Mykhaylo Mudryk: how did the media all get it so wrong? And what next?



By Sir Hardly Anyone

The last time we ran our review of the players said to be coming to Arsenal Mykhaylo Mudryk was reported as making the move in 53 different reports.  19 of those reports involved a publication running the story more than once.   In fact HITC ran the story on eight separate occasions.

Yet the player went to Chelsea, as we now know.  So how did 53 separate reports get it so wrong?

Of course their answer is that Arsenal refused to cough up the money, but look back to early reports and you won’t find any mention of that.   “‘Arsenal are there'” announced TBR in one of the first reports we cited. 

Now there is no apology from the media, for it was all Arsenal’s fault that the deal was not completed.  Just as it was all Arsenal’s fault that they paid £72m for Nicolas Pépé.  And that’s the point: it is always Arsenal’s fault whichever way they move, and it is never the media’s fault for calling a forthcoming transfer wrongly.   And in a way one can see the media’s point.  How are they supposed to run football reporting columns at no cost to themselves if Arsenal simply won’t do what the media say?

The answer turns out to be simple.  The media continue with more and more fantasy tales of who Arsenal are signing, secure in the knowledge that because every other outlet does it, their word will be believed.  The player is there for the taking, but Arsenal will dither or be outbid.   Except when they are not as with Pépé and then that is Arsenal’s fault for buying the wrong player.

In reality, it makes a total mockery of all the transfer tales they spew out every day – in the last run through 53 separate players were touted as coming Arsenal’s way this month.  And just for the record here is the hall of shame that we recorded – and here we only list the “outlets” that ran the story more than once.

Give me Sport (9 reports), HITC (7), TBR (8), Hard Tackle (3) Caught Offside (4) Arsenal Station (2) Mirror (2).

But of course, the failure of the media to predict that Arsenal would not get the player, means nothing to the media, and instead we are immediately off with Arsenal make Rice top summer transfer target with hope of £70m deal today in the Telegraph who also run Arsenal stung by Chelsea’s Mudryk deal – so where do they go from here?

As for what really happened, well that is more complicated, and not really something that the media want to go into.  But part of the picture now ignored is that as The Athletic reported six months ago,  “Shakhtar Donetsk are seeking €50million worth of damages from FIFA and have filed papers in the Court of Arbitration for Sport… appealing a ruling that allows foreign players to unilaterally suspend their contracts in the war-torn country.”

According to that story, Fifa ruled that non-Ukrainian players and coaches had the right to suspend their contracts with Ukrainian clubs until 30 June 2023, if there was no agreement about releasing players by 30 June 2022.   “Shakhtar had wanted to sell their [foreign] players to cover the club’s losses and assist the war effort.  Fifa’s approach meant that after that date players were free to move, and a range of transfers organised by Ukraine’s clubs fell apart.  Thus Shakhtar had to sell Mudryk (a Ukraine national) to avoid him leaving on a free.

Thus there is a second point.  In the media frenzy about Arsenal buying Mudryk no one knows how good Mudryk will be, and how long he will stay injury free.  Certainly, Chelsea’s record in buying players of late is not that great    According to Transfermarkt they bought 12 players in the summer transfer window (excluding those returning on the end of a loan) and they are currently doing even worse than Liverpool…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 18 15 2 1 42 14 28 47
10 Chelsea 19 8 4 7 22 21 1 28


That table makes the decision by Mudryk to go to Chelsea all the more interesting.  If asked, he would probably say that he was persuaded by the “project”, but being 19 points behind having played one game more isn’t much of a project – at least at the moment.

Arsenal bought four players last summer (Jesus, Vieira, Zinchenko, Turner), Chelsea bought nine (not counting Fofana and Mudryk): Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling, Benoît Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, Andrey Santos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Datro Fofana.  Perhaps fewer is sometimes better.   And maybe those ceaseless stories about the fact that Mudryk was already signed way back in December, were just media fantasies.     Whoever would have thought it?  They all seemed so certain.

20 Replies to “Mykhaylo Mudryk: how did the media all get it so wrong? And what next?”

  1. Interestingly, one can look at it from another perspective and say that Arsenal has forced Chelsea to spend 100 million and an almost decade long contract on a player who no one knows how good he really is and will be long term.

    So, from my point of view, that was an excellent piece of business for and rom Arsenal. The opposition had to spend a huge amount, and keep spending for years in what looks more and more like a situation where ego prevailed. And frankly, from a squad balance and financial perspective, this never made any sense to me. Which player would he have replaced who was not good enough ? And which player would have accpeted to play second fiddle for almost a decade ?

    Arsenal, if you look at the trades of the past 2 years, show all signs of having implemented a rating system that probably takes its roots in the NFL concept of the draft board : you don’t hire a player who is not inside the cost/benefit – or value frame/target you have set. And said board is not created just by an owner with silly money : it is a collaborative strategy. And the results are, let’s say, spectacular: how many new players have succeded and how well, how many have failed and how bad ?

  2. Chris

    “Interestingly, one can look at it from another perspective and say that Arsenal has forced Chelsea to spend 100 million and an almost decade long contract on a player who no one knows how good he really is and will be long term”.

    That’s exactly what I thought.

    I’m not suggesting it was a plan, or that we didn’t indeed want the player, or indeed that he wont turn out to be a great asset for Chelsea. But the fact we, as a club seemed to rate him so highly, thereby putting in what for us was an extraordinarily high bid, did mean Chelsea had to pay way over what they would of paid had we not been in for him.

    I can live with that. We offer what we think is a fair price. What we can afford, and it ends up making Chelsea look like the bunch of clueless desperados they have become.

  3. Off topic

    Does anyone wonder why the Richarlison / Sp*rs nut case incident just ‘disappeared’ ?
    What have we not read about Mr Arteta’s so called touchline antics in the past weeks. How he should be punished.

    And here, we’ve got a violent incident that was luckily stopped immediately, something that could stress any player, the more so a goalkeeper who needs to spend most of his time with his back to the crowd and nothing. No uproar. All business like usual. Guess it is an Arsenal thing.

  4. very pleased we did not Sign Mudryk whilst we are involved in the No more red anti knife initiative. How would it have looked to have in excess of 20 million pounds going to fund the Ukraine war? I am sure that a competent football administrator would question the political neutrality of such donations. For the teams in this case there is thankfully Uefa so no doubt its all legit and above board. We have had rightful condemnation of violence on a personal level when a fan kicks Aaron Ramsdale so why might support for a war underscore commitment to that narrative?

  5. I agree with the comments above. I also hope that the Declan Rice story is just more media fiction.

    I do not think that he would add significantly to our current squad quality. I would also be concerned that his arrival, no doubt on big money, might disrupt the squad unity and would inhibit the development of our emerging young talented players, both in our academy teams and out on loan, (eg Patino)

  6. @John L

    as far as I am concerned, as long as our young gunners play with hearth and will, if we lose out on the PL title because we may end up short on players, so be it. As I’ve commented previously, NO ONE was expecting Arsenal to be in contention. Everyone was focused on a CL place.

    Oh YES, what a day it would be if they end up on top. No question on that. But the long term trajectory is more important then a short term fix disrupting the balance they have. Much more important to spend money on keeping Saliba, Saka, Martinelli, et all, on giving our young talents chances, on getting Nelson back on track, on signing players who’ll be the generation after Patino and Balogun. Arsenal do not have the means to compete with oil states.

    So the Academy, the home-growing are the only viable alternatives. Make Arsenal the go-to place for any young player. The first place. The Dream place. Make the Arsenal shirt the bestselling one in small and teenager sizes.

  7. Chris

    Again, I agree with the overall sentiments of your post but I have to take issue with “NO ONE was expecting Arsenal to be in contention”. Of course if YOU felt we wouldn’t be in contention that’s fine, but why so certain that NO ONE was expecting it? I was. And as I have said before on here, I put my money where my mouth was at 50/1.

    Now I didn’t do it out of blind faith, I did it because of sound reasoning and because it was a fantastic value for money bet. And please, this is just a bit of fun, but this is exactly how I reasoned that 50/1 was just way way too big a price, and we did indeed have a decent EW chance of winning the title.

    If I can use my second favourite sport as an analogy in the shape of a 3 mile horse race:

    The first thing to remember is, as Tony showed many times following our poor start, we ended up the second best team in the league over the second two thirds of the season. That is impressive form.

    It’s like we got left 20 lengths at the start. (opening 3 defeats). We settled near the back of the field, but after a mile or so we set about making up the lost ground. A tough ask, but with a lot of pushing and shoving we looked like we were unbelievably, after all the doom and gloom, going to nick a place (4th).

    Alas, as all the effort of clawing back the lost ground started to take it’s toll we hit the last 2 fences (injuries/a bit of inexperience, whatever) and ended up missing out on a place in the final strides. (still in with a chance on the last day of the season). So okay, no medals.

    But as I say, in my analogy it was close, despite our poor start, we were only beaten a length into 5th in the final strides. (3 points).

    Now this is the thing, if those 2 horses re opposed a month later their odds would be almost identical. Any student of form who watched that race, would not only know the 5th horse was a little unfortunate not to of finished 4th, but given how extraordinarily well it had ‘ran on’ over the final 2 miles, or the last 2/3rds of the season, (almost matching the winner, Man City), it is perfectly feasible it could of challenged for 3rd, who in this analogy only finished another length or so in front (5 points).

    That is why Arsenal starting the season at 50/1 when Spurs were 11/1 was simply ridiculous.

    Now of course making up a few lengths, or 5 points to 3rd, is a lot different to making up 20 lengths or more (23 or 24 points) to Liverpool and Man City. I accept that. BUT, if you take into account that terrible start. The fact we almost matched the winner over the last 2 miles (2/3rds of the season). The fact we are young and likely to mature. The fact we look like we have improved dramatically (signings), then I think we had real hope of at least giving the top 3 a go, which as I say made 50/1 a steal.

    As I say, just a bit of fun, but that is honestly why I felt we had a squeak and we were never the massive outsiders people said we were.

    Rest assured I wont of been the only one.

  8. Will Chelsea become a “feeder” club for Newcastle Utd.? Let’s face it, Newcastle will be the only team able to afford the wages of Chelsea’s cast-offs.

  9. seismic

    That’s so true. All these Chelsea fans and pundits saying they bullied us is just nonsense. We all know that there’s a pecking order when it comes to money, and the oil backed clubs are at the top.

    They don’t get the signature because they bullied someone. They don’t get the signature because the player necessarily even wants to go there. They get the signature because they haven’t got a budget and can, and do, pay more money than non oil/state backed clubs.

    It’s as simple as that.

    So what was this ‘project’ that so impressed? Let me guess, was it something the one along the lines of “we’re just going to keep spending we’ve bought every player on the planet’ project?

    So that will be the same ‘project’ as the one in place at Man City, and now the one in place at Newcastle then.

    We’ve got more money than you have ner ner na nar nar!!!!

    Basically if Newcastle want a player they will get him. If they don’t want him then Man City or Chelsea will get him. If they don’t want him then probably Man Utd will get him, and so it goes.

    It has nothing to do with history, trophies or a ‘project’, it’s simply down to money. If Chelsea fans want to kid themselves he went there for any other reason than money that’s up to them.

    But hey, Chelsea fans have been kidding themselves about that ever since Roman Abramovic turned up and started buying them trinkets 20 years ago.

    £1 Club with absolutely no class. You can roll a turd in diamonds but it’s still a turd.

  10. @Nitram,

    when I said no one, I was refering to the overall sentiment, especially the deadwood press. I personally felt it would be a year early, and toned down my expectations out of habit.

    As for the ‘money’ issue… it is insane. A contract over almost a decade. So the project the player has been presented is not a project around a coach who wants to win trophies, but an owner who wants to buy up players, stand in front of the crowd like martinez with his trophy to his groin and scream : we’ve got more money.

    The player may just want to get out after the next manager change which will invariably happen a few seasons down the road. Did we not see this happen with a couple of very expensive Arsenal players in the past few years ? Why would Chelsea not face such a situation.

    I would not even bet on Potter still being there end of this season. The player wanted to get out of Ukraine, who can fault him. His club got screwed when UEFA killed all contracts once the war was started and thus they saw the value of their players just vanish. So they sold their one prized asset at max value. Who can fault them.

    So, let Chelsea play casino as their strategy. I’m more then happy with Arsenal building a sustainable football club.

  11. Chris

    To be fair to you, I think toning down our expectations was something we were all becoming used to wasn’t it. Not because of anything we were doing wrong ourselves necessarily, although we haven’t bee without fault of course, but more to do with what we were, and still are, up against financially.

    What these Chelsea, Man City and now Newcastle fans palpably fail to appreciate is that yes we have spent big recently, but after years of austerity, and not only that, there is a big difference between being able to spend big and being able to spend WHETEVER IT TAKES. It’s called a budget. That is the difference.

    Anyway back to my little wager. Maybe it was just me being dogmatic and allowing myself to get carried away. But even before our summer acquisitions I was of the opinion we were a very good side capable of easily challenging top 4, simply on the basis that all our young guns would be a year older, a year wiser and a year better. Well, then we started to see just how good some of our summer improvements were and it was a no brainer.

    I laid it just prior to the Chelsea friendly, a game I thought we would win easily. We did. We were cut from 50/1 to 33/1 overnight and our price has been tumbling ever since, to the point now where we are slight odds on favourites.

    That in itself is worrying.

  12. @Nitram,

    this sunday, our game is the closing game of the week-end. Again. Arsenal are the poster team of the PL. And they are young, enthusiastic, talentend, united, in short LIKEABLE.

    Things change. People tune-in. Money follows. All the world sees the refereeing. Our Young Gunners are not recklessly tacking anymore, so as long as they keep a cool head, I’m optimistic.

  13. Chris

    All very good points but I remain fearful, for a few reasons.

    Firstly, the appointment of (basically) a Manc referee and VAR operator. That in itself is bad enoughand, very questionable as to the legitimacy of The PGMOL actually being able to do that I would of thought? But worse, despite the fact that in the match at OT, not only did they do the same, appoint a Manc Referee and VAR operator, but they were subsequently adjudged to of made 1 of the 6 biggest VAR mistakes of the season so far. Yet despite that they’ve done exactly the same again!!

    We’ve seen this behaviour before. They get shown to of f***ed up completely against Arsenal, but rather than try to atone they literally stick their fingers up and show utter contempt for us by doing exactly the same again. It’s like they are saying, ‘yep, we see what you’re saying and we don’t give a shit’!

    Secondly, the return of the Manchester United media love-in. This is not good news. The PGMOL, the referees, the VAR, they all know who the media want to win this Sunday.

    Thirdly, our lead at the top. There is no way anyone outside Arsenal want us running away with this. Everyone wants a battle to the end of the season, especially the media, and especially one that involves Man City and the ‘resurgent’ Man Utd. If we’re involved so be it, but it matters not a jot. In fact ‘Arsenal capitulate, again’ is a much preferred outcome as far as the media are concerned.

    The media will be wetting their pants if we have a Manc duel running to the end of the season.

    Be assured all the officials will know what is expected of them this weekend.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

  14. @Nitram,

    I concurr. The 2 mancunians is just mind-boggling to me.
    Still, I’m rather optimistic. The limelight has consequences.
    And we’ve got a home game, in a stadium that has become part of the team. Should help as well.
    And in the end, our Gunners know that full well and will have to raise their playing level, which I am convinced they can still do.

  15. @ Nitram,

    one other element that makes Arsenal likable – and most probably influences the way the Young Gunners are playing – is the visible and unmistakable fun and exhuberance they are showing playing and playing together. I can’t remember Arsenal exuding so much ‘fun and games’ attitude for the past 2 decades.

  16. Chris.

    Everything you say is logical. But this is the Premier League. This is The PGMOL. This is the English FA. There is nothing logical about any of those bodies.

    I don’t read the domestic media often, though obviously it’s tone is unavoidable, and of course a lot of what is said often gets repeated through Untold, let alone reading foreign media.

    But I get the impression from comments on Untold that we are quite popular at the moment around the World, and as you suggest therefore very much in the spotlight.

    Now under normal circumstances you would indeed think that the spotlight would temper the usual biased eccentricities of the Premier Leagues officiating, but I actually believe they love the controversy. No publicity is bad publicity as they say.

    But not only that, it has to be remembered that something is only controversial if the English media say it is. We’ve had 3 very strong penalty calls waved away. At the very least they were debatable. As an Arsenal fan I would say very ‘controversial’ in fact.

    But the English mainstream media were having none of it. Rolling out ex referees and players alike to confirm everything was in order. Not only that but more fuss was made about our outrage at being screwed over than the bad decisions, turning the focus on our ‘Lunatic’ manager and ‘out of control’ players, resulting in 2 FA charges for events that we see every weekend without action.

    The PGMOL, Referees, and the FA couldn’t care less how those ridiculous foreigners perceive us. Our game is the best. Our game is above reproach. It is in fact all those corrupt foreigners who should be taking a leaf out of our book and not the other way around.

    We have the best referees in the World don’t you know.

  17. @Nitram,

    all valid points.
    may i add that the swiss press has reported yesterday evening that the Ramsdale agressor has been found, lives in Hackney, and will face a judge february 17th
    When i see all the crap Mr Arteta has taken for being a manager encouraging his team…I’m not surprised to read nothing in the Guardian this morning about this. After all it negatively affects the Sp*rs “diamond-best-club-in-the-galaxy” image….
    So yes, you are right on all points.

    Fact is the Young Gunners will have to deal with that, will have to rise above and will have to score more goals. Which I trust them to do. And I am pretty sure they are well aware of this.

  18. Chris

    “Fact is the Young Gunners will have to deal with that, will have to rise above and will have to score more goals. Which I trust them to do. And I am pretty sure they are well aware of this”

    I agree, I too believe they are aware of it, and they will have to deal with it, but that is easier said than done. As the events of the last week or so show, it is very hard not to react when you KNOW you are being screwed.

    It has been clearly demonstrated we are going to get very very little from either the referees or VAR.

    It has been clearly demonstrated that if we have the audacity to complain we will face the full force of the FA.

    In other words, put up and shut up.

    I fear the only solution is the one you suggest, which is that we “will have to rise above and will have to score more goals”.

    In other words take the referee and VAR out of the equation.

    The problem is, when you are playing very good teams in very tight matches, that is easier said than done.

  19. What do the following have in common?

    Romano, Ornstein, Benge, Jones, Sheth

    Poor knowledge.

    If they were taxi drivers, you would never reach your destination.

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