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Wednesday
Feb082017

Social media is rendering pundits irrelevant

Have TV pundits had their day? You might be forgiven for thinking so. Witness the inane ramblings of Martin Keown, Thierry Henry, Alan Smith, Nigel Winterburn and Ian Wright, or Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas on Sky Sport’s Soccer Saturday.

All of them are fence sitters, afraid to commit themselves one way or another on the subject of whether Arsene Wenger is still fit to run Arsenal Football Club. They've been skirting around the issue for years, but never commit to an opinion one way or the other.

To some extent, it’s understandable. They owed their livings to the club, have a genuine affinity towards it and are regarded as legends by the supporters. It would require substance to cut ties with an institution that still gives them all manner of perks while at the same time frowns upon ex-players being remotely critical of their day-to-day operations.

Witness how Wenger prevented Thierry Henry from coaching the youth squad because of his role as a TV pundit. Indeed, Henry may well harbour hopes of managing Arsenal one day; therefore he has to box clever. It would be foolish to sever his ties by going against the grain, potentially costing him his dream job.

So let’s not be too harsh on the pundits, but let’s also agree that their opinions on Arsenal are dead – they have no relevance. A biased pundit is a much use as a condom machine at the Vatican.

Social media is where it’s at, and the pundits are frightened of it. Witness Gary Neville slamming ArsenalFan TV. The YouTube channel has amassed such a huge following, that it’s eating into the mainstream broadcasters’ viewership and being seen as a threat, particularly by pundits who arrogantly believe their opinion to be superior and, wait for it, more intellectual.

Neville made a fool of himself criticising fans, and it’s not because he called an Arsenal fan an idiot – Arsenal fans call each other idiots all the time (and a lot worse). No, it’s because his point of view was loaded with contempt that ANYONE should have a trusted opinion other than the likes of him.

This is despite the fact that Arsenal fans’ opinions carry more weight than Neville because they, obviously, have greater expertise and a more nuanced understanding of how the club operates. It’s the fans that watch every single game, the fans that have an intuitive feeling for its performance metrics and the fans that have more in-depth knowledge of the club’s history.

Neville also rendered himself redundant by making one of the most laughable statements I’ve ever heard from a TV pundit, something along the lines of, “I’ll never call for a manager to be sacked”. How on earth can a pundit take that position when probably a third of Premier League managers get sacked every season in what are, most of the time, long, slow-burning sagas that have a massive effect on the players' and supporters' psyche before, during and prior to the event.

But then, what do you expect from a pundit who a couple of years ago ignorantly exclaimed Arsenal to be completely debt free. This was during a tirade AGAINST Arsene Wenger. He clearly didn’t do his homework on Arsenal, or Valencia by the look  of it.  

At the moment, everywhere you look ex-Arsenal pundits are squirming in their seats. They’re being pushed by presenters to give a yes/no answer to whether Wenger should remain, and sit there effectively giving every reason under the sun why he’s incompetent, yet refusing to pin their colours to the mast - scared to break protocol.

Even worse, they sway with public opinion. The more vociferous the call from fans/written media for Wenger to leave, the more they edge towards the precipice of agreement, and as the fans/written media back off, they predictably lean in the other direction.

By the way, certain blog writers are not immune from this either – witness Arseblog. Arsenal’s most popular blogger, no doubt, but you won’t find a much bigger fence sitter on the subject of Wenger.

The fact is, as soon as Arsenal owes you a living, unless you have the courage of your convictions – and he hasn’t, your views are bound to be tainted and completely lacking in objectivity. It’s embarrassing to watch, but no longer an annoyance if you’re able to see through the whole charade and completely dismiss their contaminated viewpoints.

You have to look at all these people as an extension of the club - a mutant leaf on the disfigured branch that is Kroenke, Gazidis and Wenger, and a bunch of other corrupt old bastards palming each other off for achieving jack shit.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the internet has changed the media landscape. We live in a “me, myself and I” culture now. The ordinary person wants his five minutes of fame. Television gave us permission with reality TV garbage, and radio, as desperate as the broadsheets for advertising revenues, has to equally encourage audience hysteria.

The internet has allowed the fans themselves to seize their own power, organising themselves to create YouTube channels that are starting to bypass the now-moribund experts’ prejudiced opinions, enabling us to go straight to source. It’s immediate, it’s rapid-fire, and it’s emotive. What it’s not is contrived, arrogant and dull.

The printed press are no better, they’re afraid to criticise Wenger in case they lose their seat in the press box or at press conferences. Meanwhile, corrupt media mouthpieces like The Mirror’s John Cross plant biased stories on the behest of the club itself.

I’ll close by saying that there are still a few pundits worth listening to. Roy Keane for example; a pundit seemingly willing to speak his mind on any subject with brutal honesty, irrespective of his links to Manchester United, or any future expectations he may have of working in the media or as a football coach or manager.

Somehow, I think Keane’s legendary standing has not been tarnished one inch amongst Man Utd supporters. Maybe more pundits should be like him, and maybe broadcasters should employ more pundits like him if they want to regain some sort of control of the media landscape. And I don't include Robbie Savage in that.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

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Reader Comments (19)

Don't want to sound like a slimy pundit, but Bravo you hit the nail on its head. Furthermore, I have always been bewildered or slightly amused that The BBC are willing to pay Henry 3 mil a year, for his inane bullshit - often so bland it makes my head hurt, but the prize must go to Alan Shearer, one of the dullest people in the world working as a pundit just because he used to be very good at scoring goals.

Unfortunately, his opinions are as dull as his persona and he always make me giggle with contempt every time he opens his mouth. Still, brilliant footballers in their time - I will give them that.

February 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDanish Gooner

Absolutely spot-on post, AT.

February 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

AT - bang on for calling these boring, fence-sitting morons out. Almost to a man afraid of biting the hand that feeds them. I would love for one of these ex Arsenal players to say it how it really is, but it will never happen.

Souness and Keane are about the only pundits worth listening to. I'm new to your blog, keep it up - we need voices like yours to fight the good fight and get this old fool out of our club.

February 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRedshirtwhitesleeves

Wasn't Stewart Robson sacked from Arsenal TV because of his outspoken views on Wenger? That's all the evidence you need to prove your point about why ex-Arsenal players sit on the fence with regards to Wenger.

February 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8th

Excellent piece. It really is one big old boys club. I find Neville particularly excruciating as he uses 100 words to say nothing when a simple "I haven't a fucking clue" will do. I remember his "debt free" comment well.

Just after Arsenal had finally secured improved commercial deals he said that Arsenal would now be able compete as the "stadium was paid for." Moron. That has to have been almost 4 years ago and he's still talking out of his arse, saying on Sunday that Arsenal couldn't be expected to compete with the likes of Chelsea with yet more numbers plucked from thin air.

Amazingly, Carragher seemed almost coherent in comparison. Watching these clowns is almost as painful as watching Arsenal.

Post more AT! Even just to vent.

February 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGunnergettheresomeday

Arseblog lol

February 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjoe p

All Arsenal's ex-players know the truth. They sit on the fence for financial gain. If just one of them said it as it is, they would be even more of a legend in my eyes because they would have the good of the club at heart.

February 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterA.McGOONER

So, now we all know! Not only is AW delusional, he is also ignorant, arrogant, condescending, patronising, clueless, disrespectful and oblivious to his own shortcomings.

Those of you still sitting on the fence after all of this should be ashamed of yourselves because, like our out-of-touch manager, you are holding the club back.

GET HIM OUT!..................Come on Hull!

February 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteri.vehadenough

Arsene is finally starting to crack, this looks to be beginning of the end and a fresh new chapter is nearly upon us. It will be bumpy and won't be easy, but as long as fans have patience and stay on the Arsene Knows wagon then we will be fine. Let's all get behind allure.

February 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe p

Eamon Dunphy should be given a run out on MotD.

__
AT

Yes, I like him a lot.

February 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCZ

Bang on the money... as always AT.

Such a shame we only get to hear from you now and then, but fully understand your reasoning for easing off.

February 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJacko

Dunphy is a cynical old coke head who never admits when he's wrong, which is often. If the answer to sycophants and non-entities like Niall Quinn and Alan Shearer is a bitter old fool like him then it really is game over.

I guess the response to your article is this AT - these morons have never been relevant. Football is possibly the worst presented and analysed game around. Other sports like rugby union and cricket have experts who offer much better insight.

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AT

I don't watch any other sports so I'll have to take your word for that. However, if pundits are unable to provide any tangible insight, then they should at least be honest and entertaining, hence why I like Dunphy.

Are you telling me you wouldn't tune in to a MOTD with Keane, Dunphy, Garth Crooks and Rodney Marsh on the panel? Who cares if its insightful, would be hilariously entertaining.

At the moment, the channels are offering faux-insight, which is dull, and the pundits are biased because they have a vested interested in saying, or not saying, certain things.

February 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGunnergettheresomeday

Lol, okay I would definitely watch that. Think you might need Paxman to chair that bunch.

I guess other sports offer more opportunity to discuss technicalities (whether interpretation of more complex rules or the specifics of more specialist positions), but I can't help wondering if the IQ of football "pundits" is below the national average. Half of them (Mills, Savage, Clark Carlise) couldn't even play the game they're supposed to be analysing either.

You're spot on with this article though AT, objective opinion should be the bare minimum requirement and you rarely get that.

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AT

I would imagine English footballers are lacking in intelligence compared to other sports. For example, most Rugby players derive from public school or university, whereas English footballers often don't complete their schooling or sacrifice it for the love of the game.

Most footballers derive from the terraces rather than the classroom, which, lets face it, tends to be a magnet for all the lower class dumbos. Rugby is very much a middle or upper-class sport, which is reflected in the behaviour of its supporters (mixed crowds, little-to-no violence or immature chanting).

Technical footballers seem to have the most intelligence, but the best English players are usually more instinctive than technical. It's probably because they are so empty headed that they are able act with instinctive impunity.

England is one of the worst countries for producing intelligent, technical players, hence the England team.

February 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGunnergettheresomeday

Excuse my colourful language but that was a shower of shit and quite possibly the worst capitulation I've seen - even worse than the Utd game (if that was possible). It's completely unacceptable but no doubt Wenger and the board will try and squirm their way out of it. Surely this is the end for him.

This won't do anything to encourage Ozil and Sanchez to stay. If anything, this will make their minds up for them.

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8

I'm not massively confident we're going to progress through to the next round, after last night.

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AT

You talking about the FA Cup?

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's lacking in English football AT. Intelligent managers and tactically aware players are obviously few and far between but (in my view) the best player of all time, Diego Maradona, came from the humblest background imaginable and to my knowledge has never been described as intelligent. Other countries do tend to produce more tactically astute players though and this is especially evident at summer tournaments when the opposition are stroking it about as if it's a training exercise and the England boys are chasing the ball around like morons in the blistering heat.

Last night's game is a perfect example. Here is a manager with every possible resource at his disposal complaining that a decision over a corner and the loss of one centre half caused his team to get an absolute hiding. And this guy is venerated as someone who changed English football. And his position is still in question. Surely in Germany, France, Italy or Spain he would have been written off by the media long ago.

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGunnergettheresomeday

Indeed AT, but I can't see Sutton winning by more than three goals, to be fair.

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

AT, don't forget Rugby was supposedly invented at public school.

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AT

How could I forget. Mind you, my school was a comprehensive and they played rugby instead of football, which perhaps explains why I bunked off to watch porn and video nasties at me mate's house.

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris J

Please, can someone wake me from this nightmare!

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMICHAEL.B

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