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by Sir Hardly Anyone
“You have to feel desperately sorry for Arsenal fans. Their beloved club has been slowly drifting into their greatest period of thundering irrelevance since the 1960s, when the team became such a mid-table non-event that at one point they got rid of their famous white sleeves and nobody noticed they were playing in plain red shirts for two years. Eventually they snapped out of their collective trance, got their gamefaces on (as well as the old classic kit) and by 1971 were champions of England again.”
That is from the Guardian, and it is written as a form of humour.
Now the problem is that to be funny, the basis on which the piece is written either has to be accurate, or so inaccurate that it is obviously a wind-up, but this isn’t either. So I decided to look up the relevant information on the internet, assuming that I didn’t know what I was looking for.
First, the 1960s. “A thundering irrelevance”. In fact Arsenal’s league position ranged between 7th and 14th, so yes a very mid-table team, but a team that even then had been in the top division for over 40 years.
And, actually, if a certain “Scott Murray” had actually done any research at all he would have known that in the 1970s although Arsenal won the double, soon after that Arsenal finished up 16th and 17th in consecutive seasons, which for the mathematically challenged is actually lower than 14th – the low point of the 1960s. And indeed Arsenal were looking like relegation candidates for a fair old time in both those 1970s seasons.
“Point being,” to use the Guardian’s phrase, facts are pretty much irrelevant when it comes to the Guardian reporting on football (we might remember Amy Lawrence’s cackhanded attempt to knock the club in which she said that Arsenal “only” had two players scoring in double figures, omitting to tell us that only one club in the entire league actually had more than two players scoring in double figures).
Still, as the Guardian continues in the recent piece, “the light at the end of the tunnel is always closer than you think,” not least when anyone can be arsed to check the “facts” and innuendos their ragingly anti-Arsenal correspondents come out with.
Continuing the remorseless daily assault on the club the paper says, “As things stand, they haven’t made a successful managerial appointment since 1996,” which I guess is supposed to be funny what with Mr Wenger being appointed then, and having to bear the brunt of the rancid journalistic attack on the steps of Highbury soon after his appointment. For the reality was that within a few weeks of his appointment the journos were doing everything in their power to have Mr Wenger removed from office. That he out manoeuvred the petty scribblers has never been forgotten by the media, and they attacked him daily ever since.
Amazingly later in the article we get the phrase “but you can’t rewrite history,” – amazingly because that is what this whole piece of journalism is all about, as it drifts inevitably onto phrases such as “Arsenal continue to faff about. However, there’s been no such dithering at Everton”.
“Their no-nonsense appointment of Carlo Ancelotti – to be ratified once he gets assurances over January transfers – may help the Toffees regain their former lustre. He is into the habit of winning trophies pretty much everywhere he goes, after all. Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern …
So the story continues. Arsenal messing about. Arsenal in a mess. The Guardian following the regular simple approach, “never let the facts get in the way of bias.”
And in case anyone is interested, Ancelotti’s win percentage at Napoli was 52.05%. As you will know, if you read our earlier article today Unai Emery’s win percentage was 55.13% at Arsenal in a league that most commentators find has more strength in depth than the Italian league. And as for Mr Wenger’s win percentage, across 1235 games, that was 57.25%.
But then, these numbers. They are so confusing.
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