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Ignorance Is Bliss

What does a Corrie villain have in common with transfer rumours?

25 June 2018

Pat Phelan
Club News

Ignorance Is Bliss

What does a Corrie villain have in common with transfer rumours?

25 June 2018

With apologies to those who are not soap opera addicts, I would ask you to persevere through the next few paragraphs. After that the link to Pompey should become clearer.

Even those who turn their nose up at these regular slices of television drama might have caught a whiff of recent events in Weatherfield.

A guy name Pat Phelan has been wreaking havoc on the cobbles of Coronation Street, committing a string of murders over the course of several months.

Bur forget the ludicrous antics in a fictional series that purports to represent real life. The fact is that a large percentage of viewers will have known the plot and its outcome before the action unfurled.

There are several magazines and websites that reveal what lies ahead and even a man on Twitter with 11,500 followers, who appears to corroborate with scriptwriters to reveal what will happen before it hits the screen – all in the name of increasing viewing figures.

Settling down to watch something when you already know the general outcome – sometimes weeks ahead of time – totally escapes me.

Even as a non-soap addict, I was aware of Phelan’s fate and the names of his victims long before it was played out on screen.

Oh for the days when Martha Longhurst peacefully passed away in the Rovers Return snug and it came as a real surprise to those tuning in.

This clamour to know things in advance is not exclusive to television, though, and it is a similar story for transfer activity in football.

When Mark Hateley joined Pompey for a club record fee of £190,000 in the summer of 1983, the first fans knew about it was when it came up on Friday night’s local news.

Then there was Alan Biley, who we knew had signed a deal when he was spotted in the South Stand for a pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.

Going back a decade to the capture of Peter Marinello – referred to at the time as the ‘Scottish George Best’ – and I discovered this on the back of the Daily Mirror, which was a rare occurrence of a Blues story appearing on the back of a national newspaper.

It was like that feeling you had on Christmas morning, surrounded by presents and with no idea of what you were unwrapping.

Once done it was your prerogative – like in football – to be underwhelmed or ecstatic about what you saw.

Sadly, it rarely happens these days. The news is often leaked days or weeks in advance and common knowledge to most, just like those Corrie storylines.

Most press conferences held to unveil new managers or players are merely rubber-stamping what is already out in the public domain.

There are exceptions. This summer’s signings of Louis Dennis and Tom Naylor refreshing remained out of the spotlight until the deals were done.

But this remains very much the exception. Looks at the Ronan Curtis saga, which rumbled on in the papers for weeks.

Whose interest did this serve? Not either club or their fans, not the player and not the Derry manager, whose constant denials about a Fratton switch only served to confirm suspicions.

All it does is quench the insatiable thirst of the media to pass on news to supporters before it has been confirmed.

This is not the fault of the press – it is just the ways things have gone. The News, for instance, are pursuing the norm and do a fine job in unearthing revelations and rumours.

They join a merry band of professional soothsayers, ranging from those infamous ‘Sky sources’ to the amateurs on social media, who like to be ‘in the know’.

Heading it all is a certain buffoon in a yellow tie and Jim White appears wounded if transfer deadline day produces a deal that he did not have a sniff of first.

There is a race to broadcast or print the information before anyone else, using any source possible – be it the player himself, an agent, manager or other reliable insider.

Of course, a little knowledge is not always a good thing. For instance, does any Pompey fan remember when Georgi Kinkladze was touted with a move here around the turn of the century?

There was a buzz of excitement as supporters dared to dream about welcoming the talented Georgian playmaker, only for chief executive David Deacon to shoot the rumours down.

Soon after, it was reported that Jason Roberts would be heading south, but instead the Blues ended up with Lee Mills. A few weeks later, the player was on hand to score the Fratton Park winner for new club West Brom.

Sometimes it is those things you don’t know that can prove to be far more beneficial in the long run.

Call me old fashioned – and it is a charge I plead guilty to – but bring back the days of Peter Marinello and Martha Longhurst when we all basked in glorious ignorance and were much the happier for it.

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