Let’s face it, in the modern game, a couple of games resulting in either a poor performance or a loss means that not only are all the players apparently past it, but the manager deserves the sack.
After the start made this season by Arsenal, pundits and the rest of the footballing media were questioning not only the players at the club, but the man who has been in charge for longer than most of them have been writing about sport, bringing not only unprecedented success to the Gunners, but also a style of play that matched any team we had previously seen in the Premier League.
However after a less than perfect start to the season, critics were questioning Arsene Wenger and if it was finally time for him to move on to a different club. The media would have us believe Arsenal were heavily affected by the loss of key players including skipper Cesc Fabregas, and panic bought so close to the end of the transfer window.
Whilst there may be a small amount of truth in that, people are quick to forget that the season consists of 38 games, not 8, and things can dramatically change very quickly in the Premier League and after a run of good results, Arsenal are now back in the race for not only fourth but according to sky pundit Alan Smith possibly even the title. Whilst this may be slightly optimistic, it bordered on the ridiculous when the media were calling for whole sale changes at Arsenal.
Likewise the media are always more than happy to declare the title winners in the middle of September – we can all remember how well United did at the start of the season and how much the papers made of this. United would have won the title by Christmas if the footballing press had anything to say about it, yet after the crushing defeat by City, they are now in danger of losing their crown and City have become the iron cast favourites to lift the trophy come May.
It is by no means just the British media who are quick to throw opinions around, after Real Madrid suffered a defeat and draw in successive games, the media in Spain – even Marca – were quick to say Mourinho had lost control and Barcelona would steamroll towards the title. Real now lead La Liga by a point, so all is not lost for Mourinho’s men.
Whilst it may be bad when it comes to teams being written off after a couple of poor results, that is nothing compared to the level of abuse that players get when they are lacking in form. The media were happy to tell the world and its wife that Frank Lampard was ready to collect his free bus pass at the grand old age of 33 after a couple of games without scoring and a solitary game on the bench. A few goals later however, and Frank was ‘back to his best.’
Lampard is by no means the only player who suffers such treatment from the press – any player should beware of a spell either on the bench or mediocre games – Leo Messi had the longest spell in the history of the world without a goal according to the Spanish press – a whole three games –and questions were raised over his form. It will not come as a surprise to anyone with a brain that Messi then managed to score three goals against Mallorca and on Tuesday became only the second player in Barca’s history to reach the 200 goal mark – not bad for a player being slated in the Spanish media a couple of weeks ago.
Likewise a couple of good games is guaranteed to make a player a certain for the Ballon d’or, with the player being sensationalised and their impact being exaggerated to a ridiculous level. The age old saying of form is temporary, class is permanent seems to be lost on the media in the modern game, and whilst admittedly sensationalism sells papers and gets people talking, the level this has now reached boarders on the ridiculous, with it being all too easy to write off teams after a poor game and heap praise on others just for an easy article.
Teams and players can bounce back from bad games and bad results and it can make them stronger teaching them a well needed lesson, yet this is ignored and rest assured, the same journalist who declared United were going to walk away with the title back in September could not have reached for their laptops quick enough after the loss to City, in their haste to question United and Fergie’s credentials.
One poor result does not make a bad team nor does a couple of goals make the next Ronaldo – if only the media could realise this!
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