Saints, spinners and Arsenal’s picture-perfect pre-season
OPINION: The England football team’s social media aces have helped fans 'reconnect' with footballers – and Premier League teams appear to be using the same tactics
26 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng
IN my industry – generously called journalism – communication officers, media officers, press officers, PR officers, marketing officers, officer officers, whatever you want to call them, often get a bad rap for spinning a line.
Sometimes, however, you’ve got to hand it to them, those kidders can be clever bucks, their dark arts truly something to behold.
I’m thinking of the social media aces behind the England football team’s bespoke output this summer; sparkiest on Instagram but lively on other channels too.
Yes, they were selling a story that we all wanted to read, the tale of an England team ready to win the World Cup. But these press guys went further and mesmerised us with some guff about how our millionaires seemed to be such lovely, grounded young men.
No, no way would these gents be comparing watch, car and salary sizes in the changing room after the match, not these young sirs. This after all was the “reconnection” squad, there to convince us that we don’t have a team full of nobs anymore. They were nice, and polite.
That’s gold standard PR, because in a couple of weeks the snarling Premier League will start again, and it’s quite possible these saintly souls will be deserting clubs in the transfer window or moaning about how their salaries can’t stretch to a fifth home. You’ll hate them all.
How was it all done? Photos of the England players larking about seemed to be the main trick. After all how could any of our players possibly be egotistical and conceited, as the modern day footballer is normally cast, if they were able to laugh at themselves riding blow-up unicorns in a swimming pool? Those lovely fellows.
Sadly, like the England team, comms can only go so far: as lovable as Harry Maguire may have looked straddling an inflatable, the newly nice team could not take the final leap on the pitch.
This is what worries me about Arsenal’s pre-season – everything looks too idyllic. All the pictures of Unai Emery leading happy training sessions are encouraging. It’s as if a cloud – sorry, Arsene – has lifted. The players looked thrilled simply to walk the earth. It’s almost too good.
Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng is doing backflips and taking wheeliebin ice-baths with Alexandre Lacazette. We are again being shown images of a band of brothers, ready, united.
Please let it not be another PR fantasy.