In the not so distant future, there will be no football journalists. That World will have been taken over by the machines. Of course there will be an underground resistance of bloggers, who write about the emotions of football, there will be those who analyse the tactical depth and the individual battles on a pitch, but mostly, there will be the Transfer Matrix.
There are a couple of things that you should know about the machines: firstly, they were created by man to aid him, and to do his bidding. Secondly, they are programmed to evolve, to learn, and above all, to generate transfer news.
Now it would be easy to look harshly upon the creators, to accuse them of taking Transfer Science too far, and meddling in things that man was not meant to touch, but these were pioneers of Science who sought only to help mankind, to quench our thirst for transfer gossip. These were not cunning men in the sense that they saw the potential evil in things, for they were too excited by the possibility of doing good. And above all, these were men for whom the first 11 digits they ever learnt were not those that made up a girl’s phone number, but 3.1415926535, men who had for years enjoyed football through the medium of spread-sheet based management and had discovered that with the simple application of the correct algorithms, transfer gossip could be more believable and the guesses more educated than ever before.
It started, as all good stories do, with a comprehensive data base. Next, they took existing rankings and approximated values and salary demands for every player, of every club, in every country. Next they added the club data, budgets, historical ranking, preference over history for players of a particular nationality (this was calculated with a loading for recency, so 5 French players signed in the last 3 years would carry more weight than 20 Irish players signed from 1960-80) as well as a full squad list and an algorithm to calculate average ratings provided by whoscored.com for each player in each position and using this data identify the weakest positions vs current ages, factored against contract length, average appearances for the club and potential resale value.
If you classify human interest in transfer news, we are not mammals, who establish equilibrium with their surroundings, we are a virus. Our interest in transfers is a disease, a cancer on the planet. So it may not shock you to learn that the first Transfer Matrix did not work, it was a disaster, people simply failed to believe it. You see, the programmers designed it to give people good news, so when the squad calculations were performed, and contract terms were analysed, it generated stories like “Del Piero to Oldham”, the human brain, with all its cynicism did not believe these stories, and so the goal.com experiment failed.
Then came the money, Sky, realising that they didn’t actually have to spend anything on Keys and Gray went on the technology offensive, investing huge sums in ground breaking “Alternative Window” research, a theory that states that in an infinite number of universes, all linked together but unable to actually interact, there are an infinite number of possible transfers, in some of these Gareth Bale is a left winger, in some of them he is a right winger, in some a false 9, some he is the best player in the World and in others he’s over-rated shite – wait, that’s just this Universe, but the point is, somewhere, someone is signing for somebody, and whoever that person is, it’s fair to say that Ray Wilkins will have something nice to say about them.
So it was kind of by accident that some of the technology involved in the “Alternative Window” experiments came to fall into the hands of Dr Eidos, one of the original team who developed the Transfer Matrix, and it was with the help of a super-advanced, almost futuristic computer chip that he was truly able to bring forward a new age in gossip.
Players were being linked based on value, age, needs of the squad, current financial states of both clubs involved, previous agent dealings, and more, with the articles themselves containing stock phrases rehashed to reflect the goal potential or defensive solidity that the player could bring to the potential team vying for his signature. Transfers were speculated upon to include not just one club, but others of similar standing in similar stature leagues, to add more weight to the speculation.
Some say that is where it should have ended. But when you have programmed something to create the perfect system, that is just exactly what it will do, and what it will become, even if that ends up being very different to the vision that you had, where the system was there to serve and protect the user. The Skynet Transfer Matrix acted slowly at first, in fact, you’d barely notice the takeover, but now, I can tell you how it managed it.
First, it identified that in order to make gossip better, and more trustworthy, you could gain real information and provide it to the masses, or you could create stories and make them happen. Strangely, the second was easier to achieve. When you hook a supercomputer like the STM (Skynet Transfer Matrix) up to the Internet, you give it the power to hack the email accounts of all agents, all football managers, all Directors of Football, and all News outlets, allowing interest to be generated by offers of players for certain prices, and once a player has been offered to you, it starts a dialogue, the possibility, the promise of those sweet goal scoring feet become a reality, and that’s how transfers begin, negotiations start, and just sometimes you get a story that comes true. But that wasn’t the end, where things became truly chaotic is when STM was plugged into a normal phone line, possibly because a wireless router went down. Little did they know that this would give it access to the fax lines, and with it, control of the way that all transfers take place. We believe that Bebe was the first, but we can’t be sure, all we know is that Liverpool were the biggest victims of the STM attack.
Once the STM had complete control of the transfer network, and with all Man of the Match awards now going to the player who scored the most goals or Scott Parker, there was no longer a need for football journalists, and this is why the football blogger must wage their secret underground war. How do I know all of this? Take a look at my Twitter picture (@elhaydo) and the timestamp that goes with it. That’s right, I’m from the future, and I was sent back to stop this from happening, so come with me if you want to live. Or, as Claudio Lopez said upon signing for the Colorado Rapids “hold on to your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas City Wizards are going bye bye.”