The half-truths, the innuendo, the egos… I can’t wait.
Mad Men’s season premiere is tonight.
But there is also this nebulous time in the football world — after the World Cup, but before the league seasons start — where players, agents, managers and the media all say the most outrageous things in the hopes that they’ll come true. It’s very Geppetto-esque… like wishing that Cristiano Ronaldo will someday become a real boy.
First of all, managers are scrambling to strengthen their squads, while hoping to outsmart their opponents. Witness ‘Arry’s backhanded compliment towards Manchester City.
The gaffers also have the task of trying to keep their stars happy and at home. Arsene Wenger has had to beat off Barcelona with a stick for Cesc Fabregas. West Ham has had to put a ridiculous price tag on Scott Parker. And sadly, some clubs are willing to pay absurd amounts just to pry a player away, with Manchester City assuming the role of Cheslea, circa 2004 — or Real Madrid, years 2000 to the present. More on them in a second.
Of course, some managers get by on good old-fashioned wits and salesmenship. Just ask Joe Cole. But even though Roy Hodgson has done a little bit of transfer magic, it still might not be enough to keep Fernando Torres on Merseyside. And before you can sweet-talk a player, you have to be able to actually talk to him first.
The Special One starts his freshman season at Real Madrid, with pockets as deep as he had when he was in London’s West End. So of course, the media has linked Jose Mourinho to everyone in the football world, on every team, ever.
Meanwhile, the man who wanted Mourinho’s new job — but got his old one instead — will have to show that he can build on last year’s treble success, and basically not f#ck things up. Good luck, Rafa, you’ll need it. And you thought the English press was bad… look for more rants this season.
The one manager who has remained suprisingly quiet in all of this is Sir Alex Ferguson. True, he had to offer Dolph Lundgren-look-alike Nemanja Vidic a new contract to keep the other vultures away. But SAF has only bought two players — Javier Hernandez and Fulham’s Chris Smalling. Maybe Sir Alex is revelling in the fact that Manchester United only had five players away at the World Cup — six, if you count Hernandez — and none of them made it out of the second round. Get yer rest boys, yer going to need it.
Speaking of Sir Alex, At The Rails’ own Ian Harrison wrote a lovely piece on the man for Toro Magazine on Fergie’s ties to our home and native land.
But until the leagues begin, I’ve got a bit of Mad Men to watch. And now for a gratuitous picture of Christina Hendricks. Because I can…