By Sir Hardly Anyone,
Herbert Chapman, very famously railed against what he call the “boo boys”: the men who attended Highbury matches and hurled abuse at the players if they failed to live up to the standards that these “fans” had created in their own minds.
But the great man’s denunciations of such behaviour did no good and each Arsenal manager from thence forth has had to cope with the response from what was once the terraces and is now the armchair or bar stool. Win or lose it happens. It happened in the 1971 double season as much as in the near relegation seasons that followed.
In fact this tendency among Arsenal fans to focus on the negative side of the club went even further as in the late 1940s, when two ex-managers of the club published their autobiographies within weeks of each other.
One manager had been an absolute failure, never won anything never got near a cup final, and flirted season after season with relegation and finally was booted out after six years. The other won two league titles and the FA Cup and kept the club challenging at the top throughout his seven league seasons.
One wrote his book shortly after retiring from management, and had access to Arsenal documentary history in so doing, the other wrote his 20 years after he was dismissed from the club, having never won anything, and having no access to any Arsenal documents, or any historic records.
One wrote a straight autobiography, and the other was offered the chance to spill the beans by a Sunday newspaper which serialised the book.
And you can guess who the boo-boys of the day believed: of course the abject failure of a manager, Leslie Knighton. The one who at the time shared with Herbert Chapman the honour of being the most successful manager in the club’s history, George Allison, had his book ignored by the media. Indeed the tales of the absolute failure at the club about his chairman as still believed, even though they have been proven to be complete fabrications.
So it is now. The make believe pundits whose record in accuracy of 3% over the last two summers might seriously be challenged if we did an analysis through a whole season, (my rough notes suggest 1% is probably the level of accuracy we would find) are the ones believed. Those who write more than fantasy headlines but actually try and dig into the real issues are by and large ignored.
There is today, for example a bit of celebration of the back three and how well they play together, but no enquiry into how virtually all the media was running the Mustafi transfer through the summer – a report that Mustafi himself appears to have vigorously denied.
Likewise while Bellerin is picking up well-deserved praise, there is no mention that virtually every publication in every medium, told us that Bellerin was off to Barcelona, had already bought his family a house and couldn’t leave fast enough.
Yet despite the abject failure of pundits to get anything much right, they are still at it. The Daily Canon today says, “Arsenal, on the other hand [in comparison with Chelsea], have been pretty terrible at getting anything more than the bare minimum for their youth products in the transfer market.”
Which is a statement worth pondering because it raises the question, how do you know who those targets are? If they are targets of the type that we covered last summer and the summer before in our review of the transfer rumours, then yes it should be remembered that only 3% of those nominated as coming to Arsenal actually came. But as the comments above on the leavers show, most rumours of targets are made up.
So here we are again, Arsenal are on a fairly decent run of four wins in five games, and the bloggetta takes the time to knock our youth transfer policy – without giving any evidence. The boo-boys would lap it up.
Of course sometimes the bloggettas have to go round the houses a bit to get some readership. As with The Sports Review which has the headline, “Arsene Wenger sends clear message to Arsenal fans about Santi Cazorla” and the subheading in capitals almost as big, “Arsene Wenger gives the latest news on Santi Cazorla’s return from injury for Arsenal.”
And you know it is going to be a very BIG story because it is not just one guy making things up. This story is “By The Sport Review staff” and it was published this morning at 0645 GMT.
And it says, “Arsene Wenger has admitted that he is still not sure when Santi Cazorla will be ready to make his return to action for Arsenal.”
OK that is just plain daft. But the real ire of the contemporary boo-boys today is reserved for Iwobi. ‘He isn’t fit to tie the Arsenal boots” screams Football London. Although there is a bit of balance as FootballInsider has “Petr Cech was praised by Arsenal fans as the goalkeeper kept a clean sheet against Burnley to help his side record a narrow 1-0 win.” That’s nice to know.
Quite why boo-boys exist I don’t know. I suppose its a psychological thing – trying to pretend that they know more than the manager. And quite possibly they did know more than Leslie Knighton – at least judging by the number of mistakes in his autobiography. But most of the time their commentaries say more about them, than anyone else.
As for why pundits where jackets and ties (or at least jackets) on TV. It is to make them look knowledgeable – despite all that comes out of their mouths.
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