Smoke And Mirrors

Football’s magic isn’t it? Yes, even during the close season.

Is it called the close season because everyone keeps their cards ‘close’ to their chest I wonder? Story after story, rumour after rumour. Very few pieces of hard fact.

And the scope for Fleet Street’s finest – oh sorry, you can’t call them that anymore can you? That would imply reporters’ gathering real news, informative journalism at its best; opinion and comment based on fact…. Aah, those were the days….

Now where was I? Oh yes, the scope for Fleet Street’s finest to do a spot of fantasy writing. So, the facts of the close season so far. What do we know? That is, KNOW, as in fact?

One or two minor to middling transfers have gone through already, and Carlo is holidaying at the same place as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Neither Joe Cole nor the club have gone public about the player’s future, oh and Rafa and Liverpool have parted company.

And so, on the basis of “if yer can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, lets copy the press and see what house of cards we can make from those last two facts.

Rafa first. He didn’t look overly convinced at the end of last season, when he spouted the oft-used “I’ve got four years left on my contract” phrase, but I didn’t expect him to leave this soon. There’ve been many times during the George and Tom debacle when he could have, and perhaps should have, walked. But he had a close bond with the club and especially the fans, and so stayed. So why now?

Obviously something has happened behind the scenes to make him feel enough is enough, and given what he has put up with so far, that can mean only one thing.

Liverpool are drowning in an ocean of debt, and have been thrown a lifeline with offers for Ickle Stevie and Fernando Torres – and they have grabbed them with both hands. There is no way that Rafa would tolerate the sale of either of those two – and that may be the reason he has left the club so suddenly.

Now we all know ‘The Special One’ likes Gerrard, and I for one think he would do well under Jose, such is the Spanish league, he would have a maximum of three or four tough domestic games all season. The rest of the time he could show off his undoubted talent. Coupled with alleged domestic strife, my feeling is that he would welcome a move and he’ll go.

So what of Torres? Is our reported interest in Benayoun and Mascherano just a clever smokescreen for a behind-the-scenes bid for one of the best strikers in the world? Get the deal done quickly George, avoid the fan’s backlash and get the cash! Right you are, Tom.

And Joey? Well, I don’t know. Chelsea like to go about things quietly, behind closed doors, with the minimum of fuss. So while the club are sealing their deals with Torres, Ibrahimovic or whoever may be wearing the famous blue next season, the press are diverted and enthralled by the smoke and mirrors of Joey’s on-off, will he-won’t he saga.

With those deals complete, Joe Cole’s part in the ploy is over and he signs with us again. The ruse is a success, and the magic complete!

It’s all up in the air at the moment, and that’s the way it should be. Devious manoeuvres by clubs and agents, sleight of hand, trickery and misdirection …. they all serve to divert attention from where the real action is.

And that really is magic.

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