AVFC And The Media

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Before I start this post, I’d like to say there are some very very good journalists who report on the Villa and it’s always a pleasure to read their articles on the club. If you’re on Twitter, regularly following Villa information, you will know who these guys are.

I was struggling to think about what to write in my post this week to be honest: after the Malaga game on Saturday it’s been a fairly slow week for Villa news. I was going to write about how utterly stupid these mid-week international friendlies are. To hold them three days before the club seasons starts is absolutely mental. However, they’re being stopped from the start of next season so ranting any further about that would be a waste of time.

Then, thankfully, a rumour cropped up on Twitter, as rumours generally do almost daily. However, this one, I believe, originated from a well known national sports radio station. The rumour was that Villa manager Paul Lambert had turned down the opportunity to take former Villa skipper Gareth Barry on loan from Manchester City. Now IF this were true then it would be something I’d believe. Why on earth would Paul Lambert take Gareth Barry, a 32 year old midfielder who in reality would offer us little other than experience? It goes completely against everything that Paul Lambert has done so far. If Lambert were to take Barry on, it would mean him holding a place in the starting XI or match day squad over the likes of Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Yac Sylla and Gary Gardner, slowing their progress. No thank you, Gareth. I’m sure they will take you on at the Hawthorns: they like their pre retirement age footballers. Barry would offer us experience but, come on, seriously? Is that even an argument still? Experience has done nothing for us for three seasons and all it will do now is slow us down. The “kids” saved us last season, they have “experience” now so don’t worry about “experience”. Argument void. Don’t even mention it to me: I’ll consider you a moron and send you to bed without your dinner.

Anyway, that little story refreshed my memory of all the completely daft stories written about Villa this summer (and throughout history, but I don’t have all year). Most of them emerged during the Benteke saga, it must be said. Does nobody outside Birmingham pay any attention to what Villa do and say? Obviously we’re not a “fashionable” club like Spurs but some of the stories written over the past couple of months have gone against absolutely everything Villa have stood for under Lambert and contradicted what representatives of the club said during the whole episode.

Towards the end of last season, when the Benteke rumours really started to kick off, Villa more or less said: “Christian Benteke is not for sale. If we were to even consider selling him it would be for a price we set and absolutely nothing less. He has 3 years to run on his contract, he’s our player and unless you want to spend £30 million plus on him, he’ll remain our player.” Like I said, more or less. This message was reiterated throughout the summer.

Now despite this message being loud and clear, coming from everyone within the club, it was translated by certain sections of the press as: “We don’t want to sell Benteke but we’d accept bids around 15 – 20 million plus a selection from Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Jermain Defoe or Demba Ba”.

Stories and rumours such as that popped up almost daily until Benteke signed his new contract with the club.  What I think is worse is that quite a lot of Villa fans believed the nonsense! It was almost portrayed like we were a non-league club fending off interest from Real Madrid!

In the end, laughably, Villa didn’t receive ANY formal bids for Benteke, despite large portions of the media reporting that we were batting away offers multiple times a day. Not only were the non-existent offers so far off Villa’s real and well known valuation of their star striker but they made it clear that much of the press didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. That’s not surprising though, is it?

It wasn’t just the Benteke saga that was reported so poorly either. What has Villa’s transfer policy been for the past 12 months? Generally, young, relatively unknown, ambitious, level-headed and cheap players have come in. I don’t like the word cheap: it implies the players we’ve signed aren’t that good because they weren’t worth as much. I’m sorry, maybe this would be an unpopular opinion but I’d take a team of £750,000 Lowtons over a team of £15 million Wilfred Zahas any day of the week. However, in terms of the fees paid, in the current football climate, they were cheap, their wages especially. It’s always been my view of Lambert and Lerner that should the right player come along, who is on fair wages, that a transfer fee wouldn’t be an issue, within reason obviously.

Now despite that being our ever-so-apparent policy on bringing in new players, why on earth do national newspapers and the like keep linking us with aging players like Gareth Barry and Scott Parker or younger players on ridiculous wages with bad reputations like Belhanda? IT … MAKES … NO … SENSE …

What’s worse, like I said earlier, is that people believe this tripe then moan about the club and manager when it doesn’t happen. I’m sorry, if you read it and believe it you deserve to feel your unsubstantiated disappointment because you’re daft.

Let’s not get started on the Twitter ITKs and the people who believe them, shall we? Oxygen thieves. I believe there are one or two people on Twitter who genuinely get told things occasionally, probably just as a passing comment in a conversation they have with friends who may work at, or with, the club. However, these people never claim to be ‘In The Know’.

Here is the thing, you see: Villa, Paul Lambert, Randy Lerner, Paul Faulkner and the like don’t tell many people things; it’s how they do their business to the best of my knowledge, my knowledge being common sense and observing what’s happened before. That is why nobody has heard of the majority of the signings made by Lambert until around 12 hours before they sign.

So if you buy and read the newspapers or go on well known sports news websites, please realise 99% of their stories are either complete lies or a truth bent and contorted to their own needs. If you still believe what they say, especially regarding Villa, after all these years and experience of their rubbish, then I pity you, honestly I do.

A little side note going back to what I was talking about earlier: Tottenham, Arsenal, Athletico Madrid, Chelsea and whoever else was apparently interested, if it is true you ever had an interest in Benteke, which I don’t see why you wouldn’t, if you didn’t go past an enquiry because you thought £30 million was too much, wait until next summer, he’ll be worth double that. Unlucky. Oooooohhhhh, Christian Benteke!

Thank you for reading.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Spot on. I don’t know what to add to that. What I will say is we will not be relegated this year. The promoted teams look shocking…back down you go.

  2. Tottenham are a “fashionable club”. It’s a phrase that I don’t think quite think covers it. Tottenham are a “London club”. That is all there is to their getting a more favourable coverage in the national press than Villa.

    I’m glad you’ve brought up Villa and the media as it highlights the bias and imbalance of football coverage in the UK. Has anyone listened to Talksport recently? Every football journalist they bring into the studio seems to be London-based; every time they talk about wide-reaching issues to do with English football (such a youth football) they seem to bring in guests from London clubs. As an example, they’ve been talking about youth development a lot recently on the station…a perfect opportunity to bring in the people who have developed the current NextGen Champions as studio guests one would think? No chance. It’s all Arsenal and Brentford and other such clubs…

    There is no platform for Midlands voices on the national stage.

    On TV it’s all ex-Liverpool and Man Utd players being used as pundits and the big sports media centres are based in Manchester and the London…I could go on.

    This has been a huge problem for Villa for over a generation now. The rise in London-centred tabloid journalism and TV coverage has diminished our profile and, thus, our earning potential compared to London/NorthWest clubs. On top of that it has led to (the more weak-minded) people of Birmingham and the Midlands turning their backs on their local clubs and going down the glory-hunter route.

    It’s very frustrating!

  3. The media are hilarious. Everyone loves to say they have a soft spot for Villa but love picking on them at the same time. The laziness of journo’s is mental. I’ve seen two or three predictions for this season in the last couple of days talking about Barry Bannan in our midfield… are we actually supposed to think some clown who obviously knows nothing about Villa can make accurate predictions?? It genuinely is like giving me the freedom of the keyboard and publishing my thoughts on Cardiff for this year… I don’t have a clue about Cardiff but would certainly do a touch of research if I was to right a report on them!

    That said…Cardiff for a top 6 finish!

  4. Very true and accurate reflection of Villa in the media we have never been London media darlings really. although I think we were cut a bit of slack when O’Neill was in charge. But even back when we won the European cup and the league they never gave us the respect we deserved. And like you said the formulate such rubbish about us that don’t fit at all.

  5. Newspapers sell papers not news. They are just a bunch of clingons – any passing Aussie will tell you that has nothing to do with Star Trek.

  6. It’s not just the mighty Villa that is blanked by the London/Mcr media mafia it’s all WM clubs and the region as a whole. Our local MP’s are piss poor at standing up for us! The BBC has decided that Manchester is the centre of the universe hence all the coverage Utd/Citeh get. Best way we can make ourselves heard is for us to pack out VP and make our own noise. Send em back to London/Mcr with a kick up the arse on the pitch an 40,000 Villa voices ringing in there ears. Come on Lambos Lions bring it on!!!

  7. P.S any constant whingers sat near me this year will be put straight! Get behind the boys or stay away. You have been warned ; )

  8. spot on article. I was echoing the same sentiments last season when people were bemoaning our lack of “experience” signings. The only way our squad will get experience is to have them play week in, week out (granted if they deserved their place in the squad). I can’t wait to see this crop of talent grow together as a squad, which is something we haven’t had in a while. An actual squad rather than a team full of individuals with their own agendas. Roll on Saturday! UTV!

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