It’s that time of year again. The season has all but ended, with only internationals left to play. With no World Cup or Euros to look forward to, the summer will be long. To fill my time, I will no doubt start watching cricket, super league and tennis, sports I normally don’t give a second glance. If the boredom gets too unbearable, I may even have to start talking to the wife!
But, like all football fans, there is one thing that will keep me going throughout the summer months; Transfer Gossip.
The close season is the time of year when all football fans have hope. From Champions Manchester United all the way down to last-day escapologists Barnet, fans think that with a couple of shrewd summer buys, next year will be their year. For most, their dreams will be shattered by the end of August, as reality cruelly kicks in. But until then, they can dream, with transfer gossip being their fuel.
Years ago, when press coverage was limited, clubs would go about their summer business away from the public eye. The newspaper previews of the season opening games would reveal which players had been captured.
As time progressed, Teletext became the place to find your rumours, with TeamTalk and Clubcall headlines tantalisingly giving away hints, though all was not as it seemed. “REDS EYE WORLD CUP STAR” would more often than not mean that your team were after a Saudi Arabian 3rd choice goalkeeper rather than a Brazilian superstar!
With the birth of the Internet, transfer rumours stepped up a level. Fan sites and forums provided areas for supporters to specifically talk about transfers. The rumour mill went into overdrive with people claiming to have inside info about who each club were after. Hotel staff, taxi drivers, airport baggage handlers, estate agents, chairman’s long-lost second cousin’s; all crept out of the woodwork to publicise their rumours. When a player was named as a target, it was accompanied by an obligatory YouTube clip promoting his talents. In an age full of Championship Manager gamers, players from even the most remote of leagues were suddenly on everyone’s lips and wanted lists.
Even the newspapers started to take their stories from the internet rumour mills. When Didier Baptiste was linked with Liverpool on one of the reds’ fan sites, the story appeared in one of the national newspapers a few days later. Only then did the paper, much to their embarrassment, realise that Didier Baptiste was a fictional character from Sky One’s Dream Team!
Nowadays, the main place for transfer gossip is Twitter. It seems anyone who is anyone now has a Twitter account. And most claim to be In The Know (ITK) about the transfer policies of football clubs. As a Liverpool fan, in a week and a half, I have read tweets linking us with dozens of players, ranging from the likes of Shane Long to Sergio Aguero. Most rumours will be made up by attention-seekers, desperate to get more followers. But when one of the links comes true, the ITK that broke it receives legendary status.
All gossip must, of course, be taken with a pinch of salt, but it doesn’t make it less exciting. Seeing your team linked with a player immediately sets you off imagining him performing miracles for your team. This is the reason why for the next 3 months my morning routine will be wake up, switch on phone, check Twitter, check BBC Gossip page. Then and only then will I get ready for work.
I know I shouldn’t do it, but I can’t help myself. Throughout the summer month’s transfer gossip is my addiction.