Picture the scene, you’re a middle aged cricket fan who earns a living at one of the tabloids in Fleet Street.
Your football knowledge isn’t great, nor is your passion for the game- you used to like Arsenal but then Chelsea did the double- one day your editor tells you he needs a back page story for tomorrow’s morning edition. What do you do?
a) Frantically ring all your contacts from the world of football to see what exclusive story you can find.
b) Scroll through twitter looking for any tweet that could lead to a scoop.
c) Go to the nearest boozer and make up a story about Manchester United selling or buying someone.
Do I need to give you the obvious choice? It seems British sports journalism has reached its nadir of late, with some of the so-called ‘stories’ plumbing depths not even the Sunday Sport on an off day would allow.
Although all the big clubs suffer from rumours and conjecture masquerading as exclusive insight, United fans have to endure it more than most.
The latest story- of the fairytale variety, came in yesterday’s Metro which claimed:
“The arrival of another midfielder at Old Trafford may lead to the departure of Park, despite the Korean’s status as a favourite with United fans and one of Ferguson’s most trusted players.
“He is now 30 and the Red Devils may look to cash in, with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid both rumoured to be interested.”
How many times does the word ‘may’ appear? I may have believed Park was leaving if it wasn’t for the fact there’s absolutely zero chance that Ferguson ‘may’ sell him.
It’s this sort of nonsense that’s making it difficult to know what to believe with United’s transfer rumours any more.
Take the Phil Jones signing for example.
The Daily Mail 11th June
Manchester United’s multi-million pound signing of teenage defender Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers lies in tatters.
Blackburn’s Indian owners have reacted furiously to what they perceive as United’s attempt to railroad them into selling the 19-year-old and have told United: ‘We will not be bullied’.
And in a stunning 11th-hour development on Saturday, the Mail on Sunday can reveal that Liverpool have told Blackburn they will pay £22million for Jones, a move that will ruin Sir Alex Ferguson’s holiday mood as he takes a break in the south of France.
The Daily Mail 12th June
“Phil Jones will finally move to Manchester United after the Barclays Premier League champions refused to budge on their £16.5million offer for the Blackburn defender.”
What a difference a day makes eh?
Then there’s Luka Modric’s proposed move to Old Trafford, which somehow meant top scorer Dimitar Berbatov was on his way back to the adoring White Hart Lane faithful.
The Daily Star 17th June
“Dimitar Berbatov may be used as bait by Sir Alex Ferguson in a bid to lure Luka Modric to Manchester United.
“Sir Alex Ferguson is a huge admirer of Luka Modric and has made the Tottenham star one of his main summer transfer targets.
“Spurs are playing hardball over their prize asset after rejecting a £22m bid from Chelsea earlier this week as boss Harry Redknapp battles to keep him at White Hart Lane.
“But this won’t deter Ferguson, who could now tempt Spurs with an offer of around £18m in cash plus Bulgarian star Berbatov in the hope of striking a deal.”
Note the clever use of the words ‘may’ and ‘could.’
The Daily Star 19th June
“Speculation has been rife concerning the Croatia international, with Manchester City and Manchester United also eyeing the player.
“Yet it is managerless Chelsea, believed to have already tabled a failed £22million bid, who appear to offer Modric the most attractive option.”
So much for the Berbatov deal then, it appears that ‘may’ have been a load of rubbish, although I ‘could’ be wrong.
Then there’s Wes Brown, the hardest man in all the town, will be one tired man next season after all it appears he’ll be playing for around nine different clubs.
I actually tried to keep track of where one of my favourite players was going this Summer, but have now given up.
According to the Sunday People Brown’s off to Villa Park, while the Mail insist he’s destined for Goodison.
The Sun claimed Brown was going to join Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light, while the Mail suggested he could be going to the Reebok- before they realised he was going to Goodison of course.
So there you have it, if you want to see Wes Brown next season just head to one of the aforementioned grounds, I’m sure he’ll be at one of them.
It’s easy keeping track of United’s transfer news, just pick a player and randomly stick a pin in a map of Europe and that’s pretty much as close to the mark as much of the nation’s press have been.