Why the Mail’s “Everything that looked wrong at Arsenal WAS wrong” is arrant nonsense

An Untold media accuracy review by Tony Attwood

It’s a very shouty headline, exactly the headline that the Mail likes.

“MARTIN SAMUEL: Everything that looked wrong at Arsenal WAS wrong… and that includes Unai Emery’s appointment. Under Stan Kroenke they’ve become a selling club so why will it be any different for Mikel Arteta?”

The message is also very Daily Mail, in that it not only tells us that Arsenal’s past was a disaster, but that the disaster is so great it is affecting the club now and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Plus the methodology of delivery (the shouty bullet points and selective analysis which singles out Arsenal but does not compare with any other club) is itself very Daily Mail.  In short this is a perfect example of AAA propaganda, of the type that most clubs do not face.  Indeed the bullet points section at the top of the article even manages to link Arsenal directly to the virus.

  • Unai Emery confirmed all the things we suspected Arsenal were getting wrong
  • The worry is so many of issues revisited by Emery remain unresolved even now
  • Biggest problem facing any Arsenal boss is the fact they are now a selling club 
  • Coronavirus suspension highlighted just how frail Arsenal’s finances really are
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Two issues arise.  One is to see whether any of what is stated in the article is actually true, and the other is why have they chosen to single out Arsenal in this way.  The answers will tell us a lot about the state of football journalism in general and the Daily Mail v Arsenal in particular.

“He did not get the players he wanted, the support he wanted from the board, Mesut Ozil turned up when he felt like it, Aaron Ramsey shouldn’t have been allowed to leave and the players, even the famous captaincy group, were often mentally weak.

“Unai Emery’s first interview since leaving Arsenal contrived to be absolutely fascinating, yet wholly predictable.

“The words were compelling because they came from the man who was at the eye of the storm. Yet what he said, the problems he identified, the mistakes that were made, had all been detailed in real time.

“Everything it was said Arsenal were getting wrong, Arsenal got wrong. Emery confirmed it all.

“Poor player recruitment? Tick. Dilettante stars? Tick. Feeble management? Tick. Mistake after mistake after mistake? Tick and tick and tick.”

Five paragraphs of assertion, without evidence and with comparison, and thus meaningless.  But having made the point the article’s next sentence takes all that to be true and says, “It has been that way for too many years now.”

This approach of unrelated statements made without comparison to other relevant examples, and without any evidence, is an approach which one can find in other areas of false debate, such as the statements made by racists, conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists.   None of which makes Mr Sammuel any of these things but which does raise the question: if Mr Sammuel has a reasonable case to make, why make it using the methodology of the most discredited sectors of our society?

Also included are the selective examples.  The point is made that Mr Wenger used to get it right, then he got it wrong – as with the recruitment of Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry (all fantastic players) compared with Calum Chambers, Lucas Perez, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi.

But Mr Wenger recruited players throughout who didn’t quite make it.  Every manager does.  In 2002 he brought in Cygan, Gilberto Silva, Shaaban, and Wamuz.  We remember one out of four.  We may, as supporters, not like the way that having been turned into star players by Mr Wenger, Fabregas and van Persie left to get more money, but that was hardly Wenger’s fault.  The club engaged in the stadium project and following their decisions it had to be paid for.

The allegation is then made that Arsenal now only buy players in order to resell them.  But again, that was what happened to Mr Wenger – again to pay for the stadium.  Bergkamp (not bought by Mr Wenger) played to retirement, but Vieira, Henry, Anelka, Overmars etc etc, were all sold at a profit.  And interestingly never again achieved the heights they had reached with Arsenal.

Of course, for many of the Mail’s allegations we have no evidence and no background, we have to take the word of the author, and when from the off the word of the author is misleading, to say the least, it is reasonable to be dubious.

The article says, “After losing heavily in the Europa League final to Chelsea last season, Emery booked individual meetings with his players for the following day. Ozil did not bother to show. Why does that not surprise?”

How do we know it is true that he didn’t turn up?  How do we know that it was a case of not bothering, rather than there being a reason?  How do we know, with the level of inaccuracy there is in this piece, that there was a meeting at all?

So when the article continues, “The worry for Arsenal is that so many of the problems revisited with Emery remain unresolved even now,” we might replace that with “The worry for our democracy is that here we have a popular newspaper providing no evidence of any kind in a story the prime function of which seems to be to damage the name of a football club.”

Much of the problem, as with so many publications today is that there is a profound disconnect within the piece itself (which the Mail attempts to hide with its multiple headlines and random words in bold).  Such as “For years we have heard that Arsenal are a club that is run properly. That it has not bought success like interlopers such as Chelsea and Manchester City.”

Two simple sentences that ignore the fact that Chelsea and Man C have had vast fortunes poured into them by owners.  And the fact that Man C have been banned from Europe for two years because of its methodology.  Or that Chelsea have now abandoned their stadium project.   Details that somehow do seem relevant.

After this the whole piece descends into statements that don’t even try to hide behind some sort of truth.  “Biggest issue facing any Arsenal boss is that they’ve become a selling club under Stan Kroenke.”  No, Arsenal were a selling club all the way through because of the decision to make it profitable while building the new stadium.

The piece then turns to Aubameyang wanting to leave saying, “His people will have noted the career paths of former Arsenal players such as Alexis Sanchez, Robin van Persie, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey. Most clubs have to sell in some circumstances, yet Arsenal consistently lose players to Premier League rivals, too. Just because Sanchez’s move to Manchester United proved a dismal failure, does not make it a positive move for Arsenal?”

In answer to the first question, selling Alexis Sanchez was most certainly the right thing to do as anyone who watched him would testify.   But beyond that the evidence does not support this.  Of the four examples, one was a flop when sold, one was a success for 18 months (enough to get Sir Alex his final league title before he retired, but on an eye-watering five-year contract as his career petered out), one had persistent injury problems making him a significant risk and one didn’t go to a rival at all.

There are of course issues at Arsenal, as there are indeed in most clubs.  Chelsea have the canceled stadium project and an owner who seems to be less interested, Man United have owners who are able to, and do, extract massive dividends whether the club is making or (as now) losing money at a mega rate, Man City have an owner who is in direct conflict with Uefa, and are facing a two-year ban from Europe, Leicester City have multiple questions arising concerning the way they are treated by referees as seen in the tackle / foul / card analysis, Wolverhampton have already spent next season’s first TV payment…

And let us reserve a paragraph just for Tottenham – unmentioned in the Mail’s rant.  The Emirates Stadium cost £390m.  The Tottenham H stadium cost £1 billion.  And that has been borrowed at the interest rates that existed before the coronavirus struck.  And repayments were predicated on the basis of games this season onwards, plus American football.  Do you want to see a club worthy of a piece of serious economic investigative journalism, then it is Tottenham.  But what do we get?  A rancid assault on Arsenal using a series of extremely dubious, disconnected, illogical and factually incorrect statements.

That the article is there is not a surprise.  That it uses journalistic techniques regularly found in Germany in the 1930s is not a surprise either.  That there is nothing about any of the issues the other clubs mentioned above are facing is par for the course.  But it is still worthy of note.



15 Replies to “Why the Mail’s “Everything that looked wrong at Arsenal WAS wrong” is arrant nonsense”

  1. thanks for the deconstruction, tony, and for your amazing toil during the lockdown (which in france, we’re getting out of) … a soothing ray of intelligence in the dark void of football “journalism” during this period
    as for the mail, they’ve just out-mailed themselves, haven’t they?
    i read the unai interview, as all of untold regulars, i believe: i don’t want to waste too much time over it, since i’m very happy with arteta’s appointment and want to leave unai’s tenure behind, once and for good, but am i the only one to have found this interview unbelievably cowardly?

  2. What this person has manage to do is justify why arsenal has been left behind by the elite teams in the Europe irrespective of the fund available to them, can someone ask what have they done with the increased funds since moving to the emirates? I call that Mismanagement at its worst!!
    Pls compare arsenal With teams ahead of us!! even Leicester manage to pip arsenal to win the PL at the heights of stagnation, whose fault was that???

    don’t come here and insult our intelligence as fans, we don’t want all that numbers analysis, we can see From the result on the pitch😴, this writer should be ashamed of trying to defend a team that is going nowhere until the mercenary owner are sent out of arsenal, they are slowly making arsenal a mid table team, at best, a glorified mid table also rans!!

  3. Tony you have my deepest sympathy for having to read the Daily Fail. I think the summary as ” a rancid attack” says all we need to know about the lack of journalism they display

  4. Well I just want to salute your tenacious courage to always being ready to challenge the deliberate malicious attacks and misinformation written about Arsenal.
    I wonder for Emery, I begin to think that he is a clown. This man had three games to establish his job at Arsenal, the last three matches in the 2018/19 season, a final included, and he failed woefully. He lost the results required, and afterward lost the players. Now, today he is telling some crude, classless and unrefined journalist, stories about Ozil. This man should be sober, finding footballing reasons to his epic failure, so as to avoid a repeat in his next job.But I am not surprised he failed, once the job is overwhelming him, he pick a player to fight personally instead of seeking footballing solutions. It was just very similar reason he was out of PSG job.

  5. Your dedication to the task of demonstrating the flagrant bias of the media is admirable Tony. It just shows how partisan these people are and that “journalism” is not a word of which these people are worthy. It’s wanton nonsense of the highest order. The major concern I have about it all (I gave up reading these fairy stories years ago) is that some people (often people who claim to “support” the club) actually believe this drivel and then regurgitate it as fact and create a counterproductive negativity which only serves to further damage the club. Although having said that, it’s quite probably the main reason why the author created the piece in the first place……although I doubt his that clever…………..

  6. Jd, the problem is that you have not understood what is being said here. You see when you say “don’t come here and insult our intelligence as fans, we don’t want all that numbers analysis, we can see From the result on the pitch” you miss the simple issue – why did the performance on the pitch dip so dramatically. You offer no explanation other than we have a “mercenary owner” and yet in your same rant you have noted that we had increased funds (your para 1 and your para 3). That seems to me a little confused.
    I won’t insult you as you have sought to insult me, because I don’t want to go down to that level. If you want explanations there are plenty of them on this website – you might care to read them.

  7. Similarly I do admire you for trawling through these rags because I surely cant do it any more. In all honestly I wish you didn’t because the reason I don’t read this crap anymore is because it just winds me up. Then I come on here and see exactly what I’ve been trying to avoid.

    It’s not that I don’t know it’s there because I still get the SUN for it’s racing pages, when it’s on the box, and The Mail on Sunday for the Mrs Nitram’s magazines. Despite my limited exposure to both those comics I still get to see the relentless abuse aimed at our club.

    It is shameless and yet we still have people trying to deny these thoroughly disproportionate attacks on us actually exist.

    As such I’m sure our friend Mike T will be able to point us in the direction of similar Mail attacks on Spurs, who have managed 1 league cup in 10 years and no title since the 60’s, or Liverpool, who had done nothing for 10 years and went over 40 years without a title, because apparently we all get similar bollocks to this according to him.

    In regards to RVP alone:

    I did a post recently that showed that despite Man Utd Climbing 1 place and Arsenal dropping 1 place following his move, it is arguable that Man Utd were actually no better, possibly even slightly worse than the previous season, and Arsenal were possibly actually better than the previous season.

    Arsenal scored more goals without him than we did with him.
    Arsenal let in less goals without him than we did with him.
    Arsenals goal difference was better without him than with him.
    Arsenal achieved more points without him than with him.

    Man Utd scored less goals with him than without him.
    Man Utd let in more goals with him than without him.
    Man Utds goal difference was worse with him than without him.
    Man Utd achieved the exact same amount of points with him as they did without him.

    We actually finished closer to United points wise without RVP than we did with him.

    Due to our financial restraints on the back of the building of the Emirates Arsenal had been finishing 3rd or 4th for last few seasons anyway, so finishing 4th after the loss of RVP was hardly a seismic event by any standards.

    Similarly Man Utd had been finishing 1st or 2nd for the previous 10 years without RVP, so again it was hardly earth shattering that they won the league again was it, and even then it seems winning the title had as much to do with Chelseas regression as it did RVP’s arrival.

    The truth is the sale of RVP to United was never the catastrophe it was made out to be.

    With or without him Utd were always going to finish 1st or 2nd anyway.

    With or without him Arsenal were always going to finish 3rd or 4th.

    But none of that fits either the medias or the likes of jd’s agenda, who no matter what the facts tell you simply want to attack our club no matter what.

  8. have to disagree remember 5 3 win at chelsea rvp played significant role 2 to 1 at liverpool thanks exclusively to rvp and beating spurs 5 to 2 with fantastic rvp goal . had he stayed would have been worth many points assuming he stayed fit.

  9. ron

    “had he stayed would have been worth many points”

    Where is your evidence to support that? That’s just your opinion, no more, no less.

    In my opinion, which is worth no more or less than yours, if he had stayed, we would of done no better or worse than we had done for all the other seasons he was our main striker.

    As for United. Well, maybe they would of got less points without him, maybe they wouldn’t, who knows? They won the title by miles anyway, so would it of even mattered? Certainly simply losing instead of winning the 3 games you highlighted would of made no difference. In any case it’s all just superstition.

    Isolating a couple of examples where he had an impact is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, over an entire season United scored LESS goals with him than without. Let in MORE goals with him than without. Didn’t earn a single point more with him than they did without. Not a single one.

    Arsenal Won more points with him than without…..

    Well you see where I’m going.

    Again I say, what you suggest is just your opinion, no more or less, but the cold hard facts suggest you are wrong.

  10. the last season rvp played for arsenal he scored 37 goals in 48 matches -the season he played the most matches for arsenal – had injuries throughtout his career leads me to believe if he stayed and played full seasons he would have made a difference. goals scored vary from season to season to see the difference a player makes you would need to analyse all the matches but without him they would have not beaten liverpool. as you say it just opinion

  11. Yep it is just an opinion, but mine is supported by the facts, yours is just supposition, that’s the difference.

    And anyway the fact we are even debating it flies in the face of the Mails assertion, which is, there is no debate. Everything we do is wrong. Who we buy. Who we sell. Our mentality. Everything.

    And that’s the point because The Mail are making out all those transfers were:

    a) terrible business on Arsenals part, which they clearly were not,

    b) all of our own making, which is simply not true, and

    c) somehow unique to us, which is again clearly untrue.

    Between season 2012/13 and 2016/17 we won 3 FA Cups and had a 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th place finish in the PL as well as 3 CS victories.

    I ask you, how on earth a Club ran so poorly, with such ineptitude in all aspects, as Samuels asserts we are, hasn’t been relegated, let alone been that successful, because that is what that period is, successful, is beyond me.

    Back to RVP, this is what Sir Alex had to say at the time:

    “The boy wanted to come. He turned down various clubs. If he hadn’t told Arsenal he wanted to go to Manchester United, the transfer wouldn’t have happened”.

    We were financially hamstrung. RVP obviously didn’t feel we would of won the title had he stayed or surely he would of stayed?

    But he wanted to leave. He wouldn’t sign a contract.

    Okay, lets say we didn’t sell him to United and instead sold him abroad then maybe they wouldn’t of won the title. So what. We finished 16 points behind United. We finished behind Man City and Chelsea.

    I’m sorry buy it’s fanciful in the extreme to suggest forcing RVP to stay would of suddenly turned us into champions.

  12. Jd,

    mercenary owner…. you just made my day. Needed a good laugh. As for your intelligence as fans, guess the verdict on that statement is still open.

    Laughing being the best medicine, thank you for heloing me stay healthy.

    But you are so right. It is a total proof of Arsenal’s incompetence that they are keeping all staff fully paid, are paying back tickets to any person who asks for a refund and they spend time calling fans to check on them. Tis is just throwing money out of the window, wouldn’t you agree ? No darn reason the taxpayer is not being asked to pay for furlough, is there. So many other clubs are doing it, it just is another proof of Arsenal’s incompetence and that they are at the command of a mercenary owner.

    That being said, the fact that this whole pandemic started at Arsenal is a proof that they wanted to stop the season, is it not ?

    Thanks for the laugh

  13. Well, the horrible truth is : Barcelona and Manchester United paid the Emirates. Yes indeed. They did. They ought to have their logos standing as statues in front of the stadium.

    Just add the transfer fees of all players who were sold to these 2 clubs and you have the value of the Emirates and then some. And they were mostly or probably always sold at a profit.

    These 2 clubs thus enabled Arsenal to almost trebble spectators at each game….and massively add to the revenue.

    So Mr Wenger took the money out of their pockets and delivered Arsenal a new stadium and almost 2 decades of CL football which if I am not wrong NO other coach has done.

    But then, admitting that would mean

    1) being able to research a little bit
    2) being able to add numbers with 7 or 8 digits
    3) being able to eat one’s hat as you have to giving Mr Wenger credit.
    4) being able to be un-england centric

    Which the press at large in England is incapable of doing. But then I guess it is not much of a press and their declining distribution numbers just prove that toilet paper is now cheaper.

  14. @ Chris – 22/05/2020 at 10:45 pm – I think that Man City paid us more than Man. Utd ever did . The sales of Clichy , Kolo Toure, Nasri and Adebayo earned us much more than the sale of RVP to Man Utd.
    Though the transfer of Sanchez would probably have’cost’ them more then , and in the near future!

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