Putting aside the British weather, people getting excited about Tim Henman, and putting ice in cider just because some company has told them they should, for me, one of the most amusing things about the summer is the transfer window and all that it brings.
Back in 2002, the big cheeses from FIFA decided to change the rules, allowing clubs to buy and sell players solely in two designated ‘windows’ (1-31st January, and from the end of season until 31st August). This meant that the normally busy summer suddenly became the most important time of the year for clubs looking to improve.
In England, both chairmen and managers alike keep their cards extremely close to their chests, not wishing to alert rival clubs to the players that they have been scouting, in a bid to swoop in there first and get a better deal.
However, this all results in the British tabloid journalists, working with little to no information at all, going into overdrive. Striving to fill column inches, they link every player to every club in need of a player. This sometimes verges on the ridiculous (Samuel Etoo and Ronaldinho to Spurs, are mere drops in the ocean of rubbish that has already been put together this summer).
In Spain and Italy it is completely different. Over there what you tend to see is a club’s president creating the speculation himself, by outlining the (usually five or six) players he wants to sign. The club then uses the papers almost as a medium to unsettle their targets.
Extraordinary tactics yes, but also clever, as it taps into something that has been very clear in modern football over the last 10 years… the players now have the power, not the clubs. If a player wants to leave, it is virtually impossible to stop him.
A classic example of this is the Cristiano Ronaldo situation. ‘The Hairdryer’, aka Manchester Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson, has blasted Real Madrid wind-up merchant, and club president, Ramon Calderon for using sports daily ‘Marca’ to unsettle Ronaldo.
Whilst swapping being barked at by an angry red nosed Scot, for lounging in the sunshine, and a house with his beautiful Spanish girlfriend, must have something to do with Ronaldo’s recent revelation that he wants to go to Real, Calderon’s use of the media has certainly helped Madrid’s cause.
Whether the speculation has just been thought up by a journalist, or is the dream of a club president, it can’t be denied that people will start to believe it is going to happen if they keep hearing it. I find it hilarious how the chairman and managers, the very people who pride themselves on keeping their cards close to their chests when it comes to transfers, react to speculation and start to soil themselves in the fear of losing their best player.
The Ronaldo situation seems to have increased the sensitivity of the top clubs to speculation, and in the last week alone we have seen both Milan and Liverpool issuing ‘hands off’ warnings to any clubs interested in Torres and Kaka.
From the first speculation appearing in a newspaper, to the player finally signing on the dotted line at midnight on the 31st August, there really is nothing more amusing than two top clubs publically wrestling over the transfer of a player. It’s a superb distraction from the season, and Ronaldo will surely not be the last one this summer.
My advice is to sit back and enjoy!