Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The foolishness of the Press

We all know fans can be fickle and the Press can exaggerate but it's difficult not to be swayed by the myriad inundation of news and reports and opinions, and as a fan to be content with being patient and not be disgruntled when the team underperforms.

I don't want to over emphasise this point or labour on it too much, I'll just leave a concrete example of how wrong people can get it sometimes.

The idea to write this post comes as I depart for holiday to Portugal tomorrow, having had to postpone my trip that stopped me from being at Estádio da Luz for Benfica- Manchester United tonight, so I was reading on the result of 2005 when Benfica against all odds manage to stage an unlikely turnaround and win the game.  I have since found out that it was the only time Benfica had done so and I was lucky to have been present in the stadium that night, with friends, and the feeling of exultation was palpable, regardless of how transient and deserved it was.

A particular report, I was reading  just now, had launched a scathing attack on Sir Alex Ferguson. The year was 2005, Manchester United were in middle of a barren spell without wining the league, and the writing for this reporter was on the wall: "There will be a reckoning that takes place in private and it is likely to see Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure at Manchester United terminated at the close of the season."

These are strong opening words from someone at The Guardian, a newspaper I generally hold in high regard, but not reporter is free from doom scenarios and indeed being wrong. It's hard not to draw parallels with Arsenal's current situation. Manchester United were experiencing difficult years, stories of Ferguson's retirement abounded and the club had just recently been bought by the Glazers. Chelsea's dominance since the arrival of Abramovich and particularly José Mourinho meant that it was difficult to look beyond Chelsea for a credible alternative to the title, and it looked as though Manchester United were a club on the downside, a manager on the brink of either retiring or being sacked, a club in financial peril due to the amount of debt the owners that transferred to the club.

Well, two years later, Ferguson found the winning formula once again and the turned the club around, going on to win the Premiership three years in a row and last year also, managing to reach the final of the Champions League three times and winning it once.

It's true that Arsenal's barren spell has lasted longer, six years not four, the club has also been bought and it looks incapable of competing with the best teams in the league, moreover, Arsenal has to contend not only with Chelsea and Abramovich, but also Manchester City and their owners from Abu Dhabi who seemingly have even deeper pockets than the Russian in London. 

But, with UEFA's new financial regulations coming to play next year it could yet prove that Arsenal's sustainable model may prevail, and the team, though less apparently competitive than in previous years has shown last night that it is good enough for the likes of the German champions, which for a team that has had their confidence shattered by a freak 8-2 three weeks ago is no mean feat. 

In conclusion, do not believe all the press says at face value, and do not despair after one bad result, even a poor season. Sir Alex Ferguson is the proof that faith in a successful manager means that quite likely he'll know what to do to make the team return to glory and trophies.

Link to The Guardian report:

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