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April 2021

What we need is football Journalism 2.0, not football journalism 0.1 which is where we seem to be stuck.

By Tony Attwood

Now I want you to pay particular attention to this page because there will be a test at the end.

My proposition is that it is never going to be possible to lift those people who are stuck in concrete thinking out of that position, without the media moving up a number of gears and offering us intelligent football journalism.   One only has to read some of the commentaries within the upmarket newspapers on non-footballing matters to know that when they want to give us serious analyses they can do it.  But somehow football has eternally been left behind.  We are all treated like idiots.

Yet our world is one in which we need to grapple with climate change, economic collapse, disease, and uprisings of people who seem to believe that their idea is so pure and perfect that anyone who doesn’t share it should be killed.

These are massive issues, but while grappling with them, we also need relaxation, sport, diversions…  These things too are part of being human and for those who are interested need serious consideration alongside the light hearted chit chat.

But because they are diversions, and palpably not as important as climate change etc etc (in the sense that if we don’t solve the problems I listed above my grandchildren won’t have a world to inhabit, whereas if we don’t solve the issue of awful football journalism, my grandchildren simply won’t bother with newspapers) it is an issue for those people who like to debate football matters using logic, deduction, examples and evidence.

Football is a multi-billion pound industry, within which a lot of us have a lot of emotional energy invested.   And some of the people running it behave as if it is.  Others behave as if they are trying to decide where to put their new garden shed – a shed into which I shall never be invited.  Those are the people who need to be held to account.  The people who believe against all the evidence that sacking a manager every 18 months while buying a big money player because transfers are always the answer.  The people who at different times have claimed that Arsenal have the worst injury record of any club or are the dirtiest team in the league.

So we need all the help we can get to understand what is going on, and to try to convince the “me and my shed” owners of football clubs to behave in a more logical and reasoned manner.  This is where journalists could come in, but instead of joining such an honourable cause they sink ever lower into knee jerk reaction commentary with mindless gibberish as a side dish.

Where is their intellectual framework as they try to unravel and explain why club A does well and club B does not?  You only have to look at and listen to the way they are approaching the Euros to realise… there isn’t any.

What is needed is a way of rebooting their brains so they stop thinking, “what did I write yesterday?  OK let’s have more of the same,” and instead, deliver something that starts to explain the puzzle.  They need to stop removing all logical analysis and replacing it with the simple one line answer, and actually think, “where is the evidence?”

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They need at least once a week to treat their listeners, viewers and readers as intelligent people, and not old timers in flat caps keeping ferrets in the yard, drinking pints of pale ale and smoking Woodbines.

So the challenge for them is to get rid of their outmoded visions and quick one-line answers and start asking the right questions.  Which means the difficult questions.  They need to make their assumptions clear and keep track of them.  They need to remember that reporting what happened yesterday does not reveal the causation of what happened yesterday.  They need to try their hand at making serious predictions, looking at what they happened, and then seriously examining why they were so wrong.

They need to examine why Chelsea, Man C and Man U, by far the richest teams in the richest league in the world, all struggled to get into the Champions League this year (with only one of them finally making it), and from that they need to start working on what their answers reveal.  They need to base their predictions on what they discover from such an analysis then try to make better predictions for the future.

And they most certainly don’t need to indulge in explanations and notions that are so vague and floppy that they make Freud’s psychoanalyses look like science.

We live in a world in which it is possible to predict gravitational waves and then around 100 years later find them.  And yet football journalists, if ever let loose on science, would probably predict that the sun self-evidently goes around the earth, and that Mr Wenger is delusional because he thinks otherwise.

So as I said before, there will be a test at the end.  We are at the end therefore here is the test.  Clicking the answers with a mouse will not do any good.  It doesn’t work like that guys.

1:  I think therefore I am

 Is a reasonable way to remind ourselves that the way we think is important
 N Ireland

2: The light at the end of the tunnel

 Is the express train travelling in the opposite direction
 Is Arsene Wenger heading the wrong way
 Is Tottenham Hotspur pretending that this is the year they will be able to finish above Arsenal
 Shows just how far we have slipped behind everyone else under Wenger

3:  A plane crashes on the border of Haringey and Islington.  Where are the survivors buried?

Depends on who they support
 They aren’t

4.  “Directing anger at the referees is a useful diversion from the real issue – that Kroenke and the board are very happy as long as Arsenal finish 4th”

 I know this – it is concrete
 We didn’t finish fourth
 What evidence is there that the board are happy finishing fourth?
 Why would any board be happy to finish fourth, unless they had previously finished in the sort of positions occupied by Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea and similar teams this last season?

5:  Wenger has not spent the money available to him on players (especially on a world class striker), because he’s under pressure from the board not to. Because it would hit the bottom line for the shareholders, and the only thing that matters to them is that Arsenal qualify for the Champions League so that they get their money.

 This assertion is false as there is no evidence that the shareholders take any money out of the club other than the £3m a year to Kronke for consultancy which in the context of the cost of players and player wages is not a huge amount.
 We didn’t finish fourth
 There is no evidence that Mr Wenger is under pressure.
 Why would any board be happy to finish fourth, unless they had previously finished in the sort of positions occupied by Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea and similar teams this last season?

6.   The board is also very happy as long as the fans spend their time moaning about refereeing decisions when they should be directing their ire at Kroenke and the rest of the board.

  There is no evidence that Arsenal fans attacking the board would have any impact
  This argument assumes that either there is nothing wrong with refereeing in the PL or that even if there is there is nothing we can do about it.
   Why then would season ticket renewals be at an all time high this summer
   The light at the end of the tunnel is the express train travelling in the opposite direction.

7.  People who complain about referee decisions should get a life.

  You can prove anything with statistics.
  You can prove anything by denying the validity of the question
  You can prove anything by telling the individual raising the point that he/she should get a life

If you have been, thank you for reading.

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21 comments to What we need is football Journalism 2.0, not football journalism 0.1 which is where we seem to be stuck.

  • nicky

    Ancient cynic that I am, what possible incentive is there for the self-styled “Special Ones” who pontificate daily by word and mouth on all things football. Set in their ways, either by choice or command they actually believe they can affect the scheme of things.
    Your yearning for Utopia, Tony,
    is praiseworthy but sadly will never see fruition.

  • colario

    Just came across this piece about our favourite referee.

    He’s a sweetie he really is!

  • Pat

    Very funny, Tony!

    I only disagree with one thing – a lot of journalists write rubbish about other things too.

  • I’m with Pat, it’s not only football and the really sad and awful thing about this is we don’t know who is telling the truth anymore as the British press have sunk to lower depths thst I thought they could never do. I stopped reading the newspapers quite a while ago and do not plan on picking one up anytime soon.

  • omgarsenal

    ¨And yet football journalists, if ever let loose on science, would probably predict that the sun self-evidently goes around the earth,¨………..You mean to tell me that the Sun doesn’t revolve around the earth???? Who does it revolve around….Mourinho???? Blatter????
    I have it from a very reliable source who supports the Spuds that the sun revolves around Pochettino, but he’s a concrete mixer in his day job and an experimental animal for cosmetic companies at night!

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    We shouldn’t forget the fact that most of the media outlets, newspapers inclusive are owned by private individuals and cooperate entities.

    The owners of these big newspapers call the shot by setting the tone and the policies for the editors and the managers of their papers and electronics media as the catalyst on which they should print the news or broadcast it on any subject.

    For an example, the Australian media magnet, Rupert Murdoch could be one typical business tycoon whose his newspapers’ editors and the managers of his electronics media outlets, must comply with the editorial policies he has put down. One of which of course, him, his family and his business organisations must not be criticized by his editors and broadcasters without his advance knowledge of their criticisms. Which he may approved or disapproved. Otherwise, they can on their own leave his job or he boots them out.

    So I don’t think the journalists are the ones who doesn’t want to write the truths or adhere to the ethics of their profession which is primarily based on investigative journalism and the revelation of the hidden truths.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Arsenal have been reported by the media to be concluding the process of transferring the young Bolton FC CB, Rob Holding to Arsenal.

    If this transfer goes through, I suspect the Boss may not sign another senior CB during this current window. But I hope Rod will hold Arsenal center-half defending watertight whenever the Boss calls on him to do that job for Arsenal.

  • JamesO

    The standard of news journalism has dropped considerably. I started reading the guardian when I got my first smart phone. Before that, to my shame, it would have been the odd look at the back of the Sun, Mirror, Mail; which ever had a story which had interested me on that day. Reading the guardian was a completely different experience. I was learning things as I read.
    There has been a big shift, maybe with the advent of comments, that the media are moving away from truths, more to opinions to try and start debate and get more clicks.
    I read a newspaper to find out what is happening in the world, not for a journalists opinion on what is happening and certainly not for their newspapers forced opinion. As such, there are probably many more valid opinions in the comments after the article, which generally carry more truths than the article itself.
    For example, if I read a headline telling me that Clinton has won the democratic nomination. Then in the article below, read that Sanders has not yet conceded. Then look at the facts in the article and they tell me that she can not win the nomination until the democratic convention. There is nothing to think apart from, that I am being lied to. Why?
    I think that this is going to back fire on the them. People will realise they are being hoodwinked. They will not come anymore. What will they do?
    They will come to sites like this, where news is news, where opinion has been backed by statistics and newspaper rumours are scoffed at. Thanks Tony and all for all your hard work.
    Apologies in advance for the length of comment.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    as they are very well know to do !

    1: I think therefore I am –
    a. Popeye the sailor – “I yam what I yam .”
    b. Neil Diamond -” I am , I said .”
    c. William Shakespear – ” To be or not to be .”
    d. Alfred E. Neuman -” What, me worry ?”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Probably expressing his honest opinion on some journalist, commentator ,a so called expert , an ex-player or possibly even one of ‘them’ !-

    ” He is not only dull himself , he is the cause of dullness in others .”
    Samuel Johnson .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Being only half right about ‘The Moaning One ‘! –
    ” He has no enemies , but is intensely disliked by his friends .”
    Oscar Wilde .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Japanese are obsessed with quality and safety . A safety warning notice in a factory in Japan for female workers reads : ‘ If your skirt is long , stay away from the engines , and if your skirt is short , stay away from the engineers .’

  • At least we know that coming on here is quality, why bother reading crap anyway?

  • Leon


    Feel no shame about your news sources. I’m a regular reader of the Guardian, Mail, Huff Post, Rolling Stone & The BBC News site. It’s all free, so take advantage of it.

  • Pat

    A few further suggestions to add to Leon’s – Morning Star, Russia Today, Syria Arab News Agency, Granma (from Cuba), Junge Welt (that one’s in German). As Leon says, it’s all free so take advantage of it. Get a real spread of different views of the news!

  • Leon

    Granma sounds a lot of fun ?

  • nicky

    With a name like Granma, Wayne Rooney will doubtless want him to sign for Man Utd.

  • Menace

    Nicky – lol!!

  • Hello Tony. It’s good that you wrote about the circus that is going around us regarding the Football Journalism. I seriously felt that it needs to stop and we should collectively raise our voice over it. I wrote one article on this topic right after our season ended but could only publish it a couple of days earlier of this month. It is a bit lengthy as i had to put every perspective and possible argument into it. If possible let me know how you guys feel about it. Cheers! 🙂