Professional Trolls Outraged When Corporate Account Makes Fun of Them

Trolls. They have been around for centuries. The day that Benjamin Franklin invented the Newspaper his headline read “Jefferson, Adams, others Sign Declaration: Colonies Declare Independence from King.” And the very next day the Troll was born as a competing tabloid paper wrote “No Wonder Washington’s So Stiff – He’s Got Wooden Teeth!”

People think that the Troll is a new phenomenon, born of the internet age but the Troll was actually born from a need to sell newspapers. Most sensationalist headlines are just Trolls. In the old days they sold papers, now days they get clicks.

Check out any of the tabloid papers in the UK – the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, or The Sun – virtually every headline is a Troll, and nearly every article is simply click bait. The more sensationalist, the more than can get people to click on their articles, the more that writer gets work. I checked the Daily Mail today. The two leads are “Muslim gang rape” and “Bill Clinton accused of sexual assault.”

The day before the North London Derby the Daily Mail asked all of its journalists to make a “combined Arsenal-Tottenham starting XI.” They obliged and almost all of them picked 9-10 Spurs players over Arsenal players.

If you go to and use their objective metrics (using players with 4 or more apps) the actual combined starting XI would be:

Mustafi – Koscielny – Vertonghen
Trippier – Ramsey – Dier – Davies
Eriksen – Kane – Alexis

This is still a very Spurs heavy lineup, just four Arsenal players make the cut, but it’s not 11 for 11 Spurs players, because that’s ridiculous. And while you might not like the metrics (because they are clouded in secrecy) there is a high level of correlation between the player scores on and team performances. I use their metrics to help predict which team is going to win or lose a game and it’s been pretty effective. It predicted an Arsenal win over Tottenham on Saturday!

But the Trolls aren’t interested in objective anything. Objectivism is boring! So, when the Daily Mail asked their writers to come up with a combined starting XI most of their writer opted for 10 Spurs players plus Alexis. But one guy, Adam Crafton, selected all 11 Spurs players. Unlike most of the other writers on that post, who at least tried to soften the troll by selecting a token Arsenal player, Crafton went full troll and even picked Danny Rose as his left back, a guy who is injured and has played one match this season. Then to complete the trolling, he tweeted out a link to his prediction with glee before the match.

As we all know now, Arsenal beat the pants off Spurs. And after the match, the official Arsenal account latched on to Crafton’s tweet and retweeted it with a gif of Mesut Ozil sipping a cup of tea.

The one thing that the British tabloid press hate is when you pull the covers off and expose their trolling. And so, suddenly, after the tweet went out we were subjected to a bunch of moralizing from tabloid writers about how it’s unfair for a “big account” with 12 million followers to respond in this specific way to a writer. Crafton claimed to receive anti-semitic abuse and death threats. He claimed he was innocent in all this and “just picked a starting XI” and then hid behind the cloak of “Journalism”.

Many prominent writers lept at the chance to have a go at Arsenal for the tweet and suddenly Arsenal are being painted as lacking class or as bullying this writer. Which is truly incredible.

Exposing Trolls is exactly what we have to do. I do it all the time on Twitter. If you @ me with some abuse, I’m retweeting you to my followers so that they all know that you’re just a jerk.

I have no problem with Arsenal’s official twitter account exposing this writer as a Troll. He wrote a sensationalist piece, gleefully tweeted it out, and when the game was over, he looked quite silly. The official Arsenal twitter account didn’t make him look silly, he make himself look silly! He made his bed and then complained when the covers weren’t quite to his liking.

Now, obviously no one deserves death threats or hate speech. Crafton claims to have received both and Arsenal issued a response “No offence was intended and we are disappointed that the journalist has been subject to abuse which we would condemn in the strongest terms.” I probably wouldn’t have used the word journalist because he’s just a writer, a Trolling, click-bait, sports writer, but it is obvious that the club didn’t mean to harm this guy.

But the response from the press is pretty funny. They have taken to Twitter to moralize about how “no other big club” would do such a thing and one writer even called it “punching down.” But they look silly backing him up as a journalist. He’s not a journalist. He’s a paid professional Troll for the Daily Mail. And as such he should be exposed and mocked.

I expect that reaction from the tabloid writers but even the real journalists are now out there moralizing, which is ironic. The definition of tabloid journalism is focusing on sensational topics and standing up for the so-called “little man”. Meaning that this entire controversy is literally tabloid – a troll.



  1. It is not just these hacks that are allowed to publish rubbish or obviously biased accounts.

    The Garth Crooks (ex-Sp*rs) team of the week includes 3 Arsenal players, but each one with a snide or unnecessary comment:

    Mustafi – “Shkodran Mustafi would almost certainly not get into Tottenham’s back three.”. Crooks then debates the referees failings (obviously siding with the Totts) which has no place in this article.

    Ozil – “I have said it before and I will say it again: Ozil should be playing for Tottenham, where he would be far more appreciated. Spurs fans would be giving him that ovation every week.”

    Alexis – “What I did not understand was why Spurs took so long to recognise that this was an Arsenal side intent on humiliating their north London rivals”. Unnecessary comment that, again, focuses on the losers.

    For some time now I have not clicked on articles and not bought papers because I refuse to support the digital or print media when most of what they say is made up. Transfer news / rumours, as far as I can tell, is mainly what they would like to happen, planted stories that have no grain of truth at all or just a way to wind up fans.

    1. And I am aware that reading the Team of the Week is supporting “print media”. But I was curious to see if Crooks included any Arsenal players, and do generally think the BBC has a higher standard that the other lot.

    2. Crooks got a lot of heat-mostly of the “yer da” variety-for his comments on Pogba’s hair and dancing. I’m not sure Pogba should’ve even been included at the expense of Jack Cork.

  2. And you know what the kicker is, Tim? Some of the more preachy writers (with the exception of the annoyingly smug Henry Winter) have been blocking people who called them out, even people issuing the mildest of criticisms. Im looking at you, Neil Custis of Murdoch’s Sun. They can dish, but they can’t take. One reporter, when told that Arsenal are not responsible for knucklehead posters, said that newspaper commenters don’t behave like that! Presumably he’s never read Trump supporters’ racist rantings against Obama in the Daily Mail.

    There’s nothing quite as barf-inducing, and funny, as Fleet Street sportswriters in high moral prissy outrage. Especially the ones working for the Sun and Daily Mail.

    I know that John Cross isn’t your favorite journo, but he’s bravely called out his colleagues bee-ess.

  3. Completely agree. Also worth adding that the Arsenal tweet not only clearly meant no real harm, clearly can’t be blamed for the actions of every nutter on Twitter, and clearly was in the right in calling out the troll’s trollery, but also was INCREDIBLY MILD AND LIGHTHEARTED in nature.

  4. A while ago one account on Twitter wrote: “I’d be surprised of Ibrahimovic scores more than ten goals this aeason”.

    Then, when Zlatan scored his tenth goal, the official Twitter Manchester United account replied: “Surprise!”

    I don’t know why but in my head I read that tweet in a Dave Chapelle voice and it made it sound ten times as offensive as Arsenal’s reply.

    Funny how no one talked about that though.

  5. 4 Arsenal players in a combined XI? or 3? or 5? Or 0?

    The perfectly valid point is that on paper, or on form, or on stats, Spurs looked stronger and doing a combined XI is simply a way of illustrating that point. I happen to like it and think it effective. Especially in local derbies. But saying Spurs have the better players is no big deal: it’s not in the slightest bit offensive to anyone over 13 and 1/2, whoever they support, and totally fair game for a bit of post match ‘banter’, when the result confounds this supposed supremacy.

    That quite a good joke should then unleash a barrage of abuse from some Gooners and that the publications who spend so much of their time trying to generate this reaction should then cry foul is, as you say, unbefuckinglievable. But none of these titles are serious organs of journalism – they used to be better but their one enduring value is being something you can wrap your fish and chips in. And the internet sites, with a vernacular that routinely includes players ‘owning’ or ‘humiliating’ or ‘slamming’ others, is symptomatic, as you say, of the internet’s click baiting business model.

    I still think Spurs have the majority of better players but I’m delighted Ozil had one of his few big game blinders and we were deserved winners. Hopefully he and the team will do as well against United ….combined XI anyone?

    1. For two years now, Spurs have played the better football, no question. Does that also mean they have a more talented squad? I don’t necessarily think so, no. They have defended much better as a unit and that’s been the crux of the difference in point totals at the end of the year. Just 9 goals against this season vs. Arsenal’s 16 is already a big difference. I don’t think that’s down to a difference in individual quality in defenders but rather a coherent system that is executed well by 11 committed players. Personally, I prefer Koscielny to all their defenders except maybe Vertonghen (but it’s clear those two go 1 and 2) and after that I like Monreal better than either Dier or Sanchez. At this point though it’s just really about what style of defender you prefer, to me they are all about on the same level.

      Further forward, Kane is clearly terrific but after him I don’t see another player who is head and shoulders above anyone at Arsenal (and Lacazette is perhaps not as far behind him as people think). Eriksen and Ozil are often compared but I don’t see a clear winner there (maybe Eriksen edges it given Mesut’s bouts of inconsistency and Eriksen’s superior shooting ability), but I’ll have Alexis over Ali anytime. After that, I like our wingbacks over theirs (especially with big SK in the fold) and central midfield is a tossup and depends on how you rate Ramsey (a polarizing figure to say the least). I know I don’t rate Sissoko as a CM or Dembele as a holding CM. Both players are better used further forward. And before you say anything, yes, I’m biased and I know it!

      1. I know I rate Ozil more than many people, but I’d never pick Eriksen over him in a million years. The Dane is clearly the better goalscorer, and more aggressive defensibly (though how much of that is the Poch effect?), but Mesut is a better footballer, full stop.

        Alderweireld and Wanyama? I’d absolutely take both of them in our starting lineup in a heartbeat (even if I think we could find a better ball-playing DM than Wanyama, the guys a beast).

        Since it’s all the rage (and not having given this more than 90 seconds thought):
        Bench: Cech, Vertongen, Kola, Xhaka, Eriksen, Alli, Lacazette (Sorry Jack!)

        That team would have a great shot at winning the league.

        1. But I have no idea why I just engaged in that little exercise.

          Imagining Spurs players playing alongside Arsenal players makes me feel dirty.

  6. Was funny seeing the likes of Steinberg suddenly standing up for their fellow press man. The same guy who supported the fans heckling and abusing Wenger at a train station.
    So quick to take the moral high ground. I still don’t see how that tweet incited abuse, he went for a reaction, got pantsed and is blaming the club to keep it in the news and hopefully keep the clicks coming.

    Also, a pox on the guy who started the combined xi trend.

  7. I have to say congratulations to you mate for unequivocally predicting the correct result. I must confess, I was very impressed.

  8. While the writers should certainly be held accountable for their starting eleven picks, let’s be fair here. Article headlines are generally written by editors and writers have very little control over them.

  9. We are good, very good. Not good enough, enough of the time to truly challenge for the “big” prizes. But when we’re good , it is a good, good feeling to carry into the match. Troll that you trolling wankers.

  10. Tim, does your model account for home vs. away game? I feel like that makes a huge difference. Spurs, for all the plaudits bestowed upon them, have taken 9 points from a possible 51 in their last 17 away games vs. the top 6 (according to the NBCSN sportscaster on Saturday).

    As poor as Xhaka’s form has been this season, I would pick him over Dier every time. Dier is a horribly overrated English player who only gets into the national team because there is a real shortage of quality in the type of players who can play the Makalele role. Xhaka comes with some downside risk but he offers way more upside. Also would pick Kolasinac over Davies who seems like a tidy player but it’s close for me between the two of them and I think Kolasinac is more clutch and has a bit of the x factor. Otherwise, I agree with the combined XI so my combined XI has six Arsenal players. That would probably change if Spurs had Rose and Alderweireld available, both of who I rate highly – but it’s still a close call.

    As far as the trolling by the journalists go, Gooner Forever said it best.

  11. Let’s be fair – Twitter is filled with idiots.

    There are 330 million Twitter users, last I read. If just 5% are racist, sexist, a$$holes, that’s 16-17 million of them. That’s a lot of losers. And they can do a lot of trolling.

    Here is Canada, we had a politician stand up in parliament and read tweets she received as proof of Islamophobia rampant in Canada. Bull$hit. What it’s proof of is that there exists a handful of a$$holes who are super brave when cloaked with anonymity. Twitter is not representative of even a tiny slice of society.

    One should never go on Twitter unless you have the personal tools to read Tweets and let the $hit roll off your back. This Adam Crofton is a classic snowflake and I have zero sympathy for him. Toughen up buttercup.

  12. Crooks got a lot of heat-mostly of the “yer da” variety-for his comments on Pogba’s hair and dancing. I’m not sure Pogba should’ve even been included at the expense of Jack Cork.

  13. @NYC,
    I would take Alderweireld, but certainly not Rose, he’s been subpar for awhile now. I think Tim did say something to the effect of the prediction being based on away games vs top 6, though I don’t know if he was referring to his model or not. And yes Kola over Davies and Xhaka over Dier. Dier is like Townsend, his best performances are in friendlies/group stage games for England NT.

  14. I have drilled this lesson into both my kids over and over for the last few years:

    NEVER say anything online that you would not say aloud in public or face-to-face to the subject of any personal comment. To anything else is the easiest cowardice possible especially when using an alter ego. Period. Full stop. End of.

    1. I know it’s verboten to bring up Louis CK, but he had an excellent bit with Conan O’Brien about how easy it is to say crappy things on the internet because there’s no face to face interaction and thus young people aren’t able to learn how their words might be hurtful.

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