As Christmas and the New Year draw ever closer, it can only mean one thing in football – the January transfer window. Here we see the transfer gossip go into overdrive as journalists, pundits and fans alike try to out do each other with their latest ‘scoop’. Sky Sports News treat transfer deadline day with the same tenacity as others do for General Election’s, with Jim White now famously helming their coverage in the final few hours with the intensity of a religious zealot. The ‘excitement’ remains at eleven (thank you Spinal Tap) whether any major transfers have been confirmed or not.
All this of course is extremely farcical, particularly as rumours swirl constantly in the media, irrespective of the time of year. Every day the BBC collates the good and the bad from the papers, simply sharing this ‘news’ with us rather than actually passing judgement. What it does reveal is sad indeed. More often than not, it’s a case of lining up several hats and picking a player, a potential club and a fee out of each, and cobbling some wording together as ‘reasoning’. Furthermore it’s the ultimate example of lazy and simplistic journalism.
My own club (Derby County) has had it’s fair share of involvement in the rumour-mill. From Michael Owen joining us in the summer of 2011, or even more daft, Rio Ferdinand as a potential loanee whilst he served his ban for missing a drugs test. Conveniently this rumour somehow created the idea that he was only banned for Manchester United and a loan would circumvent this.
Where transfer gossip really lost the plot was the News of the World (of course) announcement that French defender Didier Baptiste was a target for Liverpool. All well and good, however Didier Baptiste was not a real footballer but a fictional character from Sky One’s Dream Team – an extremity of course, but just one reason why these rumours should be treated with a great heap of salt.
One thing we do have to bear in mind is the agendas of managers, players, agents and PR companies as they try to gain the best coverage for their purposes. This could be to force the hand of a club into transfer listing a player, renewing a contract or simply raising awareness.
Nevertheless, whether the rumour is nonsense, true, PR, or as above, impossible, what it indicates is the footballing world’s obsession with transfer gossip. We just can’t get enough of it. From journalists to fans in the pub, we all have an opinion, so when we read a rumour we hope to be true, we latch on to it with so much gusto that our willpower alone will surely see it become a reality.
The sad fact is this will not be going away anytime soon. We will continue to see rumours in the press, concocted by journalists with too much time on their hands, and we will continue to discuss these long into the bottom of our pints in the hope that just one day, one may just come true for our club.
So Mr. Messi, what squad number can I put you down for at Pride Park this January?
Finally, for a bit of fun, here are some of the more bizarre transfer rumours to have graced our national media. With thanks to @MjEndsor, @c_delaney, @nicktrojan87 and @Jimmy_MC for all their contributions as well as @christomfox for the image.
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