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The press ‘campaign’ against Frank Lampard



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Chelsea fan Soupdragon takes particular offense at the vitriol thrown in Lampard’s direction by Chelsea-haters – who seem to be everywhere, especially in the media.

Are you so desperately concerned about the economic affairs of other clubs that it reduces your enjoyment of “the beautiful game”?

Do you condemn the ‘classless behaviour’ of certain teams unconditionally, whilst justifying similar behaviour by your own club’s staff with equal vigour?

Do you care more about the critical coverage of a player’s autobiography than their value as a footballer to your national team?

If so, you’re either a sports journalist (Ed: where journalist = scum) or one of a billion disillusioned fans.

At any given moment, countless beings worldwide will be perusing their domestic and foreign dailies, hoping to stumble upon some genuinely interesting and informative reading material.

Those of you who turn straight to the sports section will have inevitably come across a recent trend which is threatening and undermining the professional analysis of our game.

There has been a sudden increase in articles written by campy, self appreciative, cowboy journalists, and the game’s reputation is suffering as a consequence. The arrogant flippancy championed by ‘men’s men’ like Mark Lawrenson and Richard Keys is now considered the trademark of a knowledgeable pundit.

Football journalism has gone from ‘sporting bout’ to ‘thought: without’.

We do not read objective articles which encapsulate an evening’s football action; we read fabricated trash which parades as the all-encompassing view of an apparently uber-cynical sporting public.

The bitter, middle aged press reps are doing their best to warp the public’s perception of the game beyond recognition. It’s time for those who claim to care about our national game to take notice of the impact these mediocre propagandists are having.

Any self respecting arm-chair analyst will accept that the papers will always influence public opinion, and that by agreeing with public opinion you are usually regurgitating the loaded statements of aforementioned ‘crotchety hacks’.

It intensifies your enjoyment of the game if you have your own opinions on sporting matters. It is your duty to be strong enough to disagree with the status quo. Instead of searching for shreds of evidence to support the press’ spite-fuelled barbs, take the time to consider the implications of their frequent accusations. Do you really think one player should be excessively vilified for behaviour that is ever-present in the game? Why does another player with similar behavioural tendencies deserve to be spared the condemnation?

I make a point of avoiding sporting articles with sensational headlines; a person can end up exposing themselves to simplistic, agenda-driven conjecture without due consideration. Sporting lifestyle articles always question or support a character’s motives and morals. This kind of material is published to encourage the growth of extra layers of superficial interest in the game and will either support or dismantle the reputations of certain teams and players.

Now I know ninety nine percent of you are now saying “I make up my own mind.” And “I don’t even read the papers“.

Every incident is revisited and over-analysed in all facets of football. Every opinion is dismissed or supported, and there are no grey areas. When you are watching the game on television, you will find pundits and commentators are happy to explore the recent criticisms of a player or a club, usually regurgitating the most palatable public theory which falls in line with the fans of the most popular clubs. You must then expect to repeatedly encounter a loud and unapologetic repetition of these opinions spouted by drunken trolls in your local watering hole (usually with a few naughty words interspersed), either way you will certainly come across the main talking points from the morning’s papers. Don’t forget, you are reading about football on the internet too.

The press and the pundits are cogs in the mechanism of one particular behavioural pattern which stifles the validity of almost all rudimentary analysis of the football. Most sports writers lavish praise upon particular players and clubs (whom they will happily admit they support and/or have ties with) and speak or write with pure contempt in regard to others. This always comes across as a misguided attempt to show everyone that the middle class fifty-somethings (with a penchant for a night in with the thesaurus and a bottle of Marks and Spencer’s finest red) can be just as barbarically prejudiced as your average 20 stone Millwall fan with the club logo tattooed to his forehead. It is a comical parody of one of the unwritten laws between football fans. Your status as a ‘real fan’ is STILL determined by the volume at which you can holler “My team are f**kin’ great mate. Yours is well sh**e.” Whilst holding 3 cups of Bovril and a claxon.

(I’m still not sure if the brown stains which frequently appear on Mick Dennis’ articles are the result of repeated Bovril spillages or his inability to control the stream of an equally foul substance which tends to spew from his mouth.)

This is a reflection of the working class attitude which refuses to relinquish its demeaning grip on a sport which has outgrown it’s simplistic roots theoretically and financially.

I am forced to endure Adrian Chiles’ ‘endearing’ mannerisms on Match of the Day 2 (up to and including wild arm flailing) and I must say, watching him flounder is far more interesting than listening to his child-like realisation of any given Sunday’s sporting events. His face lights up like a shark that’s been plonked into a pool full of wounded seals every time the opportunity to stick the knife in on a high profile victim arises. Gavin Peacock could be half way through a sentence, expressing genuine concern over the seriousness of a player’s injury, then BAM. Adrian decides that he can’t contain himself, inanely tumbling through yet another hilarious critique of the size of Ashley Cole’s ear-rings.


So finally the subject of the article comes into focus; my disillusionment at the press’ unjustified and irrelevant criticism of certain characters and clubs. Some players suffer at the hands of the press, while others are afforded comparative immunity.

Football has always been about the heroes, but sadly villains sell papers. The tounge-in-cheekery of a bygone era has been entirely usurped in favour of repetitive and agonising bitching that wouldn’t sound out of place in a lady’s weekly.

“Have you seen Frank Lampard recently? He has gotten sooo fat.”
“That Jose Mourinho is sooo up himself.”
“Arsenal are sooo beautiful to watch.”

Perhaps we should be scrutinising the spiteful fools who make a living pimping negative ideals to a public starved of conversation points.

“Mick Dennis’ performance was way under-par on Wednesday. He repeatedly resorted to biased bitching utilising a collection of pre-rehearsed clichéd metaphors. He yet again regurgitated the theme of another forgettable article in which he criticised Chelsea. Perhaps he should lay off the burgers and stop looking at his feet in interviews, the ugly git.”

See how it feels Mick?

I am starting to wonder whether the fans would be better off disregarding the “interest” articles written by the new breed of tabloid sport journalists.

Frank Lampard is a man with the weight of the British sporting press resting on his shoulders. What has been described by Mourinho as a press ‘campaign’ against one of his most valuable players has gone so far that the ‘knowledgeable’ journalists are calling for him to be dropped from club and country. I can take the never-ending abuse of my club, as most of the abuse that comes our way is pathetically unquantifiable.

However, when a player of Lampard’s quality is shown such disrespect, you start to understand that (like the majority of the fans) sports journalists don’t actually want to deal with facts and figures unless it suits their agendas. The journos want to take a small sample of the truth, contort it until the information is unrecognisable then feed it to the public like it’s the awe-inspiring validification they’ve all been praying for.

In the World Cup Frank had a poor tournament by his usual standards. So did everyone else. End of story.

But it’s not the end of the story is it? Steven Gerrard weighed in with a whopping 2 goals at the and suddenly he should not only displace Lampard, he should be named as England’s captain as well.

Where were the journalists championing Frank Lampard as the most viable candidate for the England captaincy after he was our man of the tournament with a 5 goal haul two years ago in Portugal? Never once did the newspapers express that Gerrard’s permanent lack of form for England might eventually lose him his place in the team. Why has Lampard’s temporary dip (mainly for England rather than for Chelsea) been afforded such significance?

Last season, Frank broke a domestic record by scoring the most goals from midfield in the Premiership’s history. He was regarded as the second best player on the planet in 2004, and England’s most valuable player in the year of the last European Championship. He holds the record for the most consecutive appearances of all time in the top division and is considered to be a key figure in the star-studded Chelsea side who have won the domestic title two years in a row. Chelsea’s ‘failure’ in Europe consists of 3 latter stage appearances in 3 years, where twice they were beaten by the eventual winners.

Lampard’s achievements with Chelsea have been facilitated by his unrelenting determination and dedication, and he comes across as a likeable and intelligent character in his interviews and press conferences.

It’s re-assuring for members of the press to see their vengeful fabricated opinions repeated without due consideration, but the idea that the best midfielder in the country should be left out of England’s first eleven is laughable.

Don’t dismiss the facts and figures, and instead of being so critical of Frank Lampard, afford him the same respect you would to any other player with his credentials and capabilities.

If you don’t take heed of my advice, I promise that you will continue to massage the tabloid press’ collective ego and the England team will be weaker as a result of this flippancy. A man can only stand so much unjustified criticism, and it is plain to see that the public campaign against Lampard has affected his confidence.

You have to ask yourself what’s more important, the satisfaction of undermining a Chelsea player or the positive development of one of England’s finest midfielders?

Roll on Euro 2008.