Calling it a “siege mentality” is a step too far, the footballing equivalent of Phillip Hammond telling the world there aren’t any unemployed people in the UK. However, Shkodran Mustafi’s attack on the media this weekend is certainly some spine and fight being shown.
The German ‘called out’ the media on their behaviour toward the squad after the 2 – 0 derby win. No doubt buoyed by a goal and Man of the Match performance in all but name, Mustafi declared:
“You like to get the s***, the biggest s***,” he said to journalists. “What happens in the changing room is the real thing. I have been talking to clubs or if I haven’t, it’s only rumours. I’m here, I’m standing in front of you in an Arsenal shirt.”
He then turned his attention to the media portrayal of the club,
“That’s you guys thinking it. As always, Arsenal is dead, Arsenal is not coming back. We always are alive, we always believe in ourselves but we all know that if you win the big games but lose the small games you’re not going to finish top of the league or even in the top four. If you win today and lose next weekend you are back where you were.”
As you were, gentlemen. He hadn’t quite finished,
“You want everyone to leave, don’t you? We need the players, not everyone can leave. Obviously, they are important and everyone in the team wants them to stay.
“If you look at what Mesut achieved, you have to give him credit and respect. It’s sometimes stupid to just go out and say ‘he’s not good enough, he’s not this or that’.”
Fair play to Mustafi; it’s about time someone showed some balls and he did that in the most important arena: on the pitch.
Rather like the intensity of Saturday’s performance, you wonder where the ferocity of character has been hiding. It’s too much to call it ‘old skool’ leadership but the attitude rolled back the years. More of that; Köln on Thursday and Burnley next Sunday, require the squad to show more of the same belief in each other.
Ultimately, it’s too late for Sanchez. No-one will be surprised if he leaves in January although I’d expect it to be the summer with us currently on the cusp of the top four, Arsène’s validation of his season.
Özil? No-one is sure, such is the lack of speculation. A free transfer seems good business for any big club but the wage bill which accompanies him makes that a false economy. In both cases, the transient nature of modern football is laid bare for all to see.
It wasn’t a good weekend for journalists and the Arsenal. You know all about the Arsenal Twitter vs. Daily Mail mismatch. A provocative piece purporting to be a mixed XI ahead of the derby got one Adam Crafton abuse once Arsenal’s social media guru posted a gif of Mesut Özil sipping a cuppa. All well and good.
Some took it as a cue to abuse said journalist, using racism, homophobia and anti-semitism, all of which are vile and utterly unacceptable.
However, various hacks decided that Arsenal’s Twitter admin knew what response would follow and was responsible for the abuse. One or two said Arsenal should apologise because they knew their 12m followers would over-react. Indeed, a very nasty letter was going to the club in protest and demand they say sorry.
While all this was going on, the hacks were scooping water out of their ship as they torpedoed themselves with their own logic.
Bring Out Your Dead…
If Arsenal twitter is responsible for the reactions of others, then so are the Daily Mail and Sun hacks; the Telegraph and Express as well. Hiding behind “I didn’t write it” or “He doesn’t share those views”, doesn’t cut it.
The Heil, as this was the hack in question’s employer, is a good example. As English as English can be, it’s owned by Rothermere, a toff who pays taxes in France where the rates are lower than here. His name never appears in the same articles as Starbucks, Amazon or Google, even though it’s the same net result.
Then again, this is a rag whose editor reviles the EU while claiming close to £500k since 2011 in EU subsidies. The same EU which chastised the Heil for feeding an atmosphere of hatred toward EU citizens in the UK since the Referendum.
If Arsenal are responsible for the tweets of others, every journalist is responsible for the hatred and intolerance their employers promote; it’s that simple. That’s where their logic takes them.
It will be disappointing if the teas and coffee at Arsène’s pressers this week aren’t served in Özil mugs…