Ah, summer. If you, like me, live in an area that gets hit hard by the freezing winter, then you can understand a tendency to cling to the promise of the warmest season like it's a lifeline. During the worst of it - after the winter holidays end and I realize that there's still three more months of this, when actually living my life is the thing that I do in between shoveling out my parking spot four times a day and guzzling coffee - summer starts to feel like a fever dream that my brain invented to keep me from going crazy.
But for fans of club football, and especially fans of the EPL with their bonkers media coverage, summer in the Northern hemisphere has a different connotation altogether. It's the silly season, and friends, we have already fallen down the rabbit hole. It's all the frustration and anxiety of the rest of the year without the actual enjoyment of watching your team play football.
Every transfer window feels crucial, whether your team is doing well and you want them to keep that edge in an increasingly competitive league, or if, as in the case of Liverpool, giant holes exist in the squad that desperately need to be filled.
Transfer window stress is not unwarranted. The results of a successful window have the power to dramatically change the make-up of a team. Transfer dealings are a notoriously tricky business - particularly for a team like Liverpool who are out of the Champion's League and not willing or able to pay ridiculous prices for an established player's services. Fans absolutely have a right to express their opinions on these matters. When a club has a patchy history in the transfer market, the way that Liverpool has under the reign of FSG, pointing out consistent errors being made year after year is a way to hold the club accountable and also pinpoint areas of improvement.
Right now for Liverpool, the saga du jour is Raheem Sterling, and the battle has gotten pretty ugly. He's a young, talented, English player, a combination which always gets the English tabloids buzzing. There have also been considerable PR mistakes made by both sides of this situation, with Aidy Ward, Sterling's agent, providing some juicy pull quotes for articles, all of which make excellent tabloid fodder.
Every one of these transfer stories is its own special snowflake, with its own complexities. Certainly Sterling is no Suarez, who came and left Liverpool already fully formed, right down to the cannibalistic tendencies. With 20-year-old Sterling, what Liverpool is losing is potential. The feeling of betrayal comes from Liverpool having trained him for so long, and having given him a chance to shine when other big clubs wouldn't have. He's no Torres, either, though that could hardly be considered a saga anyway, since the whole process began and ended over the course of a week. Not a Mascherano, Owen, Agger, Keegan, Alonso, or even a reverse Borini.
Loving a sports team means constantly losing players you enjoy. When it comes to Liverpool, it seems as though that feeling is multiplied thanks to the wall-to-wall media coverage, speculation and hand-wringing. The morning after the last game of the season, a switch is flicked somewhere, and the transfer saga storylines begin in earnest. For a month now, my Twitter feed has been a microcosm of this phenomenon, as the fate of Liverpool's transfer targets are decided upon five times over with five different outcomes over the course of five successive tweets.
Suddenly people become experts on any player linked to their club. "Why Thom, I didn't know you had such a passion for Turkish football." Hasty video compilations are made and uploaded to Youtube. Fans become bitterly angry when their club shows interest in a player they dislike, and then equally as mad when said player ends up signing for another team. All of this before the transfer window has even officially opened.
It's a cacophony of gorgeous insanity, and years ago I decided to embrace the madness, because the alternative was throwing my computer in the dumpster, Ron Swanson style. Now as the battles wage, I can pull up Elizabeth's transfer window Bingo cards and my favorite popcorn .gif and watch as it all unfolds, like one of the rich people in The Hunger Games.
I’ll always enjoy intelligent and reasoned discussion of these players and the squad. And I'll never enjoy watching an incredible talent like Raheem Sterling leave Liverpool for a rival, especially under such acrimonious circumstances.
But the spectacle of it all? It does wonders for passing the time.