They’re everywhere. They say that in England you’re never more than six feet away from a rat. Similarly, if you log onto any football site, you’re never more than six seconds from seeing an update from an “in-the-knower”.
Some people foolishly used to think that to be an in-the-knower, you had to like, know stuff. How ridiculous. This is not necessary at all – and with a few simple steps, you too could be one within a couple of weeks, and have thousands of desperate football fans hanging off your every word.
1. Set up accounts on the relevant football message boards, and on Twitter.
2. User name is important here. On twitter “in the know” could be used somewhere in the name, or you could take an alternative approach and use footyagent64, footballspy1 or something similar. Anything that suggests that you are important, and have got news to dispense. In the know suggests a wind-up merchant immediately, but football fans just can’t help themselves. It’s like moths to a light bulb, they’re hooked. Even if everything you say is rubbish, it might be entertaining rubbish.
3. You now have to gain people’s trust. This is the most difficult part. If you are patient you could spend time building these accounts with innocent posts that gain trust in those that read them, and save yourself for the following transfer window. This takes dedication. Whatever you decide, you must start gently, before building up momentum. It is essential though that you get off on the right foot – so best to start with some rumours that you are confident in and are this probably easily available already – but embellish the information with some wishy-washy details that make you look like you’ve got the inside track without committing yourself to being exposed further down the line.
Example: Lets say Nasri wants to go to Manchester United, and this is fairly common knowledge
You write: Nasri definitely keen to go to Old Trafford as his first option. Meetings planned with Wenger hopefully this week, but Wenger is known to be adamant he won’t sell to United. Initial bid expected of £20m from United, who are reluctant to bid any higher for player with only year left on contract. Ferguson known to have given up on Sanchez or Modric, unless there is a sudden change in circumstances. Nasri now main target for Ferguson, but he is keeping watch on other players as a fall-back.
4. Follow reliable people on Twitter, and do some surfing to sniff out information – then when presenting as your own, it might be information not yet widely available, and if it comes to pass, it makes you look genuine.
5. You might want to take one early “all-or-nothing” gamble that will destroy your credibility or cement your position for good. Take a leap of faith, an educated guess, call it what you want, and make a bold prediction. Remember, if it doesn’t come off, you can always salvage your reputation with the age-old excuse of terms not being agreed, problems over fees, etc.
6. Vagueness is the key. After all, you need to protect your sources, who go right to the top. You can dispense endless rumours without actually saying much at all (see example above). You are aware of discussions on a number of players becoming more advanced this week at Arsenal. Your sources tell you Manchester United are looking at sealing a loan deal for one of their unwanted players, but negotiations have hit a few snags, but hopeful of conclusion by end of next week or soon after.
7. Throw in a few titbits about signings for lower-league teams. Most won’t check if news was already common knowledge, or even true.
8. Occasionally post at 4am in the morning, giving the impression you are sealing an important deal in Kuala Lumpur.
9. Occasionally post that you have no new news, no new information, and that things are “quiet”. This will make you appear more genuine.
10. Have your excuses ready. So you said there was no new news at Manchester City ten minutes before they announced the signing of Xavi? Don’t panic, you can get round this. There’s an excuse for every occasion.
Example post: Xavi signing admittedly taken me by surprise. Heard rumblings last week that deal was a possibility, but source said not to mention it as negotiations at critical point – clearly they have kept very tight counsel on this, to ensure move went through. Great signing by City. More news as I get it.
11. If you are truly found out, burn your bridges. Delete what you can, bury your head in the sand and deny having ever made the comments. Claim you have been misquoted. A long period of silence will ensure most people will forget what you have said in past, and you can return with a clean slate.
12. A good tactic on a message board is to make it clear you are NOT an in-the-knower, but simply passing on good information. This apparent modesty will gain trust.
13. If you’re well established as being in the know, you are allowed a mistake. In fact, you’re allowed a hundred, there will still be people who will seek out your posts eagerly.
14. Another option: find someone who actually is “in-the-know” and just use their information. But subtly.
15. Deadline day – this is YOUR day, a day of wild speculation, manic developments and last-gasp deals before an autumn hibernation. Until Big Ben goes bong at 5pm, the world is your oyster. Go for it. As clubs are often desperate at this point and try any number of deals unsuccessfully, you might as well throw around plenty of wild rumours. No one will really know whether they were made up.
16. September, October, November, December, February, March, April, and a bit of May. A time for silence? Far from it. These are the most fruitful months of all for an “in-the-knower”. No deals can be done now, but plans can be made, so you can make claims without being proved wrong.
17. Everything else is up to you. Perhaps settle on one team, claiming to have a source within the club, or perhaps fling your net wider, claiming to work within the game. It can be whatever you want to be, and whatever you say, someone somewhere will believe you.
So as you can see, pretty easy. Just a few hours gets you started, and before long you can have the adoration of thousands. I’m not sure why you would, but it seems plenty would disagree – a feeling of power can come in many forms. It’s just a shame that those with genuine information get treated with such distrust because of the actions of others.