We have a deeply romanticized picture of football transfers. Directors jet from city to city. Malevolent agents knock over little children playing in local parks. Harry Redknapp dashes across the countryside, checkbook in hand, his greedy eyes fixed on another “smashing” player.
Sir Alex Ferguson likes to remind the media about his famous mid-‘90s bicycle ride through Paris in hot pursuit of Eric Cantona, who had been considering retirement. Fergie obviously takes pride in this exploit, even though, at 70, he would be hard pressed to replicate it. Journalists constantly use this tale as “evidence” of the vaunted Manchester United Spirit, the never-say-die attitude that — with the help of, arguably, the Premier League’s two greatest foreign imports, savvy marketing and a once-in-a-lifetime generation of players – is the foundation stone on which Ferguson’s Old Trafford edifice rests.
But most of what we think we know about football transfers is made-up. For instance – to borrow from Mr. Ferguson once again – Dimitar Berbatov almost certainly did not hide under a blanket in the back of Fergie’s mini-van on transfer deadline day in 2008. And, contrary to what Sky Sports News might tell you, “noteworthy” developments are very rare indeed in the world of football transfers.
Not that we, chief beneficiaries of the contrived sports entertainment that the Premier League seems to have become, care a jot about The Truth. Lies don’t detract from the fun.