The weekend is nearly upon us; Burnley are already dismissed as cannon fodder. Apparently, there is a stat which tells us Arsenal will end the weekend top of the Premier League. Only one stat tells us that: the final score.
Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac returned to training and navel-gazing, angst if you like, about supporter reaction or lack of it.
It’s certainly muted. In part, that’s due to the reporting. When The Stun and Heil lead the way in covering the story, you know the truth is in short supply. Or even shorter than is normal where the media is concerned.
There’s also the circumstances surrounding the problem. Kolasinac’s actions in the original incident saw him elevated to cult status. Maybe that reaction contributed to the bruised egos which dominate the reportage.
James Benge in the Evening Standard asks:
Where is the outrage this time? Where is the condemnation from fans’ groups or the sport’s authorities? After all, two players are fearful not to turn up for work. Clearly, sympathy in short supply.James Benge leaves out the Fourth Estate in his question
I’ll add to that. Where is the media coverage? The media salaciously intrudes on a family’s grief, hacks a dead girl’s mobile phone but when footballers lives are threatened, it isn’t newsworthy? Benge called it “societal ills” but that doesn’t shift copy. Clearly, advertising sales in short supply.
He is right, however, to question why there isn’t more outrage. I observed a while back that I didn’t know enough about the circumstances to comment. I still don’t; all the reporting stems from The Stun; let’s be honest, it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a reliable source.
A Very Millennial Reaction
Why am I not more outraged? I am concerned; I’ve said before that no family in any walk of life should be subjected to this intimidation.
It’s a very 21st Century word, outrage. If you’re not outraged, you don’t care. If those in authority don’t have a soundbite, where’s the outrage. Maybe the genuine seriousness of the situation elevates it beyond the faux outrage James feels about the lack of outrage?
He’s right; this is nothing like Mkhitaryan’s absence from the Europa League final. That was political and footballing incompetence colliding in wholly avoidable circumstances.
To conflate the two issues is disingenuous. It’s done in the name of sensationalism and for the sake of the two families involved now, is wholly unacceptable.
It is entirely possible that the nationality of the two players is partly responsible for the lack of press coverage. When Steven Gerrard was threatened after stating he wanted to leave Anfield for Chelsea, it garnered plenty of attention.
If this, god forbid, happened to the Rooneys, all hell would be breaking loose.
So, yes, nationality is part of it.
Were this the Ozil who first signed for Arsenal, I’d wager the coverage would be greater. That Ozil sold papers; this one doesn’t. When all’s said and done, the media exists for one reason: to make money.
And you thought it was for the news!
He doesn’t, however, make enough of the point about the players fear. If this humble blogger thinks there is an opportunity for football to be nobbled by ‘deselecting’ a star player, you can guarantee those with the means are way ahead.
Rock Steady Eddie
Ultimately, I welcome their return to training, that they are ready to return to football. Is it a signal that their lives are gaining some semblance of normality?
Has it already happened and been covered up by a convenient injury? A ransom paid to stop it happening, with the event covered up to prevent widespread recurrences? Is my mind awash with diabolical plans? I think so.
It doesn’t change my view of yesterday, however.
Meanwhile, Eddie Nketiah scored on his Leeds!Leeds!Leeds! debut. A simple tap-in albeit fortuitously as he looked offside when the cross came in. He didn’t care then, he won’t care now. The ref didn’t spot it and the camera angles were inconclusive.
Amid the hurly-burly of the Carabao Cup clash at Salford, the commentary team let slip that Leeds!Leeds!Leeds! watched Nketiah 22 times. Twenty-two times; Marcelo Bielsa loves watching a DVD, doesn’t he? Goodness knows what he’d make of Spurs online store; they also love a DVD.
Lambasted for Spygate, the Leeds!Leeds!Leeds! boss is a breath of fresh air. He had the balls to not only do what others only thought of but acted on it. His Powerpoint presentation explaining it all was a memorable moment of last season.
And Leeds!Leeds!Leeds! are strong at that, as Phil Hay reports in The Athletic. Arsenal demanded the suitors put together a profile of how Nketiah fitted into their plans before making a decision. This time, there was no indecision from Unai Emery such as that which nixed his move to Augsburg in January.
The article is a fascinating insight into the loans process and typical of those which make the site worth subscribing to.
Perhaps the most telling quote comes from Angus Kinnear, Leeds United’s chief executive. Arsenal did not countenance a permanent move; they were “categorical” that “they want him to be an Arsenal player.”
Will Nketiah make the grade at Arsenal? A season in a promotion-challenging team will serve him well in terms of experience. Is he the heir-apparent to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? This season will give a lot of those answers.