13/05/2010 : Football League Blog : Football's Silly Season
13 May 2010 : Football's Silly Season
Last Saturday, when talking about the current rumours concerning Yeovil Town left-back Nathan Smith, we warned of football's Silly Season - the period of the close season where football news slows down, and journalists begin to struggle to fill their pages. Anything and everything gets seized upon as being from "a reliable source", and to be frank, there is an awful lot of rubbish peddled during that time.

Certain papers tend to do it more than others. The Mirror had a poor reputation for publishing football gossip. However, they seem to be getting out-bid by some of the utter rubbish being peddled on the Daily Mail website at present.

When Milton Keynes Dons were in the process of saying goodbye to former manager Paul Ince, the Mail claimed that Brendan Rodgers was "in line" to replace Ince. However, they then later claimed that Glenn Hoddle was on his way to stadium:mk. When another media website suggested that John Gorman was the man coming as manager, the Mail hastily did a rewrite of their article and at the third attempt claimed Gorman was to be the top dog. As it happens, none of them were correct - assistant manager Karl Robinson was the man appointed - Gorman's arrival was to act as his deputy.

On May 4th, the Mail headed to the Hampshire coast and picked out Southampton for their attention. They claimed that Saints boss Alan Pardew was on his way out, starting their article with "Alan Pardew is fighting to cling on to his job at Southampton" and claiming he was collecting his P45 when they captioned his photo: "P45: Alan Pardew was given hansom finance in January as Southampton pushed for the playoffs. We're not quite sure what "hamsom finance" is - a "hamsom" is a 19th Century horse drawn carriage - go figure!

Later that same day, the Southampton Daily Echo, apparently without any additional information or source material, repeated the same suggestion that Pardew was out on his ear, citing the Mail's suggestion that Chairman Nicola Cortese was unhappy with the club "only" finishing 7th this season - a fairly nonsensical suggestion given that Pardew was fresh from bringing home the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, and would have got into the play-offs were it not for Southampton going into administration and almost folding last summer.

This didn't stop the now mutual pairing of the Mail and the Daily Echo, who were now working in tandem. By May 12th, the Daily Mail had claimed that Pardew "is expected to leave the club today after being summoned to a meeting with chairman Nicola Cortese". They even roped in another poor unwitting club and manager into the equation, claiming that Notts County were about to lose their manager Steve Cotterill to St Mary's, only a week after guiding them to the League Two title. Meanwhile the Echo contacted Matt Le Tissier, Lawrie McMenemy, Francis Benali and even Mrs Miggins down at the local street cafe (OK we may have made that bit up) to ask them their opinion of this imminent sacking. This was D-Day, he was going to be gone on Wednesday, and the truth was going to be out!

Except that instead, there was total silence. No statement from St Mary's. Nothing on their official site, so what had happened? All hail the Southampton Daily Echo and the Daily Mail who revealed that talks between Pardew and Cortese had been postponed until Thursday. The sacking would take place then, and according to the reliable Mail, Pardew had been "given a stay of execution as Southampton boss as talks postponed".

Except that they hadn't been postponed. The one reliable and factual bit in this farce was that Pardew and Cortese were actually meeting. And they still met on Wednesday as planned. And rather like all good Football Managers and Chairmen around this time of the season, they talked about planning for next season. This morning a statement on the Saints official site gave a very detailed analysis of Southampton's past, present and future penned by Cortese and stated that:

"Yesterday I completed a thorough review of the First Team with Alan and we are clear and agreed on our plans and objectives for the coming season. Although getting the football side right is a serious business, Alan and I have a lot of fun doing it and we are developing a mutual trust."

But wait! Where is the sacking that the Mail and the Echo claimed was forthcoming? Cortese had a few words to say about that:

"In recent days, there has been much speculation in some of the tabloid national and local press about the position of our First Team Manager, Alan Pardew. This speculation could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to unsettle both the Club and Alan. Without exception it has been ill-informed. Our fans and staff should be reassured that I will only make decisions affecting our future based on sound football and business thinking and not on the whims of a local newspaper keen to maximise readership or pundits whose agendas are unclear. Furthermore, I will not respond to every piece of idle speculation. We have too much development work to do to waste time on such pursuits. As a local paper, I would have hoped that it would provide the local community with news, rather than gossip. However, I am not so nave as to expect such speculation to stop."

So in other words, complete and utter bunkum from the Daily Mail and Daily Echo. But not before they'd managed to sucker the likes of the Daily Telegraph into belatedly joining in with the rumourmongering. You'd think at this stage that both papers - in particular the local rag - would be falling down on their knees to apologise to Alan Pardew, Nicola Cortese, Southampton FC, and most of all their fans for having created increasing anxiety over the situation.

But no, the Echo beligerantly writes that Cortese has "finally broken his silence" and attempts to firmly wash its hands of the situation claiming that the report "initially appeared in the national media". They also quote Cortese who criticises Le Tissier and McMenemy for getting involved by commenting on the situation with the article headlined as "Cortese Hits Out At Saints Legends". But conspicuous by its absence is any mention of the Saints Chairman's fairly cutting attack on the Echo itself. Not a word of the hammering they took in Southampton's statement. Equally, the Daily Mail headlines that "Southampton Insist Alan Pardew Is Staying Put" claiming that he has "has survived the sack" making absolutely no admission that they were the ones who started the whole thing off in the first place. It has to be said, when it comes to filling column inches, then starting and ending your own rumour is a great way to do it.

Needless to say, the Daily Echo is taking a bit of a battering from Saints fans today. And fair play to the unofficial Southampton Vital Site for sticking its neck out in the middle of it all, and before the club's official statement by putting a headline on the Vital site of "Southern Daily Echo Lies Again". For Saints fans, this hasn't just been the Silly Season - it's been the Downright Stupid Season. And we're not even a week into the summer break yet.

The moral of this tale is to show just how badly a national paper and a major regional paper can get something wrong. No matter how many times someone may say something on the rumourmill this summer, treat it with skepticism, treat it with caution. It might be true. But then again, it may be horse manure.

We're probably fairly lucky with Yeovil Town's local media, that they in general play everything with a straight bat. As a fan, occasionally you wish that they'd do a little more digging into various issues at the club, or to question the decision-making a little more. But it's better to read stories you can believe in, than to be exposed to the scattergun approach of newspapers like the Daily Mail, where it doesn't seem to matter whether anything is true or not, just as long as a few papers are sold, and a few hits gained on their website. Some of the media need to consider the responsibilities that they have to print the truth, and the implications that exist when they do not.


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Comments On This Article
Radders said ...

Hey, saints fan here. what a brill article you have written here, I could not have put it better myself!! There is uproar down (or up!?! lol) here with the Daily Mail and the Daily Echo. Fans are demanding them to reveal there sources and mass boycotts of the papers are being called for!! I shall put a link next so you can read the battering the paper is getting from Fans!! Good luck next season ;-http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/sport/saints/news/8163357.Saints_set_to_keep_Pardew/?ref=rss
13/05/2010 17:29:31

The Frog Chorus said ...

Another Saints fan here. Good site you have here by the way. I've read it throughout the season as I find it very well written. Just to let you know, I was so impressed by this article that I posted a link to it on the Daily Echo Saints page, stating " if you want to read an unbiased opinion of the whole thing, read this... what happened? They deleted my post!!! - Good luck with the season ahead and keep up the good work. Your a credit to your club.
13/05/2010 20:50:48

IanRRR said ...

And another Saints fan here....
Lovely to see journalism as it should be. Factual! Daily Echo and The Mail have tried to spin the story their way, and failed spectacularly. There are cries for the editors head. Thanks for a well presented article, and as the other poster said, you are a credit to your club. Good luck and respect to you all. PS-Any chance of starting a site for our club, as boy do we need one? Lets call it Factspace!!!
14/05/2010 00:49:11

Mike Allen - Saints Fan said ...

Just wanted to compliment the "Ciderspace Website" It's a really good & interesting site. Really good article about Alan Pardew, the Echo & Daily Mail. Really enjoyed my visit to Yeovil when we played you recently. Glad Yeovil stayed up and good luck for next season. Saints, Bournemouth & Yeovil games to look forward to next season!
14/05/2010 11:18:34

Glen said ...

Brilliant stuff. I'm a Saints fan and wrote my own atricle but it's not a patch on yours - which is better researched and not so much of a rant (see www.leagueoneminus10.blogspot.com).

The Mail and the Echo are shockingly bad papers which is why I never believed a word of it.
14/05/2010 12:13:43

ChilcoSaint said ...

Thanks for a great article from another Saints fan (I actually live a lot closer to Yeovil than Southampton, but don't tell anyone...). We have had to put up with this sort of baloney from the Southern Daily Echo all season, and it's got worse since Nicola Cortese lost patience with them and banned the paper from St. Mary's. This latest Daily Fail-inspired campaign takes the cake though.

Thanks again for your support and your accuracy, and good luck next season (apart from the obvious 2 games!).
14/05/2010 15:51:35

redmidge said ...

Why do people always try to put our club down. Do they not think we are not deserving of a bit of stability after so many years of turmoil. Good article put a few people where they belong in the gutter with the garbage they spout.
16/05/2010 17:28:02

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