By Tony Attwood
We are, as Arsenal fans, being treated with absolute contempt. We are treated as idiots with brains the size of peas, simple beings who can be manipulated with a few set phrases written by computers, allowing the journalists to move on to the proper stuff.
Just take a look at this: “Arsenal fans longing for the return of more glamorous European ties will have to wait.”
It has within it all sort of implications – that there are Arsenal fans who are “longing” rather than going along to enjoy the game, that ties we played in the Champs League were always “glamorous” and that there are Arsenal fans queuing up expecting to see Barcelona and haven’t realised we are in the Europa.
It is all part of the dumbing down of football commentary which has arisen by the belief that we are idiots, and the resultant belief that it is ok to automate the whole process of writing about the sport. And what better example of this might we have than a lovely headline in the Telegraph that reads, “Nothing wrong with Harry Kane that finding his shooting boots would not solve.”
Indeed. And we could take that sentiment on and use it further There is nothing wrong with the full back that making a few tackles wouldn’t solve. There’s nothing wrong with the centre half that heading out a few corners wouldn’t solve. There’s nothing wrong with the defensive midfielder that a few interceptions wouldn’t solve. There is nothing wrong with football reporting in newspapers that a few sackings wouldn’t solve.
All such statements do is simply the world so each article becomes an idiots’ guide. Oh yes and tell us that while Arsenal are in the mire, Tottenham are all ok. Everything is fine. Nothing to worry about.
Oh to live in such a simple world, where every problem can be resolved by one easy solution – just do this and everything would be all right. But as any psychiatrist will tell you, the people who believe that everything will be all right if only this will happen have just one problem. They believe that everything will be all right if only this will happen. That isn’t how life works.
The world is not like that. Not in football, not one’s life at home, not in ordinary everyday mundane jobs, not anything. The world is complex and people are complex, and one change in any complex situation very rarely works as one might imagine.
But perhaps we should be patient because football journalists are simple folk, which is why they are being replaced by bots, the simplest of all programs. Except part of the deal is that while the media (the “outlets” as they like to call each other, although as I’ve mentioned, I prefer “drainpipes”) rely on bots to tell them what’s what, the journalists still have to tell the programmers what the bots must say. And no one is telling the programmers that the Tottenham problem might just be that they didn’t sign anyone in the summer. That was the BIG problem when Arsenal only signed Cech one summer. But now? No, nothing to see, move along, that can’t be it.
So just staying with Kane for a moment, the theory being put around is that he needs a rest after playing all these matches for Tottenham and for England and he has played almost every second of every Tottenham match.
What is interesting though, is that no one thought to add to the program the notion of Thierry Henry. He played between 31 and 37 league games each year for seven years with Arsenal – all carefully planned and sorted. A bit of planning, that’s all it takes.
Meanwhile with Arsenal BT Sport have let their bots run their on line presence, which pretty much shows the contempt with which BT Sport has always held Arsenal. (Remember how they laughed their heads off at the Emirates Cup when they first got the rights to that? They are still at it – their opening line is “Unai Emery has vowed to take the Europa League seriously this season.”
The next one line paragraph is
“It’s a far cry from facing Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages.” If ever you wanted to see something written by a computer it is that. Say nothing by, well, saying nothing.
Then we have the obligatory calling of the manager “The Spaniard” (which raises the question, why isn’t Kane called “the Englishman”? or Boris Johnson “the turnip” or… ) and the standard statement that he “is the most successful manager in the history of the competition and knows winning this season’s Europa League could represent their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.”
Another bot written statement. Indeed that line is turning up everywhere at the moment. I think they are all using the same programmers.
Next we have the single line, “Arsenal fans longing for the return of more glamorous European ties will have to wait.”
But really there is something to write about here, and that is who plays. The Sprout tell us that Mr Emery has said his “idea is not to change 11 players” between competitions – which is something that doesn’t happen very often anyway. A few players from the league team are usually inserted to help keep things stable, and to add some experience in case the opposition get a freak goal.
Oh yes and we have “the Europa League will be taken just as seriously as the Premier League from the offset and players’ performances will be constantly analysed.”
It goes on and on like this but the key issue turns up with the sentence, “while Arsene Wenger regarded the Europa League as at best an opportunity to blood youngsters and at worse an unwelcome distraction from domestic matters, his successor takes it very seriously.”
So did Mr Wenger do that last season, just see it as a distraction? No, of course not. He picked his team according to the opposition and used it so that the young players could experience the whole thing of playing in a game with millions watching. That’s why we got as far as we did.
Maybe the best thing to say about the Telegraph’s coverage is “move on move on, nothing to see here.”
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