in skill and entertainment in fact they often see it as a weakness, incompatible with winning. Well if that was the case Mr Hansen, why are Chelsea advertising their home games on LBC?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *