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.
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