We know that Sky Sports love a good transfer. They’ve built a whole day around it, so much so that we believe, quite sincerely, that Hallmark are preparing a range of Happy Transfer Deadline Day cards for the next one.
You would like to think, however, that after the window had closed, and with Arsenal facing four tremendously exciting, top class games of football, that they might be able to find a question or two about that instead.
You would think wrong. This is what happened at today’s press conference. After some team news, and a small bit of chat about the Liverpool game, Sky’s Nick Collins says, “Just one last one from me, I know the summer transfer window is a long, long way away yet but there’s all sorts of big names that get linked … the likes of Dzeko and Mandzukic and Costa and Draxler.
“I mean I’m not asking you to specifically comment on them but are they the kind of players you would hope to be looking at as potential targets?”
Arsene Wenger, as always (except that time when Neil Trashton got it in the neck and it made us laugh), takes it in his stride and answers politely.
“You understand certainly very well that at the moment my focus is on Liverpool and not the transfer market.”
He is the very measure of diplomacy, but he must be wondering if there’s no escape from those kind of questions from Sky. We got to wondering too …
Scene: Waitrose, Holloway Road, London.
Time: Late evening.
Arsene Wenger is holding a packet of curly kale in his hand. “Eugh,” he mutters under his breath. “This is just a fad, the next hipster thing, like playing a quartet of medium sized, tippy tappy midfielders.”
He picks up a celeriac instead. He turns around and who should be standing there, inches from his face, but Nick Collins of Sky Sports.
“Hello Arsene,” he says, the dead, dead smile of the robotic reporter on his face.
“Oh … err … hello.”
“Doing some shopping?”
“Well, I believe this is … er … a supermarket. People normally come here to shop.”
“Everyone needs to eat!”
“Yes,” Arsene laughs, a bit nervously. “Anyway, I must-”
“Speaking of shopping though, and I know the transfer window isn’t opening for another 5 months, but can you comment on reports that you’re planning a move for outrageously talented young German Len Trexler?”
“Look, er …I can’t-”
“What about Dimitri Goalalov? Randall Poppintree? Ivorian wonderkid Cranston James? US star Hingle McCringleberry?”
“I … er …”
“Clint Dimbler?! Jose Antonio Antonio Jose Rodriguez? Jaques le But? Morten Olafson? Paddy-”
Wenger throws his celeriac down and runs for the exit. He reaches the car park, fumbling for his keys, his cold fingers in the February air making opening the door difficult. Eventually, he gets into the car, puts both hands on the steering wheel, bows his head and exhales deeply a few times.
When he has composed himself, he starts the engine, turns on the lights, and looks in the rear-view mirror to begin reversing.
Suddenly, Collins head appears from the back seat.
“Hello Arsene. Scott Hollister? YipYip Toure? Manifold Cabernet? …
From outside the car a blood curdling scream is heard.
Scene: David Dein’s yacht, the mediterranean, summer.
Arsene Wenger is standing the by slide. He’s been down it about 40 times already but he loves it so much.
“David!” he shouts. “I’m just going to do one more!”
“Ok, Arsene. But don’t be long, Darren has brought Cesc and Thierry along to serve us cocktails. You should see what he’s got them wearing!”
“I won’t,” says Wenger, hitching up his swimming trunks.
He takes a breath and launches himself down the slide. His gleeful “Wheeee!” makes David Dein look over at his old friend speeding towards the sea. Then he notices a shape in the water … that dreaded familiar dorsal fin.
“ARSENE!”, he cries. “LOOK OUT!”
But it’s too late. The shark is right at the end of the slide and Arsene is about to enter the water right where his mouth will be. He tries to cling onto the slide but his momentum is too great.
“Merde, to go out like zis …”, he mutters as he enters the water. He comes up thrashing, remembering that months ago, at half-time in a Czech Division III game, he saw a documentary where a surfer punched a shark in the snout and it swam off.
He connects with something. Hurrah. Perhaps there’s a chance. Slowly, a head appears.
“Ow, you got me right in the schnozz you big lug!”, smiles Nick Collins. “So, Grant McGillycuddy? Trevor Banjo? Laurent Strickerson? Lionel Gambit?”
The Arsenal manager relaxes, and lets the cool, eternal embrace of the ocean take him away from it all.