The Diary: Helping Neil Ashton With Some Definitions

You would have thought that the Football News Correspondent for the Daily Mail would have a grasp of the English language but apparently not...The Diary is here to help...

Last Updated: 03/12/13 at 09:22 Post Comment

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There's been a bit of a contretemps between the startling Neil Ashton and the under-pressure Andre Villas-Boas. Let's stick our oar in and point out where the hack might be going wrong.

Firstly, a note to Neil Ashton on the words 'we' and 'they'. Having Googled the word 'we', included below is the definition:

'used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together.'

Similarly, here is the definition of 'they':

'used to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified.'

Now, it shouldn't be necessary to clear that up for someone who is Football News Correspondent for the Daily Mail, but it appears that a man dealing in words and what they mean sometimes struggles with words and what they mean. Far be it from us ('used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people as the object of a verb or preposition') to suggest that if he's having problems with such fundamental words of the English language, then he probably shouldn't be doing his job, but it's not that far, obviously, because that's what we are suggesting.

Anyway, we (see above, we're not repeating ourselves), have come up with a handy guide to Neil Ashton, a personalised glossary to help him through with the rest of his career, and indeed, life. We don't want to see him lose his job, so maybe he can learn something from our guide below.

Dignity - 'the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.'

This is a touchstone for the paper he writes for. Now, he might not necessarily have any say or interest in the paper's editorial line, and we all have to earn our money in whatever way we can, sometimes. However, let's not forget the Daily Mail appears to many to be a borderline-racist, misogynistic paper, fuelled by ignorance and house prices. But, in reference to the definition of the above, it's also fair to argue that anyone supporting the business is not worthy of honour or respect.

Also, if we're talking about being worthy of respect, then click this link and admire the skinny tie. Dignity.

Logic - 'reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity.'

In his Ash Wednesday column, a column name that screams dignity, of 13 November, Neil Ashton declares that he will go on to defend divers. We might, then, logically expect that the rest of the column would be a defence of divers. Using Dennis Bergkamp's argument that exaggeration of contact is necessary to be awarded fouls that the referee otherwise wouldn't give, he also brings Ashley Young into the mix. We were excited to see Neil Ashton use this statement from Bergkamp to argue that Young should dive, because otherwise he wouldn't get the fouls that referees otherwise wouldn't spot. But no.

Apparently, because Pablo Zabaleta fouled him with a crunching tackle in the Manchester derby in April, and the foul was given, he should dive when there is minimal contact. That's Ashton's argument. Let's try again. As some referees miss slight fouls, Ashley Young should dive because when he was badly fouled, the referee punished the offender. That really is it.

That's not logic, that's barely cogent thought.

Fact - 'a thing that is known or proved to be true.'

Here is Neil Ashton complaining about a flare being thrown at a linesman as Aston Villa played Spurs, invoking the obviously terrible death of a fan at the hands of a flare 20 years ago. Here is the report pointing out that the flare - that Ashton complains burns at 1600 degrees - is a smoke bomb, which doesn't burn at 1600 degrees. Still, don't let facts get in the way of making an utterly tedious argument aimed at reducing football to a joyless, eventless spectacle for those going to games, and don't let exploiting a man's death stop you getting on your high horse, Neil.

Research - 'the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.'

Here is Neil Ashton stating that 'nobody wins the title with a string of streaky 1-0 victories'. Now, if Neil-o had done his research, or even used his brain to remember the sport he's paid to be knowledgeable about, he might have conjured up Manchester United's 2008-09 season when they won, er, the title with ten 1-0 victories. Or he might have remembered Manchester United's 1995-96 season when they won, er, the title with eight 1-0 victories, a season famous for the string of streaky 1-0 victories earned by Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona.

Schadenfreude - 'pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.'

Here is Neil Ashton waxing hysterical about Gareth Bale failing at Real Madrid, despite admitting he was carrying an injury, and ignoring any other mitigating circumstances, like his lack of pre-season, the fact (there's that word again) he'd only played six games, or that it was only October. Here is a report of Gareth Bale's hat-trick. You can enjoy schadenfreude at Neil's expense now.

Bullshit - 'stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense'

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