By the numbers then, Spurs signed five players of arguably proven quality and saw the return of one loanee on a permanent basis. We also saw the going of the three Croatians, Giovani dos Santos, Rafael van der Vaart, [the irreplaceable] Ledley King and six other senior players besides. Notwithstanding the nature of ‘undisclosed fees’, a conservative estimate at spending is in the region of £47 million, while fees received could top that by a further ten million pounds.
Much of the post-window analysis is likely to centre upon the storm that has been whipped up on various social media platforms concerning the failed move for Joao Moutinho, whether the paperwork was submitted on time or who the mysterious ‘other investor’ was who was reputedly tied-in to the £22 million-valued deal. The landscape of the transfer window these days is a far cry from that which faced more mature football followers in days gone by. There was no such thing as Twitter upon which players/agents/journalists may or may not offer opinion and the information super-highway wasn’t even on the drawing board. In those days, one had to make do with the newspaper article or evening news announcement, accompanied with the obligatory ‘holding up shirt’ photograph. Ah, those were the days.
More recent transfer windows have seen the emergence of arguably the most bizarre form of mis-information known to humankind, the “ITK”. For those of you not ‘in the know’, that is precisely what one of these people is – they know somebody (or less commonly are somebody) who has been passed information about a transaction or an event or even the coming-and-going of an individual. In its simplest form, they know “something” that by and large the rest of the world does not.
In those days, one had to make do with the newspaper article or evening news announcement, accompanied with the obligatory 'holding up shirt' photograph. Ah, those were the days.
It would be utterly churlish to hold each of these individuals to account for every piece of information they push our way and beat them up with it. Many cling to he disclaimer that ‘information is passed on in good faith’ and ‘the messenger may not be shot’, but seriously is it reasonable to hold on to such an idea? Other fora have constructed epic religion-eqsue barriers around these soothsayers to the point that any dissent sees the ban-stick wielded in short order.
We all understand that the transfer market is a particularly volatile place. Chairmen are notoriously difficult to deal with, players want top dollar for their services, agents want their ten per cent and there are issues concerning multi-party ownership, foreign exchange [as was touted as a particularly insane excuse for one foretelling not happening] and medical issues to boot. The process is not easy and all the factors together combine on any particular transfer to cause matters to seem overly protracted.
Instead, here is the top three “what on earth happened to this?” moments of the Summer 2012 Transfer Window:
1) Sponsors / Investors – Probably due to the cessation of the sponsorship deal with Investec and to a lesser extent Autonomy, some speculative posts started in mid-May with a suggestion that the shirt sponsor might be Beko, though this came with a rider that it was conditional on Champions’ League Football – oops. About a month later came a claim that the club had been sold to a Kuwaiti family but this was quickly scotched. In late-June AEG moved into the frame and the Kuwaitis made a comeback with lots of talk of ‘exciting times’. The Kuwaitis became the Qataris in early July but after that it all turned to so much vapour. Small amounts of speculation that the naming rights deal has been done and it is all linked to that but certainly not the “brave new world” that was spoken of.
2) “Meltdown”, and other cryptics – Our friendly neighbourhood ITK the one and only Phantom of the Lane, (aka ‘POTL’) returned with his old favourite “blue and yellow” – with blue revealed as Adebayor and yellow representing Leandro Damiao. Dark Blue was slipped in there somewhere but no connection made to a player. Another favourite was the suggestion early in the window that the club had ‘set a young player free from a French prison’...oddly, nothing more has been said about Jamaal Lascelles to whom the clue referred, presumably because Nottingham Forest no longer need the money from a tribunal. ‘Meltdown’ was the oft-quoted tag-line on various message boards to denote that Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy were planning a shopping spree of monumental proportions. Hmm.
3) Rather than ‘what happened to this’, what happened to the acquisition of this alternate Spurs XI? Tim Krul, Ricardo Carvalho, Ezekiel Fryers, Kaka [inevitably], Ibrahim Afellay, Yann M’Vila, Willian, Hulk, Leandro Damiao, Fernando Llorente and Loic Remy...? All were mentioned as summer acquisitions but we may never know how likely the proposed move was.
Returning to the various objects of the piece – the ITKs themselves – how did they fare? It is really difficult to single any out for special praise or particular criticism with the possible exception of Twitter’s Agent_ITK, who has since outed himself as a wind-up merchant. Each of them have, with the benefit of hindsight, had the greater part of predictions shown to be (at best) fanciful, if not downright wrong. The emergence of Twitter as an ITKs’ tool saw a couple in particular showcasing their wares more readily via that medium, with varying degrees of success – in a late twist, one of these has since inferred they may not return. Most of these individuals however continue to ply their trade via conventional channels however, to feed on the adulation therein.
Will we succumb in January? Of course we will...expect more cryptics from the likes of POTL, at least one mention of Huntelaar from The Journalist and various goats/cobras and other assorted pseudonyms with their electronic ‘pssst’. Inevitably, at least one of them will get at least one thing right over the course of the window and they then will be elevated to the status of ITK-God – badge and all – but remembering the old adage that “even a broken clock is right twice a day” means that unless one of their number distinguishes themself with a prodigious hit-rate of predictions, this remains mere titillation for the regular folk.