As it gets to that time of the year when the football has already started and the infernal transfer window has little more than a week of openness remaining; the crazy quotient, already enough to rattle even the calmest of souls, gets amped-up to a whole new level of bat-shit insanity. There will be tearing of hair and rending of garments, voices will increase by several decibels, Babelcopters will launch, Harry bloody Redknapp will lean benignly from his expensive car and Peter Odemwinge will drive from club to club in the futile hope that somebody will love him.
Invariably, football fans are at their most dissatisfied around now, as some old favourites have probably left and longed-for new blood is often in sparser supply than they would wish. Oh, to be a fan of Chelsea or Manchester City at such times. Awash in petro-dollars, basking and bloated, having consumed as many of the choicest offerings available as they desired, they glance imperiously around them with haughty disdain at the financial weaklings that scuttle around beneath, hoping some sustenance will tumble from their over-laden table. Both clubs have made impressive starts to their new campaigns, brazenly showcasing to their followers the power their wealth has imbued them with. They are the Transfer Window Tzars.
For the rest of us, other factors restrict such self-gratification. At Arsenal, they bemoan the perceived miserliness of their recruiters. Manchester United fans wonder if this is finally the season they sign a central midfielder, having flirted with all of them. We, long-suffering fans of Liverpool Football Club, simply wonder what is going on. Again. Terms like net spend and sell-on value become part of the average supporters lexicon as they play accountant with money that is not theirs and may not even bloody exist. It can be a spirit-crushing exercise in futility to even engage in the debate, and yet all of us rush to do just that, displaying a devil-may-care attitude towards our own mental health.
Intelligent people, people you know, maybe even you, get caught in a crazed 24-hour yellow-ticker frenzy of updates that are not updates and breaking news that is not news. Is that Mkhitaryan lad coming? What is that Diego Costa bloke doing in that super-slow-mo replay? Oh christ! He's flicking spit at Pepe!! Brilliant! Show it again! Willian or Won't-ian? It's enough to make a comparatively balanced individual mutate into a frothing, twitching husk of humanity, impotently refreshing web pages, despondently checking Twitter time-lines and shuffling in to the living room to hear if Jim White's nasal shrillness on Sky has gone up an octave -- because that would definitely mean something was happening.
Yesterday, Noel took an interesting look at Brendan Rodgers' most recent press conference, ahead of the Aston Villa game tomorrow. Correctly, he mentioned the less than effusive manner in which the manager conducted proceedings. He is clearly hurting. He's been here before. I don't suggest that we all become consumed by sympathy for the man but one must at least attempt to be fair.
It requires no scholar of human behaviour to interpret the disappointment inherent in Rodgers' words. He has been thwarted on all three of his attempts to bring a top-ranking player to the club. When all is said and done, that is all he cares about -- and rightly so. If the Northern Irishman had come out and been blasé or up-beat, jaded cynical fans would have smelt a rat. He betrayed his frustration with the whole scenario, whilst retaining a respectful tone in his references to FSG. Some of us love a bit of sub-text, and his utterances yesterday were rich pickings for those looking to see signs of a rift between the manager and his employers, but really, what is the point of such speculation?
Much as it pains me to cite the self-aggrandising José Mourinho, he did at least have the honesty to admit recently that everything said by managers in the window can be disregarded as spin and misdirection. Our own beloved Rafa Benitez told us that "football is a lie." The reality behind those two insights is that all our speculation is an exercise in futility, and yet so obsessed are we by the machinations of our club and its rivals that we would sooner cease to breathe, than abandon our incessant chatter about whether the crazy Greek may still be signed or if it makes any sense to try to get Kaka on-loan -- no, really, that's a thing in my heat-oppressed brain.
There is no solution to this plight. We're along for the ride and it will not be pleasant. There'll be vomiting and mobile phones will be lost, as one plunging depression is followed by another thrilling ascent. If at the end, as we unstrap ourselves and stagger to the relatively solid predictable ground of September, we can all still look each other in the eye and get along, that will be something. Whether or not we have some cool new friends over which to obsess is another matter. Right, smoke 'em if you've got 'em.