by Tony Attwood
Speaking generally, there are two ways to express an opinion on a football club. One is by providing lots of facts and comparing how the club is doing with other clubs. That’s the traditional method. The other is the Trump method, which is simply to assert something and then just treats it as true by asserting it again. That’s the football journalist approach and it goes like this…
First off, create a story, in the secure knowledge that once you have put it on the internet loads of other people will repeat it and few will check it. And besides none will recall it once it is shown to be wrong.
Second, don’t worry about any facts, because if a story is repeated often enough it will be believed. Indeed the more it spreads the more it is believed. Thus the time you might have spent checking facts is now spent in spreading the story.
And that’s it. If you can get others to pick up on the story, you’re winning. And remember, it doesn’t matter how untrue it is.
Also, don’t ever worry that your story might be proven wrong, because by and large readers don’t seem to care too much. This has been proven by Untold with our annual tracking of Arsenal transfer rumours. Last summer 3% of the stories published were found to be true – and those were stories that emerged just before the confirmation of the transfer. All the others – the ones that went on for months and months turned out to be trash. 3% incidentally was a record. Prior to that 2% was the norm.
OK, you might say, you know that, and so what? But now here’s the killer punch.
Of late journalists and bloggers have been extending this approach so it doesn’t just include likely stories but also unlikely stories too. And it doesn’t just include transfers, but in effect the stories can be about anything.
But why bother?
Of course outrageous stories do get readers, and readers might click on adverts and if that happens then there is money to made.
But there seems to be more to it than that. Outrageous stories about Arsenal’s supposed transfers have circulated in each transfer window for years. But this year they are wilder and more unlikely than I have ever seen them before.
What’s more, the big story surrounding Arsenal – the tactical change which turned the season around after Christmas – is also being ignored. And this despite the dramatic change that Arsenal implemented by reducing their tackling, and the resultant improvement in their results.
And why is this important to journalists and bloggers?
Because the tackles – fouls – cards story which reveals how dramatically Arsenal changed their tactics, was missed by the media, so it is hard to go back to it again. Just as the Leicester tackling story which was the first one we broke – that from the 2019/20 season.
Bloggers and journalists want to keep the debate simple (as with “dream up the name of a player, say he is moving to Arsenal, and then blame the story on a rival publication”) because that means they can keep publishing more and more stories hour after hour and keep the money coming in.
And Trump has proved it works with people who are already partisan in their views – exactly as football supporters are. Of course there is nothing wrong with supporting your club but when that support becomes a belief that those running the club are incompetent and know less about football than the bloggers and journalists who make up transfer stories, that is getting worrying.
The story is that Arsenal are in trouble, with a massive debt and an incompetent team, a dithering administration and a manager who is simply not up to it.
And the proof is… nowhere.
As for the debts – the other story around, Arsenal’s debt of £185m are tiny when compared to a number of other clubs. Here is the top part of 1and1 sports review of club debts…
1. Chelsea £1003m
2. Tottenham £733m
3. Manchester United £333m
4. Brighton and Hove £279m
5. Leicester £162m
6. Liverpool £157m
7. Wolverhampton £125m
8. Newcastle £111m
9. Arsenal £108m
10. West Ham £105m
Now one might wonder why so much focus has been put on Arsenal’s debt when there are other more outrageous debt levels above.
So we get statements like, “Arsenal, it’s a little bit scattergun. We’re not really sure what’s going on at Arsenal at the moment. We don’t know what direction they’re heading in, what style of play they’re going to play. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.” Danny Mills. (Perhaps he ought to read about the tactical change around at Arsenal this season, it was covered by …. Untold Arsenal).
Or “Arteta plans 10 Gunners exits” (Express). I think that includes the loan players who have already been discounted such as Guendouzi.
Or the Express (again), “a immensely disappointing season for Arsenal”. Actually it was the season in which a totally new tactical approach was tried and it transformed the club’s results.
Or “Edu has now opened talks with Ajax over signing Andre Onana. The Gunners want the 25-year-old goalkeeper on a £7 million deal, which could prove a bargain.” Just don’t mention that he’s banned.
Or “ARSENAL IN DANGER OF BEING OUTBID BY ASTON VILLA IN RACE TO SIGN ‘INCREDIBLE’ PLAYER”
Or “ARSENAL MAKE THEIR MOVE TO SIGN ‘INCREDIBLE PLAYER’, WANT DEAL WRAPPED UP QUICKLY” (both of those from HITC
Or “The Kroenkes are already under rising pressure and if Arsenal fail to compete with Villa for the signing of what looks to be one of Arteta’s top targets, they will come under even further criticism.” That certainly is true. If he was a top target.
Or “Buendia could be an important addition for Arsenal, as their options in creative areas look limited, following the expiration of Martin Odegaard’s loan spell.” (HITC). Creative players – well how about Tierney, Smith Rowe, Saka, or possibly, Odegaard again.
The enemies of Arsenal
- The enemies of Arsenal, and how they are attempting to bring about our fall
- We kept the wrong goalkeeper. Here’s the evidence. (Caution article might cause swearing)
- A bumper summer for Arsenal: 39 players arriving, 18 going.
- Last season revealed significant referee home bias, but what about penalties??
- Media move on to regular insults against Arsenal to hide the real data
- Beyond any doubt Infantino is getting his way. Next: Fifa will leave Zurich
- World Cup chaos: the bits you may have missed
- Fifa establish their unchallengable right to change football rules as they go
- Extraordinary report claims Arsenals’ FA Cup win was not a major trophy!
- 2022/23 Women’s Champions League Juventus v Arsenal – match preview