By Sir Hardly Anyone
This is a piece about how the media is working 10 to the dozen to keep the tale that Arsenal is a club that is run badly, and is never going to revive itself, in the news, no matter what.
The example comes from the Daily Mirror, the most extreme of the anti-Arsenal “outlets” at the moment. What follows relates to an article that was published yesterday afternoon (13 May).
In this case the Mirror quotes Mr Simon Jordan as saying, “Arsenal are a joke football club right now, in lots of ways.”
Now we know Arsenal have, since Xmas, Arsenal have performed overall as the third best team in the league. Is that the action of a joke football club?
Or could it be that the person who wrote this – a Mr Simon Jordan – has himself been responsible for turning a club into a joke? Let’s take a look. The information on Mr Jordan quoted below is publicly available on the wikipedia site, and has been there for some considerable time without him challenging it. I’m therefore taking it as in essence true, although I have not independently verified it and you may wish to be cautious about believing what is on wikipedia.
There was, in fact, in the past some turmoil, making Palace look perhaps like what Mr Jordan would call a “joke club.” Interestingly five managers had left between 2000 and 2003 (Coppell, Smith, Bruce, Francis, Kember). The departure of Bruce and Dowie led to court cases. Selhurst Park Limited (a separate entity from Crystal Palace) went into administration.
During 2005/6 Jordan wrote for the Observer (the sunday edition of the Guardian) and as a result he was charged with improper conduct by the FA. Jordon appealed, backed by Max Clifford, and lost. He threatened to go to court, but I’ve not seen evidence that he did. He subsequently went to work for TalkSport.
So that is the background of the man who has made these comments about Arsenal.
“They’ve got an owner who is disengaged, an owner that’s happy with mediocrity. They’ve got a director of football who I don’t think is pulling up any trees, and they’ve gone for a manager who sounds good on paper, but when it comes down to it, I’m not sure he’s got the chops to do what Arsenal need him to do.
“Arsenal have just gone in a self-appointed organisation of the top six clubs… but they’ve worked their way backwards in the league and they are now a big club in image and reputation alone, because they are not a big club in any other department right now.”
OK, so that is the opinion of a man with what we might call a colourful background in football, and who is able to publicise his opinions on TalkSport.
And in looking at these reports, what strikes me is two things. First he has not had much success in football, but had a few passing brushes with the authorities. Second he is not very qualified to speak about Arsenal being a joke club.
Indeed given the troubles Crystal Palace had during his time there, we could perhaps call him a “joke owner” or maybe a “joke commentator”. Now I wouldn’t do that, because the whole “it’s a joke” approach to debating seems to me to miss the point that good debate considers arguments fully and then supports them or refutes them. Simply saying “it’s a joke” presents no evidence and takes the debate no further forward.
The fact that Arsenal, despite the turmoil caused by the two groups that each claim to be the biggest supporters’ group representing Arsenal, has done so well since Christmas speaks for itself. What is needed now are calm voices, and opinions backed by fact and analysis, and that is what I have been trying to present today.
We may each have our opinion as to whether Simon Jordan is properly qualified to make comment about Arsenal, and whether the Mirror is qualified to publish it. But the facts are indisputable – here is a league table based on games since Christmas Day
|6||West Ham United||39|
As I have indicated, I don’t like using the word “joke” to describe something, but if I were forced I suppose I would say that an example of a joke commentator would be Mr Jordan, and of a joke radio station I would have to nominate TalkSport for employing him.
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