Mediawatch: Arsenal set for (another) spending spree

Date published: Tuesday 21st March 2017 7:11 - Daniel Storey

Arsenal and their transparent PR
On March 7, Mediawatch truly knew Arsene Wenger was in trouble at Arsenal. That was the date on which the Daily Mirror’s John Cross turned:

‘There should be no room for such sentiment or charity in football. Wenger has relied on sentiment for too long, living off the back of his previous achievements in his glorious first ten years at the club.

‘The last ten years have represented a steady decline; we thought they were picking up again in the last three seasons but this shows they are actually further behind than ever. A two-year contract is on the table waiting to be signed. But it is surely nearly impossible to justify Wenger signing it and staying on for another term. Sadly, yet another humiliating European exit must represent the end game for Arsenal’s greatest ever manager.’

Pretty damning stuff from a man who knows Wenger more than most. Fast forward a fortnight, and another shambolic defeat (this time to West Brom), and surely Cross’ feelings haven’t changed?

Except that they have. Despite Cross writing in February that ‘Arsene Wenger is preparing to leave Arsenal at the end of the season — and make a clean break from the club’, it now seems that Wenger will stay. Cue an about turn from our man:

‘Wenger is ready to reinvent himself in order to rebuild Arsenal and his own reputation, and bring back success to the Emirates.

‘That’s the deal and the reasoning behind the discussions over a new two-year contract. Make no mistake. Wenger has made his decision clear that he wants to stay and, even at 67 and after years of stubbornness, he believes he can rediscover his glory years.

‘There will be a major shake-up of the squad, big changes behind the scenes – they want a new Academy director and in the longer term a director of football – and an expectation of Wenger being able to take the club “to the next level.” That has become the buzz phrase around the place despite the prospect of losing star duo Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil this summer.’

From ‘impossible to justify staying on’ and ‘must represent the end game’ to ‘ready to reinvent himself’ and ‘major shake-ups’ in two weeks. Arsenal truly have got a loyal friend in John Cross. Either that or the win over Lincoln City was better than we thought.


Like night follows day
Don’t think that this Arsenal PR surge is just about pithy buzz phrases and promises of improvement, though. Oh no. No boy. No siree.

This time Arsenal really do mean business, because they have a list of high-profile transfer targets. And you were worried about maintaining the stagnancy while losing your two best attacking players? Silly supporters. Now go buy your season tickets.

As part of his Daily Mirror PR push, John Cross writes that Arsenal are interested in *takes deep breath* Alexandre Lacazette, Kylian Mbappe, Marco Reus, Ross Barkley, Moussa Dembele, Jack Butland, Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford, Kieran Tierney and Jose Gaya. It’s not like the club have ever made similar promises via a media leak before when the chips are down.

Apart from that time in March 2016, when Cross wrote that Arsenal were targeting Victor Wanyama, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Toni Kroos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and John Stones.

And apart from that time in April 2016, when Cross added Alvaro Morata and Kostas Manolas to that list from a month previous.

And apart from that time in May 2015, when Cross wrote that Arsenal were interested in Petr Cech, Ilkay Gundogan, Yohan Cabaye, Nabil Fekir and Raheem Sterling.

And apart from that time in April 2014, when Cross wrote that Arsenal were targeting Antoine Griezmann, Mario Mandzukic and Tom Cleverley.

And apart from that time in May 2014, when Cross added Karim Benzema, Lars Bender and Morgan Schneiderlin to that list from a month previous.

And apart from that time in May 2013, when Cross wrote that Arsenal were targeting Gonzalo Higuain, Stevan Jovetic, Rene Adler, Kevin Strootman and Maxime Gonalons.

But this time it’s definitely going to happen. And definitely not a shonky attempt at appeasing supporters. Good work, Arsenal.


Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before
‘Wenger has made his decision clear that he wants to stay and, even at 67 and after years of stubbornness, he believes he can rediscover his glory years.There will be a major shake-up of the squad, big changes behind the scenes – they want a new Academy director and in the longer term a director of football – and an expectation of Wenger being able to take the club to the next level’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror, March 2017.

‘Arsene Wenger is determined to stay on as Arsenal manager – and wants to oversee a major rebuild of his squad this summer. It is likely to lead to a big clear-out at the Emirates, with boss Wenger targeting several summer buys’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror, March 2016.

‘Arsene Wenger will sign a new Arsenal contract, and is proving it by planning a huge spending spree in the summer transfer window. Wenger has left Arsenal in no doubt that he is staying because he is lining up big transfer targets as he looks to strengthen his squad for a title challenge next season’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror, April 2014.

‘Arsene Wenger will be given a huge budget to transform Arsenal back into genuine contenders next season by making summer signings’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror, May 2013.

We doubt if even poor Crossy believes it by now.


Guess the headline…
On Tuesday, Jose Mourinho was interviewed by France Football about his personality. Here are the pertinent quotes:

“Mourinho the man tries to be the opposite of what the manager is. He tries to be discreet, calm. Finds the way to disconnect. I can go home and not watch a football game or think football. I can do it. At the beginning of my career, I could not. I was constantly connected 24 hours a day.

“I had to find a form of maturity. Today, I feel good with my personality as a man. I have matured, I am more peaceful. A victory no longer represents the moon, and a defeat hell. I believe that I am able to transmit this serenity to those who work with me, to my players. I have the same ambitions as before. The same involvement, the same professionalism. But I’m more in control of my emotions.”

The headline in the Daily Mail?

‘Mourinho: Now you can call me the Peaceful One.’

Kill it. Kill it with fire.


As easy as that
‘Middlesbrough might be heading down but they could have done what Burnley did with Sean Dyche for Aitor Karanka. Keep him, let him learn from his mistakes, plan better in the Championship with parachute payments and come back stronger. Why did Steve Gibson… fall into the trap of thinking that relegated was automatically the worst thing?’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.

Because going down is worse than staying up. Because it wasn’t working. Because Karanka spent more money than Dyche did. Because Dyche is a better fit for Burnley than Karanka was at Middlesbrough. Because Middlesbrough still had a chance of staying up.

But mainly because it isn’t as easy as ‘let him learn from his mistakes in the Championship’ and because every case and every manager is different.

Just ask Norwich, who sacked Alex Neil last week after ‘letting him learn from his mistakes’. He just made more.


Harry Redknapp: Never change
Do you doubt that Harry Redknapp could try and take some credit for Chelsea’s Premier League title victory? Well then you are either an idiot or are not familiar enough with the workings of Harry Redknapp.

“I’ve played three at the back at West Ham when we finished fifth a long, long time ago,” Redknapp told The Daily Telegraph. “I went to Portsmouth and in my first year when we won the Championship, we played three at the back all season. I think it is a great way to play.

“Glenn would have played that way, I would play that way, I love the system. Now, every week, there are more teams playing three at the back. Go through the teams that have changed this year. But why does it take Conte to play three at the back for everybody to say, ‘That’s a good idea! We’ll all follow’?”

Because nobody had played it for a while in England and then Conte did and it worked really well? Nobody is saying Conte invented it, Harry. They’re saying “bloody hell, he made Chelsea look good with that. Maybe it could work for us.”

Still, Mediawatch does enjoy Redknapp’s annoyance that he and Glenn Hoddle are not getting credit now for using three at the back years ago, as if they were the first to do so. Never change, fella.


This makes us feel uneasy
The headline: ‘Manchester United now favourites to sign Yaya Toure from rivals City as he’s set to leave at end of season’

The location: The third top story on The Sun’s football homepage, intimating that it is indeed news.

The story: Yaya Toure’s odds to join Manchester United have been cut by Ladbrokes.

The quotes: From Ladbrokes News’ Dave Burin, telling people why it could happen and why they should bet on it.

Dressing up betting markets (which are controlled by bookmakers) as news in order to persuade readers to bet on something? Mediawatch is not having a bang on that.


Miss me
Southampton’s Dusan Tadic isn’t happy about being substituted by Claude Puel, and he’s brought his calculator, laptop and air conditioning unit with him.

“It’s unbelievable that I was subbed again and we also lost. You can see statistically that we concede or lose when I’ve been taken off. I don’t think this shows enough respect for me.

“I’m playing a lot and feel I’m important for the team — but then I leave the pitch. I feel good but he doesn’t want to give me the chance for the whole match. Maybe he decided before the game he would sub me and he should not do that.”

Tadic is indeed right that he has been substituted in each of the last five matches he has played, but that’s where his case falls down. “You can see statistically that we concede or lose when I’ve been taken off,” remember.

The scores in those five matches after Tadic’s withdrawal (Southampton first) were: 1-1, 2-0, 0-1, 0-1 (a game that Southampton won), 0-0. One win, two draws, two defeats.

The scores in those five matches at the time of Tadic’s departure: 0-1, 2-0, 2-2, 4-2, 1-2. Two wins one draw, two defeats.

Conclusion: It doesn’t make enough difference whether you are on or off the pitch to throw your toys out of the pram, Dusan. Especially when you are an attacking midfielder who has only created 18 chances in 15 league games since mid-October.


Scotch (red) mist
‘Fans’ fury as 3 lions play in Scottish kit,’ screams out the front (yes, front) page of the Daily Star. God bless them.

Mediawatch doesn’t want to spend much time on such manufactured hogwash, but for clarification:

‘Fans’ fury’ = Three people on Twitter, one of whom says “I’m not a Jock”.

‘Scottish kit’ = Playing in blue. A different blue to Scotland of course, but blue nonetheless.

As far as we know, the game on Wednesday will still take place amidst the fury.


Unnecessary information of the day
‘Supporters were also furious another kit was being made so soon after the last one, launched for Euro 2016. A full home kit for adults will cost more than £100’ – Daily Star.

No adult should need to know how much a full England kit will cost them.


Quote of the day
From the Football Association’s explanation of Tim Sherwood’s touchline ban at Swindon Town:

“After the half-time whistle, and as I was walking down the tunnel, Tim Sherwood of Swindon Town approached me and said ‘You’re the only f*cker in the ground that’s f*cking seen it you f*cking mug’. He then started pointing aggressively in my face.

“I told him to calm down and stop pointing at me or he would be sitting in the stands for the second half. He then continued ‘I wasn’t even in the dugout you f*cking mug and you would be doing me a favour’.

“I told him I wanted to speak to him at my dressing room but he ignored me and walked off towards the Swindon changing room. I followed him and stood outside and told the coaching staff I wanted Mr Sherwood to come outside as I needed to speak to him. After approximately 45 seconds Mr Sherwood walked out and walked past me and I informed him that he would be reported for his comments towards me. His reply was ‘f*ck off you mug’.”

The same Tim Sherwood who accused Benfica coach Jorge Jesus of “lacking class” for waving three fingers in Sherwood’s direction. What a man.


Recommended reading of the day
James Dall with a sh*thouse XI.
Santokie Nagulendra on the adventures of Daniel Ting.
David Squires on Germany v England and more.

More Related Articles