How the media work ceaselessly to undermine Arsenal

by Tony Attwood

Studies by social scientists often suggest that in contemporary society it is often the case that a set of politicians can identify a group, and then convince voters that the members of this group pose a threat to the rest of society.  Politicians thus gain voter support by having a clearly identifiable problem which they highlight.

That process we have seen through history, and is of course the basis of racism, sexism and discrimination across the ages.

Over the years many journalists have copied this approach, which for them has the great benefit of requiring no evidence or factual content – it works on mere assertion.  This politician is dangerous, this celebrity behaves really badly towards her fans, the law is too soft on these criminals…

For the media, the great benefit of this approach is that it not only grabs attention, it is dirt cheap to produce, simply because it is by and large made up.  And this is the approach that football journalism has long since followed.

That downward spiral into simply making it all up has been escalated by the arrival of multiple football blogs, which although generally getting smaller audiences still steal what the traditional outlets want most of all: an audience that will respond to its advertisers.

This has meant a race to the bottom by taking a subject and then pushing it further and further, irrespective of any facts.  All that matters is audience.

To give an example of what I mean by this, I am writing this on the morning after Arsenal beat Slavia Prague to get to the Europa semi-finals.  It was a performance of some quality, as well as a great relief, and I would have thought suggested to most supporters that there is hope for the future, based on the solidity of the defence, and the attacking abilities of the team – especially its younger players.

And yet this morning, according to one of the news accumulator sites, the most popluar story concerning Arsenal is one under the headline ‘He’s not good enough’: Jamie O’Hara slates Arsenal player, claims Gunners better without him.  That’s no AN article – it is the MOST POPULAR article.

Now this article has no indication of who Jamie O’Hara is.  If you don’t know, the implication is that you ought to know, because the article doesn’t tell us who he is.  After all, articles don’t say, “Boris Johnson, current UK Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party” because it is accepted that we probably know who he is.  Same for the President of the United States.

Writing about Arsenal one might not say who Paul Merson is – if we are into football we probably know he’s worked for years for Sky Sports, and before that was a much liked member of the Arsenal team, winning the League twice, the Cup and the Cup Winners Cup with the club.

But Jamie O’Hara?  Well, he played 34 games for Tottenham, had a series of lower league loan spells, then played for Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Fulham, Gillingham and until last year Billericay, with whom he had one season as player manager.

Fine, he has experience in football – infinitely more than me – but does that make him an expert whose opinion should be headlined by HITC?  Of course that is up to the website, but here’s the point: why did that headline become the top read article on Arsenal for a day on the day after the club had put in perhaps its best performance of the season?

The answer is because people trying to gather information and news on Arsenal have been fed an endless diet of utter negativity, so constantly that now a large number of people expect there to be a disaster around every corner.  Just had a sensational win?  There must be a negative somewhere!

This attitude has been done by endlessly singling Arsenal out for negative treatment.   Create a list of players Arsenal allegedly want to sign, and who are not signed (because the club were never interested): incompetent Arsenal.

Create a list of young players who have left Arsenal and had success elsewhere: incompetent Arsenal (as opposed to the fact that this happens to all clubs who have active youth set-ups).

Arsenal bring in a foreign manager; suggest he has been chased out of his previous job because of the most appalling crimes (as happened when Mr Wenger signed).

Then when that story has to be stopped because of the threat of legal action, suggest that the bringing in of foreign players is destroying the very nature of English football (while making fun of the players’ foreign names.)

Suggesting constantly that Arsenal get more injuries than all the other clubs because of Mr Wenger’s training programme when not only was there no evidence to this effect, in fact Arsenal were not getting more injuries than other clubs.

While meanwhile hiding the biggest story of all: why the home/away results have changed when there are no fans in the ground, and now publishing stories suggesting it never happened!

In essence football journalism is there to be created without research or insight and the easiest way to do that is to be destructive exactly as racism, sexism and discrimination are all destructive.

It is also interesting that football journalism refuses to tackle the issue of odd refereeing behaviour in the Premier League (see the link to the Gaslighting series below).

If you want to know the problem with English football, it is primarily what has traditionally been known as yellow journalism.  It presents presents little or no legitimate, researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.  In football it is now pretty much all we have.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

(Footnote: the first ever mention of gaslighting in connection with football appeared in the media – six weeks after the launch of the above series on Untold)


10 Replies to “How the media work ceaselessly to undermine Arsenal”

  1. i had a good laugh re-reading that piece of “expertise” last night:
    “shameless” is the middle name of all those so-called “journalists” (or “unaccountable” – in any other business, such an arrogant, pedantic ignoramus would be thrown out, right away)
    i’ll leave you with a famous french quote:
    “les cons, ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaît” (“cretins/idiots will dare do or say anything – that’s actually how you can spot them”) – Michel Audiard, in “Les Tontons Flingueurs”

  2. I stumbled across an article in the media today. ‘Stumbled’ is the operative word since it is incredible rare that I read anything in the media I just thought there might be something positive out there given the quality of our performance last night.

    The Mirror, however, presented us with a “major setback” by telling us that Odegaard wasn’t for sale, a fact of which everyone has been aware since before we took him on loan I think.

    The article claimed this “comes as a huge blow to Arsenal” with both the club and Arteta being “desperate” to sign him.

    Having made the claim that it “comes as a huge blow to Arsenal” the article revealed just five lines further on that, ” It will come as a huge blow to Arsenal”. So it’s been downgraded from already being a huge blow to “it will come as a huge blow” at some point.

    Having clearly identified our desperation to have the player and what a huge blow it is that we can’t, they did manage to mention at the end of the article, “But his presence was not missed as Arsenal made light work of their Czech opponents in a 4-0 win.”

    How difficult would it have been to write an article saying that despite Odegaard’s clear ability, it was fantastic to see that Arsenal were still capable of playing great football without him and this just demonstrates the quality of the players we already have? One can only assume that would have been “a huge blow” to the Mirror’s “desperate” agenda to perpetuate negativity about the club.

    @ Le Gall

    I think your wonderful quote admirably sums up Callum Vurley and the Daily Mirror….amongst others.

  3. It is highly pathetic to be looking for refreshing soccer story and article, and all you find is falsehood. Lots of fans, both of Arsenal’s and other clubs who are new to The Arsenal, and soccer generally are brainwashed, and when they make comments with intention to contribute, one begins to wonder, how old they are, whether they have watched many football games, even amateur level, or interschool before.
    It is too bad now.

  4. What really annoys me intensely with the media, be it mainstream or blog, is how nearly always the headline is written as a matter of fact but when you read the article it invariably turns out to be just some ones opinion or even guess at the detail of a particular subject.

  5. youth cup HT west ham 0 arsenal 1 (hutchinson) (
    refreshing after the nerve-wracking U23 games against blackburn and derby
    very pleasant game; hutchinson is an impressive lad indeed, talor-hart/azeez very good as expected at that level, only edwards upfront is struggling a bit, though blameless commitmentwise

  6. @ Le Gall – A wonderful quote from the Great Master of dialogues Michel Audiard in ‘Les Tontons Flingueurs’ said by Lino Ventura.
    But I think that you were too nice with your English translation. The meaning of ‘un con’ (m.) / ‘une conne’ (f.) from Latin ‘cunnus’ (vagin) is, in descending order:
    1. woman’s genitals (c**t) from Middle English ‘cunte’ (female genitals) 2. moron 3. idiot.
    I leave to the readers of Untold to choose their translation, but in the context of the football yellow journalism mentioned by Tony, my preference is No. 1. (;-) !
    Two more for the road by Michel Audiard concerning ‘des cons’:
    a. “Faut pas parler aux cons, ça les instruit.” => Do not talk to c**ts, it educates them.
    b. “Quand on mettra les cons sur orbite, t’as pas fini de tourner.” => When we put the c**ts in orbit, you are not done spinning.
    Enjoy the wisdom and the wit by Michel Audiard (;-) ! Nekuhan
    PS Great win + a clean sheet vs Slavia Prague. COYG!

  7. well done, nekuhan; c***t is definitely the best (the only??) translation, i didn’t … dare (!!) use it
    translating humour is always a challenge; i’ve always stood in awe of anthea bell and dereck hockridge’s adaptation of rené goscinny’s asterix adventures, in particular
    great performance by the young guns last night; looking forward to tomorrow’s game – i like our brand new 4-1-4-1 an awful lot

  8. @ Le Gall – Au plaisir de vous lire! => It has been a pleasure!
    On other subjects, two more for the road by Michel Audiard:
    – “Quand on parle pognon, à partir d’un certain chiffre, tout le monde écoute.” Jean Gabin dans ‘Le Pacha’. => When we talk about dough (cash), from a certain number, everyone listens. (:-) .
    – “Un gentleman, c’est celui qui est capable de décrire Sophia Loren sans faire de geste.” => A gentleman is one who is able to describe Sophia Loren without making a gesture. (;-) !
    Best regards. COYG for tomorrow. Nekuhan
    PS: AaaHhh … Astérix, le Gaulois, the text by René Goscinny + the drawings by Albert Uderzo.

Comments are closed.