Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying! Bale’s going! Bale’s staying!
Arsenal! War chest! Fabregas! Manchester United! Arsenal! War chest! Fabregas! Manchester United! Arsenal! War chest! Fabregas! Manchester United! Arsenal! War chest! Fabregas! Manchester United! Arsenal! War chest! Fabregas! Manchester United!
Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! Poor, poor Suarez!
The above is what the transfer window has seemingly descended into.
ED is well aware that the comings and goings at Europe’s top football sides have long been that methadone fix that we rely on to survive from May until August, particularly in the odd years when there are no football tournaments to tide us over. And ED is even more aware that a large chunk of the window's charm is that everybody gets overexcited by wild speculation as deals seem to make headlines even in in their most formative stages.
But it hasn’t always felt like this, when the daily "news" demonstrates such a tedious over-reliance on no more than three or four potentially-huge deals. It’s only been this cringeworthy over the last few years. Which means it’s been getting worse in recent times, and is probably going to get worser. And worserer. And worserererer.
Hundreds, thousands, millions of people are left sitting tight for any additional shreds of possible information – fabricated, exaggerated or not – that might reveal once and for all if Mr Wantaway has actually handed in a transfer request. Or if he is in secret talks with some other club, or if a bid has been accepted, or if a negotiation has been offered, or if he remembered to blow his nose after sneezing.
We seem to obsess with a complete and utter non-story, then drop it like a bad habit as soon as something actually happens, in favour of the next exhausting chase, which is then also abandoned seconds after the capture.
While Bale to Madrid, Fabregas to Manchester United and Suarez to just about anywhere all collectively remain in the box of Schrödinger's cat, they serve as the hot gossip topic – you know, like the latest Big Brother, I’m A Celebrity or soap opera goings on. The difference is that blokes feel okay to discuss the equally vaporous transfer news without sounding like muppets.
And, unfortunately, that’s what the transfer window is now, to most people. Forget about the dozens of genuinely interesting and potentially shrewd deals already cut by great-but-not-giant clubs for relatively-lesser-known names, and don’t even bother thinking about the more intricate, personnel- and development-orientated American sports drafts, we just crave a good-old-fashioned love triangle.
Particlarly if it's a cool, manly love triangle consisting of a world-famous footballer and two big-money football sides, instead of three wooden actors with overwhelming libidos and skeletons in their closet.
That said, there remain those football fans who are undoubtedly embarrassed by the amount of focus they place on such ‘transfer sagas’. But never fear, they have a perfectly good explanation: it’s not their fault after all, you see. The media are making them read all of these repetitive stories.
The cruel, heartless media who force people to read a story about Luis Suarez wiping his backside when they should be doing in-depth pieces on an actual transfer of a player from Stoke to Rayo Vallecano. The latter might be a great bit of business for a possible future star or a key component of a club's hopes to push on, but ED knows which one more people will want to click on.
Blaming the media for transfer news meltdown is like blaming supermarket cashiers for alcoholics drinking themselves into an early grave on cheap booze. In fact, ED does recall a gambling addict who skinted himself and some family members trying to sue his local bookmaker for all the money he blew.
It's an issue that we all helped create, though. No innocent parties here, everyone in the footballing community is a willing participant of this merry-go-round – even the clubs themselves, who quite happily leak rumours to unsettle players if they feel it's their best way of making an approach further down the line.
It's part of the fabric of the modern game. Pandora's box is open and can't be closed.
It's a bit like Big Brother, which should have been killed off years ago. And even when it was, it found a new way to live on. A new host to feed off. And even if you delete Channel 5 from your TV there are any number of illicit offspring drawing water from that same well: whether you like the Apprentice, X Factor or Masterchef, it's still all about watching normal people under pressure and either making themselves look like idiots or becoming the nation's sweethearts.
Modern football’s celebrity-worship culture is no different, and will always take precedence over the mechanics of the team sport itself for the same reason that more people watch the X Factor than watch Newsnight.
Grumbling in the comments section of a story that this is the 36th consecutive daily instalment of Bale-to-Madrid non-news won't change a thing, until the majority of people somehow come to the same point of view and shift the focus.
Until then, the big winners remain the footballers (despite how much they complain about all the ‘unwanted attention’), their fat cat ‘super-agents’, and of course, Eurobot.
ED cares little for Eurobot’s prosperity in a gossip-laden sporting world, however. ED remains bitter over that £200 Bot owes him from a Eurosport poker game several years ago.
But you never see Bot flagging that up in his lunchtime chat, do you?
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND
"Squad numbers mean nothing to me and I've had a few over the years. So it is not an issue for me. Edgar Davids has asked to wear number one, he asked me what number I want and I said I didn't mind." - Barnet goalkeeper Graham Stack is nonplussed by his eccentric legend of a boss's edict that he will wear the squad number 1 - as an outfield player - in non-league this coming season. Well, at least Davids is keeping the flailing Bees in the news...
You've been appointed the new boss of a European powerhouse to much fanfare and with a huge reputation. Adding to the expectations is the fact your predecessor went and did the treble on his way out of the club. Then you go and lose your first big game, to your domestic rivals, for the season's first piece of silverware. What do you do? If you answered 'Slap one of your big signings', send your CV and a covering letter to: Fußball-Club Bayern
München, Werner-Heisenberg-Allee 25, 80939 Munich, Germany.
Manchester United play Kitchee in the final match of their deeply underwhelming summer tour - we'll have full live commentary, kicking off at 1pm. And of course Eurobot will be here from 12.30 to 2.30pm - that's if this morning's ED hasn't inspired you to give up transfer gossip for 40 days and 40 nights, that is.
- Manchester United
- Luis Suarez