Tuesday, November 01, 2011


The other week I listed ten reasons why it is brilliant to be a Brisbane Roar fan right now. Here's another one: the media about our team is endless, and pretty much all flattering. Here's just a few of the headlines from the last few days:

Possession statistics compare A-League's Brisbane Roar to La Liga and European champions Barcelona

Brisbane, That Was Football Porn

Who Can Stop Brisbane Roar

The Roar Effect

Brisbane Roar are a Gift for the A-League

That really is only a few, and they're not by Roar partisans. I admit I chose them for their sexy headlines.

You can only imagine, with Brisbane's team causing the waves that it is, undefeated now for 32 games, breaking records every week, and most recently stunning the League by trouncing one of the favourite teams 7:1... You can only imagine how Brisbane's own flagship newspaper The Courier Mail, not known for its lack of sport coverage, or jingoism for that matter, must have gone bonkers with this story. With the Rugby and AFL seasons over, here is NEWS! Great news, of Brisbane showing up all the bigwig southern teams and looking like clear favourites for the comp. You can only imagine!

Well, three stories came out of the Courier Mail actually. One of course was about the game. Apparently it was on page 6 of the sport pages. I don't even know what came in front of it as I haven't managed to get a hard copy.

The second story came out yesterday. In the Courier Mail's soccer feed the headline is, "Japanese Giants Want Roar Boss", but upon going to the page it is more carefully titled, Japanese heavyweights Urawa Red Diamonds rumoured to have sights set on Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou. It was written by Marco Monteverde and Val Migliaccio. I'm going to analyse it a bit, and then tell the story of how it continued and grew as the rest of the media got hold of it, so I'll quote it in full here first so it's easy to reference:

STRUGGLING Japanese heavyweights Urawa Red Diamonds want an Australian coach next season, with Brisbane Roar master mentor Ange Postecoglou rumoured to be at the top of their wish list.
Despite being contracted to the Roar until 2013, Postecoglou is one of two A-League coaches tipped to be chased by J-League outfit Urawa, the other being Central Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold.
Urawa, the home of Australian defender Matthew Spiranovic and formerly coached by current Socceroos mentor Holger Osieck, are hovering just about the relegation zone and fired manager Zeljko Petrovic on October 20,
Petrovic was replaced by former player Takafumi Hori, but Japanese sources close to the Asian Football Confederation's most popular club have told The Courier-Mail Urawa are chasing an Australian coach next year.
Reigning A-League coach of the year Postecoglou yesterday said he had not heard from Urawa officials, but confirmed previous interest from Asian clubs.
"If they did make me an offer, I'd think about it then," Postecoglou said.
"I've never made plans too far in the future with coaching because things are always changing.
"All I'm focused on is being successful as I can with Brisbane, and keep building what we've started."
Under Postecoglou, the Roar lost just once in 33 matches last season to clinch the A-League premiership-championship double.
Currently on a 32-game record A-League unbeaten streak, Brisbane continued their perfect start to the defence of their title with a 7-1 thrashing of Adelaide United at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night.
But Postecoglou, a former Australian under-17 and under-20 coach, isn't only chasing further domestic success.
He is also aiming for glory with the Roar in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Champions League.
"Our goal is to match it with the best teams in Asia," Postecoglou said.
"Our players have already been recognised, and if that (Champions League success) happens, I'm sure our coaches will as well."
Arnold's Mariners side are the A-League's other representatives in next year's AFC Champions League courtesy of their effort to reach last season's grand final.
It's the second time within days Arnold has been linked with a move abroad.
Currently negotiating a contract extension with the Mariners, Arnold last week denied claims he was on the verge of taking over at Scottish Premier League club St Johnstone.
But sources close to Arnold - who played in the J-League with Hiroshima Sanfrecce - said he would consider offers from Japan.

Now this was a scoop! It was all over the Australian mediascape within half an hour. So all those stories we may have read, on The World Game, The ABC, the Fairfax papers, Fox, the other Murdoch papers and any number of amateur sites and blogs - came from Marco Monteverde and Val Migliaccio of the Courier Mail.

The first point of interest here is that the journalists - crucial to the story - are completely left out. Not one media outlet reported, "Marco Monteverde and Val Migliaccio of the Courier Mail allege that they have sources close to the Urawa Reds..." Instead it is just repeated endlessly, "Ange linked to Urawa Reds." One might think, given the reputation News Limited, and the Courier Mail, has for antagonism and ignorance toward soccer, that someone might have thought to include this reference to the source. It would just be good journalism in any case.

Now via a Facebook friend who is Japanese and happens to be a Reds fan, I have confirmed that Ange Postecoglou is indeed on a list of coaches that the Reds have compiled. No Japanese media have taken it up though apparently. It's a list. As for being "rumoured to be at the top of their wish list", it's a fair question where such information comes from.

Wading through the fill of factoids gleaned from Wikipedia, we find that the source is, "Japanese sources close to (The Urawa Reds)". Interesting they didn't tell the Japanese media, or any other of Australia's dedicated football media. The Urawa Reds are well known to many of them through the Asian Champions League (which the CM has virtually ignored so far). The Courier Mail? Anyway, moving on...

It's hard to disect. We assume that this source is the one mentioning Ange's name, and I do independently know of a list with his name on it, but apparently the source told the Courier Mail that "Urawa are chasing an Australian coach next year." An Australian coach.

Now, Ange has proved himself perhaps, or he is in the process of doing so, but there is a reason the past few Socceroos coaches have been from overseas and a reason most A-League coaches are foreigners. Right or wrong, it's because Australian coaches are considered crap. They do not have any reputation at all overseas. Urawa Reds are one of Asia's biggest clubs and they're in trouble. And we are asked to believe that this unknown source says that they are after an Australian coach. Ange, maybe. But an Australian - I don't believe it.

The other coach on the list, apparently (and I haven't had confirmed from Japan either way), is Graham Arnold. I don't believe this, at all. I think the Urawa Reds have ambition, and Arnold hasn't won anything or proved himself especially. Reaching the finals in the A-League is not that great on the international stage.

Before I get to the interview with Ange - a real source at least - in passing I'll note that the Courier Mail confirmed, not that there had been any communication whatsoever with Arnold, but that "sources close to Arnold" said he would "consider offers from Japan." According to the journalists though, "It's the second time within days Arnold has been linked with a move abroad." It is these journalists who made the link that they are now reporting on. At this point, with Arnold, they have completely fabricated a link and then 'reported on it'.

Then there is the call to Ange of course, getting his response. That's only fair after all.

What's not recorded are the questions. Did the journalist ask, after Ange told them that, No, the Reds had not been in touch and this is the first he'd heard of it, "Well, if they did ask you tomorrow, would you consider it?" or "Would you ever coach in Asia do you think?"?

It makes an enormous difference to what Ange was getting at when he said, "I've never made plans too far in the future with coaching because things are always changing. All I'm focused on is being successful as I can with Brisbane, and keep building what we've started." The latter part - the commitment to the Roar and seeing out the vision that he has articulated - remains unambiguous.

Since then other media outlets have also clearly talked to Ange, and he has said nothing different.

Anyway, my suspicion was, and still is, that the Courier Mail made this story up in order to cash in on the Roar's success. They succeeded.

By Twitter I asked the two journalists, "Did you guys make up the story about Urawa seeking Ange as coach? No reports in Japan. You scooped that? Ha!"

Val Migliaccio tweeted back, with what I can only interpret as contempt, "here. Jリーグ1部(J1)の浦和は来季の新監督候補にAリーグのブリスベン・ロアーを率いるアンジェ・ポステコグルー監督を挙げているようだ。浦和に近い日本人関係者の話として、ポステコグルー"


I tweeted back, "That quote is a vague as yours and is not a source. Are you being funny now?", but only after using Google Translate to come up with, "The J-League 1 (J1) Urawa coach seems to raise the groupco-led by Poste Angeles Lower Brisbane A-League next seasonProposed new coach. Japanese officials as saying that close toUrawa, Posutekoguru".

For all I know it could be from a report some Japanese press discovered through their Australian connections.

Today, I note The Herald Sun has added the word, "heavily", presumably because so many news outlets have repeated the story. So now Ange is "heavily linked" with the Uwara Reds. Even though he's never heard of such a link and he has clearly restated his commitment to The Roar and finishing what he has several times outlined as his mission.

Sorry that one took so long to go through. As I said, there is a third story that came out in the Courier Mail yesterday. But it is in the Rugby League pages (far more prominent even though the off season has just got going). It is titled, "NRL scheduling blunder leaves Brisbane Broncos without home for opening round of 2012", and included the following curious passage:
There should be 50,000 league fans packing the stadium on Friday night, March 2, to celebrate the new rugby league season.
But the NRL's late decision to push their season forward a week means there will instead be 10,000 Roar diehards watching their side taking on Melbourne Heart.
(Same game last year got 20,000 incidentally, and last game (fourth of the season) got 11,500.)

It's a non-story by the way, with a happy ending. It seems the NRL made a boo boo and didn't tell Suncorp about a change in plans, so the opening NRL game will not be in Brisbane but in Sydney instead. By the end we know that the NRL is happy, seeing the positives in fact, Suncorp is happy. Everyone is happy. The complaint, clearly antagonistic to the Roar, comes from the Courier Mail alone. This is on the very day when the entire sporting world is ogling over Brisbane's own champion team.

Now, there are no doubt many reasons that the Roar struggles with crowd numbers. One reason is probably that Brisbane folk are slack, or stupid, or broke. But the local media is not helping us out.

Nb. Of course News Limited would never be so sloppy when it came to news about politics or the economy. From those matters their commercial interests are properly and professionally divorced. :)

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the dissection Hamish =) Interesting read!

November 02, 2011 11:02 pm  
Blogger Hamish Alcorn said...

Thanks for the positive feedback Matt. It could have been better I think. I rush these things when they finally escape from my head.

November 05, 2011 1:39 pm  

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