Our brand new column, kicking off just ahead of the second half of the season makes it’s debut today and the purpose of this column, written by one of our longest established and most consistent writers, Alex Hurst, is to assess the coverage United get in the media. In particular, Alex will be looking at newspaper coverage from the North East local press (banned or otherwise), the mainstream press and even the local newspapers of our opponents as well as their independent, fanzine coverage as well. We’ve got high hopes for this column to provide some real talking points and hope you chuck your own two pennorth in as well.
Obviously, we do our own match reports and they are open to criticism as is everything else.
We are hoping to dish out as much praise as stick in this column so we hope those whose reports we intend to regularly review take the rough with the smooth and view everything here as constructive and objective. Anyway, eyes down for the first lot.
Almost 24 hours after our defeat to Arsenal and the dust is starting to settle on a disappointing result after a reasonably performance. The local and national reports have been filed and commented on and unlike the Stoke game (in which the national media are still giving the Stoke Chairman the right to go on radio shows and rave about poor referees, even though each yellow and red card was fine and his manager bailed on the match when he was needed most), the narrative on our defeat has been relatively magnanimous. Many radio and television pundits have gone with the ‘Arsenal win ugly’ line which supposedly means they’re going to win the league. Personally this visit by Arsenal has been little different to their last two visits to SJP (0 0/ 0 1) as they failed to create and had to withstand late pressure from United.
What the Locals said:
Mark Douglass in the Journal reported that United missed a trick to get all three points from Arsenal, yet his match report talks up Arsenal’s superior cutting edge and control in midfield. Douglas wrote that we learnt United aren’t up to the challenge of worrying the top teams and a more attacking side could have done more damage. He’s fairly critical of Pardew and the teams approach and seems to think Arsenal were beatable. I’m not sure at all about this ‘Arsenal were poor line’. We stopped them creating and they laboured badly, often becoming petulant as a result.
Mark Douglas, The Journal – click here
Lee Ryder mirrors his sister paper colleague by going for the ‘opportunity missed’ angle but is far more critical of the performance and the manager.. Like the national media Ryder emphasises that Arsenal were missing two key players in Ramsey and Ozil and this represented a ‘golden opportunity’ to get a huge win over the London side. Personally when you have Jack Wilshire and Santi Cazorla to replace those two players I don’t really think they’re as big a miss as many have made out but Ryder firmly believes United should have gone for win more assertively than they did.
Ryder believes that Pardew was hoping to keep it at 0 0 and then ‘try to strike it lucky’. Cabaye, HBA & Remy come in for mild criticism for not being involved in the game enough and then he concludes that United’s efforts were ‘not enough, nowhere near enough’ and concluded that the team has had plenty of media praise recently, and in turn deserves criticism for an under par performance. I think that’s very harsh.
Lee Ryder, The Chronicle – click here
What the Nationals said:
The national media have surprisingly been far kinder to United after the result.
Regular readers of The Guardian will not recognise Louise Taylor from the Mackem loving, Mag hating reporter who used to stick the boot in at every opportunity. She’s a decent reporter these days and I enjoy her match reports. She absolutely loves HBA and seems fascinated by the French contingent. Sometimes when the ‘bigger’ teams (sic) come to town the nationals will send one of the chief sports writers but Taylor gives a typically pro-United account her in Guardian report.
‘Scrappy’ & ‘barely deserved’ are a couple of examples of her assessment of Arsenal’s victory. She believes HBA should have started and talks him up (as she regularly does). Unlike the local papers she believes Cabaye played well and United’s industry and set up stifled Arsenal to allow us the better chances in the first half. Overall a good account of the game.
Taylor also puts United forward in The Guardian’s weekly ’10 talking points’ feature in which she repeats the notion HBA should have started. Interestingly Arsenal don’t feature at all. I half expected there to be an ‘Arsenal fire warning shot to the rest of the league with ugly win’ line, so fair play to them for not going down the lazy pundit route.
Louise Taylor, The Guardian – click here
North East reporter Simon Bird writes the Mirror’s report. Bird’s report is a hybrid of the local press’ criticism of Pardew’s lack of ambition early in the game and Taylor’s flattering report. He concedes Arsenal failed to threaten Krul’s goal and the game was won with one decisive moment. It’s a short match report filled with plenty of quotes from Arsene Wenger and seems to have been written with Arsenal fans in mind as Bird lavishes praise on their 2013 record.
Simon Bird, The Mirror – click here
Ian Ladyman’s Daily Mail match report is a really difficult read, not just because of the many, many pictures involved (and heat maps) but the match report itself doesn’t read well. It begins by following the narrative that this is the type of game Arsenal usually lose (I’m really not sure of this) and that Pardew and Wenger strongly dislike each other (is that true? they fell out in 2006 but everything has seemed fine since.)
Ladyman seems unimpressed by United’s response to the Arsenal goal but believes that on another day we could have at least got a draw or win after dominating the last 20 minutes – very contradictory. He also dedicates a 5th of the article to Obertan reportedly storming out after being told he was not playing, which is odd. There’s also a photo of Joe Kinnear. Ladyman is also not sure if Oliver Giroud has the quality to play at the level, whereas I thought he was excellent – but he’s the football writer, not me.
Ian Ladyman, The Mail – click here
What Arsenal are saying:
The big Newspaper in London is the London Evening Standard and their match report was written by ‘agency’ so it was probably a bit much for them to send a reporter all the way up North to cover the team.
Nonetheless ‘Agency’ gives a reasonably balanced report on the game, possibly concentrating on the Arsenal performance far less than Bird in the mirror and the Mail match report. A pretty formulaic match report and not a lot to see. If I was an Arsenal fan, reading this provides zero insight into anything I’d have already seen.
London Evening Standard – Click here
Arsenal fan site ‘Arseblog’ ran a match report which understandably concentrates on the Arsenal aspect of the performance but gives a balanced account of the match. The author ‘Arse blog Newshound’ is in typical Arsenal fashion upset about the nature of football as a contact sport but the report is a fair reflection of the game without much analysis or opinion. The comments beneath the article display serious relief from Arsenal fans about the result and delight at securing the win. They don’t like Tiote and think most of our team should have been booked.
Arseblog – click here
MATCH OF THE DAY – BBC
The Match of the Day coverage of our win over Stoke was poor. They decided on the ‘Stoke hard one by’ narrative and failed to mention or show we had two blatant penalties ruled out for nothing more than pity and that when we scored our equaliser, 9 man Stoke had 5 or 6 players attacking our box. Maybe that had something to do with their manager being sent off and unable to do his job, I don’t know.
The BBC decided to show that Arsenal were utterly dominant in the first half. As this wasn’t actually the case they decided to support this with some of the most innocuous chances shown in the history of the programme. Not very good. They covered the rest of the game well enough but failed to show the numerous Arsenal casualties on the floor and didn’t really comment on the Sissoko foul that wasn’t. The punditry was pretty bland with both Shearer and Kilbane following the ‘gritty Arswnal stuff of champions line.’
A mixed reaction across the board ranging from opinions that United played well and really tested one of the best teams in the league to United were poor and tactically gifted the game to a battling but under strength Arsenal who still performed well (It doesn’t make sense to me either).
What’s surprised me the most is how critical the local press were and how the national media always gave us a chance of winning. Maybe the ban has something to do with the disappointment of Ryder and Douglass or maybe the just reported what they thought was correct (Ed: or didn’t hear the craic in the press box and made up their own minds).
Either way ending the year with 33 points will certainly do. 3 points at West Brom will certainly erase any lingering thoughts of an opportunity lost.