Roman Pavlyuchenko ate my squirrel
I'm coming down with a cold. Head hurts, nose is running, lack of sleep. And I'm sadly finding no warmth from any of the news items that have presented themselves to me this morning making Tuesday as bland and boring as Monday was. Even The Sun, celebrating 40 years today, can't muster up anything of interest, informing us that we are after Man Utd's Ben Foster for a cool £6m. Another back-page testament to the age old 1 (Carlo injured in bike accident) +1 (Foster wanting first team football) = 2 (sign for Spurs) system that has proven to be so very successful for them over the years. Sort of make shit up and it sells newspapers.
I might appear to aim a dig or two at the esteemed red-top, but it still serves its purpose. It's no different I guess from any number of message boards that contain posts from people who claim to be in the know about who is about to sign on the dotted line or opinionated and brash fans telling all how they see it. The Sun print stories that are about as reliable as a David Bentley flick. Might look good, but it's completely useless in the grand scheme of things. Like most of the alleged club insider stories that we are treated to on-line. We read exclusives that contain no direct quotes or actual conclusive evidence. But it's ok because it mentions a 'close friend' or 'club source' as confirmation that the info at hand must be credible because they can't reveal names as it's come from someone who has to retain their anonymity. And how can you possibly argue against massive bold capital words?
For the more astute (that's practically everybody with an ounce of common sense) you'll also have noticed that rather superb trick of printing every transfer scenario imaginable, regardless of just how made-up it is because there's a calculated chance of one of them sticking and if it does then it allows them to re-print the winning story, with the date highlighted, and the smug claim they were in first with the news.
It's such a complex science. Newspapers gloating about how they printed the story before anyone else, even though most papers tend to just read message boards and rehash the nonsense they read on-line. Did I mention that already? Of course I did. I'm recycling. Another gem of the modern day sports press. Quiet time? Go ahead, just re-print a story from two weeks ago, dress it up a little bit by using even older quotes not used last time round and make it look like its brand new gossip. It's a never-ending tapestry of half-truths. If someone notices, who cares, they'll be hundreds of message board forums jam-packed with discussion threads about the story at hand, even if there is little substance to it.
So what possible purpose does it all serve? As a generalisation, the window to football supplied by the likes of The Sun basically mirrors the common man's pub drink chatter on the beautiful game. We all exaggerate and make assumptions and discuss the latest rumours and stories. Tabloids are almost akin to a memo reminding us where our topic of conversation(s) should head towards. Newspapers like The Sun fuel said conversations and incite debate. Even if it all stems from the most basic of platforms. They've even got our Harry on board. And that's the appeal. Quick, easy access - nothing to strain the brain. Big photos and small words. It's made for easy consumption. Harry and his self-publicity sound-bite editorials are a joy to behold. It's far from ground-breaking journalism but its likely to make you turn to the next person and talk about it. Not quite as controversial as it would have you believe, just safe…with a hint of knock-down ginger rather than a brick through the window.
Yeah sure, there's always a hint of Top 4 elitism and favouritisms creeping in with plenty of dour Matthew Norman types depressing their way through match reports. Transparent, but not overwhelmingly patronising as Norman himself over at that freebie paper, The Evening Standard.
If it wasn't for their simplicity of dressing down football then we wouldn’t be blessed with the likes of Sky Sports News, which is a little bit like a 2D version of the Sports pages of The Sun just without the Page 3 girls. Talking of tits, their presenters reach such heights of giddiness over complete non-events that it becomes watchable by virtue of the pantomime at hand.
"We're outside the Spurs training ground, and that might be David James in the land rover that just drove past. Can't be sure, but if it is, he'll be here for a last minute medical and will sign for Spurs. Nope, actually, he's in Portsmouth, but we're just hearing that Anton Ferdinand is about to sign for Spurs…"
Whether it's a reporter outside a football ground with delusional/happy fans jumping up and down or the flash of the yellow ticker telling us that they understand xxx is about to sign for xxx, it's essential viewing because you don't want to miss how many times the same bit of news can be repeated with such a consistently high level of enthusiasm.
My personal favourite was the evening that Sky exclusively told everyone that Barcelona captain Puyol was practically Spurs bound, only for the yellow ticker to suddenly disappear and for the accompanying web page story to go missing. Not another mention of it. Ever. It was almost like someone had gone with the story based on the word of someone else who just blurted out a randomly selected well known player, even if there was no suggestion he would ever consider leaving the Camp Nou let alone join us. As if. Yet there it was, scrolling across the screen.
The Sun, Sky…everyone proclaims to hate them yet people keep on reading and watching. I'm one of those people. It's a bit like the X-Factor. It's a winning formula that never needs to change it's format in a huge way and even when it's controversial or just plain silly its popularity isn't effected. Even if it's critically condemned it's usually by the very same people who claim to dislike it yet can't stop talking about it. Christ I hate the twins. Hate them with a passion, but can't ever see myself looking the other way and ignoring them. But that's the magic of Murdoch's The Sun and Sky Sports News. As for Cowell and Jedward, nice lads, who can't sing. Much like Juddlestone at Spurs. Nice lads, who can't play football.
So here's to a further 40 years of botched up predictions, agendas and propaganda, columnists and their egos, regurgitated agent transfer talk and all the exclusives we can handle.
Keep on whoring...