Saturday, June 21, 2008

*Now* he tells us

Interesting piece in the Guardian by Daniel Taylor about Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguing that Manchester United should just let him go he cites a few occasions on which he and a number of football writers have witnessed and been shocked by Ronaldo's back-stage behaviour and paints a picture of a spoiled multi-millionaire who is used to getting his way at all times. Recalling the scene created by a petulant Ronaldo on a day the club was commemorating the victims of the Munich air crash he says "It was such an unpleasant scene the journalists decided not to write about it". This confirms what you have always suspected about sports writers - that far from competing they put their heads together and agree their party line. And they only spill the beans when they have nothing to lose by doing so. The comeback from readers on the Guardian site will, I think, surprise him. People are starting to feel shortchanged by this kind of cosiness.


  1. It is all a bit cosy, the standards of journalism even in the broadsheets sports pages is very patchy.
    Akso you've got remember it is the Manchester Guardian!

  2. I was never even aware that this sort of "cartel" of thinking existed between sports writers. Maybe, I'm just too innocent.

  3. Anonymous3:12 pm

    I think that this time the writers were just being sensitive to the occasion rather than cowardly.


  4. Anonymous5:13 pm

    I have worked among sportswriters and can tell you this sort of collusion is an everyday occurrence - the daily papers get their `line', a different one is agreed for the Sunday papers, and so on. It doesn't just happen in football - I've seen the same in golf, rugby, cricket and so on.

  5. I take your point about the cosiness but in this incident it does seem like the right 'line' was taken, no reason for Ronaldo's behaviour to overshadow the commemorations. Surely better for the journalists to discuss what approach to take to what was a sensitive issue.
    The real problem in sports writing is the lack of access to players and managers.

  6. I don't think hacks should ever take a line. It seems to happen in two areas: the parliamentary lobby and the sports pack. Both delight in saying "oh, we always knew *that*". Eventually.

  7. Anonymous11:45 pm

    Was outraged when I read this earlier. Why did Taylor come out with it now? The more cynical amongst us might think he was given the nod by the Old Trafford press office. Why did this come out now? A nasty taste, all round...

  8. So what’s the most shocking aspect of this story? That a young rich showbiz star behaves like a bit of a spoilt brat? Hardly news.
    That sports journalists collude and suck up the players/clubs? Like all branches of journalism it’s about the balance of power. Sports hacks need the co-operation of the clubs more than the clubs need them. Alex Ferguson hasn’t spoken to the BBC for years because of allegations made in a documentary about his son’s dubious activities as a football agent. I don’t remember the successful libel action.
    No. The truly offensive aspect of this story is in the second sentence. A “media day building up to 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster” indeed. In the eyes of MU plc the Munich air crash is a nice little facet of the “brand”; a dramatic tragedy that sits nicely as part of the sexy “back story”. I’m sure the commemorative shirts did brisk business.
    An institution with any dignity or integrity would have organised a quiet, private memorial service, rather than an ostentatious media hullabaloo.
    Why on earth is Wayne Rooney being dragged out to talk about something that happened nearly thirty years before he was born? How is young lad from Spain meant to connect with it? Would a young Polish plumber working in Swansea be expected to know about and understand the cultural importance of Aberfan?
    As far as Ronaldo wanting to leave goes you can hardly blame him. He gets nothing but abuse over here (a lot of it well earned but that’s by the by) and
    fancies living in a more familiar culture closer to home. Man U can’t really complain about having one of their players tapped up - who are the leading practitioners of that, eh? And you can’t blame footballers for being ruthless and selfish; they learn it from all the clubs they’ve been at since they were kids. And they don’t come any bigger, greedier and more ruthless than Manchester United.

  9. Anonymous12:20 pm

    The young polish plumber isn't a fair comparison - his job doesn't involve a relationship with the media or thousands of supporters. I think any footballer playing for a high profile club outside his own country could be reasonably expected to learn a bit about that club's history and key events that go to make up that club's collective psyche.

    I thought the comment about the Munich crash being manipulated to be part of the Man U brand was a good, albeit very cynical, insight.

  10. Anonymous12:51 pm

    For years, the molly coddled Fleet Street Golf Writers (they have their own association) would stay in the same house when reporting from the US Masters and each night ring in their copy from the one phone in the living room whilst the other chaps quaffed G&T's.

    More recently, the Guardian ran a series of podcasts during the recent 6 Nations tournament. Rather than getting in a few experts and perhaps a star name player, instead they called on Ian Payne and a few random blokes from the sportsdesk who clearly knew nothing about the sport apart perhaps from the word "Cipriani", and, one surmised, might perhaps have been along for the ride and the free tickets. Each week they got crucified by their readers on the paper's own blogs for the stupidity of the podcast. Oddly, it didn't seem to matter...