Clutching at straw men
In his column in The Sun, Ian Wright is very angry at Arsenal supporters. Very angry indeed.
‘Two years ago Arsenal lifted the FA Cup and it was seen as the saving grace for Arsene Wenger,’ Wright begins. ‘Now it’s being used as a stick to beat him with – almost viewed as an “also-ran” competition not worthy of even winning.
‘That, in my book, is the most ridiculous insult for a competition which still deserves its place as the best in football. If the Gunners win tonight’s fifth-round replay at Hull, they will be just three wins away from lifting a third successive FA Cup.
‘That would be a fantastic achievement — something that’s not been done since Blackburn Rovers did the ‘treble’ 130 years ago! So don’t start using the competition as some sort of insult just because Arsenal are messing up in the league.’
That’s all lovely, but has anyone actually seen or heard any Arsenal fans criticising the club for potentially winning three consecutive FA Cups? Every supporter Mediawatch has seen is happy to win the cup (obviously), but – quite rightly – doesn’t see the cup as sufficient to relieve the pressure on Wenger.
Or, as Wright himself writes: ‘Look, I totally understand where fans are coming from with their frustration at constantly tripping over in the title race. I certainly didn’t envisage them turning in some of the pitiful performances we’ve seen. So yes, Gunners fans have got good grounds to be raging. But don’t take that out on the FA Cup.’
Which they aren’t, Wrighty. It is an argument manufactured almost entirely of straw man parts.
— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) March 8, 2016
Mediawatch wishes that the Metro weren’t perfectly aware of what Wenger meant but, y’know, Metro.
Hello, can you hear me?
It’s 10.05am on Wednesday, and according to MailOnline the biggest football story concerns Manchester United. Has Wayne Rooney suffered an injury setback? Has David de Gea said he’s off? Has Ed Woodward managed to tie both of his laces? No, no and course not.
Sit down for this: Some Manchester United players went to an Adele concert.
Or, in MailOnline’s world, ‘Manchester United stars put their West Bromwich Albion heartache behind them as they head to watch Adele in concert’.
Roll on the weekend.
The MailOnline’s scoop on Manchester United and Adele also contains a bizarre segment on Hull manager Steve Bruce:
‘P.S. Should you be there, Steve? – Hull City manager Steve Bruce was in town for the Adele gig, but he has a 7pm kick-off against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Tuesday. The Tigers will hope the time off does him good ahead of the key fifth-round replay.’
The concert was on Monday evening, 24 hours before Hull’s game against Arsenal. We suspect he’ll get back in time.
‘Most supporters believe that Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool bosses DID hold clandestine talks about a breakaway European super league,’ reads the story in The Sun. Yes, they’re still doing this.
Amazingly, The Sun’s first question in their survey of 582 adults was ‘What do you think they met to discuss?’
Given that only 25% of those fans surveys answered ‘Don’t know’, are we to assume that the other 75% do actually know? Were they present at the Dorchester Hotel and saw the meeting? If that’s the case, how come that sure 75% were split between three different reasons? Arrive at different times, did they?
Or, and bear with us here, do you think that they might have remembered the biggest-selling newspaper in the country saying that they met to discuss a European Super League? Confirmation bias is alive and well.
Finally, Mediawatch has to applaud the following, surely a contender for the most loaded question in YouGov history:
‘And do you think this meeting was mainly about?
a) The big five clubs maximising their own profits
b) The broader good of football in England
c) Don’t know
Oddly, fewer people didn’t know this time. They must have left the hotel part way through the meeting.
Mediawatch’s Monday job on Harry Redknapp could be loosely filed under ‘too thorough’, but we had to add one final jab at everybody’s least favourite rent-a-quote. Okay, apart from Savage.
‘Vardy has also been fantastic but is he a sexy enough name for one of the Big Five? They will probably go for someone from Spain, Uruguay or Argentina who we’ve never heard of,’ you may remember Harry ‘writing’ in his Daily Telegraph column. ‘Leicester’s success also underlines how important recruitment is and that players in England cannot be overlooked. So many of these players, such as Vardy and Danny Drinkwater, have had to work their way up and probably suffered many knockbacks over the years.’
Mediawatch was reminded later on Monday that on August 30, 2014, Englishman Danny Simpson was sold by Queens Park Rangers. QPR had signed Chilean Mauricio Isla on loan as his replacement, and thus Simpson was allowed to leave for a nominal fee. Simpson was sold to Leicester City, where he now sits on top of the Premier League.
The manager who sold him? We’re just surprised he didn’t try and take credit for toughening Simpson up with the ‘knockback’.
McClaren has not taken training. Arrived at training ground and left again pretty much straight away #nufc
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) March 8, 2016
Ok so McClaren is still at the training ground. Sorry. I'm not saying anything more until he's gone #nufc
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) March 8, 2016
Turns out a car can leave without its owner. Clue: Someone else was driving.
There are plenty of available reasons to have a pop at Arsene Wenger’s management but, somehow, we think the Daily Mirror’s Dave Kidd might have ballsed one of them up slightly.
‘Coquelin excelled during the second half of last season, helping the Gunners qualify for the Champions League and retain the FA Cup, and so Wenger decided not to buy a world-class holding midfielder last summer,’ Kidd begins.
‘This may have seemed like laudable loyalty. Yet in Saturday’s North London derby, Coquelin showed why Wenger might not have rated him too highly 16 months ago, as his brainless second yellow card cost Arsenal a crucial victory.’
Yes, that’s probably all fair.
‘Excessive loyalty to players who are not quite top-drawer was never a trait of Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough nor Bob Paisley. It is a defining trait of Wenger.’
Erm… what? The following is a list of players with more than 50 Premier League appearances for Manchester United: Tom Cleverley, Quinton Fortune, Anderson, Jonny Evans, Park Ji-Sung, Wes Brown and John O’Shea. All useful players at a point in time, as with Coquelin, but top-drawer? Not quite.
‘The moment Leicester stars are REFUSED entry to nightclub… but Tottenham players walk straight in,’ reads the top story on The Sun’s football website. To repeat, that’s the top story on Tuesday lunchtime. Poor YouGov.
‘Amazing pictures as table-toppers are turned away but rivals are given VIP treatment at London hot-spot,’ the tagline reads.
Quick point, guys. These pictures weren’t even ‘amazing’ when they were published by the Daily Mirror on Monday morning. They’re unlikely to still ‘amaze’ 24 hours later when you got round to doing the story.
Impossible is nothing
“We’ve come here to pull off the impossible. We know we have to score twice and it won’t be easy, but anything is possible” – Roma midfielder Diego Pedretti.
Mediawatch has a headache.
Questioning our own existence
‘Who will be promoted to the PL and why?’ – Sky Sports News HQ.
Think it’s something to do with points, and then there’s a play-offs system.
Trade Descriptions Act of the day
‘On-loan Chelsea star Hector, 23, said…’ – The Sun.
Chelsea star? Shall we not wait until he plays a minute for them before making that call?
Recommended reading of the day
Paul Hayward on Newcastle United.
Alex Stewart on a day with SkyBet.
Tom Adams on Hull vs Arsenal.
Sending thanks to Jonathan Ellis and Joey Lepere. If you see anything that belongs on this page, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘Mediawatch’ as the subject line.