Aaron Ramsey And The Two-Faced English Media
You know your team isn’t doing too well when the blasted international break becomes the blessed international break, and the top searched news is Jack Wilshere being hauled in front of the media jury for offering to clean a spud cabbie’s window. At times like these, you feel like going into your shell, try thinking about ramp functions rather than downward spiralling seasons, maybe watch a bit of the Unbeaten DVD
and cry tears of blood. You generally want to think of happier times. Of course, you can trust me to further wallow in misery despite all this and think about events roughly a year ago; when Arsenal took on Stoke and I got the most sickening feeling of déjà vu I’ll ever get.
Aaron Ramsey’s rise to the Arsenal first team was not as meteoric as Wilshere’s, but he was settling in impressively well nonetheless. Ramsey wasn’t as consistent as Wilshere; I remember him having an absolute stinker against Sunderland at home; and was consequently not the first name on the team sheet. He was prodigious in his own right however, spraying passes around like my wing-mates spray cologne around when he wanted to, possessing great shooting technique and an eye for goal that Cesc didn’t have when he was in the nascent stages of his career. In fact, he had benched Denilson for a couple of games running, and was playing with refreshing confidence at the Britannia, running the midfield along with Cesc without breaking sweat. Ah, you just know I would bring ‘break’ in somewhere, didn’t you?
I’ve been called a lot of things in many places including this blog. So I guess the best thing to do is to just be my opinionated, obtuse, rose-tinted, whiny, insecure self. A balanced write-up this is not. No Arsenal fan can be balanced about this. And it’s not about what happened in the match but what happened after it. After Shawcross broke Ramsey’s leg, the English media proceeded to take a blinkered view that would put any Wenger instance of self-confessed myopia to shame.
Richard Keys had many avenues he could have taken in the post-match show. The topic they chose to discuss was whether Arsenal’s football was too fast. So, from the many conclusions that can be drawn, the conclusion drawn was that Arsenal should slow their game down to not have their legs broken. That is like going into a topless bar and coming out sucking on your herpes-infected thumb with gay abandon. He was sacked recently as the world in general came to its senses and wondered what the fuck he was doing with a mike in his hand, but that was not before he had delivered more gems like these.
Paul Parker, the lightbulb-shaped pundit on ESPN, unfortunately has no lightbulbs going off in his head ever. He expertly analysed the entire fracas and said that Wenger should apologize to Shawcross. Tony Pulis said that Shawcross was a smashing lad (smashing, heh) who went home with his Mum each day, and was not at all malicious. The big, heaving blob of goo that was the media opened its collective mouth and hollered those evergreen words at Wenger, words that make everything alright- He’s Not That Kind Of Player.
Almost everybody beat enthusiastically about the bush, not realizing that the point of the entire matter was (again, my blinkered view) – How does it matter what kind of player he is?
If he eats Frosties with milk for breakfast, wears clean underwear and blows his nose religiously like a good boy, is that going to make Aaron Ramsey’s shattered leg grow back faster? How do you define malicious intent, when someone comes and hacks at your leg with an axe or pokes your eye with a compass needle? It was a careless, late tackle; not his first and looking at his complete lack of regret, not likely to be his last. A man who has broken three legs by the age of twenty three must have something wrong with his technique, but not being that kind of player means you get a star next to your name. Substandard technique be damned.
The bottom line is that Shawcross served his ban in fifteen days and was back, right as rain and ready to be sent off again. Ramsey made a cautious return in the 2-0 loss to Man United a little over one year after he got injured. That doesn’t look at all fair to me, unlucky tackle or not. Other countries give out ten match bans for such tackles; here we just have people sticking their fingers in their ears and going ‘la la la la what broken leg I don’t see no broken leg’. Or they choose to concentrate on something else with such completeness that any decapitations dissolve into nothingness. In this case it was Ryan Shawcross’s tears. You had Paul Masefield saying post game ‘I feel sorry for Shawcross and Ramsey’ with Ramsey thrown in like an afterthought. You had managers, players, all and sundry calling him and asking him if he was alright after the obvious trauma he suffered.
This article by Martin Samuel says what I want to better than I possibly could-
Chris Morgan, captain of Sheffield United, punched Robin van Persie, the Arsenal striker, in the ribs on the blind side during a match in 2006, but after the game there was greater focus on Van Persie’s refusal to offer his hand at the end.
As if an off-the-ball punch was something Arsenal’s softies just had to overcome, and they were bad sports if they could not. In essence, while English football employs this mindset, it is playing a version of the rules, not the real thing.
They’re blatantly refusing to see what needs to be discussed and turn their head up at bad sportsmanship like refusing to shake hands or a defender crying. As long as the MOTD crew laugh over Karl Henry pushing, shoving and trying to maim Joey Barton (it’s him, but still), we have a problem.
I don’t know why I brought this topic up, but it really rankled at the time and still does. It’s not old or stale; this sweeping under the carpet of selective things needs to stop. I don’t know how many times I’ll have brought this skeleton out of its closet by the time that change happens. I hope I don’t break any of its bones. I’ll be sure to sob, sniff and reach for a pack of tissues if that does happen though.