The domestic football season has reached its conclusion. The silly season, the constant clamber for column inches in the absence of actual match time, has already begun in earnest. The whole thing’s a hoopla, and we’re knee-deep in it, but let’s enjoy it for what it is.
Rather than matchday reports and pre-game pre-ambles, for the next couple of months we will be subjected to paper-thin stories of transfer gossip, ‘unsettled’ players and the absence of a birthday cake for Yaya Toure from the owners of Manchester City. If we’re lucky, we may even have another photo of Jack Wilshere smoking a cigarette (‘which you can legally buy in shops!’ (Amstell, 2007)) outside a nightclub.
The silly season bingo has brought up a few regulars already this week. Yesterday, Arsenal announced the extension of Arsene Wenger’s contract until 2019 and, meanwhile, Riyad Mahrez told of his ambition to play for a ‘bigger’ club. The two things are obviously a coincidence, your honour. Seriously, to don your cynic’s hat, tales of countless players being linked with Arsenal will no doubt, once again, coincide with sales of the club’s season tickets. The Telegraph even ran an article entitled, in what appears not to be ironic, ’10 transfer targets on Arsenal’s radar this summer’.
Unsurprisingly, Wayne Rooney has also been caught up in the summer madness. He is, of course, no stranger to the paparazzi. This week, he was photographed on a beach with his wife Coleen and their children, as he ‘mulls over his Manchester United future’. Quite how a ‘man goes on holiday with his wife’ story is headline news is anybody’s guess, but the click-bait stories appear to work successfully nonetheless. This jazz continues, and we’re all involved.
Even as a distraction from football stories, leading names across sports journalism last night pondered over Donald Trump’s Twitter typo, ‘Covfefe’. Most concluded it was a drunken error, although of course that’s not likely as the man is teetotal. ‘Covfefe City’ as in ‘Coventry City’ was more than one person’s summary, but don’t think about that for too long, it’ll hurt your brain.
Of course, I appreciate the irony of writing an article about silly season during silly season, but there is genuinely plenty to be excited about for the summer ahead:
Premier League spending spree
Despite the usual dross of ongoing transfer sagas, this summer will actually see the Premier League’s top 6 significantly improve their squads. Earlier this week, Pep Guardiola completed the £43m deal for Portugal attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva from French champions Monaco. Having just released Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna, full-backs also appear high on the Spaniard’s agenda. Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte have also made early moves in the transfer market. Plenty of business will take place before the season starts, it’s an exciting and unprecedented time for the Premier League.
World Cup qualifiers
England take on fierce rivals Scotland on June 10, a game with a rich history of snapped crossbars and dentist chairs. After a 3-0 defeat to England at Wembley in the return fixture, Scotland will be desperate for revenge on home turf. It should be tasty.
U-21 European Championship
Also kicking off in June is the U-21 European football championships, an opportunity to see the future stars of European football. Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane, John Stones, Jack Butland and Michael Keane all featured for England in the same competition two years ago, and it’s a tournament that Gareth Southgate will feel much closer to than his predecessors, having led that U-21 team in 2015. Either way, this is our opportunity to witness the unearthing of the future Maceo Rigters.
Women’s European Championship
England are also in action against Scotland in the Women’s Euro’s, to be held in the Netherlands in mid-July. After finishing as winners of Group 7 in qualifying, a group also featuring Portugal and Spain represents one of the trickiest routes to the knockout stages, although expectation is high yet again this summer.
The 10th instalment of the Confederations Cup will take place in Russia in June. It’s the first time since 1995 that Brazil have failed to qualify, and the tournament features both Australia and New Zealand. Portugal, Germany and Russia will fly the flag for UEFA. Whether it’s helped by the level of expectation or not, these tournaments often throw up a few classic matches.
This is just a brief selection of football on offer over the next couple of months. Enduring the tedious transfer sagas this summer may seem like a difficult task, but there are plenty of gems to keep you occupied before the domestic season returns in August.
Chris Henderson – follow me on Twitter here