We are approaching one of the most seminal periods of the whole season; Transfer Window Deadline. So much happens in so little time,it’s very easy to lose track of what can be happening at any time. And in doing so, it not only shines a light on how a lot of clubs plan for both the present and the future, but also on how the way fans see football as a whole.
Most of those reading this column will be very aware of the acronym “ITK”. If you are one of the few lucky enough not to have been afflicted by knowing of anyone perpetrating to be “ITK”, let me explain what that means. “ITK” stands for “In The Know”, and it’s an acronym given to those who try to convey that somehow they are privy to information that nobody else can garner. Another key component of being “ITK” is that they’re always anonymous, as giving away their identity would obviously compromise their ability to get the priceless nuggets of info that nobody else can get. (Yeah, there’s a reason why it sounds like bollocks. Because it’s bollocks.)
Now, if you’re reading this and wondering why anyone would give these charlatans the light of day, consider this; a person who went under the username @FootballAgent_49 managed to obtain over 35,000 followers on Twitter over the course of a couple of months, thanks to claiming to have knowledge of deals such as Hazard to Chelsea before the mainstream media did, only to announce today that they were in fact an 18 year old making up stories as they went along, and that the Hazard “scoop” was just a lucky guess. 35,000 FOLLOWERS! How does someone like that become so popular so quickly?
Well, it’s our fault really. As I’ve written before, we live in a society that prioritizes speed and ease of access over virtually anything else. Want the new kit? No need to go to the shop, go online and have it delivered to your door. Want to talk to your friend? No need to go to their house, just call them, or email them, or chat on Facebook or Twitter or Skype. Our lives have been designed to be as effortless as possible, and the act of gathering information is no different, as a quick look through how many 24-hour news channels exist these days should illustrate.
So with all this choice at our fingertips, it should be no surprise that we have become spoilt and will demand the very best of everything that is available. Instead of just a kit, now we want the name and number of our favourite player on the back of it, and in the same font that the Premier League uses. We want things to be exactly the way we want it, otherwise we don’t want it at all. So when folks hear Bryan Swanson on Sky Sports News saying that his “sources” are telling him about a big transfer, then it’s only natural that they would also be interested in hearing from these “sources” personally.
So once we add a person’s desire to have only the best information with their emotional investment in the football club they love, then it’s only natural that they will listen to just about anyone who is claiming to have new news about a player that has been linked to the club in the past. We all want to believe anything that paints our club in a good light, because we all want our club to be the best in the world. And when someone like the above-mentioned @FootballAgent_49 is fortunate enough to guess that Hazard will sign with Chelsea two weeks before anyone else reports it, then BOOM!, everyone flocks to him to hear about what else he supposedly knows, as he has “proven” to be “in the know”.
The result of all this new interest in finding out what’s happening at our clubs as soon as is humanly possible, is that the transaction of players is beginning to become more important than the actions of those same players. Instead of worrying about how good the current team is, we’re now more focused on how to make it better, which means more attention is given to those outside the club instead of inside. Because we are so used to everything else in life being easily disposable, we treat the players on our team the same way. If they’re good, then it’s because they’re supposed to be good, and if they’re bad, then get rid of them. We don’t ask about how to improve what we have, we just ask about how we can get rid and bring in someone “better”. Like I said, transaction over action.
Nothing sums this up better than the sudden prevalence of fantasy football in the UK. For years, fantasy football was nothing more than a parlour game between a few mates. Now, thanks primarily to the game now being set up on the Premier League’s own website, millions of fans now can build their own team, with their own favourite players, and transfer players in and out at will. It not only satisfies a fan’s desire to be seen as knowledgable about football, but they can also satisfy their inner wheeler-dealer.
Of course, it leads to conflicts of interest at times, as having Hazard and Torres in your team will make your fantasy chances improve, but it’ll also see your real team’s chances diminish if they do well. But when more and more people care more about transactions that teams make rather than the games played, then games such as the above will only gain popularity. It’s not so much wanting your rivals to win as it is proving your own ratings of players to be true. It’s a bit like putting money on a rival to beat a much weaker opponent, you don’t like seeing them win, but at least you get financially compensated for predicting it. The sum effect of playing fantasy though is that it’s making more and more folks (including yours truly) aware of other players that are playing well in the league and could be potential signings in the future.
So with fans more in tune with who’s playing well at any time, then that puts more pressure on clubs to meet these rising expectations of what’s expected of them. No longer is just signing someone enough, it has to be either “Player A” or someone rated to be as good as a player leaving. And while regression isn’t tolerated, anonymity of a player is now considered to be just as bad, as fans now want that instant satisfaction that comes with signing a big name.
So as long as fans want their information now, and as long as they want their clubs to sign only the biggest and best names, and as long as they want to be as concerned with the financial side of the football club as much as the footballing side, then we have to expect lots more “ITK”s to surface. Some will be genuine insiders with real insiders in the club. Others will be imposters looking to capitalise on the curiosity of fans. Is there any way of distinguishing the two? Only over time can someone’s true level of being “ITK” become apparent. Until then, we should expect this phenomenon of people saying they know more than they actually do to only increase, as more and more fans become desperate for any new news that may be developing.
Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who they’ll be listening to on Friday evening as the transfer window slams shut. They’ll all say the same thing: Jim White. Why? Simple.
Because he’s “ITK”.------------
If you’ve been having problems accessing this site on your work computer using the URLS globalgooners.com and gossip.globalgooners.com should sort that problem for you.
Get your free LadyArse app here for Android, BlackBerry and Windows phone [iPhone coming soon]
Get your free Arsenal wallpaper, Facebook covers and Twitter headers here