So, that was the mid-season transfer window that was. How was it for you?
Frankly, it bored the arse off me. Time was when my first port of call on firing up the ol’ interwebs machine would be the transfer gossip columns, ever eager to GASP! at whatever some hapless hack had scraped off the sole of a superagent’s shoe. My love affair with baseless conjecture, once a dizzying whirl of whispered promises and better tomorrows, dwindled over the years before a resurgence last summer.
This ended, however, when an August 31st spent repeatedly pressing F5 on more than one liveblog yielded little in the way of the type of deal which a close-season of hype would have one believe was guaranteed. The madness at Eastlands was something, of course, but the itch had become too big even for that to scratch it. It was like discovering your lover had run off with your valuables while you were watching a Party of Five marathon.
So come January, I didn’t care. This, despite being an Arsenal fan and one of the major threads of the window being Andrei Arshavin’s…
Hey…HEY! Wake up! Yeah, you kind of drifted off there, round about the time I typed ‘Andrei Arshavin’. Hey, I understand. Even I became distracted while typing it. I had to resist the urge to gouge out my own eyes with a cattle prod rather than see that name again. When it became apparent that Arsenal were seriously interested in signing him, one knew how it was going to go: forever, tediously. Even the Arsenal blogs got fed up with it; the word “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz” began to appear in short order.
The only time I did think of the most boring saga since Garth Crooks last said something was when prompted by recent events.
I had a dream where the Arshavin who played so sublimely against Sweden and Holland at last year’s Euros was in fact a sophisticated new robot warrior being tested by the Russian military in conjunction with the Russian FA and Zenit St. Petersburg. This had the dual benefit of trying out a futuristic fighting machine and convincing dozens of gullible football clubs in western Europe that their woes could be solved by this mysterious talent.
One of these clubs would inevitably enter into negotiations, which would be strung out by Zenit for maximum effect, and would end in the triumphant parading of AR2-D2. However, instead of a footballer walking out onto the Emirates turf, Prime Minister Putin himself would enter, gleefully proclaiming to Arsene Wenger, “You just been punk’d, dude!” The embarrassment inflicted upon the entire western hemisphere would more than make up for not reaching the moon first.
But now that the transfer has finally been ratified — redefining the word ‘deadline’ in the process — the apathy and the paranoia have largely dispersed. From the dust and the rubble has emerged potential, and with potential comes hope. This is why the transfer market holds such fascination, and why — however much one may grumble about January’s insanity — one can’t help but be drawn into it, even if only occasionally. It’s impossible not to project some glorious future as a result of your team signing someone of real ability. It’s easy (all too easy) to imagine skipping arm-in-arm into the sunset rather than being weighed down by a mortgage you won’t be able to afford and reality’s suffocating embrace.
With Arshavin, there is an additional veneer of mystery. Most of us know him only from the write-ups, the European Championships and (the latter stages of) Zenit’s triumphant UEFA Cup run. Almost all of what we’ve seen of him has been great, and only goes to strengthen the fantasy of happy-ever-after.
Of course, he may turn out to be the flop of all flops, another example of what an utterly horrible little bastard hope can be. But you have to take that leap. You’re a football fan — you ain’t got no choice.
Fredorrarci will be cursing the day Arsenal ever heard of Andrei Arshavin in several months’ time at Sport Is A TV Show.