Saturday, June 15, 2024

EFL Cup preview v Southampton + some words about ‘content’

It’s EFL Cup action tonight, a quarter-final no less against Southampton at the Emirates.

The team news we have at this point is relatively minimal, only that Mathieu Debuchy is out, Olivier Giroud also sits it out due to a groin problem, while Lucas Perez is back in the squad having been out of action since having ankle ligaments damaged in the last round against Reading.

Aside from that, the manager says:

We will have a mixture of youth and experience, but still 90 per cent of the first-team squad.

For the most part, those first teamers will be ones who have been on the bench or who haven’t made the squad at all in recent weeks. I think we might see something like:

Martinez, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, The Jeff, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas.

Maybe even a more experienced head in midfield, Granit Xhaka alongside Ramsey just to see how that works, for example. The bench will have a much more youthful flavour, I’m sure, with the likes of Chris Willock, Krystian Bielik, Stephy Mavididi, and Lincoln Reims all hopeful of being involved to some extent or another. Maybe Eddie Nketiah, hot youth prospect, fresh from three goals in midweek could get a look in on the bench.

Southampton say they’re going to rotate their squad too ahead of an away trip to Crystal Palace at the weekend, but we know they’re difficult opposition and they knocked us out of this competition a couple of seasons ago.

It would be nice to keep the unbeaten run going, and it would mean that the players primarily involved in this competition get more playing time. Obviously this isn’t our highest priority this season, but winning is a good habit that you don’t really want to be broken.

I don’t know if we’ll have a live blog for this one later on. It’s not on TV in the UK and Ireland, but it does look as if it’s on some channels around Europe etc, so fingers crossed we can find a stream.

The big story in the world of football yesterday was the tragedy involving Brazilian side Chapecoense, whose plane crashed killing almost everyone on it. Players, staff, up to 20 journalists/media people, and crew were on board and lost their lives, and it is just an unimaginably sad and terrible thing to have happened.

The way sections of the football world have come together to do what little they can was heart-warming. Atletico Nacional, who were due to play Chapecoense in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, have asked that the game be awarded to their opponents, and clubs around Brazil have offered to lend players and disqualify them from relegation as they attempt what is going to be an incredibly difficult job in rebuilding the club.

The way the Guardian covered it yesterday in The Fiver was really nice, I thought. An example of how it should be done, because elsewhere this awful event, this loss of life, was being used in a pretty grotesque manner. In this age of clicks and hits, tragedy is viewed by some as little more than an opportunity to ramp up the amount of snack-sized content they churn out.

Content farms who take a snippet here and a snippet there, these rubbish 100 word stories published and wrapped in ads, posted to social media for ReTweets and Likes, in the guise of being empathic and caring, but in reality a brazen opportunity to make money from the unspeakable pain of those who lost their lives and the people left behind whose suffering continues as these ‘publishers’ move onto the next thing to generate hits.

I know it’s a big story, I realise there’s a desire and a need for information, but the media landscape is such these days that this belching into the world of triviality is becoming accepted as the norm, and I really don’t think it should be. It’s not just related to football, by the way, it happens every single time something horrible happens. You’ve all seen it, a round-up of Tweets from celebrities expressing their anguish and/or dismay at what happened, embedded into a page covered in ads and pop-ups and the rest.

And people like and they RT and it’s little more than bottom feeding clickbait of the very worst kind. Little of it is ‘news’, per se. If it were, you could understand it better. Instead, they scrape the bottom of the barrel to see if they can find anything at all that’s related, in even the vaguest way, and use it. And they use people and readers make money from it. If you’re happy being one of those people, then that’s up to you.

If you’re not, then please take a moment to think about who you’re following, what you’re being asked to click on or engage with and why, and reject this kind of stuff for what it is. I don’t think it will make a huge difference, because these ‘publishers’ tap into some kind of collective desire for people to show how much they care. And that in itself drives me mad, because caring is not something to be criticised, it’s heartening that in a world that seems pretty grim at times there’s an inherent goodness in most folks.

But most folks don’t realise they’re being taken for a ride by these people, and I think it’s important that we stop and think about it, because it’s going to get worse and worse otherwise. Some of the stuff doing the rounds yesterday was just so unbelievably grotty and shameless, I just couldn’t not say something this morning. The line between tragic events and content has become increasingly blurred, and it’s not going in a particularly nice direction.

The best way to pay your respects is to be respectful.

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