The transfer window is now a month old, and one can’t help but feel (as per usual?) that never was so much written about so little. I imagine that all estimates I might make as to the number of column inches squandered regarding the prospective fortunes of Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, and Cesc Fabregas would fall wildly short of the mark. The amount of journalistic hours that have been spent on these four stories in no way corresponds to the significance of what has actually happened – namely, that Arsenal has made one bid for Suarez and the three English clubs involved have provided the public with some transparently fabricated (though none the less dull as a result) stories about ‘injuries’ being the reason for their respective stars being left out of various friendlies. Thus, the sports pages of our national newspapers have spent the last month going round in circles that never emerge from the quagmire of tired speculation. It is especially telling that all of the stories regarding an eighty-five-million pound move for Gareth Bale come either from Marca, the notoriously dubious Madrid-biased Spanish newspaper, or are tellingly un-sourced. A little seems to have happened over the past week, with Bale appearing to attempt to force a move, but substantive narrative seems about as likely as Bale going a season without being booked for simulation right now.
If this were an isolated trend, I may have a little more patience with this transfer merry-go-round – and I feel I’m not alone in feeling so. Every summer, due to the lack of football, our press outlets spend their days either regurgitating rumours that have been doing the rounds since about April, or, in the absence of anything concrete, create some rumour so far-fetched that one wonders how the journalist in question expected to get away with it. (For the former, see Patrick Vieira every summer in the early millennium; for the latter, Real Madrid’s Ronaldo to Chelsea in the summer of 2003 was a particular favourite).
To analyse how a club has done in the window relies on gratuitous conjecture when writing before a ball has even been kicked, and enough has been written on the major players to preclude anything written on them being remotely novel or interesting. It seems to me a sad state of affairs when football becomes so preponderant that transfer drivel is the only way that our writers seem to be able to capture the attention of the reading public. There are some extremely important current issues in football that may well prove conducive to insightful, incisive, and pertinent journalism – the situation in Brazil seems to have been forgotten with the end of the Confederations Cup; the England team is in a precarious state in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup; there are numerous clubs in financial turmoil, and it would seem as though more reform of the FA’s financial regulations is necessary. If this inexplicable interest in the prospective movement of a few footballers would cease, then a far more compelling series of pieces would no doubt be written. Alternatively, we could simply forego writing about football when there is no football actually on, and enjoy a welcome break from a constant bombardment of fairly homogeneous football-related articles.