Piss-Poor Journalism Prompts Passionate Riposte

Arsenal fans are more than accustomed to biased outpourings from the nations scribes. Even Ol’ Big Head himself – Brian Clough – confirmed that most people can’t abide the team in red and white. Why? That is an answer for another article. What is abundantly clear is that the torrent of stories in the papers and websites that highlight in an unfavourable way Arsenal’s shortcomings show no sign of abating.

This article is a reaction, pure and simple. A response to yet another collection of words assembled hastily in an attempt to get the hordes of Gooners reading this pile of garbage and therefore, gaining more clicks to the site and attention to the writer. The piece in question can be found in The Metro. I realise that this isn’t exactly the most reliable of sources nor does it hold any sense of journalistic gravitas. What it does do well, is distribute articles that have no foundation in reality and feed brazenly upon outraged fan kickback.

The man responsible for feeding the Metro hyperbole machine is none other than Sky Sports La Liga correspondent and spittle-distributor Guillem Balague.

Normally I am impervious to his pious dribblings and claims to have insider sources. Hanging around next to the bins at La Masia waiting in vain for a member of staff to quiz does not amount to having insider knowledge Guillem. This article that has spewed forth from his festering brain does nothing more than capitalise on the quite frankly dire result Vs Monaco and the soul-searching from the Gooners that were left shellshocked by the midweek mauling. The headline is designed to lure Arsenal fans from their darkened rooms and onto their keyboards, disseminating their indignation across the world wide web. Much like I am doing now.

” Arsenal is becoming a graveyard for players ” is aimed at the ‘underperforming ‘ Mesut Ozil and his off-colour display in the Champions League. Never mind that the whole team let the badge and the Manager down. Never mind that since his return from a three month layoff he has registered 3 goals and 2 assists in his last seven. To decree that Arsenal is where players go to die is completely unfounded. It also ignores Alexis Sanchez and his ethereal displays since joining us. A player who has shown what he is capable of if allowed a continuous run of games. Arguably one of the Premiership’s leading lights up to this point – how can anyone say that the wondrous Chilean has moved to The Emirates to enjoy a spot of pipe and slippers?

Can Balague point to an instant where a player has decided to join Arsenal’s ranks simply to collect a cheque? A la Chelsea and the huge number of players currently on loan? Every player has joined Wenger’s team because they are in synch with  the footballing philosophy. So the sentence is purely designed for fan reaction as it has no grounds in evidence.

What about the line regarding our top players AGAIN wanting to leave this summer? If Ozil wanted to leave Arsenal this summer – could we blame him? Receiving criticism from all corners, he is not exactly appreciated. Seeing as he produces just as much effort as he did during his time at Real yet still is labelled a waste of money, then no one could act surprised if we found his agent schmoozing with Bayern officials. The sentence though, is harking back to those dark days when the debt from constructing The Emirates stadium was so constricting, that Wenger was forced to sell his leading lights – often to direct rivals. Even when the debt did not force his hand and it was a simple case of a player thinking the pitch was greener elsewhere – the exodus of top players gave Arsenal a label of a selling club. For the last few seasons however, the Gunners have kept their top personnel and added world class talent. Maybe not in the areas that were needed most, but the tag of being a selling club was well and truly destroyed. So, with Balague saying that another exodus this summer is to be expected – he is implying that Arsenal have continued to sell their top stars over the last few seasons and that he has information gleaned from officials at the club which categorically state that luminaries of the squad will be leaving Colney.

Absolute claptrap. He is once more inserting his gnarled finger into a very open wound. Fans always fear the worst and upon reading this part of the article – the very fear that has been bred from pieces such as this will be responsible for clicking upon the link and reading this hogwash. It is a method that is becoming more and  more prevalent as news switches to the web rather than more tangible sources. Clicks are required and nothing brings home the bacon more effectively than a story that is a miasma of worry and desperation. Seeing as Arsenal are the team that has the most amount of fans on social media in the UK and you have a recipe that is sure to keep editors happy ad infinitum.

Balague has written a piece that touches upon a raw nerve and timed it so it coincided with the horrific Monaco game. You cannot blame the Spaniard for writing it to a degree, as if it wasn’t him, then some other hack would’ve taken the mantle of scaremonger.

For a man in the journalistic field to produce something of this ilk is a damning testimony. It shows that we can expect this to be the standard fare. Criticism is just for Arsenal at this point. After 17 consecutive years dining at the finest European table, surely lessons must have been learned. Experience was bereft during the second half of that match as the players went hell for leather to claim an equaliser. It deserves to be highlighted. Arsenal have disappointed in the Champions League for too long. I would expect to read stories that shine a light on why our tactical failings come to the fore every season.

What I don’t appreciate is writers who should know better, essentially pouring petrol on fire. Do these writers need the attention that badly that they have to resort to these tactics? Or is it an editorial demand to hit Arsenal where it hurts repeatedly?

Criticism where it is due is expected and fair. Attaching unfair labels and unfounded rumours is not. This article should be consigned to every bulletin board in media offices around the world and used as a prime example of how to tarnish writing integrity.  A shocking example of a writer bowing to demand and also a testament on where sports writing is headed.

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