by Tony Attwood
I don’t think too many people predicted what would happen this season once there was no Arsene Wenger. What we were used to was a daily assault on the manager which had the benefit to a certain degree of reducing attacks on the players. Of course some players were heavily criticised but generally the blame for everything was put at the manager’s door.
Indeed the Daily Mail has reported today that “Wenger had a bodyguard by his side at all games during his last two years as manager of Arsenal” which is rather ironic, since that newspaper sponsors a blog that was (and being unable to drop its old time habits still is) one of the most vicious attackers on every aspect of Mr Wenger’s life and style of management.
Since Mr Wenger has left the printed assaults on the manager have diminished as the media has responded with an absolute all out daily assault on almost every single player in the Arsenal first team squad.
And while it is true that many have moderated their language this season so that they say “Some Arsenal fans were outraged by…” there are signs that this fractional return to reason is now being ditched after just two games of the season with the Daily Mirror running the headline, “Fans unhappy with Bellerin” with the text “Arsenal fans were left fuming with Hector Bellerin’s performance in the Gunners’ defeat to Chelsea at the weekend.”
Just adding “some” to such sentences hardly makes them informative (in that there are always some who will attack anything) but it is a tiny step in the right direction.
All of which brings us back to the central issue is, does the media make a difference? Does a lot of criticism in the media make a player more nervous, less instinctive and less able to execute brilliant and unexpected moves? Do the remorseless, unending attacks make players who might otherwise come to Arsenal now turn away thinking, “actually I don’t fancy being treated like that.”
It is a real point because although players can get the adulation of fans in the stadium, that represents just 90 or 180 minutes a week. The rest of the week there is a ceaseless onslaught by the media.
As far as I know, no one has ever done any analysis of how the media affects players – one would need a team of psychologists to get interested in the topic and for clubs to give permission for the players to be involved in the research. And therein lies the problem. Knowing that the answer might well reveal that players are
a) increasingly reluctant to come to Arsenal because of media treatment
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b) feeling the pressure because of media treatment once they arrive
I can’t imagine any club giving permission to a university team to undertake such research, and even if they did a club like Arsenal would not want the results published and without the option of publication at the end, the researchers would not be interested. So they would be very unlikely to co-operarte in such research.
In this situation however we can see the value of having a manager who is constantly under attack by the media large and small. Indeed there was always that feeling that as long as the media attacked Mr Wenger it would lay off the players (at least to some degree) for nothing was really their fault. It was always the manager.
But the media is never able to call a halt, it always has to go further and make bigger claims than its rivals. For in journalism you are only as good as your last headline. And now we have, after two games, comments that Mr Emery could lose his job as with today’s headline in the Star:
Arsenal news: Unai Emery told to make crucial decision or lose his job
And so of course the bloggettas jump on the bandwagon…
- Awful decision’: Some Arsenal fans fume about match-deciding decision (
- Chances made, 29 Touches: Emery simply must axe Arsenal regular after abysmal performance (
- Revolution is NOT Possible: Emery Has to Meet the Team Half Way: (Bergkampesque)
Inevitably the attack on the manager is not yet universal, and some are resisting
- Gary Neville: Man Utd legend tears into Sam Allardyce after Unai Emery criticism (
- Arsenal news: Unai Emery must be given time to shake off Arsene Wenger scent – Shearer (
And for some it is time to enter a fantasy world in which the inbound transfer market is still in operation
- Midfielder rejects two giants to sign for Emery, deal almost complete (
- There’s a £72m-rated star ideal for Arsenal to upgrade on Mesut Ozil with (
There is even a realisation that with the UK set to leave the EU there is complete chaos in the Foreign Office where the previous “if the FA says he’s worthy we’ll give him a visa” situation has apparently been blocked by Downing Street. So we are told “Arsenal were set to sign Morocco defender Hamza Mendyl this summer only for work permit problems to scupper the deal.”
Mendyl (who was part of the Morocco squad in the WC and therefore under previous rules should have had no trouble in getting a visa, completed a move from Lille to Schalke earlier this week. Schalke boss Christian Heidel was asked about the transfer and said: “I think otherwise he would have gone to Arsenal.”
Which means that headlines like “Gunners eye Russian youngster” might be incomplete if the transfer can’t be arranged. According to our old friend “reports” centre half Igor Diveev who is 18 was watched at the COTIF youth tournament. He scored in the game against Argentina and currently plays for FC UFA.
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