Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Media reporting in football

Ok, I'm not someone who is a fully paid up member of the Wayne Rooney fan club but I do realise that he is a quality footballer who has been around for a while now. I even thought that when he was bagging all those goals in the 2009/2010 season, he was not fulfilling his original promise as a creator and finisher. However, now he is being deployed in a deep-lying striker role, he's looking like a truly world class player. I completely appreciated his relaxed and amiable appearance on Talksport. Talksport has its critics but I miss Richard Keys and Andy Gray on Sky Sports so I'm glad they've got a spot on Talksport. Reproach me if you will but feelings aren't always logical. Just ask Andy. Even though I'm not a Sky Sports subscriber, I miss the fact that there previously was an option to see the duo whenever I popped round to the home of a friendly Sky customer. Nostalgia aside, when Wayne Rooney joined the duo for the last hour or so of their show, a solitary eyebrow was raised at his appearance. I thought, "What is Wayne doing? So soon after a Champions League final defeat? Sir Alex must know..." As I pondered the potential unsavoury consequences of such a decision, I realised that it was Keys and Gray. My mind stopped wondering.

So, Wayne had promised "the lads" that he would come on and chat with them. Fair enough. He spoke honestly as he could about the recent Champions League final, his rant at a camera, his preference for playing behind the striker and the fact that, a certain Lionel Messi is the best player in the world. It was just an interesting interview with a footballer who loves to play and watch football. Also, fans of tactics should listen for Rooney's insight into the final:

"Messi wins them games but Xavi and Iniesta destroy you. They are simply a fantastic team, a very special side. That's the level we want to be at and we have to up our game to achieve this. The manager will be doing what he can to see we do this. The plan was to try to win the ball from them as high as possible and not allow them time on the ball. We didn't want to allow them to dictate play. I was told to stay as close to Sergio Busquets as possible and break off him when we had the ball. At times they had six in midfield with Messi and David Villa dropping back."

The problem is how comments are reported from players in the national press and on the internet. A positive comment such as "we'll do our best to make up for the final defeat of two years ago" morphs into "we want revenge" on the back of a tabloid. Rooney was openly discussing the merits of Messi; he was very complimentary and realised that the La Liga is different to the English Premier League. However, it is being reported widely that Rooney said "Messi can't do it against Stoke" when what actually took place was a football fan who happens to play at the highest level, discussing the greatness of a player and wondering how the difference in playing style will affect his respective effectiveness.

We all discuss the merits of different footballers in different leagues. Although, I disagree with Rooney in part, it's hard for me to continue without a reader having the full facts before engaging in debate. In my opinion, Lionel Messi would fare excellently against Premier League defences and he suffers some awful challenges in La Liga. When Messi was on the charge for his second of his hat-trick against Zaragoza (in 2010) he had to fight off an opponent and evaded dangerous and desperate lunge. Yet I respected Rooney's right to air his opinion on the matter and listen to his reasoning behind it whether I agreed or not.

"Are "dark forces" at work in the media?"

Sometimes it's a wonder that footballers ever speak at all. We lament the monotone or standard answers from many footballers but the moment a footballer says anything remotely interesting, it's more of a case of potential and unnecessary attention from the media. It's sad really because listening to the interview, I was impressed that Rooney held to his word and came on the show. When I realised it was the last week that Keys and Gray were on air until August, I was even more impressed with Rooney's commitment to appear before their "season" ended.

Unfortunately I don't think many people do engage with some knowledge of the subject matter which can be part of the problem with football reporting. Often, reports are rolled out in the knowledge that many readers won't check the source to gain greater understanding whether it is out of limited time, lack of interest or investigative laziness. And in the land of the blind, those who have any semblance of vision find themselves on closer to the summit than the rest. I guess only football can stir such passionate responses as: "Shut up Fat Lad!!" and "At least Messi is a gentleman unlike these three! Most fans of the lovely game would rather see Messi play that these foul mouthed idiots." Wonderful.

Here's the live interview:

Here are some of the reports on the interview:


  1. Let's get this on Newsnow! You can become the Anti-Kanwar.

  2. Good read. Keep it up and try to put at least one article up every week. It's a shame that when a footballer speaks honestly, the media machine gets on top of it and then bemoans its distance from players!

  3. Great article, bro! I was thinking of starting a footie blog up too, but I can already see I'd have big shoes to live up to!

    Keep up the good work and keep sending me your link each time theres a new article.

    Cheers bud

  4. As a newcomer to the football arena, I am impressed by your first review. The language used is easy to digest and consumable for the football ignorant such as myself. Media reporting is a very important element in the birth of mis-conceptions. I will be following your blog, closely, with great anticipation.

  5. Thank you all for the initial support and I've finally sorted out the blog. It now looks like it took more than 5 minutes set up!

    Hey Suarez, Jamie Kanwar's hiatus continues despite a recent update so we'll have to wait for his return!

    Umer, I can confirm that there are subscription services and I'll be sending out an email.

    @Anon, June 1st. I'll try to put out an article once a week and an interesting link on football.

    @Anon, June 2nd: Glad to hear that you found the work accessible and I'll be shifting between heavier articles and ones which are a bit denser.

  6. Unfortunately the way in which the media reports stories in England is one of the weaker aspects with the football culture on this side of the pond. The tabloids are always looking for an "angle" even if it means twisting the intent. You get it abroad too, particularly with the Spanish publication "Marca", but no one does it quite like the Brits

  7. I think the pro Barca and pro Madrid papers quite reach some unsavoury reports in bias in their football reporting. It's funny to see Marca praising Barca at times without an angle mainly because there's nothing else to do but praise them! This is rare but in general, the tabloids and the broadsheets have an "angle" which is fine but it's how shamelessly they're exploited by certain "publications" in England.

    Speaking of Rooney, what do you think of his openness about his hair transplant? I guess he's not trying to hide it but he'll get some awful "stick" on the terraces next season...

  8. Fair enough that you're trying to be this "neutral" kinda guy and being fair but Rooney was talking rubbish about Messi not being able to cut it in the Premier League. He's said he's probably the best player ever and then seem to contradict himself. Doesn't that warrant criticism?

    Yeah, the media go overboard but the fact is we read all these articles and lap it up. Newspapers might not write what's right but they write what works. I see what you're point is though and it's good to see a fairer point of view but I don't really agree in you defending Rooney.

  9. @Anon, 18:46. I don't agree with what Rooney said but he shouldn't be hammered for it. Plus, I think it's completely different from the way Andy Gray spoke about Rooney and Stoke.

    It was refreshing to see him air his views but you're right, a lot of publications need to provide controversial headlines to attract attention. It's a pity that the content isn't valued as much...