By Tony Attwood
“For some clubs it is easy,” Mourinho said. “You just break the rules, you forget the financial fair play, you spend what you want and you get the good players. Easy. For some other clubs, it’s more difficult. You want to follow the rules. You don’t want to be seen with the eyes of breaking the rules and not playing a fair competition and for this profile of club the situation is more complicated.”
Which was fair enough. He could have gone on to mention that when you have a final court of appeal that hears cases in secret anything can happen, and as we have shown over the years, does. There is a whole article on the perfidious nature of CAS and its secret meetings here.
But still that is the way football works, and given the huge amount of media support Uefa, Fifa and CAS has (in that few journalists criticize them, while no media in the UK is covering the current cases in Switzerland against Fifa), we have little chance of getting a fairer system. Yes we can blame Manchester C of course, but we should also be blaming the English media, in particular BT Sprout, and the FA for giving them a contract which allows semi-finals not to be played not just behind closed doors but behind closed contracts.
So what happened? How, with all that money, a grossly incompetent FA (see goodness how many previous articles on that subject) and a compliant CAS holding court cases in utter secrecy, and an inept Uefa that seemingly takes so long to reach a decision its data can’t be admitted, could Arsenal actually beat Manchester C?
And not just Manchester C but also the media’s beloved favourites, Liverpool, a few days earlier?
And not just that (again) but do it with the worst defenders ever to have set foot on a football pitch? And I know that because so many people have written to Untold to tell us what the media tell them every single day: Xhaka is a disgrace. Mustafi, a joke. Bellerin utter rubbish. And as for David Luiz, well, as soon as you see his name on the screen you know it is all over.
So let us pause for a moment. Our centre backs were Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz. And it makes me think: if we can get results like these in consecutive matches with the endless bitching, backbiting and card waving that goes on from people who claim to be Arsenal supporters but actually act in ways that destabilises the club, and which has led to three managers in two years, the greatest expenditure ever in a transfer window followed by calls for the club to spend “serious money” and “supporters” turning against Arsenal players over and over and over again supporting the media rather than the club, just think what we could do if we had real solid ceaseless support for the team and the manager that is, rather than demanding endless, endless changes. Imagine what we could do with the sort of stability we had in the days of two doubles and the unbeaten season.
(Mind you, even in the unbeaten season the Times ran a report claiming that Arsenal supporters at the Manchester C away game were stating that this was the worst Arsenal team they had ever seen. Still, the Times might have made that up.)
Of course last night we also had to contend with that most disgraceful and appalling of TV stations on the planet: BT Sport. This was the station, you might recall, that having bought the rights to the Emirates Cup a few seasons ago spent most of the build-up to the opening game complaining that the maths involved in calculating a winner (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 1 for a goal) was far too complex for the Sprout team in the studio to understand. As a result much of the programme involved the turnips laughing at the competition they were supposedly covering. The only benefit was that for a short while after, following numerous complaints from fans and from Arsenal, they laid off complaining about the club.
BT Sprout have been just as terrible ever since, but capped it all this year by refusing to allow anyone other than a full subscriber to their pathetic service to watch the semi-final live. So here am I, along with other season ticket holders refused the chance to go to the game because of the health crisis, now refused the chance to see the game live on TV because BT Sprout won’t do the decent thing. I’m not demanding it for free, but a one-off fee for a single match is surely the least they could do. Apparently they wouldn’t even let Arsenal supply free passes to season ticket holders in return for a one-off fee from the club.
BT Sport, the most pathetic sports broadcaster imaginable. That decision last night should make the League refuse to deal with them again – but I’m not holding my breath.
Of course this doesn’t mean that other media outlets were gushing over Arsenal. “It took Arsenal eight minutes to construct a move in the City half,” said the Guardian in its report of the second half. Well, maybe so, but that was eight minutes which added to the Man City players’, (whose club owners are so rarely criticised for their absolute denial of human rights to so much of their population) level of frustration.
What was particularly amazing was that Arsenal conceded 71% of possession, while Manchester City fouled their way through the game committing two and a half times has many fouls as Arsenal. And those were just the ones the referee awarded. Arsenal, the club that commit more fouls than any other! Wasn’t that turn around worth a mention?
Of course this has given the media a bit of a tough time after all that crowing about Arsenal’s incompetence with all those “compilations of David Luiz’ worst moments.” Sadly Untold is just about the only place that even mentions the worst moments of the commentators and journalists, and come to that, the CAS.
The fact is that the media will attack Arsenal and Arsenal players constantly, no matter what, and it is up to us supporters to counter this. But what often happens is that our fans get on the backs of our players. And the result, I suspect, is that fewer and fewer players want to come to Arsenal to play in front of both a hostile media and a hostile fan base.
Yes our results against Manchester City have been poor of late, and we didn’t hide from that in the previews, except to mention that all runs come to an end. But what does not come to an end is the media’s remorseless attacks on Arsenal. Even after a performance like last night the Mail comments on Arsenal and “the kind of comedy defending that has become one of their hallmarks.”
We have just beaten a team that has the budget of a whole nation behind it and that is what they have to say. It just shows what we are up against.
- 8 new players coming to Arsenal to give us 122 transfer rumours this summer
- Human rights abuses: has our little campaign had unexpected support?
- What do they think in Germany about Manchester City and Uefa
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head