Wolves Comment: The lies of the transfer window – an unseemly circus we could do without
What a window it's been for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ten players – four of whom played at the World Cup – have joined the club, eight of them permanently in deals worth a whopping £67million.
It's been great fun to report on, as ever. There's never a dull moment in WV1 and them Wolves certainly keep you busy!
What's not been as fun is wading neck-deep through the tsunami of excrement that is transfer gossip and tittle tattle.
Hundreds upon hundreds of reports, articles, links and rumours would have you believe that Wolves were set to spend around £250m more in the past two or three months.
Marcus Rashford, Pepe, Chris Smalling, Jack Butland, Jack Wilshere, Danny Rose and of course Andre Silva should all be lining up in gold and black tomorrow, apparently.
Wolves were "ready to make" a £35m bid for Butland and pay £7m for a 35-year-old centre half in Pepe, while the "odds tumbled" on Jack Wilshere swapping the Emirates for Molineux.
You'd need a dozen abacuses to count how many "Andre Silva to Wolves" reports there have been in the past year. AC Milan sporting director, Massimo Mirabelli even went on record to state "there are two clubs currently in contact with us; Wolverhampton and Galatasaray. Both show interest in Andre Silva, but we have asked for time."
Yet as Jeff Shi recently stated Wolves have never made a single enquiry for the Portugal forward.
This reporter has lost count of the amount of times fans asked where Wolves' 'marquee' signing was approaching deadline day, due to a rumour doing the rounds on Twitter.
And then there's the curious case of Marcus Rashford.
While out in Switzerland covering Wolves' pre-season shenanigans, several fans approached me asking when I was going to break the "£35m bid for Marcus Rashford story".
When contacting sources at Wolves to verify, they laughed and asked "what have you been smoking?".
Even transfers tales that do have substance can throw up wild untruths.
After Adama Traore dislocated his shoulder player in a friendly for Middlesbrough, a week and a half before he would join Wolves, a fake Twitter account (@beINSOCCER) ripping itself off as global sports channel network beIN Sports, sent out some breaking news that Traore was seeking legal advice.
The tweet read: "BREAKING: Adama Traore is seeking legal advice after Middlesbrough 'forced' him to play in a friendly, despite the winger's insistence that he had travel arrangements in place to discuss a move to Wolves after the newly promoted Premiership team triggered his release clause."
The word 'Premiership' hasn't been in use since 2007 for a start which should ring alarm bells, but the account then went on to 'quote' Traore.
"What they're doing to me is wrong," the tweet read. "I don't want to say it but I think it's racism, it's like they're holding me hostage. I want to progress my career but they won't let me. I have done enough for Middlesbrough, they're just ungrateful."
The tweets were widely shared amongst Wolves fans. So believable were they that a respectable national journalist asked me later that day if I'd seen the quotes, or indeed if Wolves had responded.
Mistakes and incorrect transfer information in good faith are bound to happen, but the Traore example is when tittle tattle becomes malicious and potentially dangerous.
Earlier in the window a football agency got in touch to say that midfielder Pele (who almost moved in Molineux in 2016 but an injury scuppered the deal) had just landed in England and was heading to Compton for a medical.
A tip off in good faith perhaps, but a quick call to Wolves and the info was immediately debunked as being completely untrue.
Some stories do originate from truth. An enquiry here, a question there...but the embellishment, the lies and the clickbait are what grate so much in the digital age.
What's the problem with all this, you might ask? It's a harmless guilty pleasure for many, the footballing equivalent of flicking through Heat magazine or watching the Kardashians – you know it's made up, you know it's low grade entertainment, but you indulge yourself anyway.
Well for a start the intentions behind the source of the fake information are often greed.
Agents use the media as a bargaining tool to serve their own interests. In Wolves' case it's a doddle to link them with a Portuguese international who may be leaving their current club (i.e. Silva) to give the hurry-up to other clubs who may genuinely be interested in buying him.
"Silva close to £33m Wolves move" was total bullshine, but certain agents or clubs will contact journalists/media outlets to purposefully drive this information out via the media to suit their own needs.
Betting companies are at it too. On one July evening the odds of Chris Smalling joining Wolves from Manchester United plummeted from 33/1 to evens in the matter of a couple of hours. Where did the link originate from? A betting company. And they duly made their money.
Fans suffer because they don't know what to believe – they want good, reliable, solid information from people genuinely in the know, not clickbait merchants. Wolves suffer because expectations soar on who they might bring in and the end result can then be a let down.
It's a circus. But unfortunately it looks set to stay.
Fake Wolves Transfer XI: Jack Butland; Joao Cancelo, Pepe, Marcos Rojo, Danny Rose; Joao Mario, Jack Wilshere, Talisca; Marcus Rashford, Andre Silva, Gelson Martins Subs: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Bastos, Victor Moses, Jose Fonte, Nacer Chadli, Pele.