By Sir Hardly Anyone
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If you have been a reader of Untold for any length of time you’ll know this is a major theme of ours: that the media doesn’t report football, but rather it influences football.
The media picks on certain players and certain clubs, labels them “a joke” or “a disgrace” or whatever the phrase of the week is. Then some fans pick up on this and repeat it. Then the media pick up on the fans repeating it, and repeat it again. So it goes.
The media continue battering players, clubs, supporters, owners and anyone else it feels like, because it is easy to do (you just call someone a “disgrace” or a “joke”). It requires no justification, research or background work. But it gets an audience. It fills column inches, and then some fans copy this because it gives them a sense of power, and the media then reports that the fans have turned on the player.
Remember all those people who attacked Mr Wenger, announced that “Fourth is not a trophy”, and later called for Edu and Arteta to be removed? Thankfully they were ignored by the club, for if they hadn’t been we would most certainly not have the team we have today. No Odegaard, no Martinelli, no White, no Ramsdale…
But now, perhaps for the first time, a part of the media has broken ranks and started to catalogue how others in the media have induced and developed this mindless criticism. In this case it is about England, not Arsenal, but the approach applies throughout.
In its article ‘Absolute joke’: Harry Kane leads player backlash against England fans over Harry Maguire boos the Telegraph catalogues the verbal assaults being made on England players, and notes how some fans blindly follow the lead of the media.
Roy Keane for example is quoted as saying of Maguire and his celebration, “That is embarrassing, he has been a disgrace the last few months for Man United… Embarrassing.” Keane is also reported that the wearing of gloves in the warmup was unacceptable.
Rio Ferdinand on his YouTube channel said, “Is Maguire going to enable you to win the league? … [The best teams] play on the front foot and want to win the ball high….Can you do that with Maguire? … His pace doesn’t allow for that, he’s always going to be looking over his shoulder. If I’m a quick centre-forward or a quick attacker, I would be hanging around where Harry Maguire is.”
Paul Scholes went further and said of England, “It has to come a point where you think, ‘Are these players good enough?’ “Some of these players have had a lot of games now. Marcus Rashford, he’s had a lot of games. Are we ever going to see these lads reach their potential? Are they ever going to be good enough to win trophies? Maguire, is he good enough? Lindelof, is he good enough? We keep saying how good they are but they are failing to produce what is required on the pitch.”
Jamie Carragher (who interestingly is a columnist for the Telegraph, the paper that pulled all these raging complaints together) described Maguire as a disaster and saying, “he has to get out of it very quickly otherwise he won’t be at the club because the standards at Manchester United are so high.”
Chirs Sutton said, “we all think Harry Maguire will start for England in the World Cup. “But loyalty can only take you so far. Eventually, there has to be a cut-off. If his form doesn’t improve then somebody else will have to step in. There’s a difference between loyalty and stupidity, and if Maguire keeps performing badly then Gareth’s got no choice but to play somebody else.”
So why does this happen?
In fact England are simply getting the treatment reserved for Arsenal. The media do it because they can bring in a bunch of ex-players and failed managers and given them free rein. Some fans think it is clever to copy the pundits, because it makes the fans sound as if they know what is going on, by picking on a player and calling him a joke.
The issue is entirely of the media’s own making, and the Telegraph’s decision to do at least one piece on the topic surely is to be applauded.
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