By Sir Hardly Anyone
The media’s aim is to make Arsenal look stupid and to suggest that they (the media) know more than the lollipops running the club. It’s not a conspiracy, just a cheap way of filling the media space, and since the fans get little news from the club, this makes some fans feel that via the media they have access to what is really going on.
By way of example, Arsenal sell a player who is rather good (we’ll call him Emi Martinez but there are many other examples). The media then suggest he is better than the man we have kept.
When we have had enough of that story we are told that “Arsenal need to trim their hefty wage bill” (Guardian, Telegraph October 2020, Football.London January 2021, Independent January 2021, Metro January 2021, Sun February 2021 etc etc etc).
Then, the money-saving story is dropped and instead we are told stupid Arsenal are a year later going to replace Martinez with a less good player.
But what really happened?
First, we have to remember that Martinez, having replaced Leno when Leno was injured, did very well, and quite reasonably felt he had established that he was ready for first team football. He did not want to continue as backup.
Thus the club had to decide whether to keep Martinez (who had broken into the Argentine team and thus would be travelling a lot to and from South America), or Leno (who was backup keeper in Germany).
Then the suggestion came along that Arsenal were signing a keeper who was actually serving a one year ban for drugs offences and so would not be able to play until November) – and after that the goal keeper from Sheffield United. And through all this was the assumption that Arsenal had, yet again, as always, got it wrong.
We can’t compare Leno with the banned keeper, because he was, well, banned, but we can compare the three PL clubs in this story quite easily…
Clearly the two alternative keepers each let in more goals than Leno and his deputies. But we can see both alternatives were in teams playing a very different style of football last season from Arsenal.
So what we can see that Martinez was protected by a much more tackling and fouling orientated team, than at Arsenal. And yet despite this still conceded more goals. As for Aaron Ramsdale at Sheffield United, he was protected by tackling on an industrial scale (Sheff U put in 39% more tackles than Arsenal and let in 61% more goals!).
It is always difficult to make direct comparisons, but those who maintain that Martinez was better than Leno put in no evidence at all, aside from mentioning a few mistakes that Leno made – without any consideration of the errors Martinez made. So we just have the figures, and on such figures as we have, Arsenal kept the better keeper. For the Sheffield man to be worthy of consideration, the argument would have to be that quite simply none of last season was his fault.
Now of course none of the media bothered with the detail above, but instead Jamie O’Hara proclaimed that Arsenal were “a mess”.
The Mirror put it this way, “The Gunners had possessed a solid back-up in Emiliano Martinez, but allowed him to join Aston Villa in a £20million deal….”
According to talkSPORT, Arsenal are “set to go ‘all in’ for Ramsdale.”
So let’s think about Martinez and Arsenal “allowing him” to go. Clubs have reputations among players, and players talk to each other about what life is like with different clubs. If Arsenal had held on to Martinez against his wishes, that would have harmed their reputation among players, and lost them the transfer fee when he left at the end of his contract on a free.
Instead the deal made Martinez the 12th most expensive keeper in Premier League history. If those add-ons come to fruition (and since Martinez played every league game for Villa, I am sure they have been) he is the ninth most expensive keeper in PL history.
Which is not bad business for Arsenal in selling a keeper who had played just 15 Premier League games.
Meanwhile we have Leno, Germany’s second choice keeper, and he performed in the third best defence in the Premier League last season. But the media instead defined this as a problem and thus having said it was a problem, they then came up with “a solution”, as when the Mirror said, “The man Arteta wants to provide that solution is Aaron Ramsdale… The Gunners are understood to be lining up a £30m bid for the England international, which has led to O’Hara blasting their decision making.”
We might have some suspicions concerning all this when the person talksprout got to discuss this was not a manager, nor even a goalkeeper, but a former Tottenham midfielder talking to the radio station that has made its audience out of knocking Arsenal.
Then following that the Mirror’s website ran a special piece in which readers were invited to discuss if Ramsdale will be successful at Arsenal.
Of course some of the media could have called out TalkSport for creating the story, but if they started doing that, the whole edifice of make-believe tales would start to crumble. 97% of transfer stories created each summer for the last five summers have proven to be untrue (which is around a staggering 450 rumours), and that failure rate is not something they want to publicise. So, run the story, then forget it. That’s how it goes.
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