“Wigan without the ball are a better team than Arsenal”
By Billy “the Dog” McGraw
There is a seriously fascinating article in the Telegraph today. Seriously fascinating and seriously long. And for once I would like to give a link to the article, and thus quite possibly give the Telegraph (a media “outlet” with which I have serious difficulties) half a dozen new readers.
The article is “Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season: ranked” by Ben Bloom. Actually the author of the piece is someone to pause over because he is actually the athletics correspondent of the paper, so quite what he is doing writing a longer than average article on Arsenal I am not sure, but anyway, he’s done it and quite a read it is too.
He takes, in the article, no less than 14 wild rants against Arsenal. Nine of the 14 came on Sky Sports, which tells you something. The headline at the top of this little piece is taken from a rant by Paul Merson.
Sadly although it is an interesting article after a while it palls a bit and it left me wondering two things. Why the Telegraph gives its athletics correspondent the job of watching rants on Sky, and why these pundits keep saying the same thing over and over again. Souness, Neville, Carragher, Henry, Murphy, Merson, Dixon, Keane, each of them attempting to outdo the other while ultimately saying pretty much the same as the last guy said and as they themselves said the time before.
At one point Carragher is quoted as saying, “It is like watching the same movie,” and indeed that’s exactly what it is like both reading this and following football on these TV channels. It is the same over and over and over again.
Now I suppose that Souness, Neville, Carragher, Henry, Murphy, Merson, Dixon and Keane would defend themselves (if they ever bothered, although I suspect they are never called upon to do so) by saying, “well that’s how it is, so that is how we have to describe it”. Except that it is a bit like saying of the Prime Minister that she is a pathetic jobsworth whose got as much idea of how to run the country as a wasp. Once you’ve said it, you’ve said it. Next time you might use a dung beetle as the comparator, but the impact has gone. It quickly becomes background. We’ve heard it once, why bother to outdo the other guys with the next rant?
The whole thing gives a very good idea however as to what Sky Sports and the other “outlets” (as we must now call them) think of the viewers. Dumbos who want to hear the same rant over and over and over and over and… well you get the picture.
But what could they say instead?
I would invite you to hold that question, because the answer to it turns out to be very interesting. Because, if Arsenal really are that awful, it suggests that the 14 clubs below them are actually worse. So what does that say about the rest of the league, and indeed the standard of the league as a whole?
Now that is a valid question, because very few of these wild rants is about the fact that this is poor football for an Arsenal team. This is about the quality of the football by Premier League standards.
“Forget not turning up, forget not playing well, but just the general attitude or lack of respect for the shirt from three or four of them in not running back and not bothering is disgraceful.” That was Gary Neville.
So what Mr Neville is saying is the bottom 80% of the Premier League is disgraceful.
But hang on a minute. Sky like to charge not just a Sky subscription but also a Sky Sports subscription on top of this. A double subscription to watch a league in which 80% of the teams are an absolute disgrace,
Fortunately I took note of their advice some time ago and cancelled my subscription, but it really is quite shocking. What was once the best League in the world is now worse than you see on the park of a sunday morning. Selling subscription packages is like saying “Roll up roll up. 80% of this is dreadful rubbish. Pay yer money yer got no choice. It’s awful and we’ve got it.”
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