Monday, September 27, 2010

Manchester United Ready Sensational Summertime Swoop for Lionel Messi

photo by adifansnet via PhotoRee

Really grabbed your attention with that headline, huh?  Problem is, there's no truth to it. Not an ounce. But I broadcast the story to highlight the ridiculous nature of the various tabloid rumors that pass as fact and fly by the average footie fan on a daily basis, regardless of whether these is a shred of fact in the story (to say nothing of whether or not the relevant league transfer windows are open).
Grist for the news mill is the primary reason; that, and agents seeking negotiating leverage and using the media as a willing pawn in their high-stakes contract game. Newspapers or websites that publish multiple articles daily need stories to fill their (web)pages, and unfortunately much of the media seems to subscribe to the point of view that it's better to publish something false that not publish anything at all.
Don't believe me?  Take a look at some recent headlines:
I could go on and on; these are only a few of the recent ones I've seen. In fact, if you name a top 50 player, and randomly place him in one of the world's top 4 or 5 teams (or City, one of its richest), you can find the rumor somewhere out there on the internet or in newspapers. It's become like a party game.....  Let's see: where is Diego Forlan headed today?  Hmmmm....  Chelsea sounds good. This, despite the fact that Forlan already played in the EPL and decided to head over to Spain and La Liga. Could he return?  Sure.  Likely?  No.
And it’s not just the British press that deserve criticism in this regard. Spanish papers are also stirring the pot, as are many of the rest of Europe's tabloid dailies.
The height of ridiculousness was reached this past week with the many rumors out of Spain that Cristiano Ronaldo wanted out of Real due to his disappointing recent form, and that SAF and the gang at Old Trafford were preparing a £100mm pound blockbuster bid to bring him back (see Outlandish Rumour of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo to Return to Manchester United). My guess is that Florentino Perez got a good chuckle out of that one (and may have secretly hoped there was some truth to it!). Yes, I know that Ronaldo has never ruled out a return to the United fold in the future, but the chance that will happen before his current contract nears expiration is close to 0.
So I've come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with the onrushing stories is to ignore them. Sure, there are some stories that persist so long (CR7 to Real, Fabregas to Barca, etc.) that you have to believe there is a kernel (or more) of truth to them. But the vast majority of the stories appear overnight in response to recent news events (Ashley Cole's on his way out of Chelsea, Rooney's leaving United, etc.), fly in the face of reason and disappear from the sports pages just as quickly as they appeared. This summer the rumors came fast and furiously, as the World Cup hype kicked the media into transfer speculation overdrive. I am sure there were many young United fans (na├»ve to the cruel reality of the world) who salivated prematurely over a United midfield composed of Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, and a front line that included the two Luis', Fabiano and Suarez.  Problem is, that midfield and strike force were never going to happen.
So more grist for the mill gets published, widely disseminated, read by fans and discussed on blogs all over the world. I almost wish I lived in Europe so that I could receive the papers that produce these rumors in their physical form, because then I could put them to their proper use: as fuel to light the charcoal briquettes for my Weber Kettle. And that's farlieonfootie for September 27.

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