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Arsenal transfer commentary language changes: now the pundits know best

By Tony Attwood

Recently one of the most read Arsenal stories doing the rounds on the internet was “Arsenal would commit the biggest transfer blunder by signing this 26-year-old flop even though it is for free.”    The story appeared in Media Referee and came with the sub heading “Gunners should drop their interest in Liverpool outcast Alberto Moreno”.

Now the source that they picked for this story was the Daily Star, whose main headlines that day included “Couple’s rude wedding cake design sparks debate online: ‘It’s inappropriate’.”    I think that gives a fair indication of the sort of publication we are dealing with here, both in terms of source material and in terms of quoting that source with approval.

Moreno was a left back for Liverpool and is now out of contract.  The link between him and Arsenal probably comes from the fact that he played for Emery at Sevilla.  And the reason that we might not want him comes from the fact that he only made five appearances for Liverpool, as he was a deputy to Andrew Robertson, having been first choice for a couple of seasons.

The article in Media Referee then goes on to describe the player as a “liability”.   It was a theme already taken up in other places.  The site “Reddit” for example, noted the complaints about the player but wondered how much those playing alongside him were to blame through their poor positioning saying, “Moreno, though really exciting and energetic further up the pitch, proved himself to be a defensive liability at Liverpool.”

PainintheArsenal picked up the theme and suggested that Monreal was becoming less reliable and a liability and Kolasinac was himself flawed and thus in a certain type of system Moreno could be ok on a free, as that would mean we would have money for other areas.

The Express chimed in with more Liverpool news and the same word… “Alberto Moreno blasted as a liability.”

As early as last October 90min ran the story that “Moreno has always seemed a defensive liability at Liverpool,” while going back to September 2017 FootballFanCast had “Alberto Moreno is the epitome of Klopp’s #LFC: manic, unpredictable, erratic & reckless. An attacking force and a defensive liability”.

In March this year Empireofthekop called time on the player saying he was, “likely to put pen to paper on a Bosman transfer that will see him join Lazio at the end of this season,” but that hasn’t happened yet – they did mention the player was a liability.

Going back further to 2017 we have TheAnfieldWrap saying “either eject him permanently from the squad or play him in the position that he doesn’t become a liability to the team.”

Of course he is not the only “liability” doing the rounds – in 2015 Jose Mourinho called Eden Hazard a defensive liability” but by and large “Moreno” and “liability” seem to be pairing of choice for scribblers.   And that gave me pause for thought.

If there is a player in a team and to the observer the player seems to be doing more harm than good, you can call him a liability.   You can also call the player a hindrance, or an encumbrance, or a burden, or perhaps a handicap, or maybe a nuisance, or an obstacle or impediment to progress, or perhaps a weak link, a millstone or a stumbling block.  Anyone really wanting to use the language could also call him an albatross or suggest that he was Liverpool’s Achilles heel, but no, he was, to the scribblers, one and all, a liability.

Which raises with me a number of questions.

1: Did each of the aforementioned writers all come up with “liability” for this player independently, or did one writer just happen to use the word, and everyone else followed?

2: If he was that bad why did the manager of Liverpool, who is known to be quite a clever chap when it comes to selecting teams and getting Liverpool up the league and winning the Champs League, play him?

3: And from this second point, how come all these commentators can instantly see he was no good, while Liverpool didn’t?

What appears to be going on in fact is that the bloggers and journos are picking on a player and a negative word and putting the two together.  Once done, it sticks.

This copying has been going on for ages in terms of transfer rumours of course – no one ever admits to coming up with the garbage that makes up 97% of the rumours.  But now the scribblers are all copying the same word to put down a player – and putting down is what they mostly do.  Negativity seems to be the fundamental approach.

Apart from how bad this must make the player feel, it also seems a bit like the blogs and newspapers throwing away even the tiny bit of credibility they have left if they are not only borrowing each other’s transfer rumours AND their mocking and knocking language at the same time.

More transfer thoughts anon…

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