Local news, business news, sports news, fake news, arts, science, national and international news; all there to inform and interpret, to engage and entertain, each with its own indistinct place in a world both real and imagined.
Of course one of these newses is getting much more coverage in the media these days than the others. Some cynics would say that has always been the case. It’s just one of the many things we can thank Donald “the Don” #POTUS Trump for; along with making casual misogyny acceptable again, and shining a 900-Watt light onto the literal insanity of American politics, Trump has ubiqui-fied the term fake news.
Rory Smith of the New York Times wrote an article recently outlining how this nefarious practice, where stories become news and news becomes ???, can trace its roots to football transfer activity or the lack there of. This insight came as a revelation to me, not out of surprise or shock, but because I realised it is one of the reasons why society hasn’t totally collapsed under the weight of lies, deceit, narcissism and greed that is thrust into our conscious and unconscious mind 24/7.
As a football fan for 25 years I’ve been weened on a diet of fake news and unsubstantiated speculation for a quarter of a century, and so I remain unfazed when truth and alternative truth begin to permeate the remainder of our collective cultural consciousness outside of football.
So it’s a refreshing ruffling of the hair when the news you were sure was fake becomes real. This must have been the case for most sane people when they heard about the €222 million euro transfer fee for Neymar. After the mind-boggling Kylian Mbappe for €150 million stories proved to be unfounded, people quietly assumed the Neymar news was also fake. But it was bloody true!
There’s no real point in going into the weekly wages, image rights and agents fees, as the money is so abstract now it’s become a source of absurdist humour for me. I have to allow myself a chuckle when I’m momentarily shaking my head in sympathy with poor Danny Rose who has to get by on a meagre 60 grand a week at Spurs, probably only about 35 grand a week net!
Where this is all leading to of course is a wonderful mystery. Gone is the quiet envy bordering on resentment and exasperation at the obscene money greasing its way through the football machine. I now feel a curious sense of bemused fascination at how this business will end. And end it will.
The ripples from the Neymar deal are already making serious waves in English football. A market people thought was inflated after the Pogba transfer last summer has become pompously and bombastically hyper-inflated. Twelve months ago nobody would’ve thought that clubs like Liverpool, Monaco and Dortmund would be turning down €100 million plus bids for their players. Or that an 18-year-old striker who has scored less than a couple of dozen goals in a second tier league would be demanding a fee in excess of €150 million. Is Mbappe really that much better than Marcus Rashford?
Other sub-plots to emerge out of PSG’s profligacy include Tottenham’s quaint wage-cap and Abramovich’s hilarious toying around with his own club. When full-back Danny Rose gives a feature length interview to the Sun in which he bemoans the miserly nature of the club hierarchy, and it is absurd; not because he earns in a week what most of us would be lucky to earn in a year, but because he is right; then all one can do is shrug their shoulders Tony Soprano style and say WhaddayGonnaDo? Because Rose has a point.
As admirable as their stance is, how can Spurs hope to consistently challenge when average players at other clubs earn twice as much as their top stars. Harry Kane for example earns roughly the same as Jesse Lingard!
Looking across town at Chelsea and things get curiouser and curiouser as Roman’s empire threatens to teeter between the ridiculous and the sublime, as it did this time two years ago. Regardless of the weekend’s results Conte’s team finds itself at a crossroads and Abramovich seems to want to follow the road less travelled. Conte would be more than happy to follow the road paved with his boss’s gold and splurge on the reinforcements he needs to challenge for the big titles. The PSG/City/United way.
Nevertheless, it seems the Russian Oligarch is happy with the resources he has put at his manager’s disposal and now wants Conte to do something unusual in the upper echelons of the modern game, i.e. manage. His stance, like the wage structure at Spurs is admirable and reasonable, but, to paraphrase Randal McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; “They must be crazy in a loony-bin like this!”
Which brings me finally to one of the most blatant pieces of fake news disseminated consistently over the past few years; Manchester United’s delusional insistence on being the biggest club IN THE WORLLLLLD! This has gone beyond being funny and is actually becoming pitifully embarrassing. Man United are not the biggest club in the world. That would be Real Madrid or Barcelona. All of the best players in the world who are not from Britain or Ireland want to play for either of these clubs first and foremost.
It’s nothing personal, or even to do with the actual club. It’s the culture and climate that are so attractive. There is nothing you can do about it, bar divert sunshine from Spain to the north of England, or buy exclusive rights to the sun. Hang on a minute; everything has its price these days doesn’t it?