What we can say is that at least the time it takes for our ideas to enter the mainstream is getting shorter.
Of course Mr Hayward does not copy me directly but does manage to pick up the theme of the article by saying, “The idea that every Premier League club has a pen containing a shackled Harry Kane is not credible. But we do know that historically the FA lags far behind the federations of Germany and Spain in player coaching.”
However he does lose it a bit as time goes on, especially when he slips back into journo-generalisations with, “And you fans, with your own divided loyalties between club and country…”
Divided loyalty, ah this is the bit where he knows he has to hand in a 1200 word piece and is running a bit short. If only he had kept reading Untold he would know there are no divided loyalties. I don’t think anyone has ever been on Untold saying that the international breaks are a good thing or that they support England or any other country like they support Arsenal. It’s an old myth.
But the info the Telegraph got from our article on the link between coaching and success at international level is still there for this article again speaks of “a lack of quality coaching.”
(Mind you they all lose it a bit sometimes as when Paul Hayward, the Chief Sports Writer for the right-wing paper recently accused football supporters of silly long-termism with the jibe that “Michael Oliver … cannot be praised for a brilliant performance with cards and whistle if he has made so much as a single error in the past.” If ever there is a fine example of short-termism it is in the football reporting of our national press who invariably take the last game as a signifier of how a club is doing.)
But things do change. Here’s a statement from further into the same article that you would not have seen two years ago in the Telegraph (because they didn’t believe refs were an issue then) nor one year ago (when the PGMO were busy supplying them with press releases about video refs and silly statistics).
“There has been no choice in a season of sliding standards but to bash match officials for confusion and vacillation over dangerous tackling, diving and the daily Punch and Judy of the coaching zone, in which fourth officials are too busy listening to managerial monologues to notice significant incidents.”
Goodness me. Is this another case of Untold making an impact?
And this is where Man U find that their fall from grace is complete (at least until Man U win a game 2-0 and suddenly the whole process is reversed). “Wayne Rooney’s constant badgering of Oliver over the night’s two biggest disciplinary issues was redolent of John Terry in his most, shall we say, interventionist phase. Rooney is renowned for his willingness to play in every position on the training ground, and he plainly also fancies himself as a ref, because each time Oliver tried to gather his thoughts the England captain was in his personal space, urging, chuntering, trying to influence.”
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For the record, the press supported the ref in the Man U v Arsenal Cup game. One phrase I rather liked was, “Adnan Januzaj’s dive in the Arsenal penalty area was so late it almost belonged in the next fixture between these two sides. A faint touch of the hand from Nacho Monreal made painfully slow progress from the nerves in Januzaj’s arm to his brain, and down he went, with his assailant already comfortably beaten. Oliver showed him a yellow card for simulation but Rooney considered this clear-cut case worthy of a Socratic debate.”
Ah, proper journalism. Bit of wit, bit of banter, nice classical allusion, and a good point. And not just because I agree (although that always makes things easier) but because it is funny, well written, and pursues a point of view with clarity and style.
But then, even the finest of pieces of writing (well, by journalism standards – we’re not talking Cicero here), can slip. – as it does with what players think of refs.
The piece goes on for a while until suddenly it is interrupted by
Did you know Telegraph Sport has a Manchester United Facebook page?
Well, yes, I knew, but I don’t think I would want to read it. And indeed nor would any Man U fan after an article telling them that their hero and god is lacking in basic moral fibre. And besides, everyone who works in advertising knows that one of the worst ways to advertise is with the closed question (ie the one that can be answered yes or no). What they should have written is “What is the most effective way of keeping in touch with the latest Man U news?” But don’t tell them. My agency charges for information like that.
Meanwhile the Guardian, has set up “Don’t talk about the ref club” on the grounds that talks about refs deflects attention from more interesting matters. So not everyone is following our lead.
But still, I rather like this, not because I agree (of course I don’t) but because I think that again such a statement from a journalist would not have been made two years ago. Now we are all debating refs every day – which is a huge, massive, major step forwards. The worst time was when only ourselves and about three other web sites were charting referee bias and the papers would not even consider the subject.
Untold having an impact? Well only up to a point, for the notion that most refs get it all right most of the time and there is nothing to worry about is still out there, for the Guardian wrote on 10 March…
“Michael Oliver, …had the kind of routinely excellent night at Old Trafford most referees deliver most of the time in between the headline mistake-frenzies and the parallax errors of the tribally deluded.”
And then went totally off the rails with
“Good refereeing decisions, like bad ones, are only ever a side issue.”
Shall I do that one again
“Good refereeing decisions, like bad ones, are only ever a side issue.”
No, not if they are caused by nefarious outside influence. We can’t prove that happens but there are good reasons to believe they are outside influences given the fact that the analyses provided by PGMO are so paper thin, and so dubious, given that the number of refs is kept so low (which enhances the chance of match fixing), given that we have seen the model of Type III match fixing work for years in Italy, and given that the money in gambling on football is a million times bigger than the salary of a ref.
The reasons to believe that something is fundamentally wrong are far far greater than the reasons to believe that everything is fine and we shouldn’t talk about it.
Yes, Untold is being copied by the press, and we are having a bit of an influence on what topics are debated, but there is still one hell of a long way to go.
Arsenal Anniversaries – early times, sad times, exciting times
28 March 1887: Royal Arsenal ended Season 1 with an away defeat to 2nd Rifle Brigade. During this short season the club won 7, drew 1 and lost 2. The club scored 36 and conceded 8.
28 March 1987: Arsenal 0 Everton 1. This was the sixth (and thankfully last) consecutive league match in which Arsenal failed to score – the longest run in the club’s league history.
28 March 2004: Arsenal 1 Man U 1. Ferguson announced that he was sure Arsenal would win the league but later added that Arsenal would not do it unbeaten, referring back to his experience at Rangers where the unbeaten side lost the last match of the season. This was the first draw after nine successive wins in the 30th league game of the unbeaten season