We’ve all done it. It’s late at night, you’re surfing the web and your mind begins to wander. Before you know it you’re looking at pages you really shouldn’t and wishing you hadn’t.
The voice in the back of your head knew that it would be a bad idea to look up your ex and knew that you might not like what you see, but it’s too late once Facebook shows you how good they/their partner/their kids/their life looks without you.
This remorseful process compounded by feelings of self-loathing has been all too common for United fans this summer, given the temptation to click on the constant stream of web stories about players linked with a move into and out of Old Trafford.
The number of players who could have joined United would virtually fill a whole league, let alone a squad, and it’s been incessant. Gareth Bale was a virtual certainty according to reports at the end of last season but that went quiet, only for the Welshman to now be earmarked as the possible ‘surprise’ signing manager Louis Van Gaal seemingly promised speaking during the US Tour last week.
Then we’ve got the long-running saga of whether David de Gea is off to Real Madrid or not. I, like many Reds, reluctantly accepted his departure and with it my wishes for his success at the Bernabeu knowing that, as with Ronaldo, he became world class because of the way United brought him up. It doesn’t make it any easier, but as a football fan, you’ll cling to any positive if it gives you bragging rights.
But things have got complicated with de Gea. United, or should we say Ed Woodward, has surprisingly played hardball with the Spaniards, telling them they can forget about de Gea if we don’t see Sergio Ramos coming the other way.
We’ve not seen that kind of negotiating tactics at United for a while which was why it was quite heartening to hear us calling the shots, or at least not simply rolling over giving the Real president Florentino Perez whatever he wanted.
Now the story has moved on. Whilst the distant hopes of United fans seeing Ramos rocking up at OT remain just that, the unlikely scenario of de Gea staying in rainy Manchester another season seem to be increasingly likely.
Yes we’ll lose a big transfer fee next summer, but all the time he’s not signed a new contract he’s still on his old wages; he can win us points – and maybe trophies – with his performances (providing he’s settled); and there’s the teeny weeny chance he may decide to stay (I know, I know but what’s life without a bit of hope?).
If you’ve managed to resist clicking on the de Gea/Ramos stories, the Angel Di Maria to PSG rumours have been just as relentless, bound up as they are with Edinson Cavani coming the other way.
Being a football writer in a summer without a major tournament must simultaneously be the easiest and hardest job in journalism. Easy because you can just wilfully link players with clubs without even the smallest consideration that signatures will be ever exchanged; hard because you’ve got a lot of football-less days to fill.
Not only that but it’s a bit like a political party’s election manifesto – the more you put in there, the more you can claim as your own ideas. I saw a journalist tweet the other day that he was first with the news about RVP’s departure – back in January. Imagine if Bale signs, how many journos will be going through their files to try and claim to have been the first to have ‘broken’ that particular story?
Don’t lose hope though. The news of Morgan Schneiderlin’s arrival, whilst not completely out of the blue, broke whilst he was having a medical at Carrington, a surprisingly stealthy way to end the process these days, and a reminder about the way transfers used to be done.
Maybe Red Ed is working secretly on some more like that, possibly linking the launch of the multi-million pound Adidas deal on August 1 with a big name who also happens to wear Adidas boots…or is German…or maybe both?
With the new season almost upon us, the decision for Reds to click on a new story about Robert Lewandowski signing, or Pedro, or Harry Kane, or Hugo Lloris or whoever, still remains.
What’s increasingly clear though during our social media age, is that there aren’t many secrets out there anymore. Will United’s new striker really be a surprise signing? Will de Gea still be at Old Trafford after the transfer window shuts? And is your ex really, truly happy without you?