'Messi to Spurs' because I read it on the internet, innit
Someone asked me what happens to football bloggers in the quiet summer months. I answered, 'Quiet? Are you f*cking kidding me?' Once the transfer window opens, it's a little like the finale to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Sunnydale is obliterated by a hellmouth.
And ground zero for our particular summer transfer hellmouth is the internet.
Once the tabloids exhaust all their football agent information they look towards the various message boards and copy and paste any in the know stories they deem worthy of the back pages…i.e. all of them. You'll be surprised how many message board threads end up on the Sky Sports ticker as 'exclusives'.
We've already been linked to Muntari, Upson, Cisse, Tevez, Ballack and Drogba (I kid you not), Cruz along with rehashes of Jones and Downing. And that's just a quick overview. Add to them the various continental players that have cited Spurs as a possible destination and you're just getting started. And it's still May. But all of these are your bog standard examples.
The In the Knows have yet to awake from their winter slumber.
We all know (bullshit radar on full pelt) that most of the players mentioned above (about 97% of them) are not genuine targets. Agents and players are in the habit of using our name just to put themselves out there. Others are just desperate for any kind of media coverage to get their current club to offer them a better deal. Others are simply delusional (yes, that's you Cisse, you fruitcake). The 3% are probable targets in the way that logically we could see them in a Lilywhite shirt because they fit the profile - i.e. affordable, required, Spurs type signing.
Others are likely because they fit Harry Redknapp's transfer target profile. Which might or might not be a good thing. Though he did strike gold with Wilson.
I got a lot of stick several months back for 'having a go' at the In The Know culture that exists and the quite prominent grapevine of whispers that many of us our privy to by simply being a member of any given Spurs forum. ITK's are people who are, well, obviously in the know. Whether its because they know people at the club or know people who know people or have some other deep throat connection that results with information about a possible transfer being shared online.
Now and again, some strike gold with their information. It's rare, and equally interesting how other signings come out of the blue and are never picked up by the very same people who would have you believe Kuyt (we ended up with Berbatov) or Torres (like this was ever on the cards) is about to sign. You'll always spot a bit of ITK info as they usually sign off with 'take it or leave it' or 'believe it if you want to' and talk in percentages (i.e. He's on his way, deal is about 87% done, likely to happen but you never know, might be a last minute glitch, wants more money than we've offered, but looking good).
It's a 'don’t shoot the messenger' ethos they live and die by. Although some do take it far too seriously. Not that they are always solely responsible for the info as sometimes they are simply passing on something that has been given to them. The problem is that there is no way of knowing whether the info has been dressed up or has been given to the ITK as a joke/dis-information.
True ITK's, you'd think, would not want to share any information, for reasons as to avoid placing the deal at risk and being discovered by other possible would-be-interested clubs.
People who spot a player arriving or leaving the Spurs training ground is altogether a different kettle of fish. That's not really ITK, is it? If you see someone out and about. Then at that point it's not really something that the club are trying to keep under wraps.
Guess this where the necessity to know something before everyone else drives people to extreme measures to get hold of said information (climb trees overlooking the Lodge) that might suggest who is about to sign for us. Even though it wont change the fact that said player may well sign. Is there a difference between knowing something 24 hours before it happens and just waiting for it to happen?
I guess, what is far more interesting is transfer deals that fail and the reasons behind the failure (remember the epic 'Diego' tug of war with Santos?). The Duff saga is a perfect example of when ITK info is far more interesting, although there is nothing to suggest any of it is ITK. Anyone could have told you he signed for Newcastle for the money.
I offended one or two people several months back because I criticised the culture (some people who dare to be critical of ITK people are banned from forums). I'm not going to stir up trouble again. I do think the obsession with some ITK's who post cryptic messages that could be translated to mean absolutely anything is tragic. But do agree that the information is there…take it or leave it. Take it seriously or don't. It's probably on par with anything you read in the tabloids anyway. And like I said, sometimes, one in two hundred, get it right.
Any ITK info posted on this blog during the summer months will be credited to the originator and will only be posted if the original 'rumour' was posted in the public domain. Anything that’s privately shared will stay that way. Wouldn't want another fatwā issued my way.
So, hold onto your hats, and expect to drown in a flurry of sightings and medicals and morning press conferences.
Here's to signing the new Zidane. That's Zidane, not Zokora. Thank you very much.
Can you tell I'm far more mellow with all this now?