Mails: Don’t fall for the anti-Arsenal agenda…

Date published: Wednesday 20th June 2018 1:27

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The conspiracy has begun
Sorry to turn attention away from the World Cup but I notice the media vultures are already out claiming Arsenal fans are devided over Emery after Jack’s (own) decision to leave.

Fellow Gooners, do not rise to the bait. Everything seems positive right now.
Chris, Croydon


Why we look for negativity
Really enjoyed John Nicholson’s article on the social ills of current British Society, as viewed through the lens of English Football and the spectrum of reaction thereto. Emphatically concurring on all points, which is unusual for me with John Nicholson.

I enjoy his writing and points of view, even if he is sometimes a bit more liberal than I might sway. I am just a bit less of a nice person than John, basically. I often find myself nodding in agreement with his writing and never disagree, but then get to a point that it’s all a bit too nice.

I’m into meritocracy, and prefer to offer my respect and support to people based on who they are, rather than a notion of who I would like them to be. Or who they tell me they are / I am, for that matter! And if some group of people or person, demands favour from me without meeting my basic humanist requirements of courtesy and politeness to all, regardless of whether they are male, female, or of a particular racial or religious grouping, then they can f*ck off.

Not in discriminatory way, in a human, basal sort of manner. However they want to take it, I don’t care. As long as they f*ck off quickly.

In Twitter speak, John Nicholson is Good. I am a sweltering pustule of misogynistic, homophobic, Nazi detritus. #detritus

Okay. All nicely boxed off and categorised now, no thinking required!

The thing I wanted to add is that…

The anger of those who give, towards those who take, is only as prevailent in our society today as it has always been. It is as justified as ever, no argument there. That is, in my view, a third of the issue at play.

The second element, as John also identifies, is that extremity of view, especially negative, black / white vitriol and bile – is a sure way to get popular, sadly. Negativity is easier to justify with a lack of logical evidence…

“Aaaargh, I’m just so angry because it’s horrid! Ugh… If you can’t see that, then you’re a….”

Being positive or nuanced about stuff that other people are griping about is harder, because you, or at least I, always feel the need to justify my opinions with some logical thought. Or, at least an explanation of some sort that doesn’t involve capital letters and insults.

Although, there is always the chance a ‘conversation’ might end in a cheeky ‘f*ck off’, as described previously.

The third element I believe is present, is not mentioned by John. This is the part about life that I think he and I differ on, at its core. Maybe this is where the left(ish) categories of Teeside Liberal Vs Mancunian Libertarian part ways a little.

I think everyone has it too bloody easy these days. Most of us have got too much food, too much booze, too many TVs, too many cars, too much free education, too much healthcare, too much housing and central heating, too many phones and i-pads – to really ever understand what true poverty is.

Most of us have no idea what it is like to genuinely not have what we need to have safe, happy lives. All we know is how it feels when you want more. We want what the people we see on our flat screen TVs, and who’s Tweets we read on our touchscreen tablets have got.

We live now, in Britain, in the fairest, wealthiest and most egalitarian culture that has ever existed, on the face of the Earth. You might rile at that, but I challenge you to name me a better one, geographically or temporally. Be honest…

I don’t mean that everybody has it easy, that would be bollocks. I certainly haven’t always had it easy myself, and I don’t mean the whole planet is perfect. I am not saying Britain can’t do any better either, in many respects mentioned above.

I am saying though, that most of us have it way too easy. Most people don’t have a genuine cause to fight for any more, no raison d’etre beyond the ‘work, eat, drink, shag (hopefully), sleep’ cycle of perpetual modernity.

So, people invent reasons to express negativity. They search for them. And they unleash waves of nasty, illogical, animalistic fury at the false injustices that they find. Humans are made with fight in them, and when they have nothing to fight for, they cause the fight themselves, just to feel alive.

I’m not saying all injustices are false. Just most of them.

You don’t have to agree with me, it’s cool. Depending on your response however, I might just tell you to f*ck off.

And that is why.

Ben, Ingurlund, Manchester


Johnny is spot on. As a follower of the Irish national team, high points don’t come around too often. The best we get is beating minnows, trying to get good results from the ”mid table” International sides and hoping for miracles against the elites. That said, my support for the side has never wavered.

Why is this? Because international football is different. You can choose your club but not where you come from. So when I see 11 players in green, no matter how limited, trying to win a game for Ireland I feel proud of them. Under Trappatoni and at times under the current management, it can be tough to watch and I rememeber arguing with certain fans that if they didn’t like what they were watching they should switch off the TV. Their bile and anger was nothing but unhelpful. Now while England and Ireland are vastly different in terms of investment in football, the fact is, no players from any country want to play badly, they don’t want to lose, and in England’s case, they certainly don’t want to be lambasted by the frankly disgusting British tabloid press regardless of what they do. In fact, were I Harry Kane I’d be calling up the Daily Mail to say’ you can stuff your approval up your arses’.

In club football, teams can spunk shit loads of money on a player who turns out to be a failure, but this is not the case at international level. Players want to win and if they are doing their best then what more can you ask for? Kevin Kilbane is one of my favourite players and an Irish legend because he played 100 and odd times for Ireland in various positions and ran himself into the ground every time. Did we focus on what he couldn’t do? No, because that would be pointless. Our squad was limited and he was the best option. My rambling point is if the red tops and these toxic fans spent 50% of their current output actually focusing on positives and offering constructive criticism, England could be an awful lot better.
Alan, Irishman in Córdoba.


What do you expect?
Oh goody, it’s that time again when we get to listen to bitter Scots, Irish and Welsh moaning about media coverage of the England team. Next it will be moaning about the arrogance of the fans in daring to get carried away and dreaming of winning the trophy – and maybe even (shock horror) invoking memories of 1966.

Liam, a totally unbiased Scotsman in this morning’s mailbox, seems enraged by the fact that our national broadcasters seem to be preoccupied with the England game. I’d like to ask him what he thinks the press/TV coverage will be like in the other nations that are competing in the World Cup? Will they just report on their own countries games as though they were any other game between two random countries? Or will they too be analysing, replaying and discussing the events from their own team’s game in a disproportionate fashion? My guess is that it’s much the same everywhere. And whilst I accept that things are a little different here because our national broadcaster is also that of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is the fact that none of the other home nations have qualified – go figure. If Scotland or Wales had qualified and England hadn’t then I’m sure there would be loads about them on our TVs at the moment. I remember back in ’94 there being shedloads of stuff about Ireland on TV in the absence of England qualifying for the finals – and what’s more most of us Englishers were completely on board with that.

As to the second point – the inevitable moans about the arrogance of England fans in constantly referencing 1966 and daring to dream of reaching the latter stages of the tournament – well here’s the thing. None of us really, truly, in our heart of hearts, think that we’re going to win this thing – BUT it’s a cup competition and as such there is the tiniest sliver of hope, and what is wrong with clinging onto that and running with it for a heady couple of weeks (hopefully more)? You don’t enter a lottery expecting to win but you hope you might, and if Leicester can win the league over a 38 game season then, verily, anything can happen. I can imagine the 1966 thing grates a little, but come on, if Scotland were to win the World Cup it would still be being repeated on BBC Alba for the next couple of hundred years.

I’m sorry lads, it just comes across as bitterness – just suck it up and have a good old giggle in a couple of weeks when we come crashing back to reality.
Big Norm – Non Flag-waving, Anti-Brexit, Un-jingoistic Englishman.


…I’m in the same position and Liam. Scottish, but certainly not an ABE. This England team is very likable and although I wasn’t jumping up and down and cheering for them, I was hoping they would do well.

Where I would disagree with Liam is about coverage. Yes, the English media talk a lot about England, but that is because they are English! I don’t think it’s a problem to talk about the national team the day after a match! (besides, try doing a 30 minute preview of Japan v Colombia. Not easy).

I’ve heard this argument from many fellow Scots before, but it’s nonsense. Are we honestly saying that Scottish media wouldn’t talk about Scotland the day after the match? Or Irish media woudln’t talk about the Irish team. All other countries are the same!

Do we really think Brazilian media were doing an in depth preview of Poland v Senegal, rather than discussing Neymar and co? Or that Egyptian coverage was doing analysis of Sweden v South Korea rather than speculating on Salah’s shoulder? If anything, other nations are worse than England and are far more obsessed with their national team. My parents lived in Spain for a couple of years and when Nadal got knocked out of certain tennis events, they didn’t even bother showing the rest of the tournament!

Yes, there are other home nations watching in the UK but we didn’t qualify and England did. Liam might want more analysis of Poland than England but I guarantee that 90% of the watching public don’t and they’ve every right to feel that way.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


…Just so the British media don’t make the heinous mistake again, can Liam please elaborate on the extra attention that our national broadcaster is allowed to pay to one of our national teams that generated so much national interest that it was the most watch event on TV this year by a country mile, with approximately a third of all Britons watching it?

He says that the BBC is the broadcaster for four countries, so are the English entitled to a quarter of the excitement? Or, given that based on rough populations, the English account for about 84% of the audience, are we allowed 84% of the amount of coverage that, say for example, France Télévisions give to their team? Should they spend the remaining 16% finding out what the Scotland team are up to on their summer holidays?

Liam may not like the England team, as is his right, but the BBC and ITV are perfectly entitled to give England a bit of extra attention the day after they play in the world cup. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our national broadcaster getting on board with the excitement. Its not some sort of arrogant over indulgence or England thinking they’re the best team in the world – it is a national broadcaster giving a bit of extra attention to one of their national teams.

Maybe some fans in other countries can give comparative examples, but I’d wager that, for example, TV Perú are giving Peru just a smidge more attention than the other teams at the world cup and that is as it should be!


…Is Liam being serious? Of course the BBC and ITV are going to focus on news and reaction from the England team, because they know that the majority of people watching the show are going to be interested in this.

But the key thing is, this is not something which only happens in England.

Here in Switzerland, the coverage of pretty much every match prior to Sunday had some report about the upcoming match with Brazil. They even had a guy reporting from an empty stadium more than 24hrs before kick-off! And afterwards there was lots of reflection on the match, during the coverage for other games. And I imagine if you were to watch TV in France, Costa Rica or any of the 32 teams taking part, it would be the same.

I’m loving watching all the matches, but I really don’t need a 1 hour build up dedicated solely to Poland vs. Senegal. A bit of news or reaction about England (or Switzerland) isn’t going to spoil my enjoyment the coverage.
Michael, Basel


…Regarding Liam’s email from this mornings mailbox (hope this is early enough for the afternoon one!) I was struck by hearing the usual complaints about the ‘England England’ approach in the media.

I fully agree with the sentiment, including how tedious it is when there are so many genuinely interesting stories that could fill the half hour before a game which are ignored in favour of more of the same boring things that come up time and time again.

This is also reflected in the press which I imagine will give more column space today to analysing and discussing England’s day off from training than the matches taking place today.

My question however is is this different in other nations? If you watched Japan-Colombia yesterday in Portugal would you see a focus on the match or more analysis on Ronaldo’s quest for the golden boot and hype? Similarly, how much of todays football coverage in Brazil will be hyper focused on Neymars injury rather than the games?

I personally haven’t got much experience or knowledge to say either way, but there are so many things to attack the English media over (much of which was covered in the excellent Mediawatch special on Harry Kane), that the amount of time spent on England by TV pundits before a match seems to be one of the smaller issues we currently have and a harsh reason to be against the players.
Ben (Slightly dread the media reaction if England do win a World Cup mind you)


‘Relatively’ unpretentious
I don’t want to side with the Daily Mail here – but Harry Kane earns roughly 300 times more a year than me yet his house is only 7 times more expensive. If defining pretentious as ‘attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed’, then that makes him 40 times less pretentious than me, and presumably many other F365 readers. I don’t think the qualifying word ‘relatively’ is even necessary.


VAR – it’s reffing brilliant
Being from a country which isn’t blessed to have an international team capable of much globally (although regionally they’re doing fairly well), I have a deeply ingrained disdain for international football seeing as I’m left out. Even so, I’m enjoying this World Cup like I did the last one and the one before that. I’m especially enjoying the implementation of VAR and the consequent rustling of jimmies. Mark Lawrenson, in particular, has been a pleasure to listen to.

A lot has already been said here and elsewhere about the system and I think there is general consensus that it is an imperfect system. The question therefore seems to be whether it is worth continuing down this path. To that, I believe, the answer should be a resounding ‘Yes!’. Those glancing warily at the always present slippery slope into madness seem to disregard the possibility that we could work the chinks out along the way and streamline the system to better suit the needs. As ever, in our jittery, on-edge world, chaos seems far closer than tranquility.

What I particularly like about the system is the fact that it allows referees to entertain the notion that they got a decision wrong. Although it is by no means an easy job, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the notion of the referee’s/umpire’s word being final. If sport is portray the healthy competitive environment we would want in daily life, I find it weird that such an idea could ever be entertained. Of course, the system also allows a referee to have another look and reaffirm his original decision. This seemed to annoy some. However, the system doesn’t guarantee that the final outcome of the review process will be universally acceptable. By design, it is meant to assist referees in making difficult important decisions. I may still disagree with the ‘wanker in the black’ but he’s a bit less of a wanker in my eyes given that his decision is now based on better information. I feel reassured that his decision has been made on some solid basis rather than what he thought he saw over the course of a nanosecond.

The other issue which has left everyone hemming and hawing concerns the interpretation of the term “game-changing situation”. Broadly, these have been defined as periods of play leading to goals, penalties or red cards. However, when such periods of play begin an end is ambiguous and may always remain so. Given the fluid and end to end nature of football, a player losing the ball to an overlooked illegal challenge in his attacking third might result in his team conceding a goal to a counter-attack. Whether such an incident is considered worth reviewing is unclear to me. I suspect that this is where the referees’ decision making skills are expected to kick in. However, this seems antithetical to VAR’s goal of reducing arbitrariness and errors in judgment. Perhaps a solution to this would be to introduce an appeal system whereby each team captain is given a certain number of appeals which his team would retain in the event that the appeal results in a change of decision. This too is no doubt riddled with loopholes but placing the responsibility of reviewing a decision with the teams might be interesting.

Even with this ambiguity, however, I find it hard to buy the argument that VAR might ruin the game. At worst, the wrong decision that would have been made even without VAR being used gets upheld. At best, a potentially game-changing error is rectified. Those who are uncomfortable with VAR are uncomfortable with the fact that the diving, cheating, elbowy bastards they cheer on every weekend might no longer get away with their shithousery. It’s a new world. A fairer one. And the thugs hate it, which makes me love it even more. Long live VAR!
Pranav, AFC

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