Press Watch: Arghhh… Woe Is Me…

Welcome to Press Watch by Brendan Hobbs, TheWashbag’s sideways glance at all things Town related in the media. If you see anything remotely concerning Swindon Town in the worlds media get in contact with me via Twitter @mrbraindown

It seems to be all doom and gloom these days, the next piece of news more depressing than the last and this column doesn’t like it one bit. I found it last week crouched in a corner, wrapped in a blanket, shivering and rocking gently back and forth. It was an awful spectacle to behold; I crouched next to the poor, snivelling wretch and attempted to put a loving arm around it.

It jumped, having not realised I was there, its eyes flicking around in its sockets, struggling for focus as well as a sense of meaning to it all. “What is happening?” It mouthed to me.

I helped it up whilst brushing away the smattering of URLs from sensationalist newspapers, the stains from bile filled Tweets and the heavy hate filled messages which had accumulated around it.

I sat it in front of and it perked up immediately, briefly forgetting all the trauma and horror it had recently witnessed. But it was still there, hidden in its eyes, a thousand yard stare into oblivion. Truly sickening.

So please remember whilst reading the column this week that it is a fragile, broken entity, crushed by the unexpected avalanche of bad press that came from nowhere. It has told me that it wishes to bravely soldier on, so please be respectful, we are in a way drinking a bottle of whiskey in front of a recovering alcoholic.

To help matters and ease some of the suffering the correct tone will need to be set when reading the column this week – in a way of offering the necessary level of reverence to our creaking friend,  so if you have any decency in you you’ll follow these steps.

1. Right hand click this link, open it in a new window and listen on repeat whilst reading the rest of this column.

2. Print and cut out this special black armband and wear it while reading.

Black Armband

3. Adopt an appropriate solemn facial expression and feel free to weep softly – just imagine that a Malpas/Hart/McMahon dream team are going to be unveiled as our new joint managers. That’s it, let the tears flow, there there, mummys here…

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

With that out of the way let’s make a start on the serious business, the sheer weight of the coverage over the whole Ritchie Sold/Paolo Quits/Administration saga was totally crushing.  Each article was pretty much an identikit replica of the other, The Telegraph adopted a more balanced tone, with a less sensationalist edge when compared to others. Truefully stating that Di Canio is considering his future, as opposed to the ‘quit this’, ‘walk out that’ rubbish adopted by the less reputable rags found within the media spectrum.

The Mirror and the Mail often make for familiar bedfellows and they seem to be pooling information to form near identical articles, with the same amount of falsehood and bovine poo found in each.

The Mail starts off with a pretty low key article, trumpeting their exclusivity (of what exactly?) in:

“EXCLUSIVE: Di Canio’s future uncertain as Swindon face administration threat”

You have to congratulate their research team though for the sheer amount of painstaking checking, cross checking and fact finding they must have gone through to paint the perfect image of the club.

This is quickly followed up by this shining example of top journalism:

“Huddersfield line up Di Canio as Italian moves closer to Swindon exit door”

Again, the research team had obviously pulled an all-nighter on this one, with the article crammed full of facts and solid reasoning with no guesswork or conjecture whatsoever. So on reading, what revelation are we going to learn about this apparent story? An insider at Huddersfield spilled the beans? Paolo’s car has been seen at the Galpharm? Well, no…

“Huddersfield could offer an escape route for the Italian, though Terriers chairman Dean Hoyle said: ‘We will not be rushing into an appointment, and we will do everything we can to bring the right person here.’”

The operative word here is ‘could’ isn’t it? It bails the journalist out this flaming, nose-diving disaster of an article nicely. As long as the word ‘could’ remains, the sentence could be changed and re-arranged in any way and it still makes a good article. Observe:

“Heavy drinking could offer an escape route for the Italian”

“Cross-stitching could offer an escape route for the Italian”

The Mirror also reckons that Huddersfield is the likely destination for Paolo:

“Italian job: Paolo Di Canio emerges as contender to become next Huddersfield boss”

Yes, Paolo emerges as a contender, like he’s some sort of disgusting swamp creature crawling out of a nearby shit-filled bog. No quotes, no evidence, just an unsettled manager and a vacancy, classic 2+2 = 5.

On reading it though you get the distinct feeling that the Mirror reporting team got a right ‘going over’ from the editor when the copy was submitted. There is a glaring lack of sensationalist drama, no squeezed in love rat subplots and absolutely no photos of Pippa Middletons buttocks, so the team were sent away to dream up something a bit more…out there…

So hey presto:

“Paolo di Cannedio? Swindon’s buyer-in-waiting is ready to sack their ”too expensive” manager”

Where to start with this one eh? We may as well review the whole article, It’s only small so I’ve posted it up here in its entirety. Strangely it gets a lot smaller when you cross out all the bits which are basically just wild, grasping speculation:

Robins are third in League One but Italian’s big salary is a strain on resources and potential new club chief wants is poised to make a change.

Cash-strapped Swindon are ready to sack manager Paolo di Canio – because he is too expensive.

The extrovert Italian faces the axe despite a good run of results at the League One promotion chasers, where he is paid a thumping salary.

Di Canio claimed last week that he was “considering his position” after star Matt Ritchie was sold and he was given no money for new players.

Now Swindon’s potential new owners are poised to change manager if they are given Football League blessing to take control in the next 48 hours.

Buyer Jed McCrory is keen to land Brian Stein and Mike Newell as the new management team after the pair worked together at Luton.

Stein is pals with former Banbury United supremo McCrory. Newell has been out of the game since a spell at Hartlepool but is keen to return.

Di Canio’s exit would be unpopular with Swindon fans but the former Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham star’s reign has been a strain on the Town coffers, with his own wages a major factor in the imminent change.

There, it all reads a bit differently now, a little less coherent I grant you, but at least it’s a little more closer to the truth.

So, where is Paolo going to go once he’s been sacked? As well as Huddersfield, The Mirror also think he’s going to West Ham – if he can succeed in elbowing Gus Poyet and Gianfranco Zola out of the way.

The articles keep coming, I’m not going to dissect each one here as I have a word count limit but in summary, you can read the Guardians take on events here, The Independent’s here and here and a final Mail article here.

Normally I spend my time in this column discussing the local newspapers of Towns recent opponents, dissecting their match reports and quaint opposing point of view with a laser sharp wit and uncanny insight, but I can’t honestly be bothered this week, my energy has been sapped by all the doom and gloom.

But I will finish on one simply stunning piece, dug out of the internet coalface by our very own Alex Cooke.

I give you Leyton Orient fan Matt Simpson’s view of our recent league encounter, it’s an absolute belter and considering all the depressing news recently I couldn’t think of a better place to finish this week.

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