We’ve all been there. Whether it’s over Martín Payero, Rodrigo Muniz, Afonso Alves, Marvin Emnes, Kike or Yanic Wildschut, we’ve all succumbed to the clutches of silly season.
Silly season, the time when even the most rational and sensible football fan turns into a panting wide-eyed lunatic that depends on a constant cycle of transfer gossip, is well underway in the Boro fan base with reports of a South American wonderkid multi-pack purchase.
The trust placed in the accuracy of Google Translate and the honesty of Brazilian journalists knowing full well they can capitalise on the desperation threatens to blow everyone’s head off. In the space of three hours yesterday, Boro and Fulham overtook each other in the race for Rodrigo Muniz, with talks of economic rights and official documents.
Everyone likes the excitement of transfer windows and signing new players, in the hope that they’ll elevate your team to greater heights. Silly season goes beyond that. It takes over your life and every snippet swings your mood one way or the other.
It might be happening to someone you know right now – your brother, sister, friend or parents. It might even be happening to you. To help, we’re going to go through the seven stages of silly season so that you can identify them and get the help you need. Boro will be used as a reference point but this can happen to any team’s fans so please pass this onto anyone who might need it.
You’re scrolling on Twitter or having a sneaky look at Sky Sports News instead of working when you see it. After a barren summer of inactivity, with huge improvement needed to fire your beloved team to the next level, you see it. The rumour.
“Boro are linked with PLAYER X from MADEUP UNITED”.
You’ve never heard of the player and you’re not even sure what league his club plays in, but it’s cool to see. It’s a little injection of transfer titillation that puts an extra pep in your step for the next half an hour.
Most people, most normal people, can leave it here. They aren’t fussed until he’s posing at Rockliffe with the shirt aloft.
Not you though, you need more. You go to YouTube.
PLAYER X has a highlights package. He’s got a few actually, though you’d never be able to tell the difference between them. Each five minute compilation features the same three or four goals, the one flashy trick and the same thumping techno beat.
That doesn’t matter to you. You’ve found your new favourite player. He’s the man that’s going to get your team promoted or kick them on towards the European places. It doesn’t matter that he’s a centre forward that’s scored less career goals than Grant Hall, he’s got a potential of 82 on FIFA and the FM heads rate him highly.
You’d promised yourself that this wouldn’t happen again but here we are. It’s a transfer window wedding, the summer romance you never had as a teenager brought to life through social media and press reports.
You’re head over heels in love with a football player you’ve never seen play. “Is it an all-action midfielder from Belgium or a pacey winger whose never set foot out of Bolivia this time?” your mates ask in the pub. You haven’t looked up from your phone for twenty minutes and it’s your round, pal.
Every waking minute is spent aggressively refreshing Twitter or OneBoro’s redhot transfer thread, hoping and praying for an update on your darling from a foreign land. You haven’t exercised in days in case you miss any breaking news, but by Christ, your thumbs are going to be HENCH by the end of all this and it’ll all be worth it when PLAYER X turns up.
You’ve already started planning the promotion parade, dotting the calendar with hearts for each game where PLAYER X is going to put defenders on toast and tear up the league.
Your better half is waffling on about how they think “we need to talk” but it’s just white noise to you. PLAYER X is all that’s on your mind. Was that the front door slamming? Who cares.
Maybe you get lucky like Boro fans have this summer and there’s a way of checking in on your darling. He’s playing in an international tournament or you find some dodgy site that streams games from the Primera Division of the Arse end of Nowhere, waking up or staying up at ridiculous times for a 15 minute glimpse of your new hero.
If not, it’s time to hassle journalists and “insiders” for updates. When trustworthy sources like Fabrizio Romano, Keith Downie or the Gazette lads can’t provide the goods, you go down a dark alley.
If Romano is the Pablo Escobar of the transfer news industry, with clean and reliable goods for sale, you’re dealing with the two-bit plastic gangster dealers now. Their stuff is heavily cut and recycled from other sources.
They’re only out to make a quick buck and they don’t care about your wellbeing. These content farms and clickbait peddlers only care about getting you in and out as quickly as possible, adding another couple of quid to their purse before fleeing into the night. They don’t know where their stuff has come from or if it’s even real. They might be the South American version of The S*n for all you know.
Things aren’t as fun anymore.
You’re transfer tweaking now. You must have him. Despite only finding out he exists a week ago, PLAYER X is now the key to your everlasting happiness and to your clubs fortunes over the next decade.
That Portuguese gossip site said PLAYER X should have been confirmed at the start of the week. It’s Friday now and nothing has happened.
You start to lash out at everyone around you. Boro post a tweet about the Foundation organising summer activities for vulnerable kids and you immediately reply “This isn’t PLAYER X admin”. Your Mam comes in to ask what you’d like for tea and you shout “I want you to ANNOUNCE PLAYER X”.
You’ve taken those dodgy reporters’ words as gospel now so “the recruitment team need fucking sacking” if they don’t wrap up this deal, a deal that we aren’t even sure is actually happening in the real world, but it’s definitely happening ’cause Twitter said so.
Any update throws your mood into a cyclone of clickbait induced rage or ecstasy. This has to stop.
“Didn’t want him anyway, let’s move on”.
The immortal words of a jilted lover. News has dried up and the season starts soon. All the excitement and obsession has worn off and hardened your soul. PLAYER X is no better than what we already have anyway.
The comments by your friends and fellow fans that you shouted down at the start of the saga wash away any positive feelings you have towards PLAYER X. You know what, he HASN’T played many games. The league he plays in IS crap. He COULDN’T cut it in England. It IS too much money when the club is apparently skint.
Things have started to cool down now. You’ve been outside again and breathed that lovely summer air. Well done mate, your phone has been in your pocket for a whole hour now. Either PLAYER X signs or he doesn’t. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s in the hands of the football gods.
The final step hinges on the outcome of the transfer saga. The football gods have had their say and they’ve blessed you.
Your phone pings. The timeline is in meltdown.
“PLAYER X SIGNS FOR BORO”.
A chorus of angels breaks into song, the sun comes beaming through the clouds and everything is right with the world. He’s here and he’s beautiful. He’s going to make everything okay.
Or the football gods have cursed you, again. Why always me?
“DEAL FOR PLAYER X FALLS THROUGH”
Your dreams are crushed. Steps 5 and 6 were a lie you told yourself. Even in the darkest grips of silly season, a part of you believed that you’d finally land your man. You’re angry, with yourself and the club, because it’s happened again.
It hurts. It always does and you promise yourself that it’ll never happen again. You won’t allow yourself to be burned again by a mysterious figure from a distant country.
Then, another rumour hits your timeline.
“BORO TARGET PLAYER Y”
You know you shouldn’t click on it, yet you can’t help yourself.
Silly season is underway again.
Photo Credits: Teesside Live/The Gazette, Hartlepool Mail, VOI