by Tony Attwood
Preface: this little series was initially planned as a three-parter, but as I have gone on I’ve felt the need to cover more and more topics that support the thesis that there is something wrong with the media’s reporting of the Premier League. I suspect this will end up as a five or six-part series – and if the thought of that bores you stupid, it should be all over by the end of today, so you ought to be able to come back tomorrow (UK time) and find something new.
So to pick up where we got to
- The conspiracy against Arsenal. Part 1: How it unfolded.
- Conspiracy, laziness, or stupidity. Part 2 How the media missed the big Arsenal story
My argument is that in the league this season, after the first three games, Arsenal most certainly have been performing as a top-four team. Our position outside the top four in the actual league table is due to the fact that
a) we have played fewer games than clubs around us and
b) we had particularly difficult circumstances with illness affecting the squad in the first three games just at the time that the new defence was getting the hang of the tactical approach of cutting tackles out of the game.
Of course, this is not to say we “really are” third in the league, but rather that over the last 19 games the current players are playing to a standard and with the result commensurate with being third in the league. Therefore to make the wholesale changes that the media have demanded of Arsenal in terms of new playing staff, who not to sell, and how to play, would be quite ludicrous.
So we note that across the last 19 league games (which is of course half a league season) we have the fourth-best attack in the league. Indeed in the last six games we have the best attack in the league and the second-best defence. We also currently have the fourth-best defence in the league overall.
Thus we raise the question why are the media and blogs telling us daily that a) Arteta and Edu are incompetent and b) we should we go out and spend £££m urgently and change the squad.
Of course, we are not challenging Manchester City, but the notion that in one season we could become a team ready to challenge the multi-billionaires with no FFP holding them in check is ludicrous.
|6||Brighton & Hove||6||2||4||0||9||6||3||10|
|7||West Ham United||6||3||1||2||10||8||2||10|
All of this raises the question: why has the media so consistently stated that we need to buy so many players, and why did they endlessly tell us that the last transfer window was an utter disaster for Arsenal? Why are they ceaselessly peddling the myth that Arsenal are failing and desperately and urgently need new players?
There are four possible answers as to why the media has united in publishing arrant nonsense about the state of Arsenal.
1: Unity of ownership
A lot of the media is run by the same small group of people. Reach plc owns the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The Sunday People, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Star Sunday, the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail, Football.London and other websites, and the magazine OK!.
We’ve often noted how stories on Football.London then appear on the Daily Mirror website, and vice versa, each citing the other as if it were an independent source, when it is nothing of the sort. Thus one outlet adopts a message (“Arsenal are incompetent” is the Mirror’s favourite theme) and all the other Reach publications online and in print, follow.
“Conspiracy theory” in general has, quite reasonably, had a bad press, but some do argue that beyond the common ownership, the media colludes with each other to propagate certain messages and themes in football.
Let us consider the PGMO and the refusal of the media to criticise its actions. It could well be that anyone who overtly criticises PGMO might find themselves being told that this is “unhelpful” to football as a whole and they are invited to stop. It’s not a conspiracy in the formal sense but rather get a sense that highlighting referees is “not helpful” to the game, “not helpful” to England’s attempt to host the world cup, etc, and it is “best not to go on about” referee errors.
Or maybe they just all follow each other. One publisher doesn’t mention PGMO, so nor do the others.
3. Laziness and lack of expertise
The recent Untold articles showing Arsenal have been doing very well this season, came about through a bit of work by the writers and readers in looking at the statistics. But the media in general doesn’t do this generally just copies each other’s approach. Maybe no one in journalism noticed what happened to the results after the first three games, or if they did just thought that those three defeats was a better, more dramatic story, so let’s not spoil it.
Or maybe they just like talking up Leicester’s rise up the table (without mentioning their subsequent fall: – they are 11th overall and 16th across the last six games ).
4. Say what we said before
Once a story is started, (Arsenal management is incompetent, Arsenal need lots of new players etc) then it is much easier to carry on writing the same story over and over. No one bothers to check the facts since everyone is running the same story, so since everyone is running it, why check anything? It’s a bit like the 100+ transfer tales every summer. The journalists and bloggers must know that between 97% and 99% are fantasies, but if they admit that now, people might start to question why they have been running these tales summer after summer.
So the approach is, let’s run the same storyline that we have run before. And when everyone is doing that, all the football news becomes the same, and if it is all the same, well, it must be right mustn’t it?
The series continues in the next article.
Today’s Arsenal History story: 16 February 1886: the birth of Arsenal’s first great superstar
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham
- Is the team that passes the most, the team that gets the best results?
- Arsenal Women – Champions League last 16 draw – We get the toughest opponents