By Tony Attwood
If it is anything, Football Commentary in England is unidirectional. It is not that all commentators agree on everything – clearly they don’t. But they agree on what are the key topics that are worthy of debate.
Now of course Untold Arsenal does this too – we define the topics we are discussing. But there are two points here. One is our topics and points of view tend to be the ones that the media in general ignore, and when (not often but occasionally) someone writes in and says “You are missing a key issue” I try and give that person space. (If you have an article for Untold write to me directly at Tony@schools.co.uk and tell me the idea, or send me the article as a word file. Otherwise send in a comment).
As a example consider this from the Telegraph as their summary of the season so far for Arsenal. At the top of the article they ask, “Is your team under-performing, over-performing – or playing to par?”
That in itself is insulting – suggesting as it does that us mere supporters might not be able to tell if our club is under or over achieving. And this is part of the newspaper game as they imply, “You need us to tell you how well your club is doing.” In short: the Telegraph proclaims that we are so stupid, that without them we don’t know how well or badly our team is doing!!!
The claim in itself is preposterous, but made worse by what it says about Arsenal: “Dreadful start has been followed by remarkably steady progress, leading to an unusually buoyant mood at the Emirates – particularly given the pre-season expectations. Youngest team in the league will have dips but the top four is within reach.
“Happy with the manager? He’s treading that gossamer fine line, only ever a couple of poor performances away from losing credibility.”
That is not actually a reflection of what fans generally are saying, but a reflection of what the media is saying. The alternative approach, based not on opinion but on facts and statistical analysis, says, “Last season manager introduced a radical new approach to playing which took until Christmas to get sorted, by which time Arsenal had sunk to 15th. This season he could have let the highly successful post-Christmas results develop, but instead changed the entire defence, resulting in two spells in which, each time, Arsenal lost three and won one in four. But in between those blips there went ten unbeaten, and currently the club are on five wins in a row. If manager doesn’t change the system again, fourth could be theirs.”
That at least would be fair, and doesn’t require the over-heated journalist actually to understand what radical transformation Arteta established, nor for the poor sap to ask, “why did the Telegraph never mention this revolution?” Or “Revolution? When was that?”
The Guardian is playing similar games and they wheel out as propagandist for their point of view, regular writer Jonathan Liew. He does make a serious point, saying, “Sheriff Tiraspol made it six titles in a row in Moldova, Red Bull Salzburg eight in a row in Austria, Bayern Munich nine in a row in Germany, Ludogorets 10 in a row in Bulgaria. Across Europe, clubs are partnering with cryptocurrency companies with the sole intention of further milking their fanbases for cash. In England, virus-emaciated squads are being forced to play three games in a week because nobody is brave or foolish enough to slow down the gravy train.
“And yet even in these grim days of midwinter, it remains possible to glimpse something better. The Super League protests showed us that when fans and players and genuine football lovers speak with a single voice, not even the most powerful men in the game can thwart them.”
But hang on – “fans, players and genuine football lovers…” The biggest force defining what can and cannot be talked about is the media. And the “conversations” we are supposed to be having, have to fit the media’s agenda. So no blaming the FA for its incompetence. No talking about the court cases against Blatter currently raging. No mention of Fifa’s takeover of all African football. No discussion of why English refereeing is so different from the rest of Europe. No discussion of transforming English football so that the money is more evenly distributed. No long-term pointing the finger at the outrageous comments of the owners of Palace and West Ham with their demonization of the reform of football as a Maoist plot.
And of course as we saw last season, no analysis of what Mr Arteta was actually doing in moving Arsenal from being the most yellow carded team to one of the least. Or why Arsenal are forced to be refereed by the same ref five times in a season.
That is the issue: the media define the subjects that can be talked about, and ignore multiple others.
And so just in case you are interested, you could try, Football is absolutely not sustainable like this: here are the six crash points.
The authorities, Arsenal and football
- Football is absolutely not sustainable like this: here are the six crash points.
- Here’s a turn up: CAS are supporting Arsenal against Fifa
- Have Uefa and CAS finally had enough of club trickery in avoiding FFP?
- Why do we keep pointing out the errors of what media says when everyone knows?
- Biennial World: Europe unites in opposing the commercialised bi-yearly world cup.
- Is football seriously corrupt?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?
- How the Taliban infiltrated the World Cup and used it to maintain its war on women
- Which 4 Arsenal transfers are being mentioned the most by the media?