Should there be more accountability in the media?

By Metalhead

Recently Arsene Wenger called for the media to be held accountable for what they say on television and write up in newspapers/articles. One can imagine his frustration, considering how some of them get away with saying pretty much anything they like with no logic or evidence to back their claims.

Prior to the Manchester United game, there was a Sky reporter who incessantly questioned Wenger about Ospina and why he played him ahead of Cech. In one of his questions, he asked,

“Do you accept that when you look at your squad in the summer and you think you only need to strengthen in one area, which is the goalkeeper, and when it comes to a competition in the Champions League that you want to improve upon, that you don’t use the guy that you think improves your squad, that the fans will be frustrated and angry. Do you understand that?”.

To this Wenger responded,

“No, not at all”.

Wenger’s response was backed with stats, unlike the reporter, who had clearly not done much research on Ospina. He had the most number of clean sheets (8) last season, post January, barring Mignolet (9) and had the best saves /goal ratio (3.18), bar none, which is why Arsene Wenger showed faith in playing Ospina.

Arsenal’s recent downfall has been lack of consistency throughout the course of the season, primarily due to injuries, which generally results in one half of the season where they underperform and another half where they are extraordinary. This has happened over the last two seasons, which is probably why Arsene Wenger is rotating his squad to minimize injuries.

Now, was Ospina the sole reason why Arsenal lost against Olympiakos? Absolutely not. Ospina committed 1 error which lead to a goal, while Arsenal conceded 3 that night. Clearly there were other people who did not do their jobs. Yet, Ospina was made the scapegoat. This is what is described as “Sensationalism”.

Not too long ago, Harry Rednapp accused Mesut Ozil of “nicking a living” and that he wasn’t worth “two bob“. Similar accusations have been leveled at him by other pundits, accusing him of not being worth £42m.

Again, stats indicate otherwise. Mesut Ozil has created the most number of chances (87) in the calendar year 2015 in the EPL. In the 2014/15 season, he created more key passes/game (3.1) than any other player in the EPL, including Fabregas, Silva and Hazard. If that is not worth £42 million, then what is?

Similar accusations have been made of Cazorla and Coquelin. Gary Neville has been harping on for some time now about how Arsenal cannot win the league with both of them in midfield and branding Arsene Wenger as “arrogant” for persisting with them.

Neville called for buying a Vieira-esque strong midfielder, for Arsenal to stand any chance of winning the league. Yet, stats tell a totally different story. Cazorla and Coquelin combined, not only provide ample defensive cover, but also ensure they provide enough drive/creativity going forward.

Arsenal have the best defensive record in the EPL, since Coquelin and Cazorla have been paired together (since January 2015). Also, Santi Cazorla along with Mesut Ozil have created the most number of chances in the EPL this season, after Dmitri Payet.

Keeping these stats in mind, it would make for much better viewing, if Neville highlighted how and why a Toure or a Vieira-esque midfielder can have more of any impact over people like Cazorla and Coquelin. I can always highlight a Xavi or a Busquets and say how Barcelona/Spain won titles without a big strong midfielder in the team. As a pundit, you are expected to back your theory with some level of extensive analysis, otherwise there’s no difference between a pundit and some guy voicing his opinion on Twitter.

Just to conclude, I don’t mind criticism of Players/Managers. They earn a lot of money and deserve to be held accountable. However, the criticism should not be entirely baseless. Pundits and journalists are also well paid and must be accountable for what kind of information they propagate. There is an increasing tendency by the media to go by perception and/or personal bias and not look into underlying facts.

Michael Owen being a prime example. His dislike of Arsenal is quite apparent. For the last 3 seasons he has been saying Arsenal will finish outside the top 4 and every season he is proven wrong. Yet, he continues sharing his expert advice as a football pundit. Talk about “nicking a living“!

This kind of lazy/uncompetitive journalism also ends up sending the wrong message to the fans. A lot of vile abuses that are hurled at players on social media are a result of fans reading/viewing inaccurate assessments by misinformed and biased journalists/pundits. I had shown in one of my previous articles how Giroud had one of the best conversion rates last season and yet he was touted as a miserable failure by the media, which incited a lot of fans to abuse him on Twitter.

Then you have some celebrity fans like Piers Morgan, who just add fuel to the fire, continually criticizing Arsene Wenger, while having no prior knowledge/experience of how to manage a football team. While it may be difficult to regulate articles/content published by the media, I at least hope fans exercise a certain amount of caution while digesting all the content that is thrown at them by the media.


24 Replies to “Should there be more accountability in the media?”

  1. If the media had to be accountable, in my view it just could not function.
    It thrives on news, true or false.
    The be all and end all of its very being is circulation and/or ratings.
    Make it accountable and it would fade away….much to the delight of many. 😉

  2. Wow..indeed very true. Talk about being accountable for what you said. Put your money where your mouth is. I don’t deny that we fans can be influenced by these irresponsible statements by pundits especially when our team losses. These pundits just keep on talking rubbish and at the end of the season they don’t need to own up to their statements. Old Harry Redknapp has been hoping some owners take notice of him and offer him a managerial position but it doesn’t seemed to happen yet. Such a pathetic man. Shearer too used to say for two or three seasons in a row how Wenger can count himself lucky if Arsenal can finish in the top 6. Just because they used to be good players, they assumed that they can make good analysts. I think it’s time for these pundits to be asked to provide statistics to defend their comments..

  3. I agee that’s it’s high time that the media becomes more accountable but more accountability should be taken by former players e.g Garry Neville and Michael Owen who despite knowing facts keep sensationalizing issues for there vested interests.

  4. Metalhead

    Arsene Wenger said what he had to say post Ospina blunder.

    Any manager worth his salt would’ve said the same thing to protect his keeper.

    Having said that, There are mistakes and again, there are mistakes.
    Bouncing the ball over the goal line while under no pressure is not the same as coming for a cross and not getting there, or getting beat by a shot from distance because of bad positioning.

    In a course of any season any number of keepers will concede goals coming for crosses and not getting to the ball, or by bad positioning. As a matter of fact , we see those every weekend across all football leagues.
    Scoring an own goal in a “must win” CL home game against a mediocre team,probably deserves a bit more scrutiny .

    Also if rumors are true and CL games were promised to Ospina , then why not comment on that one way or another.

    Like I said before, you want to keep secrets, fine.
    What’s the £3M payment to KSE for? Don’t care.
    Why no London living wages ? No answer? Disappointing, but fine.
    Don’t want to talk in detail about player selection, then just scrap the whole dog and pony media circus and tell everyone to fu.k off and mind their own business.

    Game plan strategy or player selection are the two only reasons to listen to managers talk in the first place.
    We all know how important cohesion and confidence are and if I have to listen to that sort of talk from any manager , I would rather watch paint dry.

  5. Media accountable? You must believe in Santa Claus.

    There is almost no accountability by our elected house, what chance our appointed media! I would love to see a responsible body that had some checks & balances of people in the media. The monopolies & mergers seem to have left sporting organisation to monopoly owners without any concern for the supporters or the national teams. The media was allowed to be controlled by one monopolistic nasty bit of work be selling out workers rights.

    Football has almost been lost to moneyed individuals. Onlt clubs like Arsenal have remained as shareholder clubs. I would still like to see some supporter ownership entrenched in Law.

  6. Tom – your assessment of Ospina’s ‘own goal’ is incorrect. Do you have any conclusive evidence of the whole ball being over the line? Ospina bounced the ball because he was falling into the goal. He did the right thing & was punished by an incorrect decision in my view.

    If Wenger was ‘selective’ in his answer then so be it. It is a blemish on his record & he has the right to be evasive if he chooses.

  7. Tom,

    I don’t get it. Do you really believe Ospina wanted to score an own goal? Do you think he’s not sorry for what happened? This is the kind of destructive criticism that drove out players like Arshavin and Gervinho. Hope that doesn’t happen to Ospina too, that would be a real shame.

    If you want to listen to manager talk, go listen to the doctor-firing one, see if that makes you feel better.

  8. Menace
    You and I had this discussion before. We are actually in agreement that the goal was inconclusive. That’s not the point.

    One of the things I like about Ospina is his calmness in goal and self confidence. In this particular instance his confidence did him in.

    You simply don’t bounce a ball in your goal mouth , with so many legs all around. Whether the ball actually crossed the line is a separate argument.

  9. Piers Morgan just uses Arsenal as a means of getting his name out there. By linking his name with a vehicle known to have many followers, he hopes, and thus far succeeds, in propagating his career as a professional celebrity. By celebrity, of course, I mean Talent Vacuum. His first career as a journalist and sometime 3rd rate newspaper editor seems to have foundered on the rocks of authorising mobile phone hacking. This is the mark of the man.
    He is no more an Arsenal fan than I am an astronaut.

  10. “If you want to listen to manager talk, go listen to the doctor-firing one, see if that makes you feel better”


    It’s probably my inferior English language skills but I fail to get the above.

    As for driving players away , calm down, you are going to hurt yourself.
    I’m not saying Ospina is a bad keeper, or that he should never play another CL game or PL one for that matter.

    What I am saying though, is that as keeper mistakes go , bringing the ball into your own net….. is kind of a big one.

    And no, I don’t believe Ospina wanted to score an own goal. Just in case this needed answering 🙂

  11. Wednesday evening about 8.30 pm UK time the BBC Radio 5 two presenters with others discussed the so called BBC survey on the ‘cost of football’.

    The presenters had not done their homework or someone had wrongly informed them thus their contribution to the discussion with two non media people was trivial.

    But then what do you expect from the BBC these days – informed reporting, informed debate!

    Sadly those days have long gone.

  12. Thank you Tom, I still wouldn’t question a brilliant goalkeeper who bounced a ball in his gaolline while unbalanced & then palmed it away.

    The media have papers to sell & create their agendas without consideration of anyone elses plight. I am a passionate Arsenal supporter & will stand by any Arsenal player who has given his all in representing my club.

  13. On Channel PGMOB’s “Sunday Supplement” a fortnight ago, NONE of the self acclaimed expert pundits predicted an Arsenal win against Manchester United. I just can’t remember how many times they’ve been wrong. Maybe next season, I’ll keep a tally – then send it to them in June and ask them to explain their predictions!

  14. Colario

    Don’t be fooled, these people know exactly what they are doing.

    They live amongst this information.

    Therefore they CHOOSE which parts of it they want to broadcast.

    In the same way they know how much money the Glazers take out of United compared to KSE, they know how our ticket prices compare, if evaluated fairly, with others, they just CHOOSE to ignore it.

    In the same way they know how poorly we are treated by referees. They choose to ignore it.

    In the same way they know how fergie manipulated the media and in there wake the referees. They just CHOOSE to ignore it.

    The media are a f***ing disgrace.

  15. @clockendrider I agree with your comments on Piers Morgan however I am disappointed that you are not an astronaut. 😉 Never actually talked with one.

  16. As regards whether journalists should be accountable…I would say they are. If they don’t pull in the advertising through high click numbers or sold papers, then they usually lose their jobs. The majority are not investigative journalists nor do they actually interview people in the know beyond the odd question shouted at a ‘required’ press conference.

    Sports writers (NOT journalists) just want to stir the pot; they do not add any new ingredients…at best a little salt or vitriol.

  17. @TOM

    umm… sorry i don’t get it, so, “manager talk”, is about a manager explaining about his/her strategy and the reasons of every selection made?

    isn’t that would be the same as entering a war naked?

  18. Brilliant article! Many thanks. Music to my ears!

    That bit about Michael Owen nicking a living – how true!

  19. Sukebe

    I had the same thought as I read TOM’s comment. Why spend all that time on the training ground coming up with strategies only to reveal them to the opposition before the game?

  20. All the media in the world is owned by 6 companies, think about this.

    They should be made accountable. Most of the false ideas about football rules comes from the media’s false reporting concerning the laws of football.

    “Oh he did not intentionally foul him”;
    “He got the ball”

    and all the other such comments they make.

  21. Florian

    Why would any Arsenal fan want to listen to anything Mourinho has to say?

    Yours must be the dumbest comment on here yet.

  22. I await the day that some ‘expert’ or another call out these pundits errors for their stupidity and foot in the mouth gaffes .
    And ram it back down their throats .
    A reality Football Feud anyone ?

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