Transfer gossip: Do you embrace or ignore it?
The summer transfer window has been open for less than a week and already the rumour mill has gone into overdrive, with the sporting media linking Manchester United and other top clubs with dozens of prospective new signings each and every day.
Such speculation has always been a feature of the close season, particularly in years without international tournaments, but in 2019 the gossip seems to have become an industry of its own. So is this facet of football coverage a positive or negative for fans?
Here, we debate that very question…
I EMBRACE THE GOSSIP
Club reporter Adam Marshall writes…
“The transfer talk has always been fascinating for me.
“It was all we had to go on in the days before 24/7 sports channels and rolling media. I’d crave Ceefax and Teletext providing out-of-season updates when the main football page had transferred to cricket and all we had were brief snippets of any moves. The best deals were always the ones that come out of the blue - they still are now - but I enjoy the ever-evolving nature of the gossip, with players being linked in all positions and fans working out where they might fit in.
“I followed some sagas religiously, later because it was a key part of my job, and particularly remember tracking Ronaldinho’s movements in the summer of 2003 through daily updates from the local newspapers in France, Spain and Brazil via the web. It was disappointing when he ultimately chose Barcelona over United.
“The problem now is that rumours start out of nothing and countless reports have no substance whatsoever. Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted he has not heard some of the names being bandied about.
“Yet every fan will appreciate some sources are more trustworthy than others. It is only over time, with hard evidence to back it up, that you learn which ones to take seriously and which ones are merely fishing for hits on a daily basis. Sadly, there are more of the latter.
“There is so much noise out there it can be dizzying and it’s fair to say you only know something is confirmed when you see it on the official website or app. But, as long you take it all with a pinch of salt, it’s possible to enjoy the ride and follow the twists and turns of the stories as they unwind.”
I SHUN THE SPECULATION
Club reporter Mark Froggatt writes…
“The internet has completely revolutionised football coverage over the last 10 years and, thanks to basic analytics tools, media outlets know exactly what types of stories their visitors want to read. Make no mistake, Manchester United is always at the top of the list and nothing is more enticing to readers than a juicy transfer rumour involving the Reds.
“That is exactly why we see so much speculation, all summer long.
“Seriously, if you keep count of the players we are allegedly signing then you’d have run out of fingers and toes in a matter of seconds. The sheer magnitude of names involved (and the total amount of money quoted) is enough to prove that most of it is pure speculation. Try it for yourself this summer…
“When one website publishes an alleged update, it triggers several of its competitors to follow suit and before you know it the ‘story’ is being treated as fact. It’s football’s version of Chinese whispers.
“It’s a shame because there are, of course, some journalists out there who undoubtedly have bona fide insights to share, thanks to contact books that have been carefully assembled over time. But those diligent professionals are diluted online in 2019 by countless rivals more interested in traffic than truth.
“The problem is that it’s annoyingly addictive: as a fan I’ve been guilty of it myself, regularly firing up Twitter to see who the latest name is and what people are saying about him. Discipline is required to break that habit.
“For my own sanity I now choose to ignore the gossip columns and focus on facts alone – or, to be more specific, club statements. Admittedly, it’s a less exciting approach and many fans enjoy the tumultuous ride of the transfer window, but not me anymore. My advice? Keep calm, carry on and wait for official news.”
The opinions expressed in this article are personal to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.
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