In the early hours of Wednesday morning I tuned into the ‘Premier League Asia Trophy Preview’ while whittling my way through a packed Sky+ planner.
Said programme was an interview hosted by Sky Sports presenter David Jones, who spoke to four managers: Frank de Boer, Tony Pulis, Craig Shakespeare and Jurgen Klopp, as the title suggests, previewing the forthcoming pre-season tournament, the Asia Trophy.
Maybe watching such a show at the barbaric hour of 3am had the effect, but it seemed like I was in a world where all control had been lost, or maybe this was just an all-too-accurate reflection of Planet Transfer Market once the activity of Crystal Palace, West Brom, Leicester City and Liverpool was discussed.
Unlike in the eyes of most others though, the main issue is not necessarily people like Kyle Walker commanding circa £50 million fees – that is just the price you pay for mega-bucks television deals and English players, especially half-decent ones, being so few and far between.
No. What the real problem is, is the tremendous titillation of it all.
Presenter Jones, who emphasised the word ‘transfers’ in his introduction to the segment with so much vigour that it seemed Tourette-like, was, to be fair to him, just doing his job as the Sky Sports mouthpiece to what has long-been the entertainment within the entertainment.
In what is a ‘Chicken and Egg’ scenario, there is an issue football has now where the amount of people interested in the 90 minutes is decreasing while the hullabaloo before and after it seems to be sky-rocketing. Any print media journalist asked the difference in readership figures between the match report and the ‘Player X linked to Club Y’ story will tell you that.
How could you not be excited when, in the words of Jones, “all managers are battling the transfer spending, which is hitting new levels”?
The managers themselves are not getting caught up in it though. Pulis labelled it “ridiculous”, de Boer “crazy” and Shakespeare admitted he “doesn’t really like it, but you have to accept it.”
Klopp, who previously quipped Germany is still normal with players still moving clubs for fees such as £5 million and £7 million, put it better than anybody else, however.
When asked if he was planning any more incomings for the Liverpool fans with “baited breath” (again, a phrase fired from Jones’ mouth like a bullet out of a gun), he responded: “Look. There’s nothing I could say that could help.
“We are interested in a lot of players around the world, but at the moment I’m working with the squad I have. With all respect, that’s my job in the first place.
“If I go into training and think: Oh my God, still them? That’s not okay, but that’s the first part of the job – nobody thinks about improvement and development of the players you have.”
The crux of the matter though is why is nobody thinking about improvement and development? Is it all just too dull?
There is no flashy ‘totaliser’ for every player a manager improves instead of buying, there is no bold yellow strap at the bottom of a screen when an 18-year-old gets his first start and there is certainly no all-day event that some joke should be a national holiday quite like the perpetual damp squib that is Transfer Deadline Day.
Maybe it is time to get off the transfer train, maybe we missed our stop a long time ago, and, if so, maybe we are approaching the end of the line, we just need to hope we are not going completely off the rails.