By Tony Attwood
From the Guardian feed on yesterday’s match. This is the article that starts:
“Arsenal won five in a row not so long ago. They followed up that sequence with four losses in five, then last Wednesday rocked up at Chelsea and routed their London rivals 4-2.”
Factually correct of course, but clearly set up to encourage the “Arsenal are inconsistent” school of simplistic reporting, which in turn is there to set up the “Arteta out” commentary. But the reality as ever does not support such a view.
In fact, the Guardian love to go in for confusion these days. Take this extract on yesterday’s game.
“73 min: Incidentally, when Fernandes missed his penalty kick, Ramsdale got all up in his grille, bringing to mind the infamous Martin Keown / Ruud van Nistelrooy incident of all those years ago. “I’m not sure if I believe in the church of Ramsdale,” writes Ciarán Brennan. “I personally don’t like my goalkeeper to be so occupied with his banter levels at all times. De Gea is a bit of a recluse, think he likes Slipknot, that’s more what I’m looking for.”
The present tense “writes” and the bold around “73 mins” all suggest contemporaneous events, but here we have nothing of the kind. The penalty incident happened on 53 minutes. It’s all part of the mishmash of fantasy and reality, reporting and misreporting that is everywhere.
As for the match reporting we have “Tomiyasu comes on for Cedric. ‘I think the ref let Bruno off with a yellow because he knew there was no way he’d try and injure Tavares deliberately,’ suggests Tom Atkins. “Tavares was United’s best chance of getting back into the game.”
“Intent” is indeed part of the laws of the game, and it is one of the biggest problems we have with refereeing since although it is quite clear that in the Fury v Whyte boxing match last night there was intent by both men to hurt the other that is clear only because it was a boxing match. How on earth is a referee supposed to know about intent in football when he or she is not telepathic and the game is played at speed?
But this is of course ignored by the media who hate to get engaged in really interesting if problematic issues or indeed any issues that cannot be simplified into meaninglessness in the guise of being meaningful. Try this…
“Since Sir Matt Busby took over at United in 1945, he and Ferguson are the only two managers to win a league title or European Cup.
“In Europe, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Barca, Bayern have proven adept at winning big under different managers. In England, three Manchester City coaches have won the title in the last 10 years. Chelsea have regularly replaced their coach and still won everything. Four Liverpool managers since Bill Shankly have won the championship…”
And therein is no mention of Arsenal. Read that, and not know your history of football and you would take it that Arsenal are nowhere to be seen.
And yet, using the same time scale, “Since Sir Matt Busby took over at United in 1945” if we look at Arsenal we find…
- Tom Whittaker won the League twice and the FA Cup once
- Bertie Mee won the FA Cup, the League and the Fairs Cup (the forerunner of the Uefa Cup)
- Terry Neill won the FA Cup
- George Graham won the League twice, the League Cup twice, the Cup winners Cup and the FA Cup
- Arsene Wenger won the League three times and the FA Cup seven times, a record for one man.
- Mikel Arteta won the FA Cup.
Thus since the war, which is the time period selected by the journalist, not by me, six Arsenal managers have won trophies of significance, four different Arsenal managers have won the league, and five have won the FA Cup.
But no, the Telegraph can’t bring themselves to mention this at all. It is typical of the way in which the media will do everything they can to write out Arsenal.
Here’s another one they use. “Since January 22, Newcastle have won nine, drawn one and lost three, taking 28 points from a possible 39.”
And yes that is a good run. But why 22 January, other than it was the start of a good run? Untold likes to trace back runs and yes we do look at the run since the first three matches of the campaign, when we had a lot of our team missing. But “Since January 22” is a date chosen simply to maximise the impact of Newcastle.
But no, all we hear about is our allegedly meandering fortunes… “Arsenal won five in a row not so long ago. They followed up that sequence with four losses in five…”
But we could equally say “across the last 13 games (ie since 22 January) Arsenal have been doing better than Chelsea, Tottenham Hots, Manchester Un…”
Why must they always find a negative? Why can’t they celebrate Arsenal’s recovery?