A horse well and truly flogged: Football media at its worst

Alessandro Vari Roar Pro

By , Alessandro Vari is a Roar Pro

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    As Mesut Özil said this week, “ignore the noise”.

    In a qualification campaign that has already claimed the scalps of Chile, Holland and the USA, where France have struggled to nil-all home draws to nations the size of Gosford and Argentina have coughed and spluttered – only making it through thanks to some Messi magic – the broader football community can be forgiven for ignoring the ‘apocalpytic’ scenes down under.

    Honestly, two losses in eighteen qualifiers, how was this story missed?

    On the face of it, it all seems rather rosy. A youthful national side slowly rebuilding despite the unforgiving shadow of glories past. Hungry players slowly altering perceptions of playing styles and career possibilities, with a man in charge who has spent every waking second of his management career simply wanting vindication for what his nation can really provide in a footballing sense.

    Seems nice, doesn’t it? The nation’s most popular sport at junior level, fresh from an awe-inspiring weekend of games, new free-to-air TV deals bringing the world game to more households than ever before, graduates of the country’s recently formed professional division playing in Holland, Germany, Belgium and, who could forget, the England. What could possibly be wrong?

    Aaron Mooy Huddersfield Town Premier League EPL Football 2017 tall

    Of course, that view is impossibly facetious. However, given the behaviour of certain opinion leaders at the minute, I thought it would be remiss of me not to voice my views in the same way as these professionals, by saying the first thing that comes to my head.

    The difference? These same opinion leaders have a minimum of 40 hours per week to gauge the current plight of Australian football, consolidate their findings and form it to a view something that vaguely approaches logic.

    As for the rest of us, we have to settle for walking around the house thinking we’re minor celebrities whenever a comment of ours hits ten likes on social media.

    The recent avalanche of criticism towards Ange Postecoglou, predicated by several outlets purporting to be in favour of the game’s future in this country, appears as little else than a publicity exercise to generate clicks and mention the words “three at the back” as many times as humanly possible.

    Naturally, when you boil it down, that indicates success for these outlets, more impressions and responses mean more opportunities for discussion and an increased likelihood of their products being consumed.

    But the horse is well and truly flogged now, nothing new has been added to the rhetoric in months as journalists resort to pseudo-psychological puff pieces every time Ange Postecoglou heart rate drops or raises an eyebrow too slowly for their liking.

    At what stage is the line crossed? When does thought-provoking, opinion-forming commentary under the guise of good intentions become clickbait and character assassination?

    A recent piece, for want of a better word, “triggered” me. One from a reputable source claiming that Ange (notorious for being a talker, as we all know) not wanting to disclose his ultimate ‘stay-or-go’ decision on a current affairs program with no real relation to the football community, was indicative of him knowsingly and deliberately taking Australian football “for a ride”.

    There’s no denying that being a Socceroos supporter in 2017 hasn’t been easy. Regardless, the time is now to drop it all and support the boys. The next few weeks will be, as the football cliche goes, “squeaky bum time” for all of us. But that doesn’t justify the inflammatory, agenda-driven, near-defamatory statements of recent weeks.

    The FFA’s troubles with clubs and other stakeholders are a related but ultimately irrelevant distraction in terms of the national team’s performance over two legs.

    In short, get behind the team, be satisfied with reporting on a story just the once in a 24 hour period and let the football community breathe and form their own views.

    And if all else fails for Ange, there’s always the Everton job!