Transfer catastrophe. It’s that déjà vu thing all over again

By Tony Attwood, our man with schoolboy Foreign.

You used to know where you were with transfer news, for in the old days there were four types of stories.

The first ended with a question mark, as in “Chilean striker to Arsenal?”  This meant several people were talking about it, but the writer had no source of information he could trust and didn’t know who made the piece up in the first place.

The second ended up with two question marks, as in “Joel Campbell to Newcastle??”  This meant that he had read it in a local newspaper (or the Star) thought it was pretty odd, and couldn’t verify it, but other papers and blogs were running it, and this one didn’t want to be left out.

Third we had the three question mark variety as in “Mario Balotelli deal still on???” which meant that there was nothing else to publish for the moment, and the writer had seen someone else run the story, so he thought he’d use that one but stick some ??? on the end.

Last there was story that was so crazy that no one was actually going to believe it but still it would give everyone a laugh.   Two examples come to mind:

“Pardew: the Arsene Wenger of the north!?!?!?!?!?”


“Ashley Cole to learn Italian?!?!?!!!?!!!!?”

Both are just so wildly bizarre that they are laughable, and I must admit I made the second one up, after reading the gun-toting root vegetable was off to Roma.

But the first was the implication of an article published this lunchtime containing within this statement: “With all their French players, Newcastle United have been likened to Arsenal in recent years, while their manager Alan Pardew is second only to Arsene Wenger in the table of longest serving managers in the Premier League.”

Ah well. Pardew and Wenger?  Arsenal of the north?

But here’s another thing.  The trouble with today’s bloggers is they just don’t get punctuation.   Look at this one, again from today’s blogsphere.

A round up of the transfer news, rumours a News from Tuesday’s papers!

Now could anyone explain how that most mundane of sentences could meaningfully end with an exclamation mark?  At least in the old days we knew where we were.

Elsewhere we have the old “red alert” ploy.  I have to say I thought “red alert” was so old-fashioned no one would use it today, but no, one should never underestimate the laziness of the lazy headline writer:

“North London on Red Alert as Lukaku looks for a new home”

It could well be a story placed by an estate agent.

After that the blogs get a bit samey, with everyone talking about flying in.  Now I know that Walter has been doing a review of “flying in”, given that after my cock-up at this time in 2013 I vowed never to do a “seen disembarking at Luton Airport” story again.  That therefore is to come later today.

The Daily Star however have their own approach to the passing out of fashion of the ! Today they have come up with

Newcastle star Mathieu Debuchy PASSES medical at Arsenal ahead of £12m move

So, yes, he hasn’t just passed the medical, but he PASSES the medical.  I wonder what the difference is between a normal pass and a PASS.  Perhaps we will be told, but I doubt it.

Next up we have the doom-mongers who are of course a bit at sea with all the talk about Arsenal signing everyone all at once.  Here’s one of their headlines…

Barca Puts Hold On Alexis Sanchez’s Transfer To Arsenal

Well we knew it would happen And We Have To Believe It Because Every Word Starts With A Capital Letter.

That comes from one of those sites that likes to pretend it is taking a dispassionate view and comments on occasion that “Arsenal fans will feel…” and “With all the speculation that there is around” and that general sort of thing.

Working down the list I quite liked

Arsenal plot move for Everton defender

not least because it struck me that it wasn’t much of a plot given that the story is on the internet.  A bit like Guy Fawkes wanting to blow up Parliament.  “The first thing we have to do chaps is to make sure everyone knows about it before we even start.”  Or not, as the case may be.

Still at least we weren’t put on red alert

I did also quite like

Five Alternatives To Alexis Sanchez Who Could Be Even Better Signings For Arsenal

If you want a way to say that Wenger is no good and that you’d be a better man at the top of Arsenal, that’s about as good as anything, I guess.  Rubbish the new star before we even get him.

Anyway, Walter’s waiting to have his say, so I’ll get out of the way by ending with my favourite.

De Ja Vu – Arsenal Could Miss Out On Alexis Sanchez Due To Neymar’s Injury

I guess I like it not just because of the bad French (it’s “déjà vu” guys – if you didn’t do Foreign at school then best to avoid it – personally I find English hard enough going) but also because I couldn’t actually make out what the déjà vu reference was all about.

The essence of the story is that “there are concerns among the Arsenal fan base” (really???) that Barcelona won’t sell Sanchez for all sorts of complex reasons (how many people are concerned??? I think we should be told!!!).

Now I know that we had one of those complex deals where a had to go to b and c to d and so on before we could get Ozil, with Tottenham trying to stop the deal at the end, but I can’t quite see what the connection with that lot is with this deal – if it is a deal (???).

But still perhaps it is just that déjà vu thing all over again!


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12 Replies to “Transfer catastrophe. It’s that déjà vu thing all over again”

  1. Coles lack of communication skills are well known, but now that he has to actually learn a foreign language you have to wonder how the dear boy is going to survive, (although Gazza made it Ok), but if he chucks up over any Italian women he’ll get run out of the country.

  2. Well Ashley Cole will probably be able to say ‘spaghetti bolognaise” or “Pizza Napolitano” or “Lasagna Verde” so he will not starve to death in those foreign regions…

  3. I had the misfortune of glancing at that notorious miserabalist website today, and chanced upon a comment that I thought so perfectly summed up the AAA perspective, that I had to share it.

    It went something like: “If Sanchez if our most expensive purchase this summer, then we are completely screwed.”

    It works on so many levels…!!!

  4. Don’t say spaghetti bolognaise in Bolongna because its not a dish of Bologna.

    I do not know if they have it in Rome though…:p

  5. Maybe nobody at the papers knows how to write a simple perl script? Text::Capitalize and Text::AutoFormat are useful. Apparently recipe 1.14 of the second edition of the Perl Cookbook is also useful.

    I present two scripts, which will treat each line of input as a title to be capitalized. The program prints the result. Just CLI programs, not GUIs. Released under the same terms as Perl itself, your choice of the Artistic License or the Gnu Public License.


    use Text::Capitalize 0.2;

    while( my $t = ) {
    print capitalize_title( $t ), “\n”;


    use Text::Autoformat;
    while( my $t = ) {
    print autoformat { case => “highlight”, right => length( $t ) }, $t;

    I don’t have a copy of the second edition of the Perl Cookbook, so I haven’t seen the recipe mentioned. The documentation of Text::Capitalize contains pointers to more information on what should and should not be capitalized.

  6. My only hope is that while Cashley is being helped with some English in the dressing room that some Italian player moan:

    “All we ever hear in this dressing room is English”

    How sweet would that be?

  7. Ahh, summertime is for reading fiction, lay back and enjoy the stories. Useful to fill in the idle times.
    So good to see the boys (some of them only though) strutting their stuff at the Colney this week.

  8. Excellent article Tony, thoroughly enjoyed it. But, to be fair, it’s correct to capitalise the first letters in a title (except for minor letters like ‘a’). Unless, of course, that was part of the ordinary text and not the title.

  9. @ Tony,
    Your post brought home to me and probably to many, the enormous value of the good old question mark. 😉

  10. Well that gave me a chuckle, Tony.

    As you said, it’s also the case that certain verbs are used in essentially the same sentences.

    “Arsenal are eyeing plotting planning targeting linked with swooping for ad nauseam!!

    But that makes it relatively easy for the fans to dismiss those that are total rubbish — well that’s 99.99%.
    The problem lies with the 0.01% of the fans with the biggest mouths (keyboards) who lay about them lustily blaming Wenger for all the spurious signings he did not make.

  11. I can’t believe we’ve missed out on Ashley Cole again…let alone Ad Nauseum (who sounds like a triffic player*)

    *(c) Mr H Redknapp

  12. Repetitious wisdom Ad infinitum –

    First year students at Medical School were receiving their first anatomy class with a real dead human body.

    They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet. The professor started the class by telling them, “In medicine,it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you should not be disgusted by anything involving the human body.”

    The Professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the anus of the corpse, withdrew it and stuck it in his mouth.

    doctor”Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students. The students initially freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the anus of the corpse and sucking on it.

    When everyone finished, the Professor looked at the class and told them, “The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger but sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention!”

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