Hearing and trying to assess transfer speculation these days is just part and parcel of being a football fan. Time was keeping up with transfer news was simply a case of glancing through a regional paper or popping on to teletext and not taking either especially seriously. But how times change. Internet forums and Twitter have opened the door for wind-up merchants and idiots to start and perpetuate rumours from beneath a cloak of anonymity or, for the terminally tedious, declare themselves "in the know" as a desperate and pathetic attempt to grab attention. Such people I can live with. If I choose to believe tall tales from nameless and faceless strangers and invest any part of myself within them then, quite frankly, it is me who has the problem, not them.
However, people being given a national platform and gainful employment to spread the very same kind of hyperbole and conjecture is another matter entirely, and we Sunderland fans came across one such serial bullshitter last week when Alan Nixon took it upon himself to make up a load of rubbish about Asamoah Gyan. I am sure I wasn't alone in asking myself just what kind of a ludicrous world the bloke lives in, so, I did some digging and now present to you 'the world, according to Alan Nixon'...
First, lets recap the events of the whole sorry saga. Just over a week ago, Nixon published an 'exclusive' on the Mirror's website claiming that Sunderland were actively attempting to sell Asamoah Gyan via email. Obviously, in this case, 'exclusive' tends to mean that no one else is stupid enough to claim it, and Niall Quinn reacted within hours and with uncharacteristic fury by declaring the story 'embarrassing'. Undeterred, the man the Mirror lists as their 'transfer gossip specialist', returned the following day to tell us all that Niall Quinn was wrong and that he was right and that Stoke City was the player's destination. By the time that Asamoah Gyan himself came out and rubbished the reports yesterday, even the Mirror themselves seemed intent on distancing themselves from Nixon's inane ramblings by acknowledging the story existed, but referring to it as a suggestion made by 'one English newspaper' rather than admit it was their own website that published it.
So what kind of a world does Alan Nixon live in? Well, for starters, he lives in a world in which the very fact that Steve Bruce is Sunderland manager must confuse and befuddle him on a daily basis. Following Ricky Sbragia's departure in May 2009, Nixon claimed the race to succeed him was between Frank Rijkaard, Martin Jol, Slaven Bilic, and Gordon Strachan, with the Scotsman favourite as Niall Quinn was 'keen to land' him believing Strachan could 'put Sunderland on the map'. Steve Bruce wasn't even in Nixon's thinking at that time, and why was that? Because in Alan Nixon's world, as backed up by an 'exclusive' on Valentines day earlier that year, Steve Bruce was Newcastle United's manager-in-waiting once Joe Kinnear's health problems officially forced him out of the job.
Alan Nixon's world was clearly disorientating him, when following Bruce's appointment at Sunderland his next 'exclusive' was about Kenwyne Jones' impending big money transfer to those renowned big-spenders Blackburn Rovers. Although the fact Kenwyne Jones was even Sunderland's to sell must have surprised him. In Nixon's world, Jones was going to sign for Aston Villa the previous January, when we had also dismissed an enquiry from Chelsea for the 'unsettled' striker. Mr Nixon is nothing if not persistent, however, and he just kept on rolling that dice. Next it was Liverpool who Jones was going to, this time in a swap deal with Ryan Babel. When that didn't materialise, in Alan Nixon's world we were 'hoping to sign Kevin Kuranyi in a £3.5m deal' on January 6th 2010, which would 'open the door for Jones to be sold'. The same Jones who, in his world at least, had been sold to about a quarter of the Premier League already.
I know he has just had an injury ravaged season, but I am sure you remember a centre back we have called Michael Turner? Well in Alan Nixon's world we mustn't have him because he was cleared to have talks with Fulham weeks before he was having his picture taken at the Academy of Light. Even Turner's mythical move to Craven Cottage must have come as something of a shock to Mr Nixon as he had previously been convinced that if Joleon Lescott went to Manchester City that summer, which he did, Michael Turner was to be his replacement at Everton. To those of us in the real world, Jordan Henderson is a Liverpool player following a £19.25m transfer from Sunderland earlier this month. In Alan Nixon's world, Manchester City "raided" Sunderland for him in January in a £15m deal.
The man does not only appear to be delusional when it comes to Sunderland, but ludicrous nonsensical waffle seems to pop into his head seemingly at will regarding other clubs too. Not only that, but much of it somehow finds it's way into print and onto the website of what wants to claim to be a credible and serious news outlet. In Alan Nixon's world, the manager of Blackburn is not actually Steve Kean, but either Diego Maradona or Alan Shearer – depending on which day you picked up a Mirror newspaper during the week commencing 13/12/2010. The following week, he also decided that Charlie Adam, the man that Liverpool failed to sign the following month for huge money, was about to be "snapped up" by the manager-less Lancashire club. If you live in an Alan Nixon world, you will already be aware, of course, about Chelsea's "swoop" for Dani Alves in the summer of 2009. You will also be aware that Manchester City's Samuel Eto'o is currently lapping up a life of luxury in a £2.5m house owned by the cricketer Andrew Flintoff. Those of us in the real world, though, know that those players play for Barcelona and Inter Milan respectively.
I do not seek to condemn all sports journalists and tar them with the same brush here. Many do a fine job, and clearly it is not an exact science and the very nature of football means that things can drastically change between a story going to press and meeting a reader's eyes. But few, if any, have the fanciful flair for the far-fetched that Alan Nixon seems to possess. This is a man labelled by his own employers as a 'gossip', and someone with a long history of running 'exclusives' that never seem to get anywhere near the truth. It is a man who, according to the Guardian, was relieved of his position with another national newspaper when an alleged conflict of interests was raised regarding his shareholding in a Football Agency. I am sure he has got plenty right on occasion, too, to give him his due, but, as the old saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
I have cited every story written by Alan Nixon I have referred to under each paragraph, and I invite you all to draw up your own conclusions. My own conclusion, though, is that Mr Nixon is nothing more than a know-nothing irritant and total irrelevance to the real world.
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