Was last season a shoddy campaign or a transformational experience?

By Tony Attwood

To suggest that the Charity Shield, the first big game of the season, was affected by “fan fatigue” seems to be pushing it a bit, but that is what the Guardian did.   Of what were fans supposed to be fatigued?  

The notion that, “The bad news is that, if this Community Shield does mean anything, the future does not look especially bright, at least for anybody outside Leicester,” as the Guardian said, seems weird.   For Leicester apparently it looks bright because they have won three trophies in 21 years.   On that basis it is going to be another seven years wait.

The last time any club scored three or more in a Community Shield final it was Arsenal five years ago, but it’s best if the media don’t admit that because it doesn’t fit with the narrative.  Indeed it was the first of their three Shields in four years, but we don’t mention that either.  Nor the fact that Arsenal have won it 16 times – only one team has won it more.

But on the other hand yesterday the Daily Mail did come up with three separate Arsenal transfer stories 

The Mail of course also has the tale of the £22m fee that Newcastle have paid for Joe Willock “after a brilliant loan spell last season” which of course reminds us that players can be brilliant outside of Arsenal’s control, but not while playing for Arsenal, where only failure is permitted.

Moving on we also have in the Mail the thought that “James Maddison missed out on starting the FA Cup final win and England’s Euro 2020 squad… but with Arsenal desperate for a No 10 and stars around Saka and Smith Rowe, the Leicester star could offer Mikel Arteta everything he wanted from Willian.

We don’t get to know where that story came from, the piece merely mentioning that “Reports earlier this week suggested the Gunners had tabled a player-plus-cash offer for the Leicester star, who is said to be valued at £60million by the East Midlands outfit.”

There is also the story that “Tottenham fans put rivalry to one side as they display banner in support of Arsenal star Bukayo Saka after he suffered racist abuse for missing England’s decisive penalty during Euro 2020 final shootout defeat by Italy.”

And the suggestion that Arsenal want to sign Kane which makes it quite a lot of Arsenal for one web page but it is still not over as “Arsenal ‘join rivals Tottenham in race for Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic’ with Spurs eyeing striker as Harry Kane’s replacement… but the north London neighbours MUST stump up £51m.   The source of that one is “according to reports.”

Which surely must mean that is enough from the land of Arsenal transfers from one paper, but it seems that the newspaper has indeed learned that only two percent of transfer stories turn out to be accurate, so it is trying to run everything possible in order to be able to tell us that “as the Mail reported” when a transfer does actually come along.  

Thus they also have the headline “Arsenal ‘make bid for ex-Tottenham man Kieran Trippier after Manchester United’s offer for the Atletico Madrid right back fell way below the Spanish club’s £34m valuation’… with Hector Bellerin expected to leave the Gunners”.

So the Mail has lots of Arsenal will sign stories, but the Mirror retains its different approach of raging negativity, doom and glood telling us that “Mikel Arteta knows he cannot afford to let the Gunners go through another year of hurt after a shoddy campaign in 2020/21” under the headline “Arsenal suffer triple injury blow as three players ruled out of Premier League start”

Now that is an interesting use of words.   “Shoddy” is a 19th century word meaning something (or a person) pretends to a superiority of which it has no just claim.  Today it is often simply used as badly made.

So let us think about 2020/21.  Was that a “shoddy campaign” full of “poor quality or inferior workmanship” (which is the main definition of the word today).

Actually it was the exact opposite.  A successful plan to transform the playing style of the club by transforming its playing style, and thus cutting the yellow card activities of the referees in half.  So, it was a process, and s very successful one at that, for once the new approach was learned (by Christmas) the club pushed forward and became the second most successful club in the last two thirds of the season.

So there we have it.  The Mail gushing about the players we could sign (but probably won’t) and the Mirror telling us that last season was an utter disaster (which it most certainly wasn’t – it was a transformation).

It was ever thus.

The media’s take 

2 Replies to “Was last season a shoddy campaign or a transformational experience?”

  1. OT
    I watched the game yesterday and the highlight was without doubt the generous applause given to Saka by the Spurs fans when he came on midway through the second half.
    Enormous credit is due to the Spurs supporters who showed that club loyalty does not have to get in the way of common decency and respect toward your local rivals players.
    I loved the way Saka responded by clapping his hands, showing his appreciation for their support.
    A very touching moment.

  2. It was a revelation with Spurs playing quite well and Arsenal showing some class as well. It should be an interesting season based on the improvements Arteta and company have made. I would like to see Sterling here, as he was head and shoulder better than any other english player but I doubt City would ever let him go, and if they di, they’d sell to a European team.

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