Welcome to Twitter Meltdown Day. Or it would be were this the end of August. Millions of eyes rooted firmly on social media, waiting for the latest from Sky Sports Central where Jim White holds the world in his thrall, whirring into the transfer market like a mannequin on roller skates for the latest news. Actually, a mannequin on roller skates would probably more exciting than the transfer news. Today sees The BBC From Salford getting in on the news, a Transfer Special from the Football Focus team twenty-five minutes after the window has closed. Not for them the roving reporters around the grounds, surrounded by a bunch of Herberts rounded up from local pubs and caffs, suitably fuelled for their dance stance.
Whether there will be any at The Emirates remains to be seen. Yesterday began with optimism, world domination awaited as Arsène was buckling his swash through the football clubs of Europe to deal with his immediate problems caused by injuries. He took Schalke’s £37m release clause and laughed; he had Vucinic in the palm of his hand, mesmerised during talks; he was a Pied Piper leading players through the streets of London toward the glistening castle in the distance. Or at least that is what you would have thought from the press reports. As it is this morning, he is the chef whose pièce de résistance has gone disastrously wrong, a Gallic Gordon Ramsey painting the north London skyline blue. Draxler has gone, Vucinic prefers to wait for Inter, nobody is Klose to arriving – not even Miroslav.
When it comes to transfers, we should take a leaf from Len Shackleton and have an intentionally blank page; nerves might be less shredded come 11pm tonight. But where’s the fun in that?
Speculation this morning centers on Julian Draxler. A deal was struck, the fee agreed by the boards of Schalke and Arsenal and then, *poof*, as if by magic the chief economist appeared and Arsène pulled the plug on the deal; £37m was too much for the player, if the quoted release clause is the correct fee. The narrative is all too familiar, perhaps too familiar, too comfortable. Would the manager balk at paying the price if he genuinely wanted the players. I am not for one minute suggesting this is a sham, I genuinely believe Wenger wants Draxler but waiting for a World Cup summer to buy a player is flawed logic. Did the board leave the final fee decision to the manager? Probably, nothing would surprise me and if it was an outright £37m, little wonder he is nervous about a player who is far from the finished article by all accounts. It depends on how much risk is involved and more to the point, how risk averse the holder of the purse strings is. Is that even the reason? Earlier in the day, Schalke were “very confident” that the player would reject a move this winter and it suits their purposes as well, they have six more months to find a replacement. Arsenal meanwhile, are left with a scenario that the summer brings an increased risk of competition for the players signature for no movement in price.
No doubt this episode with its (mis)information will lead to renewed calls for someone to manage the manager, of how it would never happen at any other big club where persuading an identified target to join is his sole preserve. Cash? That’s nothing to do with him, the board gets the deal done. Would that football were so black and white. Maybe it is in clubs flush with money, not like Arsenal where, oh, wait…where’s that Len Shackleton idea gone?
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Elsewhere Vucinic won’t be joining, Arsenal issuing a transfer facepalm by claiming never to have been interested in the first place.
Breaking news from the transfer news centre…Julian Draxler’s Arsenal dream move is still on, it hasn’t fallen through but stalled
It all depends on which news outlet you want to believe. Some are placing great stall in the words of various directors from the Bundesliga club, others preferring their own interpretation of their source’s information.
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.
You wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a joyless world when you cannot watch the path stories follow for a day, as long as you don’t get suckered into believing everything you see or hear is the truth. Days like this, topics like this are footballing X-Files; the truth is out there but never uncovered. Like all walks of life, it’s someone’s version of the truth. Until the whole story is told, we are enthralled by the tales woven across the pages and airwaves. Those who hurtle headlong into transfer oblivion with each twist the news takes, make the day more worthwhile; the mass hysteria of social media is amusing unless you are caught in the maelström.
And at the end of today, if the squad which is second in the Premier League is unchanged, is it a disaster? That is not to absolve the executives and manager if deals fall through; we should not be so quick to condemn or fit in with the agendas of either extreme of the spectrum. There certainly is benefit in strengthening, even with a loan deal. Giving the manager options can never be the wrong thing surely? With injuries talked about in terms of weeks and months, reinforcements would benefit the squad as a whole in view of the fixtures either side of the Champions League encounters with Bayern Munich. Perhaps we will look back at the season’s end and point to this day as the one which decided the fate of silverware?
I don’t think so but that shouldn’t detract from the entertainment value of the lunacy.