by Sir Hardly Anyone
One of the constant tricks by the media is for the newspapers and broadcasters to make up a story, and then when it turns out to be utterly untrue, present that, not as “we got that one wrong” but either by
a) ignoring their previous commentary
b) claiming that Arsenal has done an about turn – often described as a “dramatic U-turn”.
The first option – ignoring their early statements – treats the reader as an idiot by suggesting in fact that the reader is not bright enough to remember what the paper or broadcaster said previously.
The second option – the club has done an about turn – treats the club as being run by idiots.
And what is particularly interesting is how all the blogs and “professional” (I use the word lightly) media quickly agree which approach they are going to use in each case. One or two run the approach and instantly everyone jumps on board.
This of course is helped by the fact that the Daily Mirror owns Football London. With both running the story in the same way it looks like the media is in agreement, and so everyone jumps on board.
The Guendouzi Affair is a case in point – which turns out to be very similar to the Xhaka affair where we were told that Xhaka was off to Berlin, and indeed had signed a deal – a story quickly buried as the next week he came back into the team. This time we had in the Metro “Matteo Guendouzi snubs plea from Arsenal teammate David Luiz over argument with Mikel Arteta” and was on his way out – which turned out to be a pack of lies.
Amidst all the recent redundancies it is good to see that at last Arsenal has got its media team working solidly to take on the story tellers and fantasists that populate the media. And to find they are not just ignoring the media as they used to do but are now putting out stories that bring the media back on track, as with, “‘Everybody starts from zero’: Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal outcast Matteo Guendouzi will get another chance to impress after falling out of favour,” which turns up in the Mail and elsewhere.
So we are again treated as idiots by the media. Guendouzi was leaving with no way back, we were told in the Mirror, Metro, Sun (Top ten stars to quit Arsenal), 442, TalkSport, Football 365, Goal (their “‘Guendouzi is not the type of player to knuckle down’ – Arsenal” really put the boot in), Express (Guendouzi off to PSG), Star (telling us who would replace him), TeamTalk (he’s off for £30m) Mail (he has been exiled) 90 min (banished), GiveMeSport…. and on and on and on.
Now suddenly the story is reversed – but not because the media admit they got it wrong (which it obviously did) but because… well, because. No reason, no explanation. Simply “Mikel Arteta has wiped the slate clean with Matteo Guendouzi as the Arsenal manager insisted that every player has been given a fresh start for the new season.”
So that is two players (Xhaka and Guendouzi) for whom we were told last season that there was no way back, who have now found a way back.
But will the media stop this sort of campaign against individual Arsenal players? I doubt it very much. Rather, having got away with it twice, who will they pick on next?
For they have got away with it completely – in both cases the player was going and all the “outlets” were sure of it, and now the player is not going.
But does it matter that the media has told us that both Xhaka and Guendouzi are on the way out for sure, when they are nothing of the sort?
I think it does, partially because the media has hounded three Arsenal players in the past season, for of course there is not just Xhaka and Guendouzi but also Ozil, but because having run these stories they have clearly realised that at no cost in terms of proper journalism they can keep the story bubbling away, and then when the player comes back present the story as a U-turn by Arsenal.
In this way the media is never wrong, it is Arsenal that lacks resolve.
In the past this has been a major concern, but with Xhaka and Guendouzi it has been different, because Arsenal have stuck to their guns (ho ho) and taken control of the story, sorting matters out internally and then writing the story to hand to the media.
This is, I think one of the most encouraging things about Arsenal at the moment. I’ve not been particularly convinced about their ability to handle the media since Mr Wenger left, largely because during the Wengerian era Mr Wenger was left to do the job himself – something he was able to do rather well. Mr Emery didn’t have the command of the language or the PR skills to do it in the same way.
So now it seems Arsenal have put a media management team together who can beat the media at their own game. If that is right, I think we can be positive about the season to come. I have no doubt that a lot of players have not fancied Arsenal as a destination of late because of the way in which both the media and the fans turn on the players on a whim. Now the cardboard signs, the plane banners and the ceaseless moaning has been set aside, we have a chance at getting the crowd behind Arsenal and to see off all normal rancid journalism. And if the media has been put back in their little box as well, then things really could change.
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