Ah the good old transfer window. Nothing divides opinions and fans as much as a summer of rumour mongering, speculation, hope and disappointment.
Fuelled by the bloated self-importance of the Premier League, the need to be doing better than all of our competitors in terms of mega-stars arriving and millions being spent seems to take on an ever increasing spiral of insanity leading to a collective ‘transfer window neurosis’.
It brings out the paranoia and envy in many of us as we wonder around like the football fan equivalent of Little Britain’s ‘Lou and Andy’ saying “I want that one”. Where will it end?
There is much to dislike about this period of intensified activity at a time of inactivity in actual proper football.
It does appear that the transfer window is a self-perpetuating monster to feed a 24/7 media cycle at a time with no real football to discuss. Instead, the purveyors of the news media create their own news. TalkSport and Sky Sports News are particularly adept at what to me appears to be a relatively new media phenomenon.
For example, listening to talkSPORT one morning last week, one of their guest pundits was asked about a current football issue regarding a recent transfer. In the next news bulletin, the guest pundit (who incidentally still had an hour or so to run in the programme) was quoted heavily as if he in fact was the news item. Sorry, but that is farcical. First, we had already heard him offer his opinion on the issue. Second, it was opinion, not facts or news to enrich the story. News is news, emanating from fact. Those offering opinions on it are not news in and of itself.
The media, especially in the transfer window, seem to speculate to hyperventilate. And it is this endless speculation that causes many supporters to panic at the thought of missing out on a transfer target that may or may not have been a real possibility in the first place. Cue meltdown and hysteria, particularly on social media.
The transfer window has become something like an insane football version of ‘Blind Date’ causing the greatest outbreak of hysteria since the medieval Central European peasants let their rye bread go mouldy. The old cynic in me says that this is a cynical ploy to keep football supporters in a state of heightened arousal and fever pitch at a time when they could otherwise be engaged in other perhaps more pleasurable summer pursuits.
And all the while not a ball has been kicked; a match won or lost; a point dropped or gained.
Perhaps it is too easy for an old lag like me to be dismissive about all this fuss over nothing, when I recall being excited that Chelsea’s only summer signing once upon a time was the wonderfully coiffured Quique de Lucas, on a free transfer.
The reality is that we are no longer that club. Chelsea now dines at Europe’s top table, Champions of England for the 6th time. Expectations have risen commensurately and the perceived failure to secure top quality players whose stats on FIFA 17 defy belief causes a depression among fans as deep as Roman Abramovich’s pockets.
There is also a real and justifiable concern that Chelsea need to be active in the transfer market and bring quality in. The shrewd pundits have already identified a need for at least 5 quality additions to the squad to compete on all fronts. Thus far we have secured Willy Caballero as a back-up ‘keeper on a free and the German international defender Antonio Rudiger.
When one also factors in the players who left last season, then it is clear that the Club have much work to do. It is easy to forget amidst all of the hyperbole that as well as additions to the squad, we should be looking to replace Oscar, John Mikel Obi, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, all trophy winners for Chelsea and players who played a major part in our recent success. Not to mention the seemingly inevitable departure of Diego Costa.
Many thought that some of our youth players may have filled the breech left by players who were clearly either superfluous to requirements or at the end of their career. However, we have already seen Ake, Traore, Solanke, Loftus-Cheek, Abraham and possibly Zouma sold or loaned out.
It is easy to see how those of a nervous disposition can be panicked at the perceived lack of transfer activity. This of course is hyped up in the media to pour oil on the flames as they predict that Chelsea’s season will burn out even before a ball is kicked. Speculate to humiliate.
The more grounded view might be that Chelsea’s board do like a dramatic pause. For them silence is golden. Frustratingly this silence does create a hole for the rumour mongering press to fill, no doubt aided and abetted by cynical agents exploiting their power to line their own pockets.
The only reality for a football supporter to cling on to in the grip of transfer window neurosis is that we can’t control what we can’t control. There are no guarantees that expensive signings work out and prove to be a success for the club and Chelsea supporters can cite many examples of players who have failed to live up to their billing.
We cannot judge the success or otherwise of a transfer window before a ball has been kicked or a season has ended in triumph or disaster. If last season proved anything it is that the best teams win titles not necessarily the best players on paper.
On the other hand, if you need some summer entertainment during the hiatus from proper football, fun can be had pin-balling between truth and rumour and watching the ensuing social media meltdown.
Whilst we (and the media for that matter) are not privy to the dealings and desires of the club or the manager, we can all have an opinion on it. Where’s the fun if you haven’t, but do we really need to wig out and panic about it?
Only time will tell.
David Chidgey @StamfordChidge
David Chidgey is currently Chairman of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast podcast which can be heard live every Monday at 19.00 at mixlr.com/chelsea-fancast/ or downloaded from Acast, ITunes, Soundcloud or chelseafancast.com @ChelseaFanCast