by Tony Attwood
I’ve been dwelling on the perfidious nature of newspaper and blog commentaries on Arsenal for a while, because although on their own mostly they are fairly trivial and pointless, combined they can add up to a feeling of doom, gloom, desperation and incompetence; which it appears is their main purpose.
Take this headline from the Daily Canon which was the most read article on News Now’s Arsenal service a couple of days back when it was published
“Exclusive: Arsenal forward set to miss up to ‘4 weeks’ with hamstring injury”
All things considered it is an interesting headline, not least because I wasn’t able to find any other blog or newspaper running the story. Well, you may say, yes it was an exclusive, but normally exclusives are then repeated by other media. On this one nothing. And it carries the implication that the forward in question is one of our main up front attackers from the first team squad. But actually it was about teenager John-Jules.
What’s more the “up to” in the headline makes it meaningless. “At least two weeks” would give us a clue but “up to four weeks” makes it sound really serious when it could be anything but.
Now my prime thought here is not so much about the fact that the player was a promising youngster – and as we know youngsters do tend to get more injuries, because their bodies haven’t yet hardened up to the stresses and strains of football, nor have they learned how to get out of the way of situations that can lead to serious injury. Rather it is that it should be run in this form to suggest that another disaster is hitting Arsenal.
And above all, the number of readers, making it the most popular article of the day, shows once again that if all the site wants is readers, then it got what it wanted. If it wanted to inform the author might have written the story in some other way. “Promising youngster John-Jules injured” would have been more to the point.
Football journalism is thus not about informing or entertaining. It is about manipulation of the perception of the readership. Yet it could also be about informing people – either with newly found facts or with commentary that is based around a certain number of facts which can then be expanded with some speculation, which is clearly shown to be speculation.
But if we have speculation all the time (which is really what opinion pieces are) and all the opinions are pointing in the same direction (at the moment, as for the last 90 years, Arsenal is in chaos) it is more than likely that some people might start to believe it. Which is by and large what seems to be happening.
To show how this works, take a look at a few of the other stories of late…
- Arsenal board ready to take drastic action to force Mesut Ozil out of the club (Mirror)
- Arsenal enter ‘advanced talks’ for signings of two players (
- From Spain – Arsenal set to sign attacker after agreeing to meet £14m asking price (
- Denis Suarez transfer: Arsenal move takes fresh twist as Barcelona name latest squad (Mirror
- Arsenal have suffered a fresh blow in their pursuit of Barcelona’s Denis Suarez. (Mirror)
Now these all appeared around about the same time, two days ago. And in reality we are no further forward with any of the stories because by and large there was nothing there to take forward.
The Suarez story, for example, with its “fresh twist” centres totally on the fact that the player was named in Barcelona’s squad for a Cup game with Levante. And that was it. Him being in the squad gives a “fresh twist” and puts the transfer in doubt! And that revelation was followed by “The news will come as a disappointment to Arsenal, who were hopeful of signing the player on an initial loan deal this month.”
But just in case any readers had not got the message by then that everything around Arsenal was bad news we had stories such as…
Opinion: Emery cannot afford to make same suicidal decision against Chelsea he made vs West Ham (
Arsenal hero Emmanuel Petit launches scathing attack on old club, defends Arsene Wenger
Gary Cahill next club odds: Fulham and Arsenal joined by top flight rivals in race for defender (
James Rodriguez blow for Arsenal as Bayern boss breaks transfer rumour silence (
‘We don’t have £3m’ – Arsenal fans question club’s finances for James Rodriguez loan move (
- Beyond any doubt Infantino is getting his way. Next: Fifa will leave Zurich
- World Cup chaos: the bits you may have missed
- Fifa establish their unchallengable right to change football rules as they go
- Extraordinary report claims Arsenals’ FA Cup win was not a major trophy!
- 2022/23 Women’s Champions League Juventus v Arsenal – match preview