Three clear signs we have officially entered the meltdown period of pre-season
From Liverpool Twitter overanalysing a pre-season friendly defeat to the Arsenal board pretending they don't have any money only to bid £72 million for Nicolas Pepe, the world of football is collectively losing its mind, right on cue
We've done it. We've arrived. The Premier League season is almost upon us and with it comes that singular point in preseason where football fans everywhere start losing their shit. We are kneedeep in the meltdown period. No, we are five feet under swimming in it.
Over the weekend the only person who seemed to manage to keep their cool through the trials and tribulations of the pre-season fixture schedule, full of semi-exotic fixtures in semi-exotic places in mini-tournaments that sound like cricket trophies, as well as a hectic transfer window that closes right as the season starts, was, obviously, Carlo Ancelotti.
Not only did his Napoli team beat Liverpool 3-0 on Saturday, causing the club's official Twitter account to get swallowed whole in a sea of memes about deleting the club, but he also reacted to the news that a long-rumoured transfer target - Lille's Nicolas Pepe - was close to joining Arsenal rather than moving to Naples by telling reporters he's "not disappointed", the Italian football manager equivalent of a massive Partridge shrug.
That's just enormous behaviour all round. "Beautiful atmosphere, beautiful stadium, beautiful pitch, beautiful day," is how he described the friendly afterwards, played at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. What a vibe that man is. What a wonderful summer energy he possesses.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for anyone else.
Exhibit A) The OTT panic of Liverpool Twitter
It's been less than two months since Jordan Henderson hoisted the Champions League trophy aloft at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid and Liverpool supporters the world over shared a simultaneous, ecstatic realisation that with the team they have, and the manager they have, the long-awaited league title they so desperately crave could come during the 19/20 season.
But now because they've lost 3-0 in a friendly and have only signed two players, who are age 16 and 17 respectively and called Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg, essentially a pair of football manager regens, all hope for the coming season is lost.
The replies of "we're finished lol", "WHAT IS GOING ON" and of course, the "This is fine" meme came thick and fast from supporters, clearly less than enamoured with their European champion players and manager.
— Liverpool FC (Premier League Champions 🏆) (@LFC) July 28, 2019
It'd be almost impressive how much of a meltdown they spun themselves into, if it wasn't also incredibly, incredibly sad. Go and watch the Champions League semi-final highlights on YouTube and stop taking everything so seriously. All of you. Well, not all of you. But the ones that are replying to the club's Twitter account because you lost a friendly. All you lot.
The Arsenal board pretending to have no money all window just to spend £72 million on Nicolas Pépé
This is also meltdown behaviour. Not only have the Arsenal board pretended to be skint all summer and wasted most of the window so far by attempting to negotiate the deal for Kieran Tierney to within an inch of its life because they don't want to pay an extra few million to Celtic, they have now simply decided that they do, in fact, have a load of cash lying around and want to spend it all on Nicolas Pépé.
Pépé is good. He scored 22 goals (nine penalties) in Ligue 1 last season playing on the right as an inside forward. The prospect of his signing will no doubt excite Arsenal fans especially as it follows the arrival Dani Ceballos on loan. But £72 million splurge - yeah, splurge is the technical term here, either that or the ill-forgotten 'spunk' of money - on one player is worrying behaviour for a couple of reasons.
Number one is: why did the Arsenal board pretend they had a budget of £40 million? Number two: why are they spending £72 million on an attacking player when they already have Aubameyang and Lacazette but still get by with a defence that, at best, could be described as 'quite tragic'? A defence that, yes, still somehow contains Shkodran Mustafi.
Combined? Those two reasons have me feeling like the heatwave has finally taken its toll on the recruitment strategists at the Emirates. Maybe the air con failed and, under extreme duress due to the humidity the chief execs tried to send an SOS via fax machine. Instead, they accidentally bid £72 million for Nicolas Pépé, money they may or may not have, and now can't back out of the deal because their Twitter following would react even worse than Liverpool's did after the Napoli game. That must be what happened. That's definitely, definitely it.
Manchester United fans unable to work out whether they are sick of hearing the name of 'Bruno Fernandes' or not
Over the weekend you will have probably seen the name 'Bruno Fernandes' mentioned in every other tweet. Why? Because just like last week, when it was Harry Maguire, poor Bruno has become the latest player in the infinite cavalcade to be linked to those notorious stalkers Manchester United. A famously successful team most famous now for their ability to be rumoured to sign a player over and over again only to actually never, ever, ever sign them.
It happened with Wesley Sneijder. It happened with Nico Gaitan. It happened with Ezequiel Garay. It is currently underway with Milinković-Savić, Koulibaly, maybe Harry Maguire and maybe Bruno Fernandes, depending on what happens between now and the end of the window.
Watching United fans struggle with the excitement of actually being linked to a world-class attacking midfielder instead of Sean Longstaff, but battling that with the knowledge that they probably won't ever sign him yet still have to see his name pop up every single transfer window, is ridiculously entertaining.
Yep, it's pure meltdown behaviour too. Bring on the new season.
Bruno Fernandes mirroring my exact reaction to seeing tweets about Bruno Fernandes at least 3,000 times a day for three straight months pic.twitter.com/mlkjaM9Y8r
— Si Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) July 28, 2019