By Tony Attwood
We have debated of late the way journalists call certain players (players who normally have far more talent and ability in their little fingers than the journalists have in their entire body) “deadwood”. Our view has been that if such a term has a use anywhere in football it is for the deadwood journalists who cover the sport.
And so, we’ve decided to have a look at some of the deadwood journalists… and immediately this afternoon we were struck by two headlines
‘Arsenal will sack Mikel Arteta if they don’t finish in the top four this season’ from talkSPORT, part of the Times Newspaper group
Arsenal boss Arteta tipped to ‘lose his job’ if target not met after £120m spending spree from the offices of the Daily and Sunday Express, part of Reach plc that runs the Mirror.
The first of these headlines comes from Tony Cascerino whose main playing days were with Gillingham, but who did tip out for Villa, Celtic and Chelsea for a while.
Now what Talksport do is present Cascerino as if he is an independent observer whose comments they are picking up, through the headline rather than what he is: a man who is employed by Times Newspapers group to come up with headlines.
The piece reads, “The funny thing is now if you look at the top six, the two [managers] that don’t get in the top four will lose their jobs,” Cascarino told talkSPORT. “Without a doubt. That happens, it just happens. I say it every year, if they [Arsenal] don’t make it, he [Arteta] will lose his job.”
The Reach plc piece comes from Jack Mceachen who is currently producing about seven of these stories a day for the Express, and you can tell from that number that none of them involve the venerable Mr McEachen doing any research other than looking at a computer and putting a different level of negativity on each story.
The articles cover various sports as this set of examples from one 90 minute spell show:
So we won’t expect to find much substance in any of the tales and that is exactly how things are. We are told “Arsenal were pipped to fourth place last season by north London rivals Tottenham, and if they fail to secure Champions League football for the seventh consecutive year Arteta’s job could be in jeopardy.
Now it is because there is no evidence for this and because the idea is not new that I think the term “deadwood” so often used disparagingly on players by journalists should be used on the journalists themselves.
There is no insight or research here, just a simplistic statement which has been untrue in the past. Arsenal were eighth for two seasons and Artea has not been sacked, so even the fundamental part of the premise has gone before we start.
McEachen on the other hand just jumps from sport to sport handing out multiple opinions covering the grand prix, football, (“Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool target told to reject offers and make transfer U-turn” more football: Erik ten Hag’s trust in Man United squad made clear by transfer policy more football: Frenkie de Jong situation ‘getting worse by the day’ due to two players amid Man Utd talks, more football “Man Utd ace Bruno Fernandes slated for ‘hypocritical’ gesture after fresh Ten Hag comments” and so on.
In fact, McEachen is currently producing about seven of these stories a day for the Express, and you can tell from that number that none of them involve the venerable Mr McEachen doing any research other than looking at a computer and putting a different level of negativity on each story.
The articles cover various sports as these two examples from one 90-minute spell show, including
This is what a lot of football journalism has become, and the problem is that it dominates the coverage of football in the media, and thus squeezes out factual evidence-based issues such as the bias of referees.
What’s more, the fact that these stories are published incessantly and then copied from outlet to outlet (because as we have oft noted Times newspapers own TalkSport, and Reach own the Mirror, the Football.London website, the Express, and multiple other papers. So this approach becomes the norm.
The investigation into serious issues such as the recent Fifa trial, Uefa appointing its own ex-staff to undertake an “independent inquiry”, the multiple failures of the FA, and on and on, do not get a mention.
And I think that is a significant problem. But I suspect the authorities love it because it is in fact a 24 hour a day cover up of the real stories.
We are being conned, and constantly screwed.
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