Money never sleeps and so, therefore, neither does football.
No sooner have managers, players and officials cashed in their loose rubles than they’ve realised they’ve got slightly less than three weeks to prepare for the new season – and the end of the transfer window. Because, in a refreshing moment of common sense, the clubs voted last summer to close the window as the season started to try and prevent players sitting round with faces like a slapped backside when they couldn’t get the move they wanted.
But, the Russian experience has compressed time like a bad get-out clause in a Dr Who script, and you can guarantee that the next couple of weeks are going to be very interesting.
Some deals have already been done, of course.
Ronaldo engineered his move away from Gareth Bales hairstyle with laudable aplomb and is now set to earn so much money he could afford to pay Donald Trump’s litigation bill from sex trade workers.
In fact, he’s earning so much that the Italian car makers who are owned by the same family that run Juventus came out on strike to protest that there wouldn’t be any dosh left for their pay reviews.
And when you consider that in Italy clubs have to pay the same amount in tax as they do in salaries, then Ronaldo is pretty much propping up the European economy single-handedly right now.
In my humble opinion, the least they can do is rename the currency after him - the Euro should become the Ronaldo. It’ll mean another obscure symbol on your keyboard requiring most of your fingers twisting into unnatural positions to reproduce, but it’s a price worth paying.
José has also started both his summer shopping and his moaning. For the latter, he’s whinging about his World Cup players being missing from pre-season, which in all honesty I would’ve thought he’d kind of anticipate, given that the World Cup has just finished and he had a few players playing in it. However, lets not have logic get in the way of a good bellyache.
For the former, he’s bought Fred. Fred is Brazilian, and following the long history of Brazilian footballers choosing to be known by their nicknames – Pele, Rivaldo, Socrates, Zico, Rivellino, you can’t help but ask – was ‘Fred’ the best he could do?
Were the Flintstones big in Brazil when he was growing up? Was it just a case of natural progression from Thomas the Tank Engine to Bob the Builder to Fred the Footballer? We may never know, but I do know this, Right said Fred will be a headline on the back pages within two weeks of the season kicking off... and don’t get me started on Hulk.
It could be worse of course - English players could start to be known by their nicknames as well, in which case we’d have ‘Slabhead’ written across the back of an England shirt – and a Manchester United one if José gets his way.
Compared to Ronaldinho and Garrincha, I feel we may have some ground to make up in that department, so perhaps things should remain as they are for now.
Despite the time pressures, the new man at the Bridge - Maurizio Sarri - is in no hurry.
The Chelsea pair of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard - pronounced Hazard (as in ‘The Dukes of… ‘) on ITV, but increasingly described as ‘Aiden Azzarrr’ on the BBC, because that’s what you pay your licence fee for - both seem to be heading for Real or ‘Rayal’ Madrid.
However, Sarri insisted that he wouldn’t speak to either on the phone, despite them only coming back from holiday just before the window closes:
But a telephone call without looking them in the eye will not give me any certainty.
So he’s waiting for them to come back so he can make them feel the love. What he doesn’t realise is that love means never having to say you’re Sarri. Big mistake. Expect both to sign up at Rayal for many Ronaldo’s before the summer is out.
Chelsea are going to need a new goalkeeper if Courtoid goes, but the one they want has just signed for Liverpool. Alisson - who is Brazilian, obviously - has ousted Karius, the man who redefined goalkeeping into being what you let in rather than what you keep out.
And even though they wanted him, and everyone knew they wanted him, they never made an offer. Like a shy teenager deep in the throes of their first big crush, they just left it too late and now they’ll have to make do with second best.
Even so, I don’t think it’ll be Karius. Jack Butland still needs to put some distance between him and Stoke; Nick Pope could possibly be enticed away from Burnley with Tom Heaton waiting patiently in the wings; and there’s still Joe Hart, who has just played his first game for Manchester City in two years but is looking for a permanent home this season:
I need to be an important player at that club and I think that can only happen with a permanent move.
I’ve got a year left and I’m not going on loan again because my situation has changed.
I need to feel part of something.
So if he doesn’t get a move, he’ll feel part of the City furniture until his contract runs out in twelve months time whilst earning £160,000 per week in the process. You can’t ask for fairer than that.
Meanwhile, things are afoot in the West Midlands. Scraping around down the back of the sofa so they could pay off HMRC, Steve Bruce was in a tight spot:
We’re up against it, let’s be open and honest, we might have to make decisions that might not be easy, we have to generate some money. Inevitably that is going to be player sales. There are going to be people that I do not want to sell - and the obvious one is Jack.
Jack Grealish has none other than Daniel Levy - a man who can hoover the meat off a carcass before it hits the ground - sniffing round him with an eye for a cheap bargain in a fire sale.
But he may not have things all his own way. Apparently not one but two billionaires have signed up to bring the good times back to Villa Park. They must be foreign, otherwise they’d know there haven’t been any good times at Villa Park. In fact, if it wasn’t for the close proximity of Birmingham City, Villa Park would probably be Ground Zero for Samaritans groups across the West Midlands.
However, if you believe the rumours, Steve Bruce has had a great weight lifted from his shoulders. Not his own unfortunately, just the bit about making difficult decisions, because he’s going to be replaced by Thierry Henry.
First signing? Joe Hart – put your house on it.
And finally, some breaking news - Arsene Wenger has agreed to join the Rolling Stones, a press release from the band has announced today. A statement from Wenger revealed that he’d turned down many lucrative offers from the world of football but he felt that “at this stage of my life I just want to get laid”.