If working for the media always remember: never mention the context

By Tony Attwood

Following events from overseas as I shall be for one more week, it is interesting to look out for signs of perspective in the media.   The Guardian did it with “The Manchester City manager’s support for jailed Catalan leaders does not extend to political prisoners in Abu Dhabi, home of City’s owners.”

And good for them in saying it.  It seems  to have taken quite a long time to be said, but at least David Conn did say it in the end.  It would be most interesting to know what Mr Guardiola’s comment on that would be.

But I mention it, because it is a rare case of context.

We absolutely don’t get it with the Carragher row concerning him spitting at a man and child in a car.   If you are a long term reader you may know of my remembrance of Carragher throwing a coin at fans at Highbury, and that is valid context.  It shows the measure of the man – and is something against which to weigh his statements about a moment of madness, and it not being like him.

For that event, in my view he should have been banned from football for at least three years – indeed anyone throwing a coin onto a pitch is normally banned for life which is right in my view.  The fact that he just got three matches, and the fact that Sky has employed him since are both ludicrous, and it is a total and absolute reflection on Sky that they have chosen to identify themselves with this guy.

We are not getting that much context in relation to the West Ham board of directors and the activities of Boris Johnson in giving the club their stadium.   Although there is progress in that at least some of the media even seem to have woken up to the notion that there is nothing in their contract for the “London Stadium” which forces them to pay for the policing of the ground.

If police are deemed a necessity in great numbers in the stadium, they can, as I understand the contract, just pass it all on to, well, us mugs the tax payers (which of course I still am since I’m only in Australia on a visitors’ visa.  Just under a week to go).

“West Ham accused of behaving like ostriches over abuse of fan” is one headline I saw,    Mind you the Daily Mail has gone with “West Ham fan who invaded pitch and planted corner flag in centre circle revealed as 61-year-old businessman who says: ‘I hadn’t planned anything, but I just felt I had to do something’.”   Not sure about this, giving us older businessmen a bad name.

They also say there is a fear that they will have to play Southampton behind closed doors.  Oh and I see that Southampton has sacked their manager.  Must have happened when I was sleeping.   But that is par for the course.  He’s the 38th manager to go (there may have been more between me writing this in Australian day time and you reading it in European day time – sorry I have no idea what the time is in the Americas – I’m struggling enough as it is with England / Oz).   38 out of 92.  And how many clubs have improved as a result?

But maybe we should not blame the managers.  How about blaming the directors who hire and fire?

But back with WHU it is extraordinary how the media is turning on them.  There are mentions of the pornographic past of one of the owners, and the headline, “Delusions of stadium grandeur haunt West Ham and club’s owners.”  It makes Tottenham’s handling of the media in which there is hardly ever a criticism of anything in sight all the more extraordinary.

Anyway, with WHU there is nostalgia for the old ground expressed in the media, although I must say I found it an intimidating place and on occasion frightening, just as I have done the old WHL ground.

“West Ham players fear toxic stadium atmosphere will damage survival bid” is another headline, and it is interesting that the main comment about Arsenal is the empty seats.  That has always been a favourite approach of the media, and you might remember how we revealed that they used a picture from an Emirates Cup game in which Arsenal were not playing on one occasion to show supposed fan abandonment of matches.

But as  normal there is no historic content.  Highbury before the seating was installed would often have low crowds and I don’t just mean the notorious 4,554 for the match against Leeds in 1966.  We had 23,619 for the game against Wolverhampton in 1980, and 18,869 the previous year for the game against Norwich.

It happens everywhere – and we could go back to WHU in 2014 they had just 14,390 for West Ham against Man City in the League Cup semi-final.  15,628 turned up for England against Chile at Wembley in 1989.  In 2008 at White Hart Lane, just 14,034 turned up to watch Tottenham vs Stoke.   In 1994, Chelsea got 8,923 to Stamford Bridge for a Premier League game against Coventry City.

Yep context is everything.  Occasionally it is there, but don’t hold your breath.

34 Replies to “If working for the media always remember: never mention the context”

  1. I am struggling to get my head around the whole Carragher saga.
    Not just the spitting something that can’t be explained away and surely something that Sky can’t defend but also the circumstances around the incident
    First off we have two grown men driving men it seems communicating through open windows with little attention being paid to other road users. Surely that constitutes dangerous driving?
    Then you have the driver of the car filming the whole sorry incident whilst driving. Isn’t that another offence?
    I am not 100% sure but when Carragher leans forward to spit I struggle to see any seat belt across his right shoulder. Also surely spitting constitutes some sort of assault? Isn’t that another couple of offences?
    But the bit that really gets me is that Carragher keeps talking about regretting spiting at a 14 year old. Unless I am missing something is the age relevant? Is he saying it would have been ok to spit at say a 30 year old man?
    This obviously is a high profile matter and Sky surely can’t take any other course of action than to sack him. There have been other incidents in the past where they rightly have dismissed pundits whose behaviour was put into question. The names of Keys and Grey immediately spring to mind but there have been others
    The clocks ticking for Sky but for me the evidence is so clear the police should also become involved but don’t hold your breath.

  2. I think it was Micro Soft who claimed for their computer soft ware ‘wysiwyg’ or is it ‘wuciwug’ I can’t remember the actual letters off hand but the concept remains. The message being in full
    ‘What you see is what you get.’

    Of course this is at best a myth at worst a lie for much is behind the claim in other words the context of this claim that is not said.

    Today’s football media has trivialised context either because it is totally devoid of the ability to consider context or because it is paid to trivialise.

    It is the same with Donald Trump who on the campaign trailed ‘We are going to drain the Washington swamp’ and thousands took up this rallying call without once thinking about the context of this claim. Trump never detailed as to what swamp in Washington.

    What swamp? The Senate controlled by the Republican Party of which Trump was its president candidate.

    The House Representive’s also controlled by the Republican Party. Did he mean these swamps? Or did he mean the White House which he was campaigning to occupy and now does of course and which is being drained

    Follow the sport media be it Radio sport(or what ever it is called) or BBC radio or TV the press be it the Mirror type or Telegraph and most of the internet but all the time think what is the context.

    From them: ‘What they want you to see is what you get. In other words:


    Remember what is not said is usually more important than what is said.

  3. OT

    Here’s one for all you AAA’s who slag AW for getting rid of Sanchez. From Tribal Football.

    Arsenal players HATED Alexis Sanchez before his move to Manchester United in January.

    That’s the claim of German journalist Raphael Honigstein.

    Honigstein, who is working with Per Mertersacker on his new autobiography, has revealed just how much the Chilean was disliked at Arsenal.

    “It’s been under-reported just how badly the whole Arsenal dressing room hated Alexis Sanchez,” he said on the Totally Football Show podcast.

    “They really felt he was just playing up for the camera.

    “He was doing all these things like ‘Oh, I’m trying! What are the rest of you doing?!’

    “Arsenal put up stats inside the dressing room after every game showing kilometres run, the passing etc.

    “Sanchez would regularly come out with the lowest mileage – by a big distance.”

  4. another good article guys. This site is a beacon of common sense in the blogosphere

  5. Gooner Mikey :- As has been said before it’s not how much you run but the effectiveness of what you do that matters. Maybe he ran less distance but over 5 yards perhaps he was more dangerous to the opposition . It’s all statisistics being used to promote a position.
    If Alexis was hated : so what ! it didn’t cause Sheringham and Cole any problems but if there is an agenda lets find a fact to fit the picture.
    As the reports came from Chile you can see that his attitude was a problem there as well.
    http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/13/explosive-claims-made-about-chiles-failed-world-cup-campaign-and-alexis-sanchez-6997074/ .
    Interesting that the quote about his sitting alone with headphones has been picked up and implied that it was at London Colney not Santiago.

    Perhaps we should have not signed him in the first place with his reputation for disharmony.

  6. Hmm Metro!

    I don’t know what to believe or not to believe on Sanchez but I do know he scored some great goals for Arsenal. So thanks for the good memories Alexis.

    The problem was to replace him and the media’s “tactless moran” usually refered to by them as “the French Man” Has once again pulled off a master stroke replacement.

    ‘Long live the King’ or as he holds not only Arsenal nationality but French nationality ‘Long live the President’.

    To rephrase macrednose sneer about Arsene. What does the English media know about football? Answer: ______

  7. @ Colario & Porter

    I share some of your skepticism and am definitely not a fan of Tribal Football. I was vaguely interested in the claim and followed it there from another site. I would have given it no credence whatsoever if it hadn’t been a quote which is (essentially) attributed to the BFG.

    Of course stats don’t prove anything. I have stated this myself in articles I have written for UA. What I have also said is that they are a better indication of likelihood than some completely unsubstantiated opinion. The main issue for me in this context is that he was hated. The Sheringham/Cole scenario is of course well documented. But they hated each other and managed to maintain a professional working relationship on the field at least. None of us know whether or not this caused any general disharmony within the dressing room so it is as hard to claim they are comparable as it is to suggest that statistics are meaningless imho.

    The question is also raised as to whether we should have bought Sanchez in the first place if he was known to be disruptive. As an employer who has taken on more staff than I care to remember, I would say that I have taken several risks with talented job applicants whose attitude I was concerned about initially. Some worked out extremely well, others most certainly didn’t and had to be managed!! This is one of the challenges you face as a manger trying to be as effective as possible in your given field of operation; why would football be any different? In this context if the suggestion is we shouldn’t sign anyone who has shown any indication of ‘disruptive/disloyal’ behaviour, one might question the rationale of signing Aubameyang based upon ‘reported’ behaviour in his latter days at Dortmund. Let’s hope the undoubted skills of AW can work through that without too much of a problem eh?

  8. Colario

    M$ “invented” WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) (as I understand things). The UN*X and TeX worlds called it WYSIAYG (What You See Is All You Get).

    Waay back then, TeX normally worked at something like 25,000 steps per inch, and printers for home computers had resolutions of 300 or 400 dots per inch.

  9. Tony

    “18,869 the previous year for the game against Norwich.”

    A match we drew 1 – 1

    I cant recall for certain if I was at that particular game but I know for sure I was at the diabolical 0 – 0 draw the season before.

    That particularly depressing occasion was played in a monsoon on the evening of Tuesday 28th of February 1978.

    Although not quite as bad as the following years attendance it was only played in front of a meagre 23,506 drowned rats.

    As my old man you to say: Kids today, they don’t know they’re born.

  10. On morning tv (I know it’s rubbish but her indoors. What can you do?) they had a phone-in vote on whether Carragher should resign.

    Resign FFS, not be sacked !

    Even so it was only about 55% to 45% in favour of him resigning. WTF ?

    Can you imagine what would be happening if an AAA approached Wenger’s car and he wound down the window and spat at them?

    My God, the outrage doesn’t bear thinking about. But 45%, yes FOURTYFIVE PERCENT think Carragher should just carry on.

    I find that beyond belief.

    As I said yesterday, which one of us reading this blog could spit at one of our customers, or even just a random member of the public, and keep our jobs?

    Another thing. Has anyone heard anybody mention the coin throwing incident once? That alone completely undermines the ‘he’s not that kind of guy’ bollocks straight away, but it seems somebody doesn’t want that little incident come to light.

    He has to be SACKED, and immediately surely ?

    But again as I said yesterday, given the following still work in the media my hopes aren’t high.

    Stan Collymore: convicted wife beater and ‘dogger’

    Roy Keane: Career ending thug with “no regrets”

    Joey Barton: Thug, twice convicted of assault.

  11. @Gooner Mikey,

    Well, Mr Wenger has hired some players with a past. Think of Anelka for example. And there are others.
    Some players thrive depending on the manager. Can’t say I’m impressed by Sanchez since he’s been at Manure. Haven’t read many pieces either about him. Suddendly he is not newsworthy it seems. Why is that ? At Arsenal he was often a scorer who made wins. Maybe at Manure they are so damn good they don’t need him as much as Arsenal did ? And we’ve seen many Arsenal players go to pastures greener and not be very successful there.

    So what his reputation was is not important to me. However, I believe Per can be trusted. I mean, he says a few things about himself that take some nerve. Why would he just lie about Sanchez ? And the body language of Alexis during games this season, the way his fellow players interacted were all telling to me.

    Finally, well Aubameyang has a past too… and the chemistry between player and manager needs to fucnction as well as the one between player and team

  12. THe Carra footage shows a clear matter for the police. Several charges for both protagonists involved in the spat or is it spit! The sooner charges a brought the better for the safety of road users.

  13. Sky? they are part of the phone hacking & murder exploitation group. They also showed their hand/bias in buying shares in some football clubs. It is obvious they are as corrupt as their owner, who incidentally realised that joke abut a stately home called F**k Hall.

  14. Sorry to go off topic but I’ve just been flicking through my latest edition of ‘Q’ magazine (well, us olden’s have got to at least keep a toe in the puddle of youth haven’t we) and came across a Q @ A with John Lydon, alias Johnny rotten of the Sex Pistols and PIL.

    Although a lot of you may know him better from his ‘Dairy Crest’ butter adds, or his stint in the ‘Jungle.

    Anyway, as a fanatical Arsenal fan living in LA he was asked if he still gets to watch the Arsenal games ? To which he said:

    “I don’t miss a single one. It’s hard to feel too enthusiastic these days……..I suppose I’m following it from a much more traditional and proper point of view. The modern fan seems very superficial and the demand for success on a constant level is absurd”

    Well said Mr Rotten.

    A ‘proper’ fan you indeed.

  15. yes Nitram, when I saw the Pistols a few years ago at Brixton Mr Lydon made a point of displaying an Arsenal flag. He grew up in Holloway and is a gooner through and through. I wonder what he thought of Carragher spitting? He never liked it when ‘fans’ spat at the pistols

  16. blacksheep

    Back in the day I loved a ‘Pogo’.

    It has to be said a Punk ‘gig’ was always a very ‘moist’ affair back then.

    Unfortunately I never saw the Sex Pistols live, but I did get to see The Clash at the Rainbow. Brilliant.

    ‘Never Mind……’ is a classic and still gets an airing on a regular basis.

  17. Thanks for that Knobby, you’ve just ruined my night !

    To be fair he is a contradiction.

    I wouldn’t say he’s a hypocrite but considering how anti establishment he is he still took the ‘corporate’ dollar when it was needed.

    Look, I’m not judging him, a balance between a social conscience and the need to survive can pull you in multiple directions.

    But it has to be said, what you’ve shown suggests he’s not quite the ‘proper’ fan he claims to be, and maybe he does in fact have an ‘absurd’ expectation of success.

    But given tonight’s events, added to those of last week, nothings going to spoil my late night ‘toddy’.

  18. I have watched him on Question Time a few times, he really isn’t quite as clever as he makes out.
    I still like him though, he had a rough time as a kid.

  19. Knobby

    He did have rough time indeed, contracting meningitis as a kid. He was only 7.

    He says this affected him so much that he cant even remember his parents. It still hurts him to this day.

    Despite his occasional contradictory, and often abrasive personality, he is strangely likable.

    But the question is, is he an AKB or an AAA ?

  20. Maybe this is how Dave from the fast show would judge Wenger:

    look, I like Wenger.

    He’s a very nice guy.

    He always looks the smart.

    And no one can say he hasn’t tried his best.

    I mean, he took us from an average, 1st division team, to a team respected around the World.

    But if he came round my house in his fancy zipper jacket, talking in that poncey foreign accent, I’d say Wenger, NO.

    You may of won a few fancy pots and pans when all you had to do was beat United.

    And yes, you helped to build an impressive, state of the art stadium.

    But when it comes to beating Manchester City and all their Billions of pounds.

    And when it comes to out witting the men from PiGMOB.

    You’ve let me down, you’ve let yourself down, you’ve you let every Arsenal fan down, in fact, you’ve let the whole World down.

  21. Which of the following disgusts you the most regarding Jamie Carragher ?
    a) His coin throwing
    b) His Spitting
    c) His Liverpool bias
    d) His attacks on AW
    e) His Scouser accent
    f) All of the above
    g) None of the above

  22. Champions League Whatsaap group –

    Liverpool (online)

    Chelsea (typing)

    Bayern (online)

    PSG (left)

    Madrid (online)

    Tottenham (left)

    Juventus (online)

    Man City (online)

    Barcelona (is typing)

    Arsenal (last seen Dec 2016 )

    Man United ( last seen few hours ago)

  23. Just reading the comments is fun, I’m quoting the Guardian

    “Mourinho refused to answer a question from a Spanish journalist about whether going out of the Carabao Cup, Champions League and being so far behind in the league amounted to failure, on the grounds that he doubted it would interest a Spanish readership.”

    What was that again : specialist in failure ?

  24. It is worth reflecting that only in the U.K. Have the football media lauded Mourinho consistently over his career.

    Not to imply that the “foreign” journalists were attempting Vengarrrgghhh smears against him, almost the opposite as who would want to focus on such boring “specialities”: in other leagues he was simply dismissed for the charlatan cheque book manager that he is, whose focus has always been on the cheque book and not so much the managing (please refer to: Robben, Duff, an entire Madrid squad bar Ozil, KDB, Salah, etc.)

  25. I am amazed at the headline that Mourinho needs more funds at Man U.
    He has spent god knows how much on transfers and top wages.
    Yet last night he only fielded three of the players he bought in the last two years.
    The rest were mainly Fergies or academy players.

  26. I do wonder :

    – what Alexis is thinking….apart from his bank account
    – how we don’t read much about whereas for 12 months pretty much each and every smick, body movement, word of his was analized by the medai with just damaging Arsenal and Mr Wenger. He’s just not existing anymore

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