By Fear N Panick
There was a very strange comment made during Sky’s programme covering Sunderland v Arsenal. Niall Quinn told us, “It’s not the fan’s fault.” An interesting perspective, not because I think Sunderland’s predicament at having appointed a man who a week before his appointment said “the jury is still out on Ozil”, but rather that anyone could think it was the fan’s fault.
But of course like all comments made by TV pundits these days, it must be greeted with nods of the head as if something reasonable has been said. Because that is what you have to do if you are on TV.
David Moyes, also said, “we’ve been in all the games.” Literally that was true – a team of players representing the Wonderloaf team have been at the games in which they played, but metaphorically, no I don’t think that statement is quite right. And Moyes seemed to grasp the enormity of what he had just said, when he then added, “There are only a few games we haven’t been in this season.”
He might also have said that since the satellite TV channel Drama, is now re-running “Waking the Dead” he might also study that as a way of considering what to do with Sunderland. Or maybe this could be a reality TV show:
Eleven men who have never met each other before attempt to acquire super powers while exploring a grassy field. But their friendship is soon put to the test when events take a nasty turn.
That sounds about right for reality TV these days.
As matters progressed what was becoming a surreal day in the studio suddenly got stranger as Alan Smith (who recently wrote a whole column bleating that Arsenal FC don’t like him since he abused his position as the man who did player interviews for the club magazine by writing a tirade against them following a bit of handbags at 40 paces at Man U) said of Arsenal’s third goal “I think that’s goodnight nurse”.
Which made me wonder why a grown man should quote either a New Zealand punk band or a Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton silent movie. But the media (and Smith) move in mysterious ways and no one was allowed to question him.
Part of the problem for the media of course is that there is the list of Things That Football Journalists Must Never Mention – an important document given to all football reporters, correspondents and editors when they sign up to cover football for the media.
For example – that there might be something wrong with PGMO.
So when Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew raised the question of why Andre Marriner was the referee for his team’s 4-2 home defeat by Liverpool (a valid question given the way her behaved at the same fixture last season) no one was able to raise any sort of answer.
Yet one answer was obvious and could be that money changed hands. But also it could more likely be that the bizarre and eccentric decision making of PGMO which results in a highly restricted list of referees being licensed to run Premier League games, meant that they had simply run out of referees.
But no, the rule is “Don’t Mention the PGMO” so no one could offer any explanation.
Pardew was quite clever when he said, “I’m not questioning the integrity of the referee, I’m questioning why he was given the game. It was a really contentious decision last year and then he has four penalty claims today, three of them for us. It’s added pressure on him and I didn’t think he needed that.” It will be interesting to see if the FA now lock him in the Tower.
Of course journalists and their employers are rarely able to see inside football with a lot of insight, and it is a profound embarrassment to them that a lot of their comments now remain on the internet ready to be looked at again.
Take for example, “Alexis Sánchez has never appeared comfortable when played as a central striker”. Matt Law of the Telegraph wrote that in August this year, and it is still on the internet, although strangely, doesn’t seem to be so easy to find if you search for it via Google. I wonder, have they found a way of covering their embarrassment at stupid things that are said? Here’s the link if you really want to see it.
But we do know, because the Guardian told us, that it is incredibly commonplace for every club except Arsenal to have multiple players who score ten or more goals a season. (Actually only a quarter of clubs managed it last season, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good anti-Wenger tale).
Here’s the current list of the top scorers – everyone who has scored five or more in the PL this season, and thus is likely to head towards the Guardian’s magic “double figures”.
- Diegoa Costa — Chelsea — 9 games, 7 goals
- Sergio Aguero — Man City — 8 games 7 goals
- Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal — 10 games 6 goals
- Romelu Lukaku – Everton — 8 games 6 goals
- Theo Walcott – Arsenal — 9 games 5 goals
- Jermain Defoe — Wonderloaf — 10 games 5 goals
- Michail Antonio — State Aid Utd — 9 games 5 goals
Extraordinary – Arsenal is the only team represented with two players who have scored five or more!
Let’s do another one. The Daily Star is running a list of which teams have the most academy “products” (would you like to be called a product???) in their first team squad. Southampton (one of the media’s favourites at the moment) are top of the tree with six, while Arsenal have five (for some reason listed in third place, rather than second, but let’s pass that one by).
These are listed as Akpom, Bellerin, Coquelin, Gibbs, Iwobi. Which raises the question of why Walcott and Ramsey are not there, since they came in as youngsters, rather like Bellerin did. Or come to that Martinez (who is certainly a youth team “product” and is in the squad and plays in the league cup games), or Macey, his deputy. Or indeed Jenkinson who joined aged 19 as a youth prospect. Maybe there is a coherent set of definitions behind the list, but they are not made apparent.
It is a bit like the Telegraph camera crew taking old pics of empty seats at the Emirates during an Emirates Cup match not involving Arsenal and running the headline “Arsenal urged to consider banning season tickets of fans who fail to show up” – a particularly perfidious form of manipulation given that season tickets are, of course, not usable for Emirates Cup matches.
They are incidentally still running that picture and that headline on the home page of their football coverage on the internet, which shows, I suppose, they have no shame.
But that is what we might expect.
In anniversaries today: The Tottenham loving media, winning the league after a terrible start and Bob Wilson’s birthday. All on the home page.
Recent tales from Untold
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate