By Tony Attwood
England have just been relegated to Group B in the European nations’ league system that I can’t remember the name of. And no one is making much of a fuss. The Guardian for example discuss the matter by saying, ” What should we reasonably – that word is key – expect of this team? And just how distracting is the noise (because there is always noise) around it?”
An interesting notion – poor England, it’s not their fault, they are being distracted by the noise. Unlike Arsenal who get more shit thrown at them than any other club, but are expected to battle forth nonetheless.
In fact, the media are now involved in gaslighting the situation. Take Sky Sports website which proclaims to bring us the England results. It currently just lists two results, rather than the complete run of defeats and occasional draws.
Now compare and contrast with what the media as a whole were howling after Arsenal lost three of their first four games last season.
Then when we tried to point out that for the rest of the season Arsenal had improved to be third, that was dismissed as playing with numbers, rather than, as we saw it, an indication of what was to come. (Just in case you missed it, here is the table based on the last 35 games of last season.)
Thus my point is, Arsenal losing three games is big-time national doom and gloom but with England it is different. Before this last game, the question being raised was whether anything less than winning the world cup being played in the anti-democratic anti-human rights wastelands should be considered a failure. (Actually, the papers don’t much mention the anti-democratic bit, I added that).
But England haven’t won a tournament since 1966. Whereas since 1966 Arsenal have won the league six times, and the FA Cup 11 times, the League Cup twice, the Cup Winners Cup and the Fairs Cup once each. Yet no, Arsenal have no chance, but England… well, winning the trophy is the least we can expect rather than what we actually get: bumbling along not winning anything. Ever.
But apparently, this abject failure by England in terms of international matches is due not to the team or its manager but “the ambient noise” which is defined as “the unceasing battle with English delusion, English exceptionalism, the self-sabotage of unrealistic English expectation.”
The media calling commentary on football delusional? Now that’s a turn up.
Thus while Arsenal’s failure to win any of the three opening league games last season was greeted with headlines like Arsenal Loses 3 Matches In a Row: Mikel Arteta’s Days Are Numbered, England get relegated, but that’s a technicality. (Arteta’s days are numbered and that number is 135 league games and still counting).
Just how bonkers the commentary about Arsenal was can be seen from the commentary by that well-known and highly balanced commentator of the topic, Alan Shearer in the season before. That was the season when Arsenal introduced their new policy for avoiding yellow cards, effectively cutting their card total in half, and taking a lot of the control of the game away from referees who were perceived to be biased.
Of course, the “expert” Shearer knew nothing about the tactical change that led to Arsenal being the second most effective team in the league across the last two-thirds of that season. So when asked if Arsenal would escape the drop the Match of the Day turnip (sorry pundit), pronounced, “I wouldn’t be so sure. Not with that starting team and the attitude of some of those players.”
So what we have is a willingness to write off England’s demise as incidental, despite their recent results of three defeats and two draws in the last five, whereas three defeats and a league cup win in four for Arsenal was the cause for demanding the removal of the manager and talk of relegation.
And thank goodness those ravings of the seriously historically and tactically challenged were ignored by the Arsenal board, for that led to 3rd place in the next 38 and top slot in the first seven matches of this season.
There is however a slight admission of the stupidity of the thinking surrounding England which is to be found in the commentary “because we are now quite good we must as a matter of course be the best. The success of others is an aberration, a departure from some Arthurian state of grace. So the fact England have good players has been translated into “an unstoppable hand of golden talent”.
In their Nations League Group England are without a goal from open play and yet during this period people in the media have seriously been talking about England winning the WC. Presumably by picking up a lot of penalties.
England have two points from five games, which is worse than such powerhouses as the Faeroe Islands, Albania, Lithuania and Malta. England are bottom of their League A group, without a win.
So England will probably be in the group with Ukraine or Scotland and Ireland or Armenia, which would seem to be more close to England’s level. Arsenal’s demise lasted three matches, and there were calls across the media and anti-Arsenal fan base for the manager to go. England are being relegated, and there is still the suggestion that England’s world cup should be jolly good.
Does anyone still think the media does not have a constant rabid desire to see Arsenal fail and a ceaseless love affair with the national team?
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