De Gea’s Picture, the Marketing, and the Storm

by | Jan 4, 2016

The end of the holiday period matches coupled with the start of the transfer window means that his week is most likely going to be somewhat light on actual news – especially when there’s plenty of baseless gossip to keep those click-tastic viewer numbers ticking over, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the biggest piece of actual news – where “news” equals “a thing that happened” should be the David Gea’s Facebook profile image gate. In short, young David, who is possibly the only Manchester United player to have really covered himself in glory in a season of mishaps and misfires, has been turned upon in some corners of the media today because his new Facebook profile picture features the goalkeeper wearing a shirt that doesn’t have a Manchester United badge on.

Now, De Gea signed an endorsement deal with Adidas at the end of October last year, so it’s likely that his new profile picture is in line with this deal and, as Adidas manufactures the kit for both Manchester United and the Spanish national football team, it was probably deemed appropriate that putting him in an anonymous goalkeeper’s jersey with three stripes on the sleeve would be for the best in that: a, It would emphasise his association with his new corporate partners, b, Putting him in something identifiable as either a Manchester United or Spain goalkeeper’s shirt would lead to supporters of the other making accusations of bias, and c, If there was a media shit-storm around it all, well, all publicity is good publicity, isn’t it?

Of course, there are two problems with this theory. Firstly, Adidas also manufacture the kit of Real Madrid, with whom De Gea was so closely linked during the summer, meaning that the anonymous goalkeeping jersey which might have been representing Manchester United or Spain might, if one was conspiratorially minded, have been representing Real Madrid as well. Secondly, there have never been more conspiracy theorists about that there are now, and some of those conspiracy theorists have never been barmier than they are in 2015.

We should be clear, however, to mention that the extent to which there has been a shit-storm surrounding this relatively trifling story seems to be entirely media-created. A quick look at my own Twitter time line for the entire day – and I follow a fair number of Manchester United supporters on there – shows virtually no anguish at the possibility of David De Gea leaving Manchester United imminently. But it’s January, friends. It’s the start of a transfer window. There are no Premier League matches this weekend because of the FA Cup. It’s a fallow time for football news, with everybody in recovery after a hectic holiday period. This, friends, might well be football’s version of the silly season. And here’s the thing – we’ve got another four weeks of it all to go, yet.

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