By Tony Attwood
The level of twaddle in the newspapers started this summer at hyper and has now reached beyond double plus insanity. Twaddle, that fundamental of all football columns in the press, comes in seven levels:
- Pure Twaddle
- What the f*** were you on last night?
- Would you like to come this way sir? Just lie down here.
Such is the speed at which we move up (or is that down?) the twaddle chart of crazed copy writing that sometimes I find myself staring at a page of print or a page on the screen in total and utter disbelief.
Are these newspaper copywriters so high, I wonder, that they actually believe this stuff, or do they not even notice what they are writing, or is it that they are treating football fans with such utter contempt that they just throw down any old garbage to fill up the page?
Or could it be that they are not writing for us at all, but for a group of people who proclaim an interest in football but actually never go to a game?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to take people who have never been to a football match to Highbury or the Ems, or indeed at the grounds of smaller clubs, and have watched them look in disbelief at the crowds, the stadium (especially the Ems) and the passion. And yes I do think you can watch the passion – it is there on the faces – as well as hear it.
Each time I’ve done this it is clear that these people – men, women, young, old – really had no idea what football was like and how much it mattered to those inside.
For goodness sake, it even matters a huge amount to those gathered in a pub to watch a game together.
So yes, I am starting to think that newspaper football reporting is written for those who don’t go – not because they can’t (anyone can go and visit their local club, anyone can buy a red membership at Arsenal and get a ticket to certain games) but because they choose not to.
And then I had a further thought. The people writing this rubbish themselves don’t go to games, and indeed don’t know what being a supporter is all about.
What started me down this line was the headline in the Telegraph, “Arsenal fans prepare to bid goodbye to Vermaelen” and I thought “what?”
And then again “What???”
No, this is nonsense. Arsenal fans went to the opening day at the Ems to say goodbye to Dennis Bergkamp. But if he does go to Man U we’re not saying goodbye to Vermaelen. Vermaelen was a player who made a huge impact for Arsenal and looked like a great purchase, but who lost his way through a series of injuries and a failure to recover his top form. He behaved with dignity and propriety throughout, and now with a year left on his contract has agreed to be sold on. That’s the reality.
The notion of saying goodbye is just dumb – to anyone who has been to the ground. I am sure there are some, like me, who are sorry that in the end it didn’t work out for a guy who seemed a thoroughly nice and decent chap, but there it is, on we go. He was paid more per week than I earn a year, so the hardship to him will have been mitigated a little, I feel. No need to go out and say goodbye – even if I knew where to.
It’s not even a metaphorical goodbye. It just isn’t goodbye. But such nonsense sets the scene for all the players we are signing today
Talksport, the radio station, say “Arsenal are set to complete their first signing of the summer with Mathieu Debuchy arriving from Newcastle United, according to reports in France.”
Ah the old “reports in France” ruse. And the writers of these reports in France? Probably the Parisian equivalent of the Telegraph nutter who said we were saying goodbye.
Anyway Debuchy is the man to replace Sagna it seems. Debuchy, who is 28, and who is in Brazil, has spent 18 months in the north east, for reasons that will not become clear at this point, and cost Newcastle £5.5million when he moved from Lille.
The story is also in the Independent, who say that PSG and Monaco – the two FFP busting clubs in France (although Monaco, not being in the Champs League last season, hasn’t been investigated yet – but expect explosions when it is) are going after the fella.
Back in the fantasy world that is now the Telegraph, Morgan Schneiderlin may be moving to Arsenal.
Which is interesting because that self-same story in the Daily Mail was headed EXCLUSIVE. Anyway, you know him – he’s a French defensive midfielder playing for Southampton. But Southampton don’t want to sell him. However apparently Arsene Wenger, has “commissioned club scouts to keep tabs on the 24-year-old.” Well, yes. And?
And “recent newspaper reports have strongly linked the Southampton midfielder with a move to the Emirates,” which rather takes us around in circles.
Because that is what happens. The papers are now reporting the papers who are reporting the papers. Including the notion that the fans of Arsenal (that must be us) are looking for a person who is Arteta and Flamini rolled into one. With a spot of Vieira too.
But just in case not Arsenal are also looking at Sami Khedira, Lars Bender and Javi Martinez – apparently.
“Arsenal fans expect…” “Arsenal fans will be…” Really? Has anyone asked you?
Have you ever thought that as fans, maybe we deserve better than this?