To talk or not to talk, what was the question?

guest blog by Tricky

So here we are 2011, and yet 20 years ago seems like only yesterday, a day that I was working out how old I would be in the year 2000 and thinking that it was half a lifetime away. Those were the days when my naivety hadn’t quite had the sh*t kicked out of it, in order to be replaced by cynicism. Life was good, we’d been to the twin towers, beaten Forest in a cup final after a nervy extra time own goal. Even the fact that it was Gazza last cameo could not dent the joy to be had from being the FA cup holders once again.

That was 1991, and so the following year the single most important creation occurred; The English Premier League. We were promised bigger, better, faster and more powerful than you could possibly imagine football, a cascade of footballing frenzy, with successive matches each more significant than the last because each week ‘this one matters’.

Fast forward that 20 years and we find ourselves looking ever forwards in a perpetual cycle of pursuit of information, a day when news of events like 9/11 spread around the world like a virus within minutes of its happening.

And so now the 24/7 media frenzy that is set to ramp up as the season beckons has all fans clamouring for information, and the only thing happening for sure is the hit count at NewsNow is marching on as far as I can tell.

We seek out snippets and our ability to access information at the touch of a button has set an expectation, well beyond those heady days of picking up a newspaper and that was it for the day. I am fortunate to work from home a lot of the time, but the downside is that the ability to ‘refresh’ a media stream is all too easy, and the lack of updates in itself an exercise in futility. And yet I still do it, sucked in by the ability to access information, despite knowing full well that it is as likely to be a re-hash of last week’s news.

It’s almost as though I somehow crave the inevitable disappointment which has been so much of my history of supporting Spurs in some twisted perverse irony. And that in some way the recent ‘success’ at the club I adore, has found me lusting after mediocrity and ultimately at least some form of failure that doesn’t finish with ‘LOL’.

The irony being that this activity of seeking ‘news’ of any form, is in turn fuelled mostly by in the absence of information, a vacuum which is conveniently filled with ‘the big yellow tickers of conjecture’ (tm). SSN for their part provided a ‘service’ in the early days of ‘up to date’ information. Forgetting conveniently that in order to fulfil this service it required this mythical beast called ‘content’.

Clearly in a desperate scramble to fill this void (in order to boost viewing and therefore advertising revenue) they cottoned onto the idea of the ‘sound bite’, media reigned supreme once more, because a five minute interview meant a further 2 hours of programme ‘content’ with ‘analysis’.

The clubs for their part were complicit, because for them ‘brand’ was suddenly the goose that laid the golden egg, something that could be trading upon without really having to do anything, fans were no longer fans they were ‘revenue streams’. And so they in turn decided that allowing their manager to talk about the club was a way to promote the club itself, because the only thing worse than being talked about was not having a reporter stood outside your training ground, preferably with the club emblem prominent in the background.

In fact if you could squeeze a mascot in the shot somewhere to appeal to the next generation of 'revenue', partially through subconscious reinforcement of identity (and I'm sorry folks, but Chirpy is a keeper for that reason alone) and brand then that's a tick in the box for the PR folk once again.

This then escalated to a point where ex-managers/players opinions weren’t deemed up to date enough, and current manager and players were courted. With their views now even more important and worth of even greater over-analysis, and because each media stream can edit interviews, two different outlets can report completely contrasting views. Further allowing opposing sides of the same debate to linger on, polarising fans and opinions, when sometimes based purely on conjecture or ‘what might happen’.

So should our manager be allowed to provide the inevitable sound bite? After all there is good sport, and drinking games to be had, but the reality for me has become a parody. This blog, which covers a cross section of fans, exists (in part) as a result of the collective need for information.

And what about his writing for a newspaper? Well, if fans want information, what better way to get it than from the horse’s mouth?

Now I personally wouldn’t give any tabloid the satisfaction of actually buying a paper, not even for the purposes of cleaning out the cats litter tray (FYI, FT is the best for this as bigger sheets and better quality paper). 

Also, and this may seem like a crazy notion, I personally believe that a manager should manage, and shouldn’t have enough spare time to be writing the sort of guff ‘our ‘arry’ does, which is so heavily edited that it has all real content of any note taken out. And for me it is Levy’s job to dictate what work he can and can’t do, he writes the bloody employment contracts and surely £x million a year is more than enough income who describes current players wages as ‘obscene’.

Maybe then we wouldn’t have seen the last twelve months ‘charm offensive’ with opposing fans and the media in general by our erstwhile manager. Something Levy has to be partially to blame for a) not controlling his triffic manager and b) not employing a PR department that can provide information two days before every other media outlet has already announced it, released it and discussed it as opposed to two days after the event.

And then there is ‘Twitter’ a medium which has all its credibility gained by having Lord Stephen of Fry as its king, reduced to tatters by the ramblings of a man so stupid he couldn’t organise a p*ss in cup. I wonder at the way it is all evolving, and was slightly surprised to learn that Goon central's PR department thought it was a good idea to re-tweet all of the player’s posts on their official site!

Just imagine how dull and sanitised that will become, and don’t go thinking that our players would be any better (excepting of course perhaps VDV who, having never met a sane Dutchman in my life, I imagine is beyond ‘editing’).

So what becomes the point of Twitter? To engage with the fans? To make them feel ‘part of the club’ and closer to players? To fill that disconnect that we now feel when we look at these multi-millionaires? Or is it simply just another way of promoting ‘brand’?

You’d have to be one dumb (or naive) tw*t to suckle on that particular lactating mammary of a media stream, which probably explains why goon central have gone down that path.

 

Three wise men?

 

When all is said and done, we now find ourselves in a situation where ‘What is said’ now has as much weight as ‘what isn’t said’ and with a little editing what is said, in fact is completely out of context and now made to look like ‘someone somewhere might have alluded to something’. Sorting out the lies, from the edits, from the truths, from the opinions is half the battle, but then perhaps where most of the debate comes from. And I sure as hell don’t know what the answer is.

But then what is the alternative? Well, for many of us our memories may be short through years of self abuse, but a certain Mr Ramos and his performing Poyet springs to mind. And the ‘fans view’ back then ‘he doesn’t talk to the fans enough’ was quoted more often than not. Fickle? Us? Surely not...

For the record, I also crave information as much as the next person, acutely aware that I have become that ‘revenue stream’ whilst perversely also being able to bitch about it to anyone who cares to ignore me, or to tell me to GWTFP of STFU.

But what I really want, just for a few years at least whilst this frenzy continues, is a manager who didn’t have any other jobs and whose sole interest was being the next ‘Bill Nicholson’.  At least then it would give me something different to bitch about at least, when the only news available is that form the OS (which will of course still be 48 hours out of date).

Having said all that, do I really miss the ‘old days’? Well what do you think? I work from home a fair bit, with broadband and access to the largest portfolio of free porn that the world has ever seen.

But, I do wish that our manager would manage the team and that the press would deal with the media, then perhaps we could all get on with the, ‘ahem’, the, err, important things in our day.

 

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