And so, with Euro 2012 consigned to glorious history, the silly season is upon us.
Rumours that would normally get chucked out of the window suddenly carry a hint of legitimacy from now until August 31.
Robin van Persie is at loggerheads with Arsene Wenger. Andre Villas-Boas is back in London. Rio Ferdinand is still miffed about missing out on the Euros and, while all this was going on, Mario Balotelli has found out he has a bun in the oven.
And speaking of Super Mario, he and four others were pipped to the post for the Golden Boot by, wait for it, Fernando Torres. The former Liverpool man, dubbed El Nino, has spent most of the last few months throwing his toys out of the pram because he wasn’t playing enough. And then, by some twist of fate, his lack of game time at Euro 2012 actually counted in his favour.
Somehow, the scrap for the top scorer’s prize eventually came down to the number of minutes each striker took to notch their goals.
Torres waltzed home with the loot, to go with yet another winner’s medal as one of Spain’s truly golden generation.
Vicente del Bosque’s men sure know how to win. The Paella boys are just on another planet.
While all that was going on, Villas-Boas was packing his bags for a return to the English Premier League. It’s funny, but just the other day he was tagged as too naive to be a manager, yet one of the bigger clubs in England are ready to risk it all on him.
His return at least provided some comic relief for their north London rivals, Arsenal.
The Gunners have problems of their own, of course, but knowing that their most bitter rivals are pinning their hopes on a Stamford Bridge reject will be music to their ears.
Van Persie didn’t beat about the bush and told the club that he wasn’t interested in a new contract. He wants to win now. And that needs players. Which would mean spending money. And Wenger is as fond of splashing cash as most people are of visiting the dentist.
Yet, even with Van Persie on the brink of leaving, Wenger is adamant that he can go anywhere but Manchester City.
With Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri all relocated to the north of England, Wenger couldn’t bear to see his flying Dutchman continue the trend.
If it doesn’t stop now, the Gunners may as well change their name to City Academy, with their best graduates guaranteed a one-way ticket to the City bench at the end of each season.
And once they get there, they can have front-row seats for Balotelli’s pre-baby blues.
Roberto Mancini may well be hoping that a new senorita pops up every week before a big game, claiming that they are carrying Balotelli’s offspring. After all, when he heard the news about his dilemma with his ex-girlfriend, Balotelli responded with a brace against the Germans.
If City’s marketing men are worth their salt, they should have already designed new Balotelli shirts for the upcoming season. Last season’s “Why Always Me?” slogan can be tweaked to highlight the more pressing concerns in Mario’s world.
Perhaps “Who’s Your Daddy?” will do the trick…
Lungani.Zama@inl.co.za – Sunday Tribune