By Tony Attwood
At the moment of writing, we are waiting for any news about tomorrow’s match and whether it is on or not, which is a little frustrating since this is normally the moment that we are doing all the regular preview bits. But thank you in the meanwhile to everyone who has dropped me a note to say that Jonathan Liew (a man who has been the subject of a couple of critical pieces from me in the past) of the Guardian has produced a very positive piece about Mr Arteta and Arsenal.
The essence of the article is that Emerson Royal was being looked at by Arsenal, and everyone involved thought he was just the job, except Mr Arteta who was not convinced and supposedly stopped the transfer. Then Tottenham “swooped in with a bid of about £26m, a sum which”– quoting the Telegraph – “sources claim Barcelona still cannot believe Spurs offered to pay. No matter. Tottenham had won the battle Royal, along with all of its associated headlines and bragging rights.”
Of course, at the time the Mirror loved this failure of Arsenal, as they saw it. Arsenal were too slow, too uncertain, dithering etc etc. As they said in one of many articles on the topic, “Spurs had to beat off competition from their North London rivals… Emerson Royal had a €300million release clause in his contract at Barcelona and preferred to join the club [Tottenham] ahead of North London rivals Arsenal…. As outlined by Sky Sports, the Brazilian was aware of interest from the Gunners but he was always more keen on a move to Tottenham….”
So that is how it was reported at the time. Arsenal were interested but dithered and these days are rated by players around the world as very much second to Tottenham. And besides, Tottenham would have none of such nonsense. “Royal had played more minutes than any other Betis player last season as Manuel Pellegrini’s side finished sixth in La Liga to qualify for the Europa League…”
So Arsenal didn’t get “their man” but instead bought Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna – Takehiro having also been linked to Tottenham.
But now the Guardian is saying, “Five months down the line – and without wishing to be overly unkind to Royal, who did indeed play well at Real Betis last season – it is possible to observe that Arteta’s misgivings over his ability to adapt to English football may have had some merit. Royal is both a fine athlete and a sound technical player. But rarely, alas, at the same time.”
So yes, good of Mr Liew to say that Arsenal got it right. But what he doesn’t say is just how much his fellow journalists got it wrong – and this really is my point all the way through.
For example, The Express’ logic circuits went particularly awol on this one saying it “is noted that while Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Villarreal are all interested in Emerson’s services, the player ‘only wants to think about Barca’.” And then in the same article quoting him as saying, “I see what comes out in the press, but right now I am one hundred percent concentrated here,” he told Diario De Sevilla. “I don’t think about Barcelona or anyone else, only Betis.”
Meanwhile, what the Guardian is doing now is writing with the benefit of hindsight. Mr Liew’s piece continues, “Ask him to combine two or more skillsets – run and cross, chase and tackle, control and shield – and immediately you can see the panic begin to set in, the limbs malfunctioning, the mainframe overheating like a browser with too many tabs open. He’s not terrible. He’s just not a £26m player, or an Antonio Conte player, or the sort of player Tottenham should be aspiring to sign, which is why Tottenham are now willing to pay top dollar to replace him with Adama Traoré.”
And it is at this point that Mr Liew goes off the rails – which is my complaint about his writing. He’s made a good point that Arsenal were looking at a player, the manager thought no, the club backed the manager, and it looks like the manager and club did the right thing. Great. But then the article says,
“This is the key point. Arsenal are one of the few clubs that can basically will itself into crisis.”
But hang on a minute – the article earlier states that Arsenal avoided a crisis, by backing its manager. What’s going on? Mr L continues…
“Indeed, there is a whole cottage industry based around the idea of Arsenal being permanently in crisis, the ineradicable urge to keep ripping things up and keep starting again.”
And yes that is the point. That cottage industry is called football journalism. Untold writes about it quite a lot. And Mr Liew adds, “Should Arsenal slip up at Tottenham and fall behind them in the league table – a fair bet, given the thinness of their resources – the lust for reinvention and revolution, fresh faces and fresh blood, will doubtless kick into gear again.”
Yes indeed. But here’s the thing. Where does the blood lust come from? Could it be… the media?
Mr Liew is trying to differentiate himself from the rest of the media, by pointing out that the media is thoroughly anti-Arsenal which is Untold’s point. But the Guardian and Mr Liew on occasions, are not above putting the boot into Arsenal itself, which is why I find that the piece doesn’t fit easily with me. On the other hand, one esteemed media institution knocking the rest of the media’s coverage of Arsenal – that could be interesting if such a line is continued.
No news yet on the game tomorrow – but if nothing comes through soon we’ll assume its on and continue with the regular preview articles.
- Arsenal ask for postponment, but will the club get equal treatment?
- What Would Count As Success For Arsenal This Season?
- Why suspicions about the integrity of football are always growing
- Arsenal have had twice as many red cards in the league as Tottenham this season
- 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