For many Arsenal fans, the summer transfer window is like an establishing shot from a Clint Eastwood western.
A vast expanse of wasteland that gets harder to look at the longer the gaze settles on it. The odd prairie dog of a plausible rumour tracks across the vision before disappearing in ever decreasing puffs of dust.
The whole time the desert flies of click-bait headlines from the tabloid press attempt to distract, but after a while cease to be noticeable, blending into the overall scene.
For days, weeks and what seems like months, the eyes remain focused, narrowing against the glare of spending sprees by Mourinho, Conte and the like, as the jaw sets with the grim realisation that there is nothing to do but wait.
Like all good westerns, this transfer window started with action, with Granit Xhaka being brought in and our hero hot on the trail of uncle Ranieri’s ‘beautiful horse’. But the horse got away, having only led us further from the safety of balanced squad.
Sadly for Arsenal fans, at this point the screenwriter seems to have got a little confused.
Wild stories, conflicting reports and whispers of those ‘in the know’ fill the Goonerweb constantly, and as the amounts of money involved raise the stakes, the more people want to be the first to break the news. Despite the absence of any news to break.
Add to this the games played by agents to flush out broader interest or secure pay rises for clients, and there is an endless bombardment of what amounts to very little, despite the click-click addiction of the newsnow generation. The last week has presented the imminent arrival of Higuain (bizarrely fuelled by Giroud’s agent), the quickly quashed stories of Lacazette for a ludicrous fee, and now Mauro Icardi and his wife (former of previous team mate Maxi Lopez). And not a scrap of anything meaningful between them. It seems likely he same applies to the quotation free ‘reports’ regarding Julian Draxler.
The Arsenal striker signing story farce is trying to maintain some form of momentum, but with Arsenal’s cards as close to the chest as ever, even more logical rumours like those concerning Lukaku seem to have given up and gone home. Things are so desperate for writers that some have taken to talking up Chuba Akpom’s credentials while encouraging comparisons with Theo Walcott.
Even those trying to ignite a spark by the annual claim of Joel Campbell being forced out have proved unsuccessful, with the Costa Rican confining his stay via social media.
So why am I bothering to write this? Well the interesting thing is that we all know all of this, and yet don’t modify our expectations. Experience has taught us that the dusty transfer plains will not have their slumber disturbed by a sudden movement. When Arsenal sign a player, they take their damn time, and keep schtum. The only ‘shock’ signings are at the end of the transfer window or the likes of our new Japanese loan ranger, where either time limits or a lack of interest dictate an absence of build up. Any major signings will be very much in the public domain via more reputable sources for a while in advance.
And yet, here I am again, clicking on links too badly formatted from the worst written website I’ve never heard of, only to have been fooled into reading about Jack Wilshere doing press-ups by some misleading headline.
At least I can convince myself that I’m doing research for podcast content! But the truth is that it is addicted idiots like me that give these sites reasons to exist. I’m just lucky that much of the sifting process is done by my even more obsessed colleagues on Daily Cannon, so I can actually get some work done. The importance of which is magnified by being self-employed.
It does raise the question though: do many of us enjoy fantasising about new signings and team configurations even more than the games themselves? Is it the curse of the ‘Football Manager’ generation? Or is it specifically a reflection of how dull the last few summer International tournaments have been?
One thing IS certain though. If you hear a rumour that hasn’t been reported on here, it’s either bollocks, or it’s some bloke who may never play for us. Or YOU are the ITK that everyone else on Twitter wants to be like….