As we move into the last few days of the transfer window, the journalists without sources are now frantically trying to make stories up. Even those with sources aren't always able to get enough information for a full story, so they create something to fill the gaps.
Today is the last chance for the Sunday papers to make up some headlines, and the Sunday People want to go out with a bang. Neil Silver is, I believe, a Spurs fan and his story sounds like wishful thinking more than fact.
Under the headline "NEWS FLASH – SPURS IN SHOT AT CROUCH AS MIDO DEPARTS", Silver claims Spurs are going to try and sign Peter Crouch!
The debate about how happy or unhappy Crouch might be seemed to have finally been put to bed some time ago, but Silver has dragged it back up again without putting a great deal of thought into it at all. The article claims that Spurs are looking to make a bid for the Reds' number 15 after they agreed a deal to sell Mido to Manchester City. Silver says Crouch, "has not been a first-choice player for boss Rafa Benitez and Spurs are banking on the fact he will be tempted by a return to London."
Crouch was of course selected in the starting line-up last weekend in one of the most high-profile games of the league season, playing an important part in the Reds' victory over Chelsea. Silver must have missed that game, and must have missed the fact that Crouch is a hugely important part of Rafa's plans. Situations change in football all the time, and Rafa may well decide one day that he wants to replace Crouch – but Liverpool are not likely to let Crouch go until that replacement has already been signed.
The laziness in Silver's article continues with has last sentence: "Another name on Jol's list is Villa hitman Juan Pablo Angel." Just hedging our bets a little?
The same journalist wrote in December 2005 that Spurs had "won the race to sign Southampton's 16-year-old boy wonder Theo Walcott – for a whopping £9million. Boss Martin Jol has landed the hottest young property in football from right under the noses of Chelsea and Arsenal." Oops! More wishful thinking.
The same publication was also trying to read too much into the obligatory announcement made by Liverpool about a bid from American tycoon George Gillett for Liverpool FC. On Friday the club made an announcement to shareholders via the Stock Exchange, as it is obliged to do so under legislation involving takeovers. The statement simply read: "Following the recent press speculation, and to comply with our obligations under the Takeover Code, Liverpool Football Club confirms that it has received an approach from George Gillett which may or may not lead to an offer. Shareholders will be kept informed as appropriate."
Some reports say that Gillett has now been given permission to see Liverpool's books – although it's not clear whether that has actually happened, nor whether Liverpool are actually obliged to let him see the books. If I offered 10p a share to buy out Liverpool, would I be allowed to see the books?
Reds chairman David Moores is a reluctant seller of the club, and is not keen at all on the idea of sharing a ground with our bitter neighbours Everton. Gillett is said to be very keen on the idea of a ground share, which makes his bid very unattractive to Moores. For Moores money isn't the main issue in this takeover.
For the People though it was time for some sensationalist headlines: "KOP DUBAI-OUT NO DONE DEAL". Steve Bates wrote that the "proposed £450million sheikh-over by Dubai International Capital was placed in doubt last night when it emerged American tycoon George Gillett had been given permission to examine the club's finances." Sheikh over?
The Bates article claims that "senior DIC figures, including
billionaire Sheikh Mohammed, are re-examining their business plan".
Well if they weren't re-examining their business plan after actually
seeing the full details of Liverpool's books I'd be quite surprised.
Their business plan prior to examining the finances was based on less
detailed information than they have now seen – but it doesn't mean they
will be pulling out of the deal. Unless there was some major hidden
factor that they'd not been made aware of previously their new business
plan would be nothing more than a tweak to the previous one!
Bates is of course well aware that he's making this up, so adds the
line that "a DIC deal is still possible". Of course it is. And
considering that Gillett has just made a bid, Bates' next bit of news
was not exactly a surprise: "Gillett, owner of the Montreal Canadians
ice hockey team, has now emerged as a real contender to produce a rival
bid." Then there come the attempts to imply a split at the club: "Some
factions within Anfield believe Gillett's initial proposals are more
attractive, freeing up more money for team investment. But Anfield
chief executive Rick Parry is known to favour the DIC plans which would
net Chairman Moores around £80m."
Bates goes on to state that the takeover by DIC will be delayed more
than Liverpool would want: "with Gillett now looking at the club's
books a deal seems unlikely to materialise as quickly as they'd like."
In fact unless DIC make substantial changes to their proposed offer the
takeover is likely to be completed early next month.
And whether the takeover is right for the club or not, it will be
relief to most fans when the saga finally comes to an end. Much like
the end of the transfer window on Wednesday will come as a relief.