By Tony Attwood
You might recall that I have often passed comment on the way that Football.London – the Daily Mirror’s website, churns out an Arsenal story every 10 minutes. I meant that as a warning, but sadly some have now taken it as a blueprint. This is the log this morning from the bloggetta This is Futbol…
The timings shown at the end of each line are interesting in their regularity…
‘Worst…I’ve ever watched in Arsenal shirt’ – Many fans slaughter ‘Fraud’ for display v Spurs
It is not just that they are republishing the story over and over again with different headlines but an analysis of the most read stories on one of the news accumulator sites shows that all four of these stories are in the most read stories on the news accumulator site.
It is, in short, a deliberate and seemingly very successful attempt to sway public opinion against an Arsenal player and spread anti-Arsenal propoganda.
During the last couple of years of the Wegner era I made the point on a few occasions that one possible way to read the anti-Wenger rhetoric that was published day after day, was to see it not as a genuine reflection of the view of the majority of fans but rather a way to destabilise the club through removing the manager. Worse, since it was seemingly successful, it could be tried again.
Obviously it was hard to run such a tactic when Arsenal were on a 22 match unbeaten run, although some blogs and newspapers did stop referring to the run after a while and instead talked of imagined problems in the club, but now with two defeats in a row, the opportunity is there and is seized.
The charitable view of This Is Futbol is that they are publishing the same story over and over because it gets readership and they are simply interested in getting clicks on their adverts. Maybe that is so and maybe they don’t have any interest in Arsenal at all. But the range and persistance of the attacks that we saw over a number of years against Mr Wenger (who was let us not forget Arsenal’s most successful manager ever in terms of League titles won, FA Cups won and win percentage across all games played) suggested that the bloggettas and newspapers felt they were onto a good story.
Of course if Mr Emery can turn the team around after two defeats and build another solid run everything will be fine, but otherwise I suspect we will see the Football London and This is Futbol tactic being used in multiple places. Even if we don’t see demands inside and outside the stadium for the present manager’s removal, the forces that like to destabilise Arsenal will be on the move once again.
All runs in football come to an end, of course. But that is not really the issue. It is how quickly the club recovers from a couple of defeats after a good run that is the real measure.
As we all know we have had 22 unbeaten, and now two defeats. If we then pick up the run again, that’s great and there is still the FA Cup and Europa to play for plus the fourth is not a trophy spot. And this picking up after the run will be a measure both of where the club is and how effective the anti-Arsenal campaigning is at the moment.
Last December Arsenal went nine games undefeated. There were a number of draws in the run, but still it was an undefeated run. But then we had seven defeats in the next 13 games including losing the League Cup final, and the media assault on the club was overwhelming.
Such runs of defeats can occur for many reasons, but one of them is psychological. Just as players get into the “winning habit” and never have any doubt they will win, so they can go into the reverse, stop playing naturally and overthink everything.
We then had six successive wins in March last season, and despite the media suggesting that Burnley would get sixth place either forcing Arsenal out of Europe or at best making us play preliminary matches in July, there was never really any chance of that.
But those suggestions, which were published day after day, were oft repeated and were clearly aimed at stirring up more and more trouble for the club.
The question is, will the “This is Futbol” approach, which as I say, has been picked up from Football London, now be picked up by others. Will the anti-Arsenal attacks that so marked last season resume full time?
If so, the club is going to need to be incredibly strong, and be able to hold its nerve. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the club psychologist to be put on overtime to explain to the players that they are not just up against the opposition but also a continuous stream of attacks on the club.
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