If you want to run a blog and entrap readers the rule is simple: write a headline such as “Arsenal to sign mega super star” or “Arsenal winning race to sign top defender” or whatever. Just don’t mention the name, or that the source for your story is the Metro, the Star or the Express.
If you want to try and sound as if you are the voice of knowledge passing on your insight from on high then it is “Arsenal fans will be worried” (or as the very occasioinal variation, “Arsenal fans will be delighted”.)
And if you want to write about Arsenal for a national newspaper, you need to be about 13 months behind the times but still write as if what you have to say is a revelation.
And throughout the twist has to be that you, the writer were there first, and that the slow, oh so slow, Arsenal, are bringing up the rear, bobbing around in your slipstream. As it were.
“It has been confirmed that Arsenal striker Benik Afobe has joined League One side MK Dons on a season-long loan.”
“Confirmed” suggests that you already said it and eventually forced an admission of guilt out of the club. That’s how you do it. And if you can make it that they only “confirmed” with great reluctance because you forced them to admit what they were keeping quiet, so much the better.
The trouble with the national press is that they still like to think it is the pre-internet era in which they actually did break the sporting news. In those days they created their own consensus at the matches and in the pub, and told us the world as they saw it. It was a vision of reality that didn’t have too much to do with the truth, just a simplistic interpretation, but it suited them as football was, in their terms, for morons who couldn’t handle the real news at the front of the paper. (That’s why it is always at the back – for the backwards readers).
Just how far behind the times they are can be seen with a piece in which the Guardian seems to have got half of the notion of the phantom transfer just over a year since we wrote the first story explaining how it all worked
Their tale relates to Arsenal’s “£16m deal for Porto’s Juan Fernando Quintero,” described as “a shiny, young playmaker with quicksilver feet and a propensity for outlandish tricks in all the wrong areas.”
This is what the Guardian said about the deal…
“Journalists in the 21-year-old’s native Colombia say he will fly into London on Monday to complete a £16m move, with one even publishing what he claims are details of the new James Rodríguez’s flight from Bogotá to Heathrow. Cue Roman Abramovich scrambling the private jet to hijack the deal, especially if Porto refuse to accept anything less than Quintero’s £31.7m release clause.”
You maybe see the hint within the story that the whole thing was a set up to get Chelsea (or someone else) all excited and thus distracted from another actual transfer that is going through.
Next thing we know they’ll be using the phrase “vapour transfer” as their own. Anyway, needless to say there was no transfer, there was no flight to Heathrow. As to whether Chelsea were duped, I have no idea.
The Telegraph has been keeping its feet a little closer to the ground of late, lurking around the news that “Barcelona is ready to bid for Vermaelen”. Barcelona is in a strange state – with all its financial worries of two years ago seemingly paid off by Qatar, and with a feeling that they have the Court of Arbitration for Sport in their pocket after their successful appeal against the Fifa ban on transfers, they are living in a brave new world of spending and ground development. The sacred shirt has long since gone, new gas money is all the rage. It will end in tears, you mark my words!
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