Early Business Media Headaches
As we all know, Aston Villa addressed the core of their transfer activity before the actual summer transfer window opened. Ahead of the 2022/23 season, it was important for Steven Gerrard and his coaching team to resolve both the defensive midfielder position and cover Ezri Konsa’s long-term injury before Villa’s pre-season started.
So, with Steven Gerrard jetting off to the West Coast of the USA on holidays and with the Villa CEO also off to top up his tan, Villa’s key business was done before what is essentially a holiday period for the football industry. Any further signings would wait until pre-season began and the market started to shape up and serve up opportunities along the way.
The situation was also mirrored across the Premier League with some teams securing key targets early, while many teams in the Premier League are still yet to sign a player.
Despite the reality of a slow moving period of the transfer window, the online football media still needs to keep pumping out transfer rumours to the gullible for the ad revenue though.
Whingy McGinn Filler
To fill the void of a lack of real Villa stories, one narrative has been to link John McGinn with moves to the likes of Manchester United, Spurs and West Ham. It’s pretty much an identikit situation to the Ollie Watkins one we detailed in the previous Media Muppets article.
FootballFanCast of the ad network Snack Media, seemingly have little interest in logic when it comes to their transfer stories, as they demonstrated with a story that was headlined ‘West Ham Interested in Aston Villa Midfielder John McGinn’, which was based on a ITK Twitter account’s opinion of David Moyes.
‘Irons insider ExWHUEmployee, who stated on the latest episode of the West Ham Way Podcast: “McGinn of Aston Villa. Scottish international, Moyes really, really likes him, really likes him and wants him to be a marquee signing in midfield although there is a number of other clubs that are interested in signing him as well.”’
Even if ExWHUEmployee was David Moyes best friend or twin brother, the fact of the matter is – ala the Watkins nonsense links – Villa aren’t going to part with a key player to a rival for the ‘Best of the Rest’ spot (outside the top six), that is Villa’s immediate ambition.
The article goes on to rationalise that the Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek West Ham midfield partnership is ‘inseparable’, but in a three-man midfield, ‘the deep-lying midfielder would be an exceptional addition’.
Fun fact – as any Villa supporter will tell you, McGinn is no deep-lying midfielder. The key to getting the best out of McGinn, as the Scotland national team would attest to (13 goals in 48 appearances), is to get him playing further up the field to influence the game and cause chaos.
The ‘writer’ evidently hasn’t watched McGinn or Villa much and clearly makes his conclusion quoting a lazy stat, that McGinn averaged ‘three tackles per game alongside one interception and 0.8 clearances’.
Ladies and gentleman, a prime example of the danger of inane stats being used to create a blind false narrative.
‘The 27-year-old would be brought in for his defensive attributes rather than being a goal threat,’ the article concluded. ‘That is an area where McGinn really thrives, so would be a signing that West Ham supporters would surely love.’
Speaking of clueless…a leading West Ham fanzine picked up on the link and took it seriously.
‘It would likely take £50million or more to sign McGinn,” wrote West Ham Zone. ‘But if Moyes is that desperate and has singled out his fellow countrymen, the money would be there to spend.
This is one to watch very closely.’
If West Ham want to spend £50m on McGinn to play him as deep-lying midfielder, Villa will certainly be one step closer to being the ‘best of the rest’ for more reasons than one.
‘Football Insider is essentially pimping out these ex-players as clickbait whores’
Insider McGinn Obsession
There’s been numerous stories of £50m McGinn links to Manchester United and Spurs, along with the Hammers. While good for the ego of the Villa midfielder, there are still question marks over McGinn’s role in what will have to be a more cohesive Villa team next season. Does he have the consistency or discipline to actually help improve the team?
Is he more a decent match day squad member, rather than guaranteed first XI Villa player?
From the linked team’s POV, none of them would pay £50m for the player and it’s hard to see if he would be guaranteed starter for any of them.
But you won’t read the clickbait outlets taking onboard such considerations.
The Football Insider is an online football outlet that even makes Birmingham Live look earnest in comparison. The definition of its name may sound ITK, but it has very little access or interest in the actual knowledge of transfer happenings.
It’s pretty much operates on the tabloid ethos of headline is king and who cares about the actual truth.
Recently, it’s been so disturbingly obsessed with John McGinn, they should rename themselves the ‘McGinn Insider’.
Recent headlines include:
May 21st – Tottenham tipped for success in John McGinn hunt after update
May 21st – Aston Villa may price McGinn out of Tottenham move – McLeish
May 26th – John McGinn: Pundit can’t believe Aston Villa could sanction ‘£40m’ deal after Tottenham report
June 3rd – Aston Villa star McGinn had Beale fall-out
June 9th – Aston Villa icon Agbonlahor moots ‘£70m’ McGinn bid
June 17th – Aston Villa news: Ex-Fifa official issues ‘bizarre’ claim as controversial John McGinn footage analysed
June 19th – Aston Villa star John McGinn doesn’t want to leave this summer
June 20th – Aston Villa willing to listen to McGinn offers
June 21st – Expert pleads for Aston Villa U-turn after source’s John McGinn reveal
June 25th – McLeish ‘amazed’ by Aston Villa source’s John McGinn update
June 25th – Aston Villa news: ‘Alarm bells ringing’ after ‘very surprising’ John McGinn update – pundit
June 25th – Aston Villa news: Pundit ‘shocked’ after source’s John McGinn reveal – ‘you’re joking’
When it comes to Villa stories, they try to legitimise their fantasy by mentioning their
dubious ‘Villa source’ or throwing in a quote or two from an ex-player on their payroll.
An article running with the headline: ‘Sources: Aston Villa man quit after falling-out with John McGinn‘, tried to make out that Steven Gerrard’s assistant coach Michael Beale had left Villa for the QPR Head Coach job, due to a fall out with McGinn.
‘Michael Beale quit Aston Villa after he fell out with stars including John McGinn, Football Insider can exclusively reveal,’ it read.
The infamous ‘villa source’ ‘explained that McGinn is not regarded as the easiest player to manage and is always “whinging” behind the scenes.‘
You only have to see any of Beale’s recent interviews at QPR to see what the London-born man’s ambition in management was and his positive reflections on his bond with Gerrard and how much he rated the potential of Villa’s collection of players.
Considering some of Villa’s performances last season, you’d hope there were a few stern words aimed from the coaching staff at the players, but this is perfectly normal in elite level sport.
The process of paying random ex-footballers like Noel Whelan, Paddy Kenny and Frank McAvennie to comment on fictitious scenarios to try and add creditability to their rumours is just desperate (although not as desperate as other outlets, who then run their own stories based on them). Especially when it comes McAvennie and headlines such as ‘Ex-Villain tells club to keep McGinn…’ (yes, they use ‘Villain’!).
Yes, that McAvennie with his long-forgotten three appearances for Villa.
Football Insider is essentially pimping out these ex-players as clickbait whores. Two of their other ex-Villa player recruits are Alan Hutton and Gabby Agbonlahor. Now you understand either turning up for slots on Talksport to stay in the public eye and pick up some extra money, but you would have hoped they had invested the sizeable wealth they made in the game, so they wouldn’t have to bottom feed working for the likes of the Football Insider.
The reality is that the ex-player has probably less insight into any rumour, than most fans reading the resulting article, who actually know their club and have probably been obsessing over the transfer link, 24/7.
Back to McGinn, as Agbonlahor did say in the Football Insider, within his collection of soundbites on the Villa midfielder, “I don’t think there’s even a discussion to be had“.
That’s the obvious truth.
Well done to Gabby for actually being paid for offering up such insight.