England: The Sun's front page headline on Roy Hodgson was bang out of order
The Sun's front page on Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Different to endearment: they are ridiculing him and they know it . . .In England, the media are ever present. They are ubiquitous. Every ‘EXCLUSIVE!’ scoop is squeezed of all potential jingoistic speculation; every shady ‘source’ that one can imagine existing only in the writer's heads is used to back up what you’ll often find is a non-story and every accusation or wealth of criticism they level at some poor soul is large, wild and potent – and the same goes for those whom are lavished with praise. Sadly within our society – not just our sport – you might often find that reserved and intelligent journalism is hard to come by.
Of course, there are some sites, blogs, papers or what have you (including the site I’m currently writing for, however independent it may be) which strive to maintain dignity and refuse to let their knees jerk through the ceiling at every incident which happens. Ostentatiously they seem to be drowned out by the enemy.
One simply cannot underestimate the stranglehold our media possesses; it’s like a bilious, pugnacious game whereby they hold the double flushes and dice, others are forced to sit down at the table and play cards with them and unless you strike a particularly sweet chord with the game runners, then often you will feel their cold grip around your neck. They are powerful; dangerous and spiteful, at times sarcastic and act as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Your best friend when on top and a story needs selling. You worst enemy when the chips are down. Or, perhaps even worse, your worst enemy even when you commit no crime and your best friend until they run out of excuses for you. The England job is where we see modern media work its inky black magic.
It was never going to be easy for Roy Hodgson when he accepted the post that he couldn’t not accept. But just one day into what is steadily becoming the most repugnant position in our country – in fact, the most repugnant position – and the press have begun the character assassination which worked a treat on the likes of Sven and Capello.
The ridiculing and undermining of Roy has begun: this time it is the Sun (though others will follow suit). And they and Murdoch epitomise the very worst of Britishness. The headline screams out ‘Bwing On The Euwwo’s’, poking fun of Hodgson’s speech impediment, just hours after a man has entered the biggest week of his life. Unnecessary and cruel; childish and juvenile. Why not support the man? Why not look to his successful history in international management and support him? And even if one's opinion is that Hodgson is not the right man, why not present a logical and coherent argument instead of perniciously – because that is what this is, nasty and pernicious – undermining him before he has even assembled a squad? It just isn’t fair: not on Hodgson, the fans or even the players.
Harry Redknapp is still being quoted as the populist choice even though various polls have debunked and nullified that notion. ‘Sources’ close to him are apparently telling of his bewilderment despite the fact that he was the media’s choice, and the FA should not feel controlled by the media. The myopia; the bile is crushing. The word ‘snubbed’ has been used; snubbed from what? Was he promised the position? Or was it the media that exacerbated and created that ‘promise’? These gutter mouth hacks clearly angered that their man hasn’t been chosen will stop at nothing to devalue Hodgson – no matter what he does (because lest we forget he hasn’t even been given a chance yet) – and force Redknapp’s name into the hat.
If one – say, a journalist – is of the opinion that Harry should boss England, then fine. But journalists must also be fair, dignified and balanced in their approach. To try and make it happen like this is an abomination. They should feel ashamed of the embarrassment that they are bringing to their profession. Obviously I am not a journalist, but in essence are the childish arguments they present contradicting the very reason to become one? Isn’t well-reasoned, fair and intelligent analysis what journalists should pride themselves on, rather than redundant little swipes and myopia – even when he fails – for one man?
Does anyone have that sick feeling again? That eventually, just like those before Hodgson and after him will fall to the wayside in this torrential outpour of corrosive pessimism? It helps nothing; all it contributes to is the nervousness, disinterest and paralysing fear of those who are supposed the feel ‘honoured’ to represent England at international tournaments. But there is nothing honourable about what our national side has become. A cesspit of ‘Ingerland’ supporters demanding absurdities and the Media sapping sanguinity and over-blowing faults only to rinse and repeat. Capello, the world renowned manager who has won the Champions League, gave up. One wonders what we will eventually become as a football nation. Even worse?
Roy has many achievements in the game. I wrote earlier on this week that as a gentlemanly figure yet also a man who is clichéd as an ‘average’ manager, he couldn’t resist the call of a large job and he deserves his chance, even though he knows it could end badly. And I hope he does well. But it’s not just usual media piss and wind with England…its acid and brimstone. Should anyone be subjected to this? The England job isn’t an ‘honourable’ position but a damnation made by, amongst other factors, our gutter mouth press who twist things and claim ‘it was the populist opinion’ to justify their abominable behaviour and brown nose their old mates. It’s a vicious cycle. And one which corrodes the will of the very best of men.
And what a damning statement that is when solidarity, togetherness and realistic support should be shown for England. A country unified, after all, is what should make international football great. But not destructive journalism which takes great pleasure in destroying someone if they don’t get their own way. We should be testing ourselves against others; not testing ourselves against, well, ourselves. Because the pessimism that our media seems to level at every manager is like invading and destroying your own bloody country: it is fruitless.
When does anger become apathy? Because the road for Hodgson at the moment seems to be so predictable. We can hope he succeeds … but no-one will be surprised if, with the unhelpful spitting from the venomous media, once again England fail and it’s players heads sink even lower.
Right now I am actually grateful to be angry for at least it motivates me to say or do something. I so, so, so badly want my nation to enjoy success but I fear there will come a day where this bile will kill off any feeling I have left. Is that disloyal? Perhaps. But it is also honesty and maybe the real disloyalty and ‘plasticity’ would be pretending to support something that I simply would not care about anymore. If your heart isn’t in it, what is the point? There is none. And believe me, apathy is not an easy way out. After all, eventually feeling detached and indifferent to England is ten times worse than feeling anger.
For feeling something – anger, disgust or anything – is better than feeling stone-cold numb to something I used to support, cherish and – in terms of England lifting the world cup – go to bed dreaming of.
Calling all England fans. Do you agree with Jack? Is it time the Press got off Hodgson's back and finally give England managers the respect they deserve? Have they gone too far? Will Hodgson see out his four year deal with the FA? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.