One Mailboxer may have spent lunch in the pub in suggesting Van Persie could go back to Arsenal. Also, some Premier League meh-ing and a fine Acewatch suggestion...
Roy Hodgson is asked the perfect question, Mr Grumpypants is back, Jamie Redknapp hates making comparisons. Plus Ace-watch, you lucky things...
People making up transfer stories in order to fill up times of tedium is nothing new. There are those that enjoy fabricating a story simply in order to fool others, a sense of power gained by a feeling that they are lauding it in some way, silently laughing as otherwise sane football supporters lose their collective sh*t about a figment of one person's imagination.
The natural habitat for such fantasists used to be the darkened corner of the pub, an acquaintance (rather than friend) who would sidle up to a table and reveal, with shifting eyes and hushed whisper, that someone he knew club had admitted they were chasing player X. "It's almost a done deal," would be the parting shot.
The technological change of climate has shifted this natural habitat, however. The emergence of Twitter has created the perfect environment for the transfer bullsh*tter to call home, and the resources are truly bountiful. They have formed a new army, even creating their own appellation - these are football's ITKs.
It is easy to see why Twitter is the perfect place for such guff-merchants to reside. A completely faceless medium, anyone can make a description offering an insight into a fake persona, choosing a photo to complement such an identity. I could pop onto the site now and create a profile for, say, Tony Adams and within a few days have fooled enough users into believing I was legit. As long as I could string a few often incoherent sentences containing some mildly ridiculous opinion about English coaching, to all intents and purposes I am Tony Adams. It's that simple. Creating a profile for a 'FootballITK' is even easier, because you don't even have to be a recognisable face and your photo should consist merely of a handshake. You are a ghost, a footballing sleuth hiding in the shadows.
ITK culture was perhaps firmly established on Twitter by Duncan Jenkins, the fake Liverpool FC blogger who combined information from club forums, the tweets of accounts such as The Times and some rather plucky guesses to create an identity that almost caused irony and satire to consume itself when he received meaningful threats from Jen Chang, the club's communications director.
However, this is now a much-changed beast. Whatever your feelings on the Duncan Jenkins farce, there is no doubt that his was a meticulously planned trick. Now, Twitter is awash with those that take a rather more scattergun approach to their art. The simple tactic is to throw so much faeces against the transfer wall that some will inevitably stick. And what is more bizarre, people genuinely listen.
Although many do, for me it is difficult to show anger to someone that commits to such an invention. Twitter is not compulsory viewing, and this is a medium on which one can choose what they wish to read. The majority of those peddling such tales are children of school age wanting to fool as many people as they can. These are younger versions of our man in the pub, so desperate for someone to listen that they create fantasies. We all lie, all want our stories to be heard and appreciated and all use Twitter as a tool of self-promotion when possible. We also get a kick or buzz when we think people care what we have to say.
Such accounts are merely reflective of society as a whole. A survey in 2010 asked children what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answers revealed that our youth weren't interested in being football players, singers, models, teachers or doctors - the most popular answer was just to be 'famous'. There is no associated dream, just a demand to be noticed. As a character in Glee (a show mocking such desires) admits: "Nowadays being anonymous is worse than being poor." We live in a world where someone put a wine bottle inside themselves for notoriety and we called it 'reality' television - I think trying to gain Twitter followers (the new definition of fame) through making up transfer rumours is pretty small fry, and certainly not worth our annoyance, or even recognition.
Furthermore, whilst we rage at those amateurs who fabricate stories, it is pertinent to remember that national newspapers aim to generate clicks and sales through exactly the same method. A reminder, if you will, that Northern Ireland's Sunday Life last week claimed that Manchester United were preparing an £80million swoop (always the swoop) for Lionel Messi. At least our keyboard warriors largely deal in the realms of possibility. Since the transfer window of summer 2006, the Metro newspaper has published 854 rumours for players that have since had resolved transfers. Only 107 of those were proved correct.
My anger or pity is not directed at those that peddle such nonsense, but those that listen. Despite the evident illogical nature of what is on offer (why would someone with inside knowledge or vested interest share that on a public platform?) some of these accounts have follower totals approaching six figures. They are dealing with nothing more than basic supply and demand. If provided with a stage in front of 100,000 willing listeners, most of us would talk rather freely - it is an addictive platform.
Twitter offers two vital characteristics to the fabricator. Firstly, people tend to believe what they read on the social media site, despite logic telling us that we should be less trustful of something posted anonymously online. In addition, its ease of sharing information is unrivalled on any other platform. If we traditionally deal with six degrees of separation, Twitter has reduced this number significantly. A few choice retweets, and suddenly half of the footballing fraternity is discussing the topic.
Most importantly, however, ITKs play on our own faults. Such is our complete encapsulation and addiction to our clubs that the summer break is not a chance for many to busy themselves with alternative hobbies (or, perish the thought, socialise with others). Instead, we crave the very latest about our club, and we demand to have such news yesterday. In truth, many don't really care if such information is false, as long as it can realistically believed it to be possible. I have always strongly suspected that a principal reason for the introduction of the transfer window was its use a tool to make the Premier League a 365-days-a-year conception. Fans need to know something new every day and, without any actual matches, such news simply does not exist. Instead, we turn to the ridiculous to get that sense of excitement, a service the ITK is only too pleased to offer.
"I doubt we'd ever get a player like that...We couldn't sign him. Could we...? It must be b*llocks, mustn't it...? Although, I did hear somewhere that we went for him last summer...Maybe we could persuade him......I'd love it if we signed him...I can't wait for next season." And so it continues.
It's all just another symptom of our obsession, but rather than showing anger or hate towards those that involve themselves in such childish folly, perhaps we should look at ourselves. Our craving for news creates both the oxygen of publicity and the platform required. So rather than telling those Twitter ITK's to grow up, how about we do the same, tearing ourselves away from our addiction to our clubs and the transfer window. It would certainly kill a few birds with one stone.
Daniel Storey - follow him on Twitter