The problem is not that the media is biased, but that in football it is all biased in the same direction

By Tony Attwood

I see that the current President of the United States has accused the former President of the United States of tapping his telephone.  It has also been suggested that President Obama is attempting a coup against President Trump.   Some media outlets report this as serious news, others are highly sceptical.

If you have read my regular ramblings on Untold you may have picked up that I have a certain interest in the way that the media reports matters, most specifically in relation to football but also in a wider context..  And I do think there are lessons to be learned from what goes on beyond our national sport.

Research in the US shows that many people, particularly young people, are very sceptical about news reporting and as a result turn to a wide range of news sources to try and work out what is going on.

The young people questioned used Twitter, Facebook and the like as much if not more than any formal news source often encountering news by accident, but they rarely take any of it at face value because they perceived biases and inaccuracies.  They have been fooled too often  and realise that a lot of what they read is just made up.

Indeed trust in mainstream media in the US has sunk to an all time low – but with this comes an awareness of the fact that different outlets can have different emphases – being left or right or fast, or indeed detached from US-centric visions.

Now when we come to compare this with news in the UK, we have a similar situation in terms of national and international news.  But with football news there is something quite different to behold, for almost all of the outlets follow the same agenda.  There is no desire (that I can perceive) to get a balance, or to deviate from a “now” agenda without any time perspective.  In short they go after an immediate audience in any way possible.

What this means is that the opportunity for anyone interested in in-depth commentary about football in England is pretty much going to view it from a single perspective.

Let me just take one example. It is a small example, but I think representative of the picture as a whole: time wasting by goal keepers in games.   All of the outlets ignore it totally: Sky, BT, BBC – they simply have their cameras cut away to show anything else possible – a replay, a player trotting back to the line, absolutely anything, but not what is getting the crowd in the ground engaged – the time wasting.  Here the media follows the instructions of the people selling the product, and given the dominance of TV, the rest follow.

Likewise there is an agenda in radio debates on football which reflects what gets the biggest audience.  We know that those who follow the fan based aaa approach are very vocal and will phone in whenever possible, so the media follows the audience on this point and pumps up the debate that will bring in the most complainants.  If anyone does get on air and moderately and reasonably puts up an alternative viewpoint, they are told, “well, it is a point of view but I don’t think many will agree with you,” and back they go to what brings in an audience.

Then there is the issue of refereeing incompetence or bias.  Again there is a unity of approach: it doesn’t happen, it can’t be commented upon.   True, this unified approach has slipped a little of late, not least, I think, because of the efforts of the team on this site who have upped the game considerably by providing video evidence this season.  

But still the fact is that it can be argued that the organisation running referees is unnecessarily secretive in its affairs, and this is ignored.  Likewise the analysis showing that on occasion refereeing decisions are little better than the results you would get from giving out major decisions at random, is never contemplated.

In such analysis as there is now seems increasingly outmoded and outdated.  But above all it is utterly simplistic – and there is no alternative media to turn to.  All the main outlets follow the standard line.

Likewise you don’t have to do much analysis to see that the issues that are put forward in football to correcting the problems (real or imagined) of a team deemed to be failing simply don’t work most of the time.  

Most transfers don’t make a huge difference to a team – at least in the first year – and if you really do think you can prove anything with statistics and that this view is wrong, look at players such as Henry, Bergkamp and Pires in their first year at the club.

In fact, most managerial changes fail to deliver what is wanted – at least in their first year or two, and very few are given much longer than that.  Same with the players.  

And above all, the reality is that football clubs are complex institutions and single solutions to their problems don’t work.

Meanwhile we live in a footballing world that is utterly insane but no one wants to mention it. If you want proof just look at the transfer rumours that are still cited and requoted and yet never come to pass, the managerial moves that fail, the fact that governments give money to FA’s to squander on the works of the openly corrupt Fifa, the extremely odd way in which refereeing is run in the Premier League….

This is not a world of problems that are resolved by one simple change encouraged by the media that has everything to gain by keeping the agenda under its control.  That is a fantasy world created by the media to keep up the audience.

The simple fact is that football fans are being manipulated by media organisations and their hangers on.  And it is hard to know what to do about it.

Untold Arsenal


32 Replies to “The problem is not that the media is biased, but that in football it is all biased in the same direction”

  1. Funny how the keyboard warriors went on rampage after the defeat to Liverpool! but were invisible went Vardy ripped them apart.

  2. People are wiseing up to the deception done by the media, but one still cannot hid the fact that we don’t show up in important games. No amount of deception can hide it

  3. Tony, my recollection is that Pires and Dennis Beckhamp were both good players in their first year. And they got even better in subsequent years.

    Thierry Henry was a kid when he joined Arsenal. He was NOT bought as a superstar but as a young player that Wenger had previously coached at Monaco whom he knew to have great potential. Prior to Arsenal, Thierry was playing as a winger. When he arrived at Arsenal, he was still a developing kid and in addition Wenger was teaching him to play as a striker. It is therefore a bit unfair to insinuate that Henry proves that buying players doesn’t improve teams in the first year.
    Özil and Sanchez improved Arsenal in their first year.
    Diego Costa improved Chelsea in his first year.
    Mustafi improved Arsenal in his first year.

    Buying top class players nearly always improves a team.
    Buying average players nearly always doesn’t move a team up to the next level.

    I accept that some players may need 6 Months or more to get used to the Peemier League but surely it is better to buy a player of Pires-quality (or Eden Hazard-quality)and wait for the 6 months before he becomes world -class than to hold on to players like Nikolas Bendtner for 8 years or so in hope of a miracle.

    Throughout the Wenger years at Arsenal our best players have nearly always been bought-in.

    So when some of us say we should buy quality players it is because we want to solve a short-term and long-term problem with a long-term solution. We don’t expect all new acquisitions to hit the ground as superstars but we accept that some may need a month, 2 months, 6 months or a little more before they show us their true capabilities.
    We just don’t want to hold on to players like Carl Jenkinson and Sanogo for too long.

  4. Zuruvi, our 24 year old Sanogo scored for the Under 23’s this weekend!

    He is part of our successful ‘out on loan’ system that puts all other loan systems to shame.

    And you want rid of him? What happened to the 3rd Commandment – support the team? It sounds to me that you are being caught up in the media bias against arsenal, and their spend some f***ing money mantra.

    Take heed of such articles like this, and please, start thinking for yourself!

  5. The media always plays up to the simplistic over emotional often people from the lower classes of society.The phone ins are classics for this,they get loads of these angry heavy accent folk to ring in and create a storm,then the rest of the sheep follow suit.When it comes to Arsenal they will normally have one Wenger backer given a couple of minutes to give a more measured response and follow that up with a load of shouty WOBs with spoon fed presuppositions.

  6. Jimbo you old (etonian) troll. Wat is dis heavy accent you speak of? Name regions, counties or hush your little ukip tinged warbling. Bloody medium sized Totts 6 pts to the good over Arsene. Surely the improbable is not happening. What if the Hammers beat the Chavs? What will the media say? Then came City. Lower classes of society indeed ….

  7. Ah yes, blame the media, the ref, the weather, the fixtures, zee mental strength….Arsene will take us to the next level, is it up or down, let’s hope there’s an exit door near by.

  8. Totts haven’t finished above us yet, and even if they do, that’s once in what 20 years……even Wenger who has come in and really put the totts in their place is subject to the law of averages

  9. ”I see that the current President of the United States has accused the former President of the United States of tapping his telephone. It has also been suggested that President Obama is attempting a coup against President Trump. Some media outlets report this as serious news, others are highly sceptical.”

    The accusation is false as only the FBI are allowed ‘to phone tap’ – listen to phone calls. To do this the FBI needs legal permission. To get this they must have strong reasons for believing the suspect is committing a criminal offence against the State.

    For those who follow this president truth doesn’t matter. expediency does.

    For the spoof pundits it has become very obvious that truthful reporting of all the facts is beyond them or has been abandoned for the cause their wishes.

  10. Anyone who has read anything I’ve written for this site knows that I am an Arsene Wenger fan as well as an Arsenal fan. Arsenal first certainly, but my admiration for the manager is deeply ingrained. It was me that persuaded Tony that a banner in Arsene’s honour at the Emirates was a good idea (although he would have got there himself eventaully), and I will never join in with booing my club, team or manager however many people around in the NB lower join in.

    But I have come to the realisation that – for a host of reasons – M. Wenger is very unlikely to be the manager of Arsenal FC next season. I hope he is allowed to stay to see through this campaign although if he was at any other club in England he would have been sacked long ago.

    Arsene’s imminent departure worries me and feels me with sadness. With him gone who will the AAA and there media blame for Arsenal’s failure to win the PL or the CL? When we finish 5th or 6th or worse in 2017/18/19 whose fault will that be? The new guy? The players?

    There are multiple reasons why we have not won the league for ages – the financial doping of Chelski and Citeh, the corrupt officiating of the PGML, the lack of protection for players that resulted in a series of long term injuries, and of course, some bad luck.

    Yes you can add to that some bad decision-making by the boss, some poor performances by the players, and even a lack of investment by ‘silent’ Stan. But what you can’t do is blame it all on one man.

    Does anyone believe that Kroenke will give a new manager unlimited funds? That Ozil, Alexis and the elite players of Europe are just waiting for Wenger to go before they either renew their contracts or agree to sign new ones with the club? Not that money guarantees success as Tony has made clear through hundreds of empirical articles on this site.

    Just look at Liverpool – or City – or Chelsea last season. Only one team can win the league, and last year it was little Leicester.

    Arsenal will attract the top managers and the top players because we are a top six club in the richest league in Europe, b) we have a fanbase that exceeds all but MUFC and Liverpool in global reach (from England at least) c) we have the best stadium and facilities outside of Manchester and d) we are in the greatest capital city on the planet (ok, I’m biased).

    But none of that guarantees success.

    If Wenger leaves in May we are in for an uncertain period of transition. It may be exciting, if may get worse, it may get better – nobody knows. Not even Tony 🙂

    But I’ve reached the conclusion that change is inevitable. I’m not going to the Emirates on Tuesday – sadly I don’t want to be there to see the team bravely go out of the CL or fluff their lines (again) – I don’t want to hear the boos or see the boss look pained, frustrated and depressed. I’ll go again on Saturday and hope the reserves put on a show for all the traveling Imps to enjoy while we knock little Lincoln out of the cup.

  11. Black(sheep)
    Don’t be too quick to think Arsenal will beat Lincoln. The latter are all the rage in the world of football tactics and may well have a suprise in store. A draw looks possible. I think any manager who has had 20 years at a club is a long time. The media are not on Arsene’s back and the ‘legend’ surrounding him is still out there as I hear a Cardiff fan on the radio talking of how Arsene has set Arsenal up for the next 50 years! No manager is bigger than a club and I have seen a few at Arsenal since I saw my first game in ’63 and always maintain Arsene was also handed a club in good health way back when with the best English! defence in the history of the PL. Arsene has never managed to replicate that backbone and fundamentally that is where his trubles began. I do not imagine BM will be too intense and quite imagine a small victory for Arsene which unfortunately for Arsene seem to only happen when they no longer matter. Here’s to another twenty years with a new coach!

  12. Nice piece… I love fans who can see from both sides I.e from the manager and from the fan not just from the manager perspective cos I think Arsene deep down over the course of the years knew that most of our players couldn’t compete with the best. I personally think the #Wenger out crusade have gotten loud within the past year cos of lack of ambition, I still remember the 8:2 at the hands of manure was the noise as loud as this? Nope. So Tony what changed sometimes you have to ask yourself that, was the media responsible for out missing out of trophies? Nope even at that we expect the club to always bounce back.
    The news at the mirror is that the boss has been offered an extention I hope he stay on only if he will buckle up cos he need to start asking players questions gone should be the days when we abhor mediocrity but even if he won’t I won’t lose sleep over it cos either we like it or not he will go someday so it won’t be a question of be careful what you wish for we will just have to accept that fact.

  13. Brilliant Blacksheep, you articulate my thoughts exactly.
    I hope I am wrong, but realistically, change is most likely coming, or at least it just feels that way…some of those players seem unsettled, at worst perhaps some of the squad may even mimic divisions in the fan base, who knows. But as posted, there will be big changes, but nothing will change. This league is geared to the super rich, and those that play a physical game not permitted in most other leagues, a game Arsene Wenger refuses to indulge, he and his players pay the price in cards, and at times, structures of limbs. The referees are unaccountable, the next manager, unless he is Eddie Howe…heaven forbid….will soon find out about their little ways. We have a club structure, probably for the best of reasons, built around Mr Wenger, a structure probably no longer sustainable in the modern game, few other managers can do three of four jobs that the man does. This will take time to adjust to new ways.
    I hope it is all done respectfully, that the great man goes out on a high
    And with every fibre of my existence, I wish the new man, when he comes the very best of luck, he is going to need that and more.
    Until then, let’s just back the team and manager, there is still plenty to play for.

  14. If Wenger has quality players he produces titles and plays beautiful football.
    If Wenger has average players he produces beautiful and a Top 4 but doesn’t win titles and doesn’t advance in the Champions League.

    I am an Arsenal fan who wants Wenger to succeed. I don’t enjoy seeing his pained face after a disappointing trip to Anfield or to see him being ridiculed after a trip to Bayern Munich.
    The difference between Bayern Munich performances and ours is NOT that we have an inferior manager. It is simply that we have average players and Bayern has very, very good players.

    As a loyal Wenger fan I am pushing for Silent Stan and the Board to use the £100m or £200m in the bank to buy better players so that our beloved manager can succeed.

    Wenger told us that we failed to win the league over the past 12 years because we were “forced” by our financial situation (stadium project) to *sell our best players*. Surely now that the club has money we need to reverse this problem by getting other “best players” and you get them by buying them and developing them. Trying just the development route (and criticising the buying option) will NOT address our problems in time to save Wenger’s job.

    I am not just a follower of the media. In fact I hate the media because I find the journalists and pundits to portray their opinions as facts and thereby telling us lies.

    But I believe I am a smart and intelligent guy who isn’t easily misled. I have an analytical mind. Even if my enemy says a point I agree with I don’t just dismiss the idea because it has come from my enemy. I judge each point on it’s merits.
    Unlike some I love Wenger but I know he makes mistakes and when he makes mistakes I don’t praise his mistakes and errors just because I think he is the best manager for Arsenal.

    Some people are so much in hatred of the media that even if the media does say something that could improve Arsenal they dismiss it.
    Wenger says he is always in the lookout for world-class players. So if I say we should buy world-class players I am attacked as being someone who just follows what the media says. I was happy when we bought Özil and when we bought Sanchez. Those who don’t like us to buy top players did you not celebrate when we bought these great players?

    I honestly believe if Arsene Wenger gets better players he will turn our team into premier league champions or even Champions League winners.
    The alternative is to hang on to the Welbecks, the Elnenys, the Debuchys, the Theos, the Girouds, etc. etc.. These are good players but they won’t take Arsenal to the next level. They will get Top 4. They can possibly win the FA cup but they will most likely fall short in the big prizes (despite having a brilliant manager in Arsene Wenger).

  15. Everyone in the world is being manipulated by media, not just football. It’s time to rid ourselves of the “officials” who take their position “in vain” of us, the peoples.

    //On another matter
    I keep seeing comments like this on
    “We should have been organised enough”
    “We should have gone for it”
    “We haven’t played for a long time and then it’s always difficult to get into the rhythm of the game again.”
    “We lacked rhythm and competition”
    “We lacked pace in our first half”

    Come on.
    Even a child can see that these are not good excuses in any form or shape.

  16. OK, i’m going to take a dig at the “positives” now.
    It is meant in fun and not disrespectful 🙂

    Arsenal is firmly on the positive side of the balance, they just don’t seem to care enough what happens. “We’re still alive, give thanks” is a frequent phrase heard in the Arsenal camp today.

    No attempt is made to change the bath water, after all, water is damm expensive today, and it’s not that dirty, but it’s getting dirtier every week.

    Against Liverpool, AW has perhaps tried to use the team that he will have next season, no Ozil, no Sanchez? I think Senchez was meant to come on and terrorise Liverpool when they were a little tired.

    Still, the other players besides Ox did not seem to have digested their lunch yet, and i’m sure i saw one tuck his media device into his shorts by his private area, the place least likely to be damaged by some kick or pesky flying ball, and for sure, some one was actually taking a selfie after the pool goal.

    Fans are in meltdown and i dare say no one has even mentioned the Bayern game, or if they do, in hushed tones, it’s like a storm warning they just heard that is approaching and due on Tuesday 19.45.

    Adrian Clarke, has decided to still do a “Breakdown” and at least try to find the positives from the pool match, but at home as he is editing the footage, he could be heard shouting: “Damm it, i just cant find any” and sounds of equipment crashing and falling to the floor.

    Then a shout, Sanchez’s assist and Danny’s goal was found. Screams of pure pleasure are erupting from Mr Clarke’s house, so much so, that neighbors called the police.

    The police told the neighbor, that they were not coming because they can put 2 and 2 together.

    “Its always the same after an Arsenal loss” commented DS Sam Marke, its sad but we just cannot waste the valuable police resources to police these sort of calls you understand.

  17. Para, if Wenger was trying out his team of next year with no Özil and no Sanchez then we can conclude that we are doomed if these two players leave. The remaining players are just average. The performance against Liverpool without both Özil and Sanchez was horrible.
    It’s a pity some on this Forum don’t like it when we buy players. They’d rather see £100m or ££200m sitting in our club’s bank account.

  18. Meanwhile in other news we nowthat that despite the doom and gloom in another article regarding TV income and in particular BT we now know far from BT will pay far more for the CL rights from 2108-2021.The details announced today show the CL in the UK has risen from £897to £1.2 billion

    In addition from 2018 we will see CL double headers @6.00pm and 8.00pm and also the PL will now see 4 teams go straight to the group stage

  19. I think both Wenger and Arsenal deserve better than this. It’s painful to see such a true gentleman under so much pressure due to the failures of the past 10-12 years. Wenger’s main masterstroke throughout the years has been his ability to over-deliver with an average team. But sadly, he has recently been under-delivering with a better than average team. The current team is pretty good (as evidenced by Untold for the firepower of our numerous strikers). But this team lacks the willingness to fight. It seems Wenger has lost his ability to fire up his players, as can be seen with Gunner’s slow starts to many games.
    Wenger has done Arsenal many years of great service, and we should all be thankful to him for that. And he has to go sooner or later. Sadly, it seems it will be sooner rather than later.
    I really hope we take ourselves out of complacency and our Untold fear of change. Who knows, perhaps AW will leave for Barca and he will ultimately win CL, something he deserves and will probably never achieve with Arsenal. And who knows, perhaps a new manager with better defensive strategies, will come to Arsenal and things will change for the better.
    It doesn’t have to be doom & gloom one way or the other.

  20. I didn’t read most of these posts because what’s the point? One poster which I did read speculates on what happened at Liverpool. It isn’t even an accurate account of the match. And it’s obvious the poster hasn’t listened to Arsene Wenger’s post match press conference where he not only explained his tactics but suggested reasons why we were slow out of the blocks.

    But hey, why listen to what the manager says? We all know better than the man in the job, don’t we?

    It’s all kind of sickening.

    I hope Arsene does not go, because I hope that in the face of referee bias and whatever other factors there may be, we have a brilliant end to the season.

    If he does go, I will be sad and angry. And I will miss hearing the analysis of the most articulate manager in the premiership. And the wisest.

  21. Well said Pat, Blacksheep, Tony etc.

    What is wrong with some people? The media have reached an all time low where reporting actual news or facts is no longer the objective. It’s all propaganda based on an alternative agenda run by an elite. We heard idiots in politics telling us we don’t need experts and we get loads of so-called “supporters” on here telling us what the experts should do to make everything better. Yep, when I need a transplant or a heart by-pass, I’m going to ask a politician, a football pundit or a 20 year old kid that writes a blog to do it for me. Why the f**k would I need a surgeon what would s/he know?

    I’m sick of the media, sick of politics and getting pretty sick of football. As the article says there’s an agenda going on here and it’s being run to suit the minority at the expense of the rest of us. The PIGMOB are unaccountable and week after week we see the same old same old. Ibrahimovic and Rojo can commit common assault with impunity virtually every game whilst other teams receive red cards for breathing too hard. It doesn’t matter about truth anymore and quite frankly it stinks.

    Anybody who can’t see through this dense fog of media bullshit is a fool. Vast numbers of people are being taken for idiots and not surprisingly they end up proving that they are. All the time that they buy into this crap they actually perpetuate their own subversion to it. Wake up sheeple ffs.

  22. Gouresh,

    The idea that you have to always beat the other top teams is another tedious myth peddled by moronic ex-players and pundits/journalists. The bottom line is always that the team who wins the most games and loses the fewest, wins the title. What does it matter where you pick the points up?

    Somebody said Wenger hasn’t replicated the defence he inherited. Hmmm, seem to remember a virtually brand new defensive set up went an entire season unbeaten. This board seems to be attracting a few more aaa’s these days…

  23. Nice article with a well thought out , balanced and measured responses from most the hard core regulars .

  24. Here is PROOF that football in this country is bent:

    Hector Bellerin “knocked out” by Alonso – no action and no retrospective action taken
    Alexis Sanchez “pushed over” by Bournmouth player. Referee laughs – no action and no retrospective action taken
    Ibrahimovic “elbows” Mings – no action but retrospectively charged with violent conduct
    Mings “pushes over” Ibrahimovic – no action but retrospectively charged with violent conduct

    No mention of cleaning up the game or PGMO by Clarke. Just how many women and other minorities to be on various FA boards and committees.

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