By Tony Attwood
Recently the Mirror published a piece in which they said that, “Admittedly, it is still very early in the season, and Arsenal know after last year not to judge things at this stage of the campaign”.
And yet this is a newspaper that habitually makes judgements very early in the season. For indeed in the same paper that on 31 August last season wrote that Arsenal were “paying the price for Mikel Arteta’s disastrous £140m spending spree”.
No admission then of it being early in the season! No, straight in with the judgement.
Which raises the question, if Arsenal know “not to judge things at this stage of the campaign” why hasn’t the Mirror, which relentlessly comments upon Arsenal’s activities, learned the same?
For after three games last season the Mirror wrote, “Mikel Arteta outlined the huge task facing Arsenal this summer, but after spending almost £150million the same old problems have already reared their head.”
So again, if Arsenal know not to judge things at this stage of the campaign, why doesn’t Ben Husband of the Mirror know this? Perhaps it is because the man who wrote the inept “Arsenal paying price for Mikel Arteta’s disastrous £140 million spending spreet” in the Mirror isn’t even a football writer.
In that article he wrote, “The club record £50million swoop of Ben White, along with the £30million move for Martin Odegaard means the Gunners have spent almost £150m this summer, more than any other side in the top-flight.
“But if Arsenal were hoping for those changes to reap immediate benefits they were sorely mistaken.”
Now, with this season’s results, anyone semi-decent, honourable, or honest would by now have published a total abject apology for that comment. But if it has appeared, I must admit, I have missed it.
Of course what Husband wrote tries to excuse himself by making out that he is just reporting what others are saying, but that is a feeble excuse. For although he said, “Arsenal go into the first international break rock-bottom of the table, with critics circling around both men in charge of transfers at the Emirates” the simple fact is, he was one of the critics.
And obviously if the Mirror group, or indeed Reach plc which owns the Mirror and a host of other newspapers and websites, had an ounce of decency in them they would not only have sacked their writer, but if he refused to apologise they would have apologised on his behalf and announced that they have put in place a series of measures to ensure that they never again employed anyone with such a limited understanding of football.
But no, they have left statements such as “A number of the signings still appear very green and someway away from the type of players that can help propel the Gunners back up the table,” on their website. With no apology.
And the Mirror and its staff writers who slavishly follow the rampant anti-Arsenal line maintained the view that “Despite their heavy spending, there are still serious areas of concern within Arteta’s line-up” for months to come, refusing to publish league tables based on later results as the full team bedded in and started getting the results.
Now if you are a regular reader of Untold you will know that not only is this a constant theme of Untold, but that we have other readers who feel we should stop writing about the media’s coverage of Arsenal.
So we thought it might be a good idea explain in simple statements why we are so critical of the media. The point is not just that they make prognostications and generally get them so wrong, but also they ignore key issues. Issues such as
- The fact that some referees have a very solid home team basis, as the statistics show, while the reporting also fails to comment upon the research that has shown beyond dispute that crowds influence referees. Refs could be trained to overcome this, but because PGMO will not admit it exists, and the media refuse to cover the topic, the whole issue is hidden from the football-going public.
- That given the home bias of some referees it would surely be much safer to have enough referees so that no club gets any referee more than twice in a season – once home and once away. Without that clubs can find themselves endlessly overseen by referees who have a bias against them.
- That the media simply will not contemplate the fact that there might be something wrong with the system of refereeing used in the Premier League, including for example the fact that PGMO is an ultra-secret organisation that does not even have a website, and most certainly will not give interviews.
- That while the media is happy to cover every other aspect of football from 100+ invented transfers each summer to commentaries on how each club needs to change its approach in order to improve, the media itself will never ever tackle the statistically proven fact that some referees have a home-team bias and others an away team bias.
- That PGMO is ultra-secretive and will not allow referees to be interviewed after the game, as they are in some countries.
- How it can be that some clubs are tackled and fouled far more than others. And how it can be that the more a club tackles the lower the percentage of those tackles which result in fouls becomes.
- How Leicester was able to get away with its multiple tackling without fouls approach for so long. And then how it started to ratchet up more penalties than any other club in the history of the Premier League, until that was reported by Untold, at which point refs suddenly stopped given Leicester penalties.
There are more problems – but that is a few to be going on with. But if you want to keep reading, try this
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- 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?