Ahh, summer is on the horizon. The prospect of longer days, potentially hot weather (emphasis on potentially here), and in this most glorious of years, the upcoming World Cup have rendered me more excitable than a child who has quaffed a reservoir’s worth of Red Bull. Unfortunately, the dawn of said time of year is equally symptomatic of a host of undesirable externalities; the increasing prevalence of airborne insects, the excruciating absence of club football and worst of all, the existence of transfer “silly season”. Alas the term has yet to feature in the Oxford Dictionary (we’re working on it), but I’m sure you’re all aware of what I speak of.
Despite the fact that the transfer window is still firmly shut for a good seven weeks, lazy scribes up and down the land choose to mark the end of the domestic football season by spewing forth an unrelenting barrage of preposterous, unfounded transfer conjecture.
Take for example the latest bit of nonsense I was unfortunate to place my eyes upon this morning. According to The Metro, onetime Arsenal skipper (and general cry-baby) William Gallas is to swap The Emirates for White Hart Lane this summer, as Spurs seek to bolster their squad for the rigours of Champions League football next season. Really? Does anyone genuinely believe that Harry Redknapp is actually going to pursue an aging, past-his-best player from his club’s fiercest rivals? Despite kindly re-iterating Gallas’ out-of-contract status this summer and Spurs’ apparent hunt for players with Champions League experience, this “transfer story” is unfeasible on so many levels.
Aside from the evidently fractious relationship existing between the North London rivals, Spurs’ notorious wage ceiling would clearly be unable to accommodate a player whose exit from Arsenal is due to the fact that, “his [wage] demands are quite extravagant”. Then there’s the small matter of the number of quality centre-backs already present on Spurs’ books. In Ledley King and Michael Dawson, Harry Redknapp already has England’s two most in-form centre-backs at his disposal, in addition to a clutch of more than adequate backup defenders (Younes Kaboul, Sébastien Bassong and Jonathan Woodgate).
Whilst this rumour represents a story existing at the more ludicrous end of the transfer spectrum, it is by no means an anomaly in this day and age. The print and online press are rife with such tales of lunacy on a daily basis now, indicative of the abhorrent, lazy attitude of journalists eager to cause a shock and sell papers. Although I have bemoaned the start of summer as a catalyst for sending the prevalence of such stories into overdrive, it is more and more becoming the case that such speculation is rife throughout the course of the entire domestic season and following off-season. For perennial underachievers Spurs, their susceptibility to such idiocy is likely to increase due to their future participation in the Champions League. Despite Harry Redknapp being in possession of a squad with immense strength in depth, idle journalists will undoubtedly speculate on which ‘world-class players’ and ‘seasoned campaigners’ will be moving to White Hart Lane in order to boost an ‘inexperienced’ side.
On the other hand, the column inches and web pages dedicated to the Lilywhites’ latest potential arrivals pale in comparison to those afforded to Manchester City. Granted, Mark Hughes, and latterly Roberto Mancini, have at times used the billions at their disposal with all the tact and guile of a child playing Football Manager. But the continual linking of Manchester City with an inflated transfer fee swoop for any player in form does nothing to quell the analogy – if anything it fuels it.
For example, if I type in “Manchester City transfer” into a well-known search engine I am greeted with the news that Manchester City have been “offered the chance to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic”, whilst Aston Villa players Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young “are being tracked by City ahead of a potential raid next month”. Predictably, both stories are unfounded, with no actual quotes or sources denoting the likelihood of such transactions taking place this summer. These two tales represent a small fraction of the multitude of similar rumours widespread across the world wide web.
Alas, this gossip style rumour-mongering is all too indicative of the current journalistic climate we currently find ourselves in. Instead of choosing to analyse England’s forthcoming World Cup opponents, or spend any time actually researching the likelihood of certain transfers taking place, our nation’s finest ‘writers’ indolently pen fictitious stories that wouldn’t look out of place in Heat magazine.
As an added bonus, please find below a glossary of the different types of ridiculous transfer rumour you’re likely to come across this summer.
The “will he or won’t he”
The most tedious of all transfer rumours. Unrelenting, long-standing and often amount to nothing. Persistence of rumour is such that it is often referred to as a ‘saga’. An example of a successful “will he or won’t he” rumour was the eventual transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid after two successive summers of painfully boring speculation. An example of an unsuccessful “will he or won’t he” was the failed attempt of Rafa Benitez to land then-Aston Villa man Gareth Barry in the summer of 2008.
The “player spotted by a source in a location that means he MUST be moving elsewhere”
“My brother’s friend’s twice-removed second cousin’s wife works at Manchester Airport and definitely saw David Villa.” This rumour works on the basis that an unnamed “source” allegedly or actually saw player X in a location close to club Y. Footballers don’t like to holiday or anything like that, so naturally they only go abroad to conduct secret transfer meetings.
The “there’s the most tenuous of links between player X and club Y so naturally one must link the two to a transfer”
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is Italian. Slovakian international Marek Hamsik plys his trade in Italian football. Roberto Mancini used to manage in Italy. Hamsik must be coming to Eastlands, right?
This type of rumour exploits some sort of fragile link between the player and club in question. Frequently said rumour completely eschews a manager/team’s certain tactical preferences in order to link a player to the club (for example, Redknapp’s “move” for the Champions League experienced-Gallas, in spite of the fact that Spurs do not need any more central defenders).
The “player ever so vaguely resembles a legend of club X so said player will naturally move there”
My least favourite of all rumours. “Player X is a lanky midfielder, between 17 and 22 and of French-African origin.” Naturally he is dubbed the “new Patrick Vieira” and linked to which London-based club I wonder? Repugnant, lazy journalism of the highest order.
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