By Tony Attwood
With just two matches gone it seems that every single Arsenal first team player who has played (except two) has been seriously attacked by pundits and self-styled experts. The only two who have escaped the mauling thus far are Iwobi and Monreal – and of course those players who have not played.
In attacks that have been unprecedented in their ferocity and spread, with virtually every player having had the charge levelled at him that unless he leaves, Arsenal are completely doomed.
Such is the widespread nature of the attacks, as we have shown, it is unlikely that there is any central focus which is producing the articles and reports – so it is not just a computer generated attack. Clearly there is a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon. One “outlet” attacks a player and gets a good readership, so another attacks a different player and so on.
Because such articles quickly rise to the top of the readership lists for Arsenal news each day, newspapers and blogs are ever more anxious to find new tales of players being useless in order to get more readership. For those who write about Arsenal it has become the only game in town.
And it is interesting because although we have had many attacks on Arsenal before it is rare to see one with this much spread. The previous big time attacks on the club focussed primarily on the manager or occasionally one or two players – never something like this.
One thing is absolutely certain, these people producing these remourceless and seemingly endless attacks cannot be supporters of the club because the effect of the attacks can only be to undermine the confidence of the players, make life more difficult for the manager and encourage the opposition.
Of course when there are just one or two players being attacked it is possible to justify the articles by saying that the club needs to re-think its attitude towards these players and it will improve when this happens. But when this approach reaches such widespread proportions that almost every player is caught up in it, this is no longer a valid excuse.
Arsenal obviously cannot possibly rethink its entire team at this point, with the window shut. Indeed even if the window were open it would still find it impossible to sell off players who have been so mauled and bring in new players for almost every position.
If the club were to try and do this all they would find is that prices of replacements would soar, while the value of the players the club has (already seriously undermined and reduced) would drop through the floor.
No, none of these attacks can be written to help the club. They are either written by supporters of other clubs or by people who simply want some publicity or profit, no matter what the cost to Arsenal.
Even stories such as the one in Kick Off which says that Barcelona are planning to make a big offer for Ramsey – their window has another 11 days left – is not getting much coverage, because the main news coming out is that each and every player is useless.
Some players may decide they have had enough, and if they do it is going to be hard to get replacements as the UK gets closer to leaving the EU . This is why we have started to read headlines such as that of Christian Heidel. “Only work permit issues prevented Arsenal from signing Hamza Mendyl,” -a story that was in 101 Great Goals. The work permit issue is likely to loom very large once the UK leaves the EU.
Of course this move to attacking every Arsenal player is not going to be reported by the newspapers and blogs that indulge in it, because they are presenting each and every story as a unique event. If one sees the whole thing as just a chain of stories then for many readers (although of course not all) the whole thing become less valid, and more obviously a campaign.
And it is not as if there are not other stories out there. The way the manager is seeking to change the whole style of Arsenal play by playing out from the back and adopting a quick counter attacking style is one of particular interest – not least because of Arsenal’s history in that regard.
The person most remembered for that is Herbert Chapman who made counter attacking an art form, and indeed was the first modern manager to use exactly the same tactic at home as away – which might sound nothing special, but had an enormous impact on the club’s form at the time.
And if we want to look outside Arsenal there are tales a plenty. For example Tottenham’s move into their new stadium has been put back until the end of October at best after problems with the £850million ground’s safety system.]
Now, according to the Mail, not the most reliable source I do agree, Tottenham have admitted they do not know when their stadium will be ready and on Monday night this week they moved two more games to Wembley – against Liverpool in September and Cardiff City the following month.
The NFL fixture between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders has also been moved and the venue for the match with Manchester City on October 28 is uncertain too with another NFL game taking place at Wembley that day.
Now Daily Mail says that it could be next February before the stadium opens.
There is also the ongoing story about Ivan Gazidis – I received a note last night saying is going to announce his departure today. Normally that story would be big news but hardly anyone is touching it.
Oh yes and there is a petition going around which is to be presented to Parliament if it gets enough signatures demanding that Tottenham should have points deducted for breaches of consumer trading rules in offering the move to NewWHL without being able to carry out their promise. Rather far fetched but in other times some would be picking it up. But not now.
But there are even signs that the old “Fleet St” papers are getting a bit worried by this fanatical attack on everyone and are trying to find new Arsenal stories. The Star even has an interview with Reis Nelson on the impact Freddie Ljungberg is making on the under 23s. Not normally its style. Maybe they feel the endless attack has run its course. Let’s hope so.
It will end, not least because the writers are running out of players to attack, but what they really need is another story to divert their attention. Maybe we should try and find one for them.
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