So here we are, post-Cup and pre-Liga. For those of us whose teams broke our hearts, said organs are still tender but on the mend. For those of us whose teams broke records, we still smile, but not with all our teeth. And for all of us, the inner ear no longer vibrates quite so violently with echoes of a vuvuzela drone.
The first season I watched the last Barça match with the Hunky Soccer Husband, I sighed at the final whistle. ‘It’s all over,’ I said. ‘What to do until September?’ He blinked at me with surprise and disappointment, the way Sister Mary Holywater always did when a particularly gifted student gave a particularly stupid answer. ‘What ‘over’?’ he demanded. ‘It’s Transfer Time!’ And then he wrung his hands, like an old-timey villain in a silent film.
We are now in the dog days of Transfer Time, that Waste(of time)land that Isaiah so charmingly christened ‘Silly Season’. Silly Season always reminds me of that old ‘Seinfeld’ episode in which Jerry confesses that he watches ‘Melrose Place’:
Elaine: Melrose Place?
Jerry: Yes, Melrose Place!
Elaine: I just didn’t know you watched that.
Jerry: Well, I do.
Elaine: I mean, every time I mention it you never say anything or join in the conversation …
Jerry: Well, maybe I was a little embarrassed.
Elaine: You mean this whole time we could have been discussing Sydney and Michael and Jane…
Jerry: … and Billy and Jake and Allison, yes, we could have discussed it!
— Seinfeld, ‘The Beard’ (#102)
Just so, here we are discussing Syndey and Adriano and Michael and Yaya and Jane and Rafa and Billy and Dima and Jake and Pep and Allison … (and even that person we all agree we should not be discussing)!
Yet what, exactly, are we discussing? If we take Barça (or any other soccer team) as strictly that, an organization of players and management, then really there has been no Barça, at least since last spring. The players were dispersed among other teams, Coach P was on holiday, and the presidency itself was va-cay. It has all been in our minds! An illusion! [Cue: audible gasp] Mwah mwah mwah!
Okay, that’s silly. ‘Tis the season. And now that players are wandering back into training and owners are giving out math homework at pressers, the transfer market is lighting up with more baddas and bings than a Sopranos pinball machine.
But that doesn’t give Silly Season any more heft. Everyone is discussing but nothing is happening. This means the only thing to discuss is what everyone else is discussing … which brings us back to … nothing. (Except for Dan, who discusses his very real distaste for us). So what exactly are they saying, all these discussants?
What follows are a series of familiar quotes that make the headlines every Silly Season. I’ve then provided some plain-language translations so that we can discuss once more how very little, really, is goin’ on.
A. I hope that by the end of this month, Futi makes a definitive decision. He knows that he plays a very important part in my plans because he will be at the very heart of the team.
Meaning: He doesn’t love you … the way that I looooove you …
B. I don’t know where the negotiations are at this point, but […] he’s a great player.
C. I have a lot of respect for him, both as a person and a soccer player, and for that I am grateful for all he has given us thus far.
D. I have three more years in my contract and my intention is to follow through with them.
Meaning: I’d leave but nobody else wants me.
E. I’d be thrilled to play in São Paulo.
Meaning: Sears sucks, man.
F. I’m at the best team in the world; no one would want to leave here.
Meaning: Please don’t trade me.
G. I’ve been signed by the best club in the world right now.
Meaning: Where’s that million-euro signing bonus my agent promised?
H. I’m a great friend of Compa and he told me that being hired by this team is one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Meaning: … while we were out clubbing until about twenty minutes before this presser.
I. We believe that a few details remain to be worked out and until Futi is signed there’s nothing left to say except the process is very advanced.
Meaning: The guy (or his father / agent / old coach) is acting like an asshole.
J. Equipo fans don’t have to suffer over Míster Man, he’s a big fan of the club […] The moment he says he wants to renew his contract, we’ll do it.
Meaning: I can’t stand the guy and he can’t wait to get out of here, either.
The above are actual quotes, actually, that I scrubbed from Sport and Marca and People’s Online yesterday, but we all know that I, in the great tradition of Parkers and Dowds, never bother sourcing (Kxevin, how about a fact checker? And a copy editor? Also, I could really use an intern. Who makes a great gin and tonic). You’re online, you check ’em out. And if you still have nothing to do, entertain yourself by guessing who (who cares?) said what (nothing, remember?)
Unofficial Answers: A. Felix Magath, Shalke 04 re: Raúl González; B. Pep Guardiola, Barcelona re: Cesc Fabregas (OOPS); C. Pep, re: Chiggy; D. Diego Forlán, Atlético de Madrid re: Atleti; E. Forlán, Atleti re: Atleti; F. Ezequiel Garay, Real Madrid re: Real; G. Adriano, Barça re: Barça; H. Adriano, Barça re: Dani Alves; I. Augusto César Lendoiro, Deportivo re: Filipe Luis; J. Sandro Rosell, Barça re: Pep (Glad to know Pep’s a fan!)
Now get back to work!