10 Things we learned from the Benzema affair

Tony Attwood

The article headline Benzema Completes Medicals, Welcome To The Emirates which was lifted directly from another blog (as a prime example of how the press and the little blogs are manipulating interest in Arsenal to their own ends) caused a bit of a hoo-haa.

It came 15 hours before the Metro ran  the headline “Arsenal transfer news: Karim Benzema agreement, Julian Draxler offer, Grzegorz Krychowiak move”, which it then ran just below the headline Manchester United hijack Arsenal deal for Karim Benzema with David De Gea swap.

The Guardian also clanged in with the thought that “Arsène Wenger may have finally realised he could do with midfield reinforcements and is set to splash £22m of Stan Kroenke’s cash for Sevilla’s Polish marauder Grzegorz Krychowiak.”

The Telegraph, anxious to distance itself from the Benzema fiasco, in which their old storyline was used in the to-and-fro of “according to reports in the Metro” and “according to the Telegraph” has now come along with a new tale which says ‘Gunners eye Cheryshev after Russian tells Real he wants to leave’

Confused?  Join the club.

As usual, the press is absolutely resolute in not asking what is going on.  So it’s down to Untold to try and decipher if not actually disinter or at least de-construct the weird world we find ourselves in.

So here we go…

One rather worrying thought is that by running the Benzema article, we actually influenced a bit of the transfer sage nonsense and associated gibberish that populates the press.  The story did bring our site down with over 80,000 people accessing it the space of a couple of hours.

But it seems we did a little bit to put the mockers on the story.

I must admit, if we really could have an influence on the journos and the blogettes that would be nice, bringing just a tiny smatter of sanity into the proceedings.  And for those who wanted to push on with the nonsense, we could after all come up with our own stories and see who picks up.  Of course they’d have to be possible.  “Harry Redknapp recruited as Arsenal’s new fitness coach”, might be a step too far.

But I think doing this is worthwhile, because the insanity of the suggestions about who we could transfer if only Wenger weren’t so mean and Gazidis so slow (as the bloggettas have it), and the lunatic notion of the “hijack” concept in transfers, is just too dopey for words.

Quite clearly there are a lot of people who want Arsenal to make a transfer.   Probably any transfer.  So they will follow any and every story that suggests there is a transfer.   But why?

Is it really like a drug, where they need a daily fix?

The mega transfer of the season before last has been criticised.  I certainly don’t criticise Ozil, but some do, which might make one think that big name transfers are not the best way forwards.  Besides last season although we had one big name transfer in Alexis, we had two players stepping up – Coquelin and Bellerin.  Yet possible “step ups” are not on the agenda.  Even the young Adelaide was only famous for the statutory fifteen minutes.

But the fact is that a significant number of tiny web sites, all using the same formula, seemingly run by the same company and sponsored by the same two betting companies are running the same stories over and over again with headlines that are palpably untrue.  One might think that when one sees a particular site and realises that it is all a con trick, that the reader might think – ok on that site it will be rubbish – but no, they still get the hits.  People pour in.

These are the little sites mostly are using an annoying trick which leads one to click on the advert when in fact you want to read the article.   There is a waiting time of around 10 seconds before one can actually click to close the advert (if you work out how) and go on the site.   So they have every reason to print twaddle if it gets people on the site.

In fact what they have discovered is that although there is no relationship between the headline each site sets up and the story – and I think that is a major discovery that really ought to be at the heart of degree courses in journalism and psychology.  Untold ran Benzema Completes Medicals, Welcome To The Emirates – the actual headline from one of the spoof sites – because it was one of the most outrageous lies yet found.  There was no suggestion in the article that Benzema had even met with Arsenal officials let alone signed a “subject to medical” contract.

But the site that ran it originally is still up there doing more and more rubbish of the same site, and still getting the hits.   Abraham Lincoln was wrong when he spoke about fooling some of the people.   If he were here today he’d need to say, “you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can fool a lot of the people all of  the time”.

The articles referred to within that Benzema piece as back up for the validity that Benzema might sign for Arsenal used week-old links to try and suggest there was something going on.  In fact the stories that the article linked to were themselves highly speculative and referred back and forth to each other.

And yet, despite all the evidence that this transfer is not happening, and 99.99999% of the transfers mentioned are not happening, the articles keep pouring out and from the data we’ve seen, people keep reading them.

So we could say that the reason why these articles keep appearing in the tricky spoof sites is to capture the unsuspecting to click on their adverts.  But why do supposedly serious papers and trivial junk papers likewise, keep running the rumours – all of which once again cite each other around and around?

The answer here can only be because it too gets hits on their websites, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than journalism.

Which takes us to the rather unfortunate conclusion that this is going to get worse until people stop reading.  Papers are losing more a more money since the advent of the internet, and driving readers to the web site in order to click on articles is the last sally forth of a desperate industry.

Now each time we run a Sir Hardly Anyone story exposing some of this nonsense we get a handful of readers saying “you are as bad as they are,” which is not really where I am coming from.  I would like to expose all this nonsense for what it is, and for the damage that it does to the simple minds who still, despite seeing all the evidence that this is all a spoof story, write in and say, “Wenger: just get on and sign him”.

Untold does carry some fairly detailed articles about phantom transfers, particularly in relation to the Higuain affair two years ago, but they don’t do anything to take the message to non-regular readers.  This way, I think we are pointing out to a few people just how much they are sucked in.

When the transfer window ends, nothing stops.   Four years ago it was different, once the window closed (or “slammed shut” in journo jargon) the rumours paused, but no longer.

It is now a very silly part of football which causes some simple minded souls to think that Arsenal is not being serious about wanting to win the league and that as a result the manager should go.  I could ignore the process, but first I want to see how much it is going to cost to buy enough bandwidth and extra security devices to protect Untold, if we do decide to run another piece from Sir Hardly.

(I think there were ten things in there, but if not I am sure you can make up the extra one of two that are needed to complete the list).


Follow us @UntoldArsenal for news of where we are posting in case the site comes under attack again.

Anniversary of the afternoon:

13 August 1968: Arsenal’s new handbook announced that the club was formed in 1884 but “the project failed” and that the club elected to division 2 in 1894.  The second claim was certainly false and no evidence given to support the first.



25 Replies to “10 Things we learned from the Benzema affair”

  1. Pls 4 God sake, let then stop all d nonsense publicing and give us d main details.
    Mr wenger pls buy me better player b4 d end of dis transfer window close or I swear 4 u.
    Nigeria Arsenal fans dey vex,,,,,,,up Gunners.

  2. Fleet street has gone fluttering amongst the unfiltered filters that does not fit in a fit society fit for fit people.

    Am I losing my mind…

    Bring on Crystal Palace and let me start my run of a dozen games of unbroken victory, then capitalize on that for another dozen upon dozen till I receive the EPL Medal and the Platinum Trophy.

  3. Fact – many claiming to be Arsenal fans on here either aren’t too bright (is it permissible to say stupid on here ?)or they are not really Arsenal fans. Agent provocateurs most likely.
    And with no sense of humour ,too. Sad sacks the lot of them .
    Probably live alone , masturbate a lot ,but don’t don’t find much joy in taking matters into their own hands.They come on here to ‘exhibit’ themselves ,and only get disappointed when we aren’t shocked ,but rather get laughed at.

  4. Tony,
    Can’t quite follow your article.
    I read that Benzema watched the Arsenal/West Ham game from the Directors’ Box after finalising his transfer.
    As I was taught to believe everything I read about our great Club, I cannot understand the delay in publishing his photo, wearing the
    No.9 shirt.
    Do you think the photographer is on his hols? 😉

  5. Let’s keep aside those Arsenal transfer rumours which are being milled out by the news media. Since they are saying the stories are rumours with 1 out 10 rumours – Petr Cech true, let’s keep reading on. I do read the media and the BBC transfer rumours and Gossips. Now let’s go back to the serious business at hand, which is our away game to Crystal Palace on Sunday early kick-off again. Does that mean anything? Anyway, Arsenal should be vigilant. I never knew Alex Iwobi is still in the Arsenal under 21 team. I thought he has graduated to the Arsenal first team as the Boss had played him in the Emirates Cup and played from the bench for the Shield. His is now included the Arsenal under 21 game against Fulham under 21 team at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow Friday courtesy Arsenal.com. But how will the Boss now handles the lack of width at Arsenal midfield-wing as the adaptable Wilshere & pacy Welbeck are all out for this Palace game? This is a dilemma. Is the Boss going to play Santiago Cazorla out wide to the right again. Or plays Ramsey there while he stars Cazorla with Coquelin at the Gunners’ defensive base? In the absence of Wilshere & Welbeck, I think the Boss better play Ramsey out wide to the right with a warning not to unecessarily be drifting inside but stays at his right wing re-position. My starts: Cech. DebuchyRhino’KoscielnyGibbs. CoquelinCazorla. RamseyOzilSanchez. Walcott. My bench: OspinaBellerinMonrealDeAberuArtetaOxladeGiroud. That’s about my best starts and bench for the Palace game. I think Bellerin should still be short match fitness to start. Hence I decided to start him from the bench. Let’s see what starts the Boss will start. But whoever he starts, let him please remember wing backs width. Debuchy also has width? Gibbs and Sanchez are width specialits. I don’t know if Ramsey has width.

  6. And even if we signed Benzema, if he didn’t score twice in every game and even then play like Messi and Pelé together with the hardness of Norman Hunter then they would be crying to the blogs “why did we sign Benzema, its all Wengers fault”.

  7. For years I have been really patient realising the club was going through an austerity period. With the signing of Ozil and Alexis along with the Puma and TV money I felt that we would be able to compete with some of the cash rich clubs. I was hoping we would bring in one marquee top quality player in each summer to strengthen the squad to the levels of our competitors. Alongside thiscwe would bring in squad players to fill other gaps and good young prospects ( which we have done )

    I am therefore really disappointed that it appears the top class player is not coming in. Every team can be improved. Whilst Coquelin has done extremely well it concerns me that we are relying on a plyer who has only had half a good season. Also what happens if he gets injured ? As much as I respect Arteta for what he has done for us in difficult circumstances I fear that hisrace is run at the top level.

    I am extremely frustrated. Once again we have been left with a very good squad but lacking in one or two areas.We have the money now. I don’t get why we are not improving our squad.

  8. Tunny

    Personally i think you dont need to cover every spot with top class player.No other team does if you look in detail. For example take Chelsea do they have a top class cover for Fabregas or Hazard. Take United do they have a good cover for Degea.You cant have a top cover at each position.

    Re Coquelain i think wenger must have in mind which defensive mid can cover for him incase of injury. If Arteta cant then maybe Chambers or Debuchy could be brought in or Wilshere too who has proven DM for England.

    Also dont get frustrated Wenger has never disappointed us in 20 years why would he do so this time.Infact we have seen improved performances in TW and on the pitch as well.

  9. Wasnt there some rumour that Wenger handed a want list to the boys upstairs? Surely Cech was the only player on it?
    I was reading today on one of the online swamps that fans should “get up and stop Arsenals demise”(and that was underlined as the “truth”).It seemed one of the most myopic statement Ive ever read.Perhaps Nicky with all his years is the only one who could make such a statement.
    I also read somebody saying they hoped that Bezema wouldnt come so the anger from fans would force Wenger out. Doesnt seem like an Arsenal supporter to me,more a Wenger hater.
    Behind hate is fear.Is he really so frightening?

  10. Kenneth

    These frustrated bunch of fans dont deserve to be called Arsenal fans.

    I sincerely wish they will be regretting there rude statements like the ones at the stoke railway station

  11. not all of them are Arsenal fans, one site I can think of is full of comments bigging up all things Chelsea and has been that way for a while….but unfortunately, a worrying amount of them are Arsenal fans.
    As another pretty sensible blog mentioned this week, you don’t get much clear thought from the angry masses, and we have our share of those.
    There seems to be some AAA general opinion that Wenger is blocking backroom staff requests to strengthen, has reverted back to some gung ho tactics where the perception is that defence doesn’t matter, and according to some, is deliberately making sure we don’t win what they class a major trophy. Sounds the sort of things one might read in the evening standard.

  12. Rosicky-Im sure they dont why would they, like the Nazis they think they are right. Plus some arent probably Arsenal fans, but can enjoy the so called anonymity of blog spots to exercise a bit of sadism which they would be too scared to do in the old three D world.
    But one never knows whose looking in and making notes and profiles…

    Its the mind, go to the bottom of the frustration and what comes up? And then see what behind that.And theres the answer.

  13. Rosicky

    I hear what you are saying. Every team can be improved though. After years of having to balance the books we now have the money to bring in WC additions. Look what Sanchez did last season and the effect it had on the team and the youngsters. For years we have been unable to compete monetarily wise with other clubs. We need to improve our squad year by year to catch up.

    One other thing can anyone explain why Santi was shunted out wide on Sunday when he was one of the most important cogs in the side last season complementing the CM with Coquelin ? Ramsey has always played better with Arteta alongside him, a less destructive but better passer than Coquelin.

    I hope it’s because Welbeck was injured and Alexis was on the bench.

  14. Mandy

    I’d take the Chelsea doc. She works wonders keeping that squad fit 🙂

    Hopefully it’ll be a season to far for Terry and their thug of a RB. Can you imagine Mourinho having to deal with the injuries we had last season. He go into complete meltdown. Seriously I hope Shad continues to do his magic this season, Jack appears to be back in quick time

    Frustration for me is that we probably have a deeper squad than Chelsea, we just need a couple more experienced top players to help the young players who are just about coming into their prime

  15. It is so easy to say ‘we just need a couple …….’. The reality is that we need some intelligent & patient fans who can appreciate Wenger’s vision and accept that occasionally our team lose because of individual mistakes & a slanted pitch. It is not Wengers fault that mistakes occur. Arsenal are still an awesome prospect & with a little more luck we will win our next match.

    On the ‘Specialist front’, the Medical Specialist has stuck his foot in his already big mouth. It is amusing to see how he is going to react. Saying sorry is not his speciality!!

  16. Tunnygriff,she certainly seems well regarded and will not be short of offers, press reports, for what they are worth suggest she has hired some pretty serious lawyers. apparently she has been banned, along with her colleague from being on the bench at the next matches….incredible, unless Chelsea pay her and her colleague a shed load, or they can prove professional negligence, which seems unlikely, Jose’s habit of encouraging players to feign injury might just backfire on him. Don’t think we have heard the last of this one. But yes, you are right, Chelsea have an almost conspicuous lack of injuries, pissing her off could be interesting…..Jose , while at Inter did seem wary of Chelsea’s so called Dr Needles…..whatever that may mean.
    As for experienced signings, we do not know his plans, still time to wait and see…..if Wenger really does think we need signings, not much has happened yet and any domino effect has yet to take place.

  17. “These are the little sites mostly are using an annoying trick which leads one to click on the advert when in fact you want to read the article. There is a waiting time of around 10 seconds before one can actually click to close the advert (if you work out how) and go on the site.”

    Sorry to say, Tony, but Untold is one of those ‘little’ sites. Every day, I get a bet365 or Sportsbet 10-second pop-up when I navigate to Untold 🙁

  18. new signings don’t necessarily win everything. Wining a league is probably more complex affair than would appear at first glance.Some times new signings are needed, sometimes having a deeper squad helps. Some may need a injury free first team as in the case of chelsea last season. So clamouring for new signings to bail a team out without taking into account the other factors needed to be successful is at best a naive argument. How many trophies did the Galacticos win at the beginning of the century, despite having a lot of new WC signings?
    For me I would love to see Adelaide playing regularly in place of a new signing.

  19. Crovax
    August 14, 2015 at 5:16 am

    I agree with you. Too much liberty lost with some of the advertisers. If it continues I’m out.

  20. A further list of ten –

    1. No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgement.

    2. Give others the privilege to explain themselves.

    3. What you see may not be the reality. Never conclude for others.

    4. Which is why we should never only focus on the surface and judge others without understanding them first.

    5. Those who like to pay the bill, do so not because they are loaded but because they value friendship above money.

    6. Those who take the initiative at work, do so not because they are stupid but because they understand the concept of responsibility.

    7. Those who apologizes first after a fight, do so not because they are wrong but because they value the people around them.

    8. Those who are willing to help you, do so not because they owe you any thing but because they see you as a true friend.

    9. Those who often text you, do so not because they have nothing better to do but because you are in their heart.

    10. Those who take out time to chat with you, does not mean they are jobless or less busy, but they know the importance of keeping in touch.

  21. I always thought that it was porn that keeps the internet running . Damn !

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