We all know the game has changed over the last couple of decades or so.
Some lament it, others celebrate it, with the latter usually the haves of the game rather than the have nots.
I’ve particularly noticed it throughout the summer and with particular regard to that growing abomination that is the transfer window and the whole new industry and sub-division of the game that is the transfer market of the twenty first century.
And I won’t hold back. I hate it.
It’s become an utter and total obsession within the game, a sport within the sport, a one stop shop of rumour, gossip, speculation and tittle-tattle that won’t go away, dominating both the airwaves and the back pages with a never ending supply of what is, for the most part, complete and utter rubbish.
Yet people feast upon it with all the greed of Mammon. Which just serves the feeding frenzy even more-the brighter and brasher the gossip and speculation, the wider and more vulgar the coverage.
Sky aren’t idiots. Their own celebration of transfer deadline day is close to becoming a television institution with its reporters at training grounds excitedly gabbling away about ill informed punts from assorted viewers; the very great majority of whom have about as much inside knowledge else contacts within the game as a wheelbarrow-and, in some cases, fewer.
Yet they lap it up with their tales of covert assignations at motorway service stations, multi-millionaire international footballers asking for directions on the London Underground and sightings of Croatian Under-21 internationals in Holiday Inn reception areas.
After all, most football supporters will never have heard of Mario Pasalic yet most hardcore football gossip merchants will claim to have seen and recognised him instantly by a mere passing glance in a departure lounge or filling station.
Get a grip people. If I’m busy trying to decide whether to have a McThis, a McThat or a McOther with my cup of scalding hot brown liquid in the middle of South Mimms services on a busy Monday morning, John Ruddy could moonwalk his way past me holding a 6ft x 4ft banner that says “I Am John Ruddy” and I wouldn’t notice him.
In much the same way as ‘Robbo’ from Warrington won’t have stood and had a nice friendly chat with an arbitrary Polish international quite by chance on that same morning either.
BBC North West 11:34 Rob from Warrington has texted us to say ‘Just had a long chat in the Costa queue with Łukasz Piszczek at Burtonwood Motorway Services, he says his move to Everton is as good as done and he’s looking forward to joining the Toffees later today.
Yep, sorry Robbo and 99% of your contemporaries but that’s bollocks. You know it, we mostly know it and Sky probably know it. But it won’t stop them getting his bored-in-the-office fantasy up on their rolling news ticker tape.
And so it continues and perpetuates, grows and grows like some monstrous boil on the back of the game where the game itself seems to have become less and less important by the day. Who cares if it’s a load of nonsense?
Jim White doesn’t.
It’s the sort of tale that would have him hotfooting his way to Merseyside in an attempt to see just who is driving into the Everton training complex yet, inevitably, aside from a blurry clip of Leighton Baines leaving it in his 4×4 (“Leighton Baines leaving there, clearly doesn’t want to have a word with us, however, the fact we’ve just seen him on Sky does cast a little doubt on Russ from Hevingham’s claim that he saw Baines talking to Arsene Wenger in the dining area at London Colney a short while ago”) there’s nothing to see other than a few fans gurning at the camera from the pavement.
And thus we come to Norwich City and how all the tales and titillation have affected us this time around.
Sky certainly excelled themselves when it came to our very own Russell Martin this time around.
He was off to Burnley apparently. Hilarious – and we knew it.
Yet they took it as gospel and, sooner, much sooner than later in fact, there it was on Twitter for all to see. That is until Sky realised they’d been made collective arses of and updated the story by declaring that the move was “dead in the water” thus desperately trying, in vain, to give some credibility to the story rather than admit they were on the wrong end of a wind up.
One of many they will have fallen for throughout the day. But at least it gave us all a little bit of light entertainment, much in the same way we all chuckled when, last week, Wes Hoolahan was off, yes, off to Burnley. I’m now wondering if John Ruddy might not be linked with them now by the end of the day?
Nathan Redmond has, as we know, been the subject of much more fevered speculation during this transfer window – indeed, maybe Jim White has even mentioned him by name.
In the end, despite much speculation, Nathan stayed put, which was probably his – and certainly the club’s – intention all along. But the somewhat lazy criticism that Nathan has been subjected to lately from some Norwich fans does make me wonder that, if it persists, he might not end up thinking he’d be better off elsewhere.
Because it’s ridiculous.
“He hasn’t got an end product” people wail, adding that, “…he has pace, two good feet, takes people on and gets crosses in, terrifies opponents so much that they often have more than one person marking him and isn’t afraid to have a shot either.”
But he doesn’t have an “end product”.
That’s like saying David Beckham couldn’t head the ball or that Ronaldo simply can’t run at defenders and brush them off in the same way Yaya Toure can. ‘Hey, see that Raheem Sterling over there – he’s OK, but he’s no target man, you can’t launch long and high balls at him in the box so that he can leap above defenders and win the header’.
He’s got no “end product” either then. Good job he doesn’t play for Norwich.
The thing is, if Nathan did have the “end product” that everyone is looking for, and, by that, I mean an ability to constantly hit the target from 30 yards or repeatedly finding his man in the box, he wouldn’t be playing for Norwich and more than likely would either never have signed for us in the first place!
So let’s get things into perspective as regards Nathan Redmond and give him a little backing and support because he’s a player who can make a difference in a game – and at this level they are very few and far between.
No end product”. For goodness sake, you could say that about most of the Norwich players, they’ve all got faults or perceived weaknesses in their game, that’s why they’re playing for us and not for Chelsea.
Michael Turner isn’t the best at imperiously striding, ball at feet, out of the box to launch, Bobby Moore-like, another attack. Steven Whittaker doesn’t tackle and win the ball in the manner of an Ian Culverhouse and whilst Bradley Johnson has a lot of qualities, he’s no creative midfield maestro a la Ian Crook.
All of our players have their strengths and weaknesses and Redmond is but one of them. So let’s focus on his strengths and give him a little support and encouragement instead of lamenting the fact he isn’t Arjen Robben.
Because if he was then Jim White would certainly have spent the day at Colney. Except it would have been London Colney not Norfolk Colney.