Football makes ‘Sweet Dreams’ come true

You know what really stood out about the recently closed transfer window?  Not the brinksmanship, the complaints about tapping up, or even the idea of billion-dollar teams squabbling over a couple million pounds.  The one thing that really stood out to me was all the talk about “dream moves.”

It seemed like every high-profile star that switched teams described their transfer as a “dream move.”  Jose Bosingwa called his move to Chelsea his “dream move.”  Dimitar Berbatov sulked, pouted, and divided the Tottenham clubhouse while pursuing his “dream move” to Manchester United.  His strike partner from the previous season, Robbie Keane, also forced his way out of White Hart Lane, albeit with a little more subtlety, and landed his “dream move” by going to Liverpool.

It wasn’t all bad news for Tottenham, though.  David Bentley, who decided to leave Blackburn because he wanted to play Champions League football, hailed Spurs as his “dream move” even though they had only qualified for UEFA Cup play.  I guess Bentley’s dream was to play in Europe for a competition that had the acronym “UEFA” in it. 

Additionally, Andrei Arshavin, who first referred to Barcelona as his “dream move,” showed that dreams are always malleable as he subsequently pointed to Tottenham as his “dream move” after Barca decided not to pursue him.  I guess the phrase “backup dream move” wasn’t as catchy.

Of course, dreams weren’t limited to the Premier League.  There were plenty of players who dreamt of playing outside of England.  For instance, Rafael Van der Vaart saw the fulfillment of his dream by moving to Real Madrid (even though, a few years ago, he stated his dream move would have been Barcelona).  Ricardo Quaresma’s dream at joining Inter Milan came to fruition, as did Andriy Shevchenko’s dream to return to AC Milan after his dream move to Chelsea turned into a two-year nightmare.

Meanwhile, Alexander Hleb’s dual-pronged dream of getting out of London and going to Barcelona both came true, as did Ronaldinho’s dual-pronged dream of playing for AC Milan and avoiding playing for Manchester City.

Some dreams, however, were unfulfilled.  Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream to play for Real Madrid fell through, mainly because of Alex Ferguson’s dream of keeping him at Manchester United, as well as Ronaldo’s own failure to formally demand the move. 

Robinho’s dream of playing for Chelsea was left wanting after Chelsea angered Real Madrid with their advances (and selling Robinho shirts on their website didn’t help matters).  Now he’ll have to talk himself into playing for Manchester City.  At least he didn’t change his story and refer to Man City as his “dream move” (Editor: that’s because he still believes he’s at Chelsea).

And, of course, there’s Gareth Barry, whose “dream move” to Liverpool broke down over money.  Despite the fact that their dreams were crushed, I’m sure all three will somehow find a way to manage.

Anyway, it certainly seems as if the phrase “dream move” has become so common that it might as well become part of our everyday vernacular.  Did you get a promotion from French fry maker to assistant manager in charge of making the burgers at the local McDonald’s?  That’s certainly a “dream move.”  Did you move from a 5th floor walkup into a much larger apartment with a balcony in a building with an elevator and a doorman?  You better believe that’s a “dream move.”  Did you dump your girlfriend in favor of a smoking-hot supermodel?  See?  Cristiano Ronaldo got his “dream move” after all.

Still, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact meaning of the phrase “dream move.”  What exactly does it entail?  Is it the fulfillment of a childhood dream?  That would certainly be the case with Robbie Keane, who grew up rooting for Liverpool, or Cristiano Ronaldo, who supported Real Madrid as a boy.  I guess it’s a good thing he didn’t grow up rooting for one of Madrid’s other teams, like Atletico Madrid or Rayo Vallecano. 

Of course, the dream of suiting up for your favorite childhood team doesn’t always work out.  Ronaldo need only ask his teammate, Wayne Rooney, how playing for Everton worked out for him.  Or he can wait until the next time Manchester United plays Sunderland and ask Roy Keane how he felt about finishing his career with Celtic.

Plus, it’s not like every kid grew up rooting for one of the biggest teams in the world.  For instance, Berbatov was a Newcastle fan when he was growing up Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.  Still, when it came time for him to dream, he dreamt of a different United.  I guess that childhood allegiance to the Magpies wasn’t all that strong.

Or is a “dream move” one that is purely professional?  Does the dream entail trophies, Champions League play, and high wages?  If so, then it looks like 99.99% of the clubs out there will fail this part of the test.  Other than the Big Four (and with Arsenal’s wage structure being what it is, it’s probably really the Big Three), a handful of Italian teams, and the Spanish two-some of Barcelona and Real Madrid, no other teams will ever meet this criteria. 

It sure seems that way for Berbatov, who turned down more lucrative offers to pursue his Manchester United dream.  If that’s the case, then Robinho fell out of a dream situation with Real Madrid, and squarely into a nightmare with Manchester City.  Although, with the new ownership group, who knows?  Maybe his nightmare may yet turn into a dream after all.

So, what have we learned from all this dream talk?  Dreams don’t have to be consistent, and they certainly need not be written in stone.  Dreams don’t even have to make sense.  Still, it’s refreshing to note that, in an off-season that was marked by outrageous transfer fees and large amounts of money changing hands, the record that was shattered was in the number of dreams coming true. 

It was as if Santa Claus made sure that Christmas came early for Berbatov, Keane, Bentley, Bosingwa, Hleb, Sheva, Ronaldinho, Quaresma, and company (sorry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Barry, and Robinho — I guess you were bad boys this year). 

Surely, this means that none of those aforementioned players who saw their dreams come true will be on the market again, right?

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  1. BD Condell 5 September, 2008
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