Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Sagas Must End

It has only been seven days. The transfer window has been open for seven days. Yet such is the soul-draining, spirit-crushing dearth of real news that it feels far, far longer. This isn’t simply a lack of interesting topics to be discussed but the relentless churning of stories about nothing. When well respected websites have “No developments in Fabregas saga” as a leading story it is hard not to feel that football fans collectively have reached something of a nadir. There is an insatiable demand for more transfer tattle. Bigger, better, stronger, quicker players. The fans insist on a continuous stream of “news” and the papers respond by filling page after page with grim mediocrity. Never in the history of football journalism has so much been written by so many about so little.

There are of course stories out there which need and deserve attention. It isn’t as though there haven’t been four major tournaments this summer (the Under 21’s championship, the Copa America, the Women’s World Cup and the Gold Cup) but for the most part these have been relegated to relative footnotes under the crushing weight of top four banalities. Transfer sagas have existed for years but increasingly it seems, in order to match the public’s need for gossip every transfer is becoming a saga. To name just a few this summer has seen Samir Nasri to Manchester United/Manchester City/Chelsea, Alexis Sanchez to damn near everyone and the wonderfully enthralling tale of where Neymar’s hairdresser will be relocating to along with his mohawked client. Two weeks ago the story that Sanchez had definitely signed for Barcelona broke late in the evening and there was a collective sigh of relief as at least one of the interminable zombie transfer stories had finally, mercifully had a bullet put through its irritating head. Of course it turned out that the Chilean had not signed yet and the zombie resurrected itself the very next day looking for more brains to turn into mental Swiss cheese.

Furthermore these one summer sagas are only the thin end of the wedge. As we all know by now, to be a proper saga the story must roll on for a minimum of two years as it the case with a proper vintage such as Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona which has replaced former favourite Cristiano Ronaldo to Madrid. It is one thing to report genuine developments such as a concrete offer or sale but earlier today the “news” that Dani Alves urged Fabregas to join him at Barcelona came through and was plugged as a top story by more than one major website. We know! We get it! Messi, Xavi, Alves, every man and his dog in Catalonia wants to see Fabregas return. It isn’t news anymore. It is stultifying dull.

However, even as I type this I can already the armies of keyboard warriors massing to scream J’accuse! at me for railing against the tidal wave of dross. “You’re just as guilty as the tabloids for writing articles about this! You’re buying into and prolonging the life of these rumours!” It must be said that this is true. Writing an article to complain about the rumours is just as bad as churning them out in the first place. But this is a call to arms, a rallying cry for football fans. Turn off Sky Sports. Shut down the computer. Ignore it all because it’s only going to be the exact same stuff tomorrow. It’ll still be here if we just all collectively walk away for the summer. Yes the Simpsons was probably right that TV radiation has left you withered and useless (and if any station was bound to do that it would certainly be Sky) so meaningful social interaction is probably beyond us. As we emerge, unshaved and blinking into the harsh light of the real world it will be scary not knowing how Charlie Adam’s medical is progressing or which Barcelona has most recently decided to try and tempt Fabregas to the Dark Side but we can weather the storm and exist without the 24/7 stream of bilge that is being thrown at us.

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