Cesc Fabregas said we would have won against Manchester City even if they had 15 players on the field. Roberto Mancini said Manchester City would have won if the game was an even contest and his side had the standard 11 players on the field. Wayne Rooney said he wanted to leave Manchester United because they couldn’t match his ambition. Then Wayne Rooney said he wanted to stay because he was reassured about the clubs ambition. In the summer Arsene Wenger said he had complete trust in our goalkeepers and would not be looking for a new custodian. During the summer Arsene Wenger made a rather overt attempt to sign Mark Schwarzer from Fulham but was rebuffed by Mark Hughes. This isn’t about contradiction, hypocrisy, gradual change in thought or difference in opinion. Rather, I am merely wondering about how much of what we hear in football is even worth paying attention to. I want to understand our season as objectively as possible. I want the truth.
As fans we all know, or at least should, that almost all of what we hear from the players we adore or hate, the managers we idolise or loathe and the official club statements we study as though they were mortgage contracts is just rubbish. Unadulterated spin. If it were an email it would be spam. Junk. We would block it. So why, just because it is football, do we take it in, consider and even deliberate over it? The result and the performance on the pitch is really all that counts. Nearly everything else is just filler. Almost everything we hear on a Monday, or even on a Saturday afternoon at 5pm, ends up being dismissed by the following Friday. It’s diversion. It’s mass media. It’s horrible. Is this even football? Arsene Wenger admitted as much the previous week when addressing the Wayne Rooney saga happening at Manchester United. He said he often lies to the press in order to protect a player or sway the critical opinion towards something more manageable. So why do we listen to him? Shouldn’t we just judge him on results and performances? He admits that the rest is often just diversion, he says so himself, so why listen? Why do I listen?
I have decided to no longer be swayed by the Frenchman and his reasoning. So, putting aside the spin and dribble, what is my assessment of the season? It’s rather simple really, just like the game of football should be. The season, so far, has been not bad but it could have been better. There have been disappointing results against Sunderland, because of the time and manner of the equaliser, against West Brom, because of the expectation, and against Chelsea, because of the predictability. There have been good results, Blackburn, impressive performances, Braga, and convincing victories, Manchester City. All in all? A mixed bag. Forget the diversions and confusion. Judge it for yourself. Almost a quarter of the way into the season and it has been ok. Not great, not terrible. That’s the truth behind the confusion.