Thursday, 18 August 2011


This blog post is in response to a deluge of posts I have got recently. Hopefully it will explain a few things. You may not agree with it, but I am telling it like it is. Don't shoot the messenger etc.

Recently, I have been inundated with furious messages from Manchester United fans over the representation of David De Gea in the newspapers. Fans in getting uppity about their club shocker. 

I digress; the fury has centered around the use of old quotes to give context to a new situation. In this context, old quotes from 1) Anders Lindegaard and 2) Javier Hernandez have been used to write a story about David De Gea, the unhappy chap from Spain who is getting all these nasty things written about him. Good thing he doesn't read them, eh? 

Anders Lindegaard's quotes about wanting to be the number one at Manchester United were given at numerous points this summer and indeed since he joined in January. The quotes used in the Mirror this week were from a Norwegian newspaper and regurgitated here.

The essence of the story was that Lindegaard was 'warning' De Gea he was after the number one spot at Old Trafford. This may be true, but the context of how it was written has caused a bit of a stir. It appeared as if these quotes were given in the aftermath of the West Brom match, where De Gea let in an easy goal. (In my view, he didn't do a lot wrong after that. He was fouled for a few crosses, that's it. What about Foster? He was just as bad)

Those quotes, as I have said, were not from the WBA game. Lindegaard was not put up to the press to speak. 

Now, the story was written as if to say as a result of the WBA game, Lindegaard has piped up and warned DDG he is under threat, when in fact this is not strictly true. Interestingly, the Lindegaard's people and Sir Alex Ferguson himself are not impressed with the representation of this story. I can sympathise. 

So, why and how was this done? 

Now journalists don't want your sympathy, but they are under extreme pressure to find stories and get reaction to the topic of the day, in this case DDG. Each Monday (it varies) there is an editorial meeting whereby journalists put forward ideas on what they are working on etc. It is entirely likely the author of the article put forward the suggestion that he has Lindegaard quotes on the DDG situation. 

In an age where clubs are over protective of their players,Twitter publishes / leaks stories before they should be and players themselves say nothing interesting, any quote you have on something newsworthy is golden. So, the Lindegaard quotes were used to give the impression that the Mirror is on the ball with the DDG story and is the paper to read for follow up stories / the latest on the goalkeeper. It's just one of those things - it happens all the time. When you go to a press conference or interview a player, you publish the story but there's still loads of quotes you haven't been able to use. 

A good journalist keeps a record of this and uses them when he can to give some background to the story at hand. Like it or not, this is what is done throughout the industry. Perhaps if Man Utd offered the Mirror an interview with Lindegaard, the story may have been different? We will never know, as that's unlikely to happen. 

I am in two minds over this, to be honest. On one hand, I can sympathise with the journalist who has no access to players and a pressure to get stories and fill column inches. On the other, I find it slightly bad form a story can be 'spun' to suggest a player is doing something when in fact he isn't. Lindegaard, of course, wants to be number one. As the Mirror said. 

However Lindegaard, in no way shape or form, saw DDG vs WBA and then said he wanted to take DDG's jersey. It's classic newspaper spin - to put it bluntly, you have to deal with it. Would the same Man Utd fans be up in arms if they heard that when a Sun article published quotes from Roy Hodgson saying Odemwingie wouldn't be sold despite the fact these quotes were 3 weeks out of date? I doubt it.

Each club defends their players. But each club must realise it works both ways - Manchester United got a free advert in every single newspaper for 7 days (often 3+ pages) in the lead up to the CL final. It was all good publicity - so you take the rough with the smooth. 

Newspapers do not get access to who they want 24/7 - sometimes we have to be creative. And to be fair, doing this is a damn sight better than literally making up quotes. The Daily Star Sunday used to run 'EXCLUSIVES' courtesy of Ben Fairthorne for weeks on end. The players he 'interviewed' ? Torres, Messi, Pique, Forlan and Xavi. He didn't. He literally typed the quotes out as if they were said. 

Yes, it is slightly cheeky but that's life. That's how papers work. They scrutinise people, react to the stories of the day and publish stories around it. I can see both sides of the argument but it's not particularly worth it getting so worked up about it.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if DDG has an absolute blinder for a few games this season, the same papers will run 2/3 week old quotes from saying that DDG is a good goalkeeper and will come good, etc. 

PS - I like doing this blog and initially it was just here to explain things that 140 characters in Twitter can't do. But I have to admit, it looks a bit boring. 

I want pictures, a banner, a layout, etc. I also don't like 'explaining the stories' any more.

Anyone around to give this place a facelift?

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