How the English media followed Trump as a way of attacking Arsenal

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.

The fact is that the stories we are running, such as the importance of measuring parts of the season, to see the trend, looking at the league table in terms of one attribute such as goals conceded, and looking at changes in styles of play (such as a dramatic reduction in tackling) are much more complex than saying that Arsenal are going to sign a new goalkeeper who is currently suspended for a year for doping offences and who has never shown any particularly special talent, in order to replace the keeper who stood behind the 3rd best defence in the PL and who is the second keeper in the German national squad.

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 “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

6 Replies to “How the English media followed Trump as a way of attacking Arsenal”

  1. Creative players?

    Also how about Willock, Nelson, Maitland Niles, to name a few more?

  2. Yeah, just like Trump`s lie about the Wuhan lab leak….Oh wait a minute.
    Or his lies about a Russia witch hunt….Oh damn.
    Or his lies about calling for protesters to act peacefully on Jan 6th…What`s that you say? read the transcript? Oh bloody hell

    I wonder what other “lies” he told will end up being proven true? Quite a few I suspect.

  3. It’s important to counter the misinformation that seems to pervade all levels of so called journalism in this country.I think that social media in particular is guilty of amplifying and sustaining rumour and lies, beyond their natural life expectancy. In a world where clicks mean cash, I’m sure that financial pressure on some writers to produce click-bait drowns out the sensible, measured and evidence-based work. This unfortunately extends to all journalism not just in football.

  4. Johnno

    Veracity of statements by Donald Trump From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

    “During his term as President of the United States, Donald Trump made tens of thousands of false or misleading claims; one report gave the number as 30,573”.

    I’m so pleased you pointed out 3 that perhaps weren’t.

  5. @ Nitram

    “I’m so pleased you pointed out 3 that perhaps weren’t.” A bit generous there! 🙂

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