Mediawatch: Headlines, lessons, Merson and…

Date published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 1:16

Paul Merson Football365

Also, does the need for a rhyming headline really surpass the sensitivity of such a serious story? Does everything have to have a snappy, catchy, funny headline in the world of The Sun?

 

Blame football
While we’re on the subject, Mediawatch has to question some of the reporting surrounding the Adam Johnson case. Headlines such as ‘Adam Johnson admitted his arrogance – but football must shoulder some of the blame’, for example. Or ‘Disgraced winger is a symbol of football’s arrogance and excess’. A reminder that over 500 players have featured in the Premier League this season. Just one has been found guilty of a child sex offence.

‘But when your club keeps you on a £3million-a-year salary right up to a trial of such seriousness, is there any wonder? This detachment from reality, this assumption that the world exists to serve their every need, is prevalent in too many players,’ wrote one journalist.

To repeat: Many footballers get paid a lot of money. This does not mean there is a direct correlation between that and abusing a 15-year-old.

The difference is not that Johnson’s wage packet was larger than that of the average person, but that he lacked the moral fibre, decency and humanity befitting of most people. That is the fault of the individual, not the game. Would those criticising football’s role in the case recommend that players are paid less just in case it happens again? It does not always have to be football’s fault.

 

Let the The Sun shine
You might not have heard, but The Sun had a ‘world exclusive’ on Wednesday. Alan Nixon reported that executives from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United ‘held secret talks about a new European Super League’ on Tuesday. Such claims were subsequently rubbished within hours by representatives of the clubs and The Sun’s media colleagues alike. Normality was restored.

Not that you would guess as such if you read Thursday’s edition of the newspaper. ‘Angry Prem clubs are ready to ambush the “Big Five” over their secret talks to reshape European football,’ writes Dan King on the back page. ‘SunSport’s stunning revelation of the clandestine London meeting between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and US businessmen caused outrage among teams being left out.’

To repeat, the meeting was hardly ‘clandestine’. Photos showed those present at the meeting leaving through the front door of the Dorchester Hotel, less than a mile from Premier League headquarters. They did not sneak out via the back door of a secret location.

The story leads to a two-page spread within. ‘The denials came, as they were always going to, but they were far from convincing,’ King begins. He discusses the ‘inconsistent’ and ‘contradictory’ explanations from the club’s involved. Contradictions such as King reporting that ‘American moneyman’ Stephen Ross was present at the meeting, despite Sky journalist Paul Kelso confirming on Wednesday he did not attend.

‘Some clubs admitted talks about transforming the Champions League were on the agenda,’ writes King. Their identities are not disclosed.

‘Others insisted they had only met to discuss the International Champions Cup,’ writes King. Their identities are not disclosed.

‘Given no option, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City conceded SunSport was right to report their secret meeting,’ writes King. Such concessions are not disclosed.

‘SunSport made it clear the plans put forward were about the possibility of a breakaway European competition. Yet the clubs focused on insisting they had no interest in leaving the Premier League.’

Which is a strange claim, because an Arsenal spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We are strongly opposed to any breakaway. Not Arsenal, nor any clubs at the meeting, are seeking changes to the Premier League and European landscape and no conversations surrounding displacing the Premier League or starting a European Super League took place.”

 

Climb down
To the side of Dan King’s piece is an article headlined ‘Gunners admit to summit’.

‘Arsenal have owned up to holding top secret talks about the future of European football,’ writes Mark Irwin.

This is quite the climb down, given that on Wednesday the five executives ‘held secret talks about a new European Super League’.

By Friday, will it just be a chat about their plans at the weekend? Sorry, a ‘top secret chat’.

 

Lessons learned
Learning things is a difficult art to master. Just ask the Daily Mirror. They required eight journalists to learn ten things from the Premier League’s midweek games. It’s school time.

First, Anthony Clavane has learned that Norwich ‘are in deep trouble’. Was it the run of seven defeats in their last eight Premier League games that gave it away? ‘The trap door is opening for Alex Neil’s side,’ Clavane adds of the Canaries, who have never been more than six points above the relegation zone.

In a similar vein, Simon Bird has learned that Newcastle are starting to ‘look doomed’. Steve McClaren’s side have spent 18 weeks in the relegation zone. Only Aston Villa and Sunderland have been in the bottom three for longer. Did it take a 15th defeat of the league season to learn they were in trouble?

Simon Bird then tells us that Fabio Borini could be crucial in Sunderland’s fight for survival, but that the Italian ‘can’t seem to get a starting spot’. He has started six of Sunderland’s last nine games.

Finally, David Anderson learned that Aston Villa fans staged a protest during their defeat to Everton on Tuesday. ‘Learned’ continues to act as a synonym for ‘saw’.

 

The magic man

Said Paul Merson to Sky Sports on Tuesday: “Swansea are probably the perfect team for Arsenal to play this week.”

Arsenal subsequently lose 2-1 at home to Swansea.

Said Merson on Tuesday: “Liverpool will be so devastated at the manner of the defeat at Wembley. This is a game for the mind and the fitness of the players – Sunday will have taken more out of the losing team than the winning team.”

Liverpool subsequently beat Manchester City 3-0. Magic.

 

Expert ease

a) Does one really have to be an expert to make such a claim?

b) How does one become an ‘expert’ in sex offending footballers?

c) Can a ‘sports marketing consultant’ be described as an expert in this case?

 

Headline of the day
‘WHERE’S WILLY?’ – The Sun.

 

Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on Arsenal.

Richard Jolly on Mauricio Pochettino.

Andy Donley on the non-league scene in Manchester.

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