Recently, I’ve been irked by the inconsistent,
unfair newspaper articles that seem to put certain teams on a pedestal *cough*
Manchester United *cough*, whilst others are made to look a laughing stock
*cough* Arsenal *cough*.
But I’m not going
to waste my time complaining about the lack of impartiality in today’s media or
even the vast multitudes of incredibly frustrating articles that are
embarrassingly shoddy, in terms of how much meat is actually attached to the
bone that is a misleading, attention-seeking headline.
No, I won’t delve
into that one just yet. But what I do want to explore is why Arsenal are always
the brunt of jokes, always “missing out” on players rather than rejecting them
or moving on to bigger targets and why Arsene Wenger is often made out to be a
senile, stingy and cryptic old man. I want to understand better what kicked off
this seemingly unchanging attitude towards The Arsenal from the English media.
I start with a
man who changed a lot, not just for Arsenal, but for English football in
general. A revolutionist with strict and at the time rather radical views on
things such as diets, mental strength, training methods, youth policy and the
style of football that should be adopted. Any coach coming into England and
trying to change things is scrutinised, but if that man is also French…Well,
it’s even tougher going. Yes, I’m talking about Arsene Wenger and regardless of
whether you think he is the right or wrong man to lead us, it must be
acknowledged that he played his part in revolutionising English football.
doesn’t apply to the media apparently. Oh no, I think that they hated some,
relatively unproven French manager arriving and telling everyone how it should
be done. I believe that Wenger’s boldness and stubborn streak were his defense
mechanism, but also used by the media to build a stereotype – something they
could cling to for years to come.
Arsene is now the longest serving manager in the Premier League and has won 11
trophies during his time at the club, helping Arsenal cement their place as one
of the most successful English clubs in history (behind Manchester United and
Liverpool), I guarantee that he will never earn nearly as much respect from the
media as a British manager would. Yes I know, I too thought that our nation was
past the days of publicly discriminating against foreigners, but in the world
of football you’re allowed to do just about anything, right? I’m not claiming that
Wenger gets abused week in, week out by journalists, we have a group of our own
fans who are quite happy to do that job. No, I’m simply saying that this deep
rooted bias toward the ‘best of British’ kills all chance of consistently
objective judgements being made.
However, as was
pointed out to me this week, Wenger’s own socio-political views may be to blame
for worsening any apparent media bias by offering them an avenue to attack. He
both gives good quotes and never refuses them, which spawns from his belief
that everyone is entitled to question something and that the media play a big
part in society in that respect. Quite a different approach to the likes of Sir
Alex Ferguson, for example. Fergie would ban certain journalists and
institutions from press conferences if he deemed them to be what he effectively
viewed as getting on his whiskey-filled tits (being overly critical or
questioning). But wait, which of the two managers in question is likened to a
dictator more of the time? Wenger, of course.
Wenger gives the journalists more to work with, they’re happy to run away with
a story and come up with some sensationalist bullshit that can’t really be
disproved because of a few words that Wenger said. For example, if I was a
journalist for one of the tabloids and I caught wind of Arsene saying “With or
without additions we can be title challengers next season”, like he did
recently, I would rub my hands together in delight and come up with a headline
along these lines:
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU!
Wenger: We can
win the league without signing anyone.
Wouldn’t look out
of place, would it?
Aside from Wenger
alone, there is also the fact that Arsenal are an easy target for the media.
Eight years without a trophy, having been one of the most successful teams in
the world a couple of years before that makes us one of the most laughed at
teams in the league. I think we can safely say that the attention paid to our
drought is borne out of previous success and current expectation. Will
Tottenham ever be mocked in the media for having not won a league since 1961?
No, because they are not expected to be successful all the time (sorry Spuds,
that’s the sad truth). Liverpool get away with it because of their illustrious
history and conquests in Europe over the years (oh and winning the League Cup
not so long ago – big hooray). The Arsenal doesn’t get off as lightly. Us fans
have to endure dig after dig from both other fans and the media because of the
standards that are set by us, the club and everybody else who watches football!
In fact, the
situation is made worse by our financial situation in recent seasons. Since the
stadium move, we’ve had to live within our means and even sell some of our best
players along the way. The media began labeling, or at least threatening to
label us as a “selling club” well on the way to “mediocrity” (another word that
The media helped
build a reputation for Arsenal which was undesirable to say the least. Over the
past few years we’ve been known as a former power and one that won’t be able to
compete again for a long, long time. Those who were paying attention will know
that we were always going to go through a period of financial restraint as a
result of our stadium move. They will also know that we are now reaching the
end of this period. But does that save our graces in the media? Not really, no.
If anything, it builds the pressure on the club again as people now expect us
to spend money. We can’t win.
Having said that,
it’s probably better that the club has some external pressure on it as a pose
to expectant and even frustrated fans holding cute little yellow and black
banners. It is now up to us as a club and fans alike to dispel and replace with
success. If we give the media room to wriggle, they’ll run a bloody mile. If we
stifle them with success, they have no choice but to respect us.
Until next week!