‘It would be wrong to conclude that it is all positivity’ for Mason Greenwood in Getafe, but honestly it sounds lovely. Mike Keegan sees only one problem.
Mediawatch much – much – preferred when Mike Keegan was sent to Wing’s Chinese restaurant in Manchester to write about ‘cylinders of joy’ in the name of sports journalism than him packing his bags and jetting off to the outskirts of Madrid in preparation for what could be Mason Greenwood’s Getafe debut.
In fairness to Keegan, he doesn’t exactly skirt around the issue. He addresses ‘the harrowing audio and images’ we have all heard and seen. He talks about the withdrawn ‘charges of attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and controlling and coercive behaviour’. He does make reference to the important aspects of this difficult story. This is no basic puff piece – at least not initially.
The headline is typically wordy nonsense, including a bit about how Greenwood is ‘still on Premier League wages’ as if that is news to absolutely anyone whatsoever. It turns out he’s not taken a pay cut to go out on loan.
But beyond questions about why a newspaper felt the need to legitimise this particular transfer by sending one of their journalists on a jolly to Spain (will someone be dispatched to Granada to keep up with Alvaro Fernandez, or to Fenerbahce to see how Fred is settling in?), there are aspects of this article which require much deeper examination.
Like Keegan writing: ‘While the optics outside of Spain may not be great, the immediate focus in the country is on what Greenwood can do on the pitch.’
‘Optics’ is pretty much always a bad term to use but in this context it is downright awful.
‘It is thought that while there was a recognition of the baggage Greenwood brings, football rationale was forefront in the thinking behind the move,’ he adds. You don’t say?
In fact, there is barely any scrutiny whatsoever from Keegan of Getafe’s part in this, just talk of ‘Masonmania’, the club’s new English language Twitter account, record shirt sales, the fact ‘there appears to be little dissent and the prospect of any protest is unlikely,’ and a completely unchallenged quote from ‘one Madrid-based executive explained’ about how this is all fine because “Greenwood was not found guilty”.
‘Getafe have pulled out all the stops. Greenwood and his family have been welcomed with open arms. They have dined with the president in a high-end steak restaurant,’ and ‘nothing is too much trouble,’ Keegan says.
He goes on to describe Getafe as ‘well-run from a tiny staff’ with a ‘straightforward down-to-earth and honest’ president and owner, with the capture of Greenwood ‘being seen as something of a coup’.
Great lads, Getafe. Down-to-earth and honest. Love what they’re doing down there.
It also comes at a time when LaLiga has been hurt by the departure of players abroad.
Oh well fair enough then. All is forgotten when the void of Karim Benzema needs to be filled.
‘For Mason and his family it has been a breath of fresh air,’ a friend, who claimed the player had ‘seriously matured’, explained.
All of a sudden it feels as though any pretence of Keegan holding anyone or anything to account has been dropped. One of Greenwood’s mates says everything is rosy so let’s crack on.
Greenwood’s ‘friend’ – a completely fair source for an unbiased journalist to quote, of course – continues:
‘The fear he had in the UK is not there anymore. It’s early, but he can’t believe how well it has gone so far.’
Oh we’ll bloody bet. And the fear he had? Good lord.
Back to Keegan’s own words now:
The view at Old Trafford is that Greenwood remains their player, has not been found guilty of any offences and they have a responsibility to ensure he can restart his career, albeit away from Manchester.
The view everywhere is that Greenwood has also not been found innocent, which does need pointing out at the very least in the interests of fairness.
There is a mention of how Greenwood’s partner has been ‘taken in by the WAGs’ because of sodding course.
But the closest Keegan gets to painting this situation in a negative light is when he discusses… the impact it has had on the media.
At the unveiling, questions on Greenwood’s past were dismissed. Some Spanish journalists have been angered by what they see as a shutters-down approach.
It is understood that Getafe’s players have been told not to answer questions about the subject and have been warned that they may be approached by British media.
That message appears to have been passed on to those at the stadium. When I approached the lone bank of turnstiles that serves the entire venue to ask a security guard if I could go inside to take picture I was sharply told ‘No! Closed’.
There truly is nothing that irks a journalist more than the denial of access. How dare Getafe not let some random bloke into the stadium ‘to take picture’ on a day the stadium was shut. Who does this jumped-up security guard think he is? Does he not realise this club is supposed to be ‘well-run from a tiny staff’? Honestly.
The fact that by the end of his own article, Keegan feels the need to state ‘it would be wrong to conclude that it is all positivity’ says everything we need to know. It would, Mike. You’re right. It would also be wrong to fly out to Spain just to talk to one of Greenwood’s friends, a sympathetic executive and supporters who have been blinded by a big name from a huge club, reducing the entire thing to more than 1,700 words of what flirts dangerously close to PR. That’s broadly fine when you’re cosplaying as a food critic but in this scenario it is depressing.