It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness
It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity
It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
– A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1859)
Dickens summed up the transfer window perfectly. The harrowing nature of this time of year for some is unbearable, tension raises their blood pressure to dangerous levels, to the extent that their doctor would suggest they give up on football totally. Resorting to Championship Manager or whatever descendant they own to relieve this stress is probably not a good idea because they come back with ten Swedish second division players whom Arsène should sign. The trouble is that he uses those stats too. Well, not the FIFA13 ratings but ones which seem equally fanciful if they made Squillaci seem like a good buy in the first place.
Talking of which, his time for trading has begun and he must feel like he walked into his local market with the number of stalls selling their wares all around the place. Shouts of “Two for ten million pound” might grab his attention momentarily but he is shopping with a new wallet this summer. Whilst he might also be looking at the Williams Builders – we built our reputation on strong foundations – instead of the sharp intake of breath at the price, he flicks through his notes to make sure he won’t be overpaying. As he wanders through the stalls, he stumbles across a stand selling his own players and notes from afar that the few onlookers are reluctantly enticed by the ragged bunch on offer. Some inducements might be necessary, newer offerings placed at the front. Certainly the Turkish buyers have a nice line in rugs which Annie might appreciate in the living room. His faithful sidekick, Ivan, is not being too proactive in selling though; maybe a BOGOF promotion is needed?
Nosey street urchins constantly peer inside his bag to see what he has bought, any hints to what may be on offer elsewhere. Having spent some time eyeing the French produce, prodding and poking an exotic fruit known as a Sanogo, a fair old kerfuffle has sprung up among these grubby children, some shouting he has bought it, the rest note that the deal was not sealed and Wenger merely asked the stall’s owner to put him to one side. Briefly glancing at Joe The Vet, he realises his lingering look has given hint to his desires to the scowling, brooding presence of an Old Lady behind him.
A hubbub is building at one end, the new market being readied for next year. A tarpaulin has fallen to the ground from a sign revealing the new area will be known as Brazil2014. Ambling over to have a look, Arsène realises that this could take a while to look around, hoping his old friend Eurosport will once more have a place for him to rest his weary head and the opportunity to have a closer peek at players from the comfort of the hospitality tent.
The growing din coming from the streets surrounding the market reveals lots of suits listening to a Swiss chap shout that Arsène should be looking at the English produce on sale. Something caught his eye. At first he thought it was a Gourcuff fake but instantly realises it to be a genuine Grenier. Too excited, he blurts his interest out to the world; rats and vermin scurry to their masters to tell the tale. Giddy with joy, he turns to be confronted by Glazer Brothers regaling the world with the grotesque beauty of a lesser-bearded Rooney. Whirling from the ugliness encapsulating a rare talent, he spies the Spanish Villa he once loved, now rundown and tattered. A Portuguese man looks like he might take this retirement project on, Arsène shying away from the brickwork which might not stand the rugged British winter.
Turning to walk the harsh cobbled streets, dejected by the emptiness of wares on offer, a reflection catches his eye. In the Hall of Mirrors, did the distorted glass show his long-lost son Cesc talking to a strange-looking creäture, seduced by the gold on offer from within the darkened caves? Looking closely, he can make out Gollum and a leprechaun. It couldn’t be, he determines that his mind is giddy from the aromas of these streets.
Weary of it all, he turns toward home, whirling dervishes cross his path, speaking in their transfer tongues, whispering falsehoods and hopeless promises. In the distance, a brighter sky forms…