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Some thoughts about Arsenal and player transfer rumors

At left, one of the new guys.
At left, one of the new guys.

I hate transfer rumors more than anything about football.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Long-time readers of The Short Fuse will probably have noticed a distinct lack of commentary and developing news on transfer rumors on the site. I thought I would take a moment today to write a little bit about why this has been. It's kind of a long one, so hopefully you will indulge me.

[I would invite and strongly encourage everyone to make full use of the official transfer thread that Mr. Schneider has thoughtfully set up as a one-stop repository for all transfer rumors].

With a club as big as Arsenal, who play in the largest stadium in the middle of one of the largest conurbations the planet earth has ever known, one of the most media-saturated conurbations the world has ever known, and probably the most football-mad one, too, there are always going to be rumors. This is undeniable. As the invaluable Arsenal Silly Season blog illustrates, there have been 129 names linked at least once so far this off-season with Arsenal, and some of the bigger names have been mentioned hundreds upon hundreds of times. Carlo Ancelotti has been linked with coming in as Arsenal's manager, for Pete's sake.

There have been well over 600 articles written about Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas alone as possible transfers out, most of which are simply repeating the same thing over and over again. Nearly every Arsenal squad player has been linked at least once with a move out, which wouldn't leave the club with much of a squad, if they were all true.

129 names forwarded by the media; Arsenal have signed two. (Four, if one counts Hector Bellerin and Jon Harper Toral). Simply put: if things are true less than 2% of the time, I personally find it hard to think about them at ALL. The players named most often aren't guaranteed to show up (Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill, Scott Parker), although some do (Marouane Chamakh, Gervinho). I get as pumped as anyone when they join us, no doubt. But I'd prefer for it to feel like a surprise, rather than an anti-climactic "see, we TOLD you he was coming (even though we were really just making guesses)" sort of moment.

Arsenal are one of the most internetted-up clubs around, as well. There are something on the order of 3.4 x 10^7* blogs about our club on the web. Sadly, about 600 TB/day** are dedicated to a weird stew of vitriol and depression directed at Wenger, people arguing back and forth about whether some slobbering caveman of a center half is good enough to play for Arsenal, whether that even matters, the fact (FACT) that the club is doomed to relegation and obscurity for a century if signings aren't made before the team goes to Kuala Lumpur, how the Emirates will be an overgrown, rat-infested monument to unmanliness for all time if the center half signing isn't at least 6'2", etc.

It's a heady brew for being something less than 3.2% beer, no?

Of course Arsenal have issues on the pitch. We have debated many of them on this site. Supporters will always disagree about tactical shortcomings and the signings that could help. I myself pine for certain players to and certain bits of long-term business to get done, as does every supporter.

With the way the media works today, though, it's a bit like trying to get a grip on a live eel. Take the example of the Samir Nasri internet explosion surrounding the story from Sky Sports News last week, as described by A Cultured Left Foot:

Abuse was levelled and madness ensued until the last bastion of truth, Sky Sports News, backed away and lowered their alert level from ‘imminent signing‘ to ‘are interest[ed] [sic] in signing‘. I’m interested in studying psychology and archeology but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen yet I have expressed an interest in signing up for a degree course in either subject.

Sky Sports News is a giant. If a giant can make assertions and then back down, there seems to be very little point in getting worked up about anything. And this is the crux of the matter, for me, personally: all of this, ALL OF IT, is out of my control. Arsenal could sign thirty new players or they could sign none, and I would still watch every single moment I could next year. It wouldn't matter. There's just no sense in getting worked up about it, and I personally haven't wanted to contribute to a system that seems designed to encourage frustration and anger.

It is frustrating to see organizations like the Guardian publish articles like this one without any direct quotes about what they are asserting. Yes, this is the way it is is, true, but it does seem a little bit insane. Articles such as that one also act as fodder for a problem that Tony Attwood sums up in today's post on Untold Arsenal:

Delay [by the club] is then seen as a sign of incompetence.

I can only assume the people who say this have never been involved in serious business discussions over anything much.  But if you have ever bought, sold or rented business property, if you have ever tried to negotiate a financial settlement around a divorce, if you have ever had to deal with a business that won’t pay you the money they owe, or  if you have ever been bought or sold a company, you’ll know, no matter how straightforward it all should be, in the end it all takes time.

Often, I feel I may have gone too far towards "obstinate" and "stubborn" about this whole thing. It's clear that Barcelona, for instance, have been sending in bids for Cesc Fabregas, and that this is newsworthy and of interest to this community. It's clear that Sky Sports looked silly, and I could've taken them to task for it. My policy of  "no posts about transfers unless something is on Arsenal's official site" essentially tries to prevent me from 1) having to write six posts a day about transfer rumors, and 2) keep me from looking silly when they turn out to be so much vapor. However, it does make for sort of a slow summer, I have to admit.

So, that being said, you may start to see the occasional post about rumors on the site. These will probably consist of Beltrans' or my laughing at the inanity of the rumor or its source, but they may not. Either way, Arsenal is our club, in sickness or in health, and it's all out of our control.


*slightly exaggerated figure.

**possibly not exaggerated, but probably exaggerated, figure.