Yesterday some of us wrote about Newsquest’s dire response to Messi finally winning the World Cup. They put up a headline calling him a “former Rangers target.” The post was up for a while before they pulled it down, after a torrent of online scorn.
We’re being called “killjoys” for “forcing that.”
And we are being accused of having no sense of humour.
But we are perfectly aware that the post was a joke. The Newsquest titles have become a joke. It’s just that we don’t find the joke funny. It’s an embarrassment to an organisation which once took itself seriously and no longer does.
We expect the media to have some modicum of respect for its audience and that didn’t do it.
If The Herald and other outlets in this country want to rebuild trust they have to take their role seriously, and that pandered to the lowest common denominator.
It was a ludicrous post.
On a night when a supreme talent reached the pinnacle of his accomplishment it was their social media team which sought to insert the name “Rangers” into it … none of us did that, it was their call, and they deserved every bit of stick they got from it.
This is not about not having a sense of humour.
It’s about not being treated like mugs. The story itself is a piece of nonsense.
Let me remind you of its genesis in case you’ve forgotten; it’s been told in many places, but on a documentary foremost amongst them.
This story is ridiculous. If you haven’t heard it before, you have no frame of reference for how absolutely mortified anyone who pushes it should be.
Back in the sands of time, when Messi was a teenage prodigy Alex McLeish’s son “discovered” him on Football Manager along with about a million other players, and on that basis suggested him to his dad as a “possible signing” for Rangers, who he was managing at the time.
A year or so later, another wholly ludicrous series of events led to the club “almost” getting Iniesta on loan for a year – it was never remotely realistic but the press has always ignored that and talked it up as something that might have happened.
But it was preposterous.
Although McLeish wasn’t able to get that deal done, he took a shot in the dark and asked about the possibility of taking Messi instead, based in no small part on his son’s continuing insistence that the Football Manager database had been hiding a gem.
The contact at Barcelona behaved politely in not pissing his own pants with laughter because, of course, they knew exactly what they had on their hands and were never going to send the guy to the blood and thunder SPL, and especially not to a club Messi would later describe as playing a particularly horrific brand of “anti-football.”
Where did that story last surface? In the documentary Football Manager: An Alternative Reality, where McLeish told the story pretty much as I just recounted it, except that he seemed to believe that they narrowly missed out on two of the greatest player’s European football has seen in the least 40 years, including the greatest of all time.
An Alternative Reality; that could be a fitting name for a documentary about the Ibrox operation itself, or the fantasy world McLeish and anyone else who thinks this was anything other than a distant possibility on the far side of the universe.
Messi was never a serious “target.”
How could he have been?
Anyone at Ibrox who seriously entertained the idea for longer than 60 seconds would have been certified and sent away. The simple fact is that the whole story of Messi and Rangers is a joke that has somehow become legitimised and treated more seriously than it deserves.
And I don’t know – and I don’t care – whether the clown who posted that tweet knows that it was a joke or honestly believed that it was more, and I don’t know or care what the intention was in posting that ridiculous tweet … but it more than deserved the mockery which caused them to pull it, and that they are now rebranding the whole thing as if it was a satire only adds to their embarrassment.