So, to business. Kicking off this extravaganza is the news that QPR are considering loaning Joey Barton out to a Football League club to speed up his twelve-game ban. As loopholes go, that's a bit of a gaping one, and one that the FA should close. If this attempt is followed through, QPR would morally have a lot to answer for. Such blatant bending of the rules to benefit a player that could not control his temper on the field does not set the best precedent. To many neutrals this will leave a sour taste.
Two transfer sagas that could do with being put to sleep are that of Robin Van Persie and Luka Modric. While Man United's bid for RVP was slightly unexpected (although probably not as much as the fact that Fergie publicised it) the fact remains that he is a top player who has handled his desire to leave with a degree of dignity. Probably no longer worth top dollar, as age begins to politely cough in his ear, and his knee is always a question mark. Nonetheless he deserves the chance to really challenge for the top honours. Like most people who leave Arsenal, I'd say money is only about 20% of the reason to leave. Buy low and sell high is the name of the game at the Emirates – and while that strategy is admirable, and good for the future of the game, it runs the risk of an empty trophy cabinet year after year.
Luka Modric, to my mind, deserves much less sympathy. After an unsuccessful attempt to moan his way out of White Hart Lane last summer he is kicking things up a notch this time around – missing training and Tottenham's pre-season training camp. If I was Andre Villas Boas, I would transfer list the player, get the highest price possible (which should be a tasty figure) and get him on the first bus out of there. If AVB has any hope, he needs a happy dressing room – one that will buy into his methods. It is not inconceivable to imagine Modric flourishing in the young coach's attacking system. But personal respect for your manager, your team-mates, and your fans is more important. Modric possesses little of any of that. Joao Moutinho could yet prove an ideal replacement, should events transpire that way.
To round off – I suspect quite a few cunning managers and scouts will be along the North Coast of Northern Ireland for the Milk Cup this week. If you are in the area, keep an eye out...