Another day at the office
Being somewhat novice to the world of research in academia I have come to learn some interesting things. For example, anecdotal evidence is great to show off in front of fellow researchers proving you know and you`ve talked to people, but not very welcome while discussing your research questions and hypotheses or when you want to publish a paper.
I`ve never been a sports journalist and I can only imagine what it`s like, especially in England. When it comes to football I imagine all football journos are under immense pressure to publish stories that will sell copies and accumulate clicks. In this everyday struggle for more audience, journos seem to be more than ready to go out on a limb on a specific issue, mainly because they know that even if they get it horribly wrong, it will quickly be forgotten and replaced by another similar story.
One needs to go no further than the summer transfer period for evidence. I read somewhere that something between 4 -8% of all published transfer stories are actually substantiated. Could you imagine that situation in scientific research? But there is something that binds together these two worlds: I have noted and written (but dare not to publish anything on it) that senior researchers, in order to reach their publication goals often contained in their contracts with their institutions, resort to 'recycling` some topics. This means that they use one good research paper several times, publish it three, four, five times over a period of as many years, only adding half a chapter here and there and changing its title/focus slightly. No consequences, since we`re talking about senior researchers who have accumulated a lot of experience and power and are able to do (almost) whatever they want. In English football journalism it is very similar: one topic gets serially raped by some 'renown` reporter names, publishing it week-in, week-out.
Unfortunately, mass media are far more read than scientific journals and these topics often flirt with the infamous Lenin quote "A lie told often enough becomes the truth". One could use words other than 'lie` to suit this case, such as 'rumour` for example.
This brings me to the real reason why I sat down to write this piece, namely Matt Law`s critique of the totalitarian regime in place at Arsenal Football Club published in today`s Express. Mr. Law`s ego has been thoroughly massaged by a number of his known and unknown followers on Twitter, some of them avid Arsenal fans, who have wholeheartedly agreed with him and his notion that Arsenal FC is run by a dictator, a deranged Hugo Chavez of modern football who has made everyone at the club follow his wrongful ways. It is good to know that, for example, people like Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini are left out because they must have created rather different type but nevertheless democratic atmosphere in their own clubs.
The line of 'arguments` offered to substantiate Law`s assertion are following:
1. Arsenal PA announcer`s lies every time he announces attendance. Empty seats can be seen therefore instead of 57,989, he says 60,000. Shameful. The fact that the same thing goes on in every ground in EPL where the industry standard is to announce tickets sold is another matter (Gazidis` words). Another fact that slipped Mr. Law`s reasoning is that at least this year Arsenal have abolished announcing attendance through the PA. Oh well.
2. Ivan Gazidis. One of the Yes-Men. Law points to IG`s statement that 'we are the model club, everybody wants to be like us`, which was given in the context of club ownership, but he cunningly uses it to demonstrate his acquaintance with irony by saying how after 7 games the leading pack consisting of two clubs bankrolled by sugar-daddy(s) and one with a massive debt courtesy (again) of its benefactor, "…are jealous of the 15th-placed Gunners". Boldrick would be proud. No Mr. Law, all clubs should aspire to be like Manchester City and Chelsea, such fine examples of 'how to build a football club`.
3. Stan Kroenke. The majority shareholder at Arsenal, known as Silent Stan, much criticized for his quiet ways on club affairs is next in the line of arguments: namely, Kroenke`s words of support for the best manager in the club`s history are interpreted as another proof of Wenger`s dominant character. AW has amassed so much power that he can make Kroenke say whatever he wants. I mean, where else have you seen or heard a chairman offer support to a manager when results have not gone the clubs way? Outrageous.
4. My favourite part: the transfer 'sagas`. Apparently Arsenal negotiated Cesc`s transfer for so long only to insert a clause in his contract. Not because the first offer was less than 30 mil. Not because there were board - manager discussions which according to Stan`s and Cesc`s statements had opposing stances. Board didn`t want to sell - Wenger did. Oh and Nasri isn`t greedy. He wants to win trophies. He decided that when him, Vieira and one Darren Dein, you know the son of David 'Saviour` Dein, chatted over the summer about his expiring contract and of course, trophies.
5. Wenger`s reply on a question whether he`d consider bringing in new faces to 'freshen up` the backroom staff was that he`s been coaching for 32 years, and he should be able to choose who will work with him. Mr. Law interprets that as 'clear implication fresh voices are not required and certainly will not be welcomed`. Again, even Sherlock Holmes would envy Mr. Law`s deduction capacities. To offer more substance to this wish-wash, Mr. Law uses the legend Bob Wilson, who left his job at Arsenal because… blah-blah. In fact, Bob Wilson is so pissed off at Wenger that he recently said that "Arsene Wenger will only be appreciated at Arsenal when he's gone", as reported by another gem of a journo, one Charlie Wyett.
6. The so-called mysterious injuries to some players are succinctly used to support Wenger`s totalitarian character, obviously because he`s not like 'Arry who might go out and say that his missus would defend better than Squillaci and Almunia (on some evidence she might). Mr. Law has thus finally revealed the Arsenal`s secret code of conduct when it comes to unwanted players or those out of form.
It does not end there: Mr. Law knows that Vermaelen`s tweet that his return is on track was instructed by Wenger. I can only imagine AW taking the time to give Verm a call and tell him what to tweet. Very real stuff I tell you. There is also space to mention Jack`s tweets on Hoddle and Spurs, Szczecny`s opinion that the Spurs aren`t better than the Arsenal - all pointing that Wenger has developed this 'culture` to make people do whatever he wants.
So there you have it ladies and gents, that`s why Mr. Law was being congratulated by some Arsenal and football fans and his fellow writers. That kind of 'honest` interpretation of facts, statements and situations gets praised and lauded by your fellow football fans. The truth is Arsenal IS in a crisis, the worst one since AW took over. And Wenger has been (along with the players) the first to come out and say that he takes full responsibility for the results, but that never appears in the mixture of codswallop and tripe Mr. Law serves to everyone. Take it easy and UTA! Through thick and thin.