Transfer speculation is generally a pain. Agents, players and management spread or plant the most ridiculous tosh, because they have an agenda to serve. And some lazy journalists, I am sure, lap it up and also willingly come up with their own names and scenarios, based on pure invention or the flimsiest of information, to throw into the ring.
Any scientific examination of the rumour mill affecting just Sunderland AFC over the past, say, 10 seasons would confirm the point.
How many of the hundreds of people we were “closing in on”, “set to swoop for” or “hoping to land” were even mentioned between the clubs concerned? How many of the players issuing “come and get me” pleas to this or that of our managers over that period had even thought of leaving where they were, or at least of coming to Wearside?
The clubs don’t help, of course, adopting a completely inconsistent approach to speculative reports, dismissive of some, silent on others and uncommunicative for days on end after everyone else in the world knows a deal has been done.
I have already praised SAFC for an apparent improvement this summer (the Mensah deal being a case in point). But the frenzy of speculation is perhaps marginally less annoying than having to wait for the official announcement.
All the same, as I have explained in the past, in any typical list of supposed targets, 95 per cent of the players named will have attracted NO interest on our part. And several players whose services we have sought have come and gone, or signed, without ever being the subject of speculation.
So let us, if we can, take with a pinch of salt all the talk that Andy Reid may be on his way out of the Stadium of Light.
I have no idea whether Steve Bruce has washed his hands of him. But then I haven’t even heard Andy Reid sing or play the banjo, and I’m assured he does both.
The signs are not good.
If he does go, all I will say is: “What a shame.” And that we will be losing a player possessing qualities we have seen precious little of in recent seasons, able to pass a ball with precision and insight (or just to a player wearing the same colours), to open up a defence.
Only Malbranque, of those at the club of whom we know enough, seems to have the same level of basic skill. There was so much more we might have seen from Reid, especially when you remember how lamentable was the service to Darren Bent for large chunks of last season (when Reid was out injured).
On the other hand, he’s injury-prone, can’t take a corner to save his life and will understandably not settle for the role of also-ran at this stage of his career (he’s 27).
Even so, the balance is in his favour. I found myself in the unusual position of thinking the News of the World got something spot-on when it said: “Reid has been unfairly sidelined during Sunderland’s pre-season and, while he can stay and fight for his place, the midfielder knows he is too good a player to stay on the fringes of any club.”
If Andy goes, I wish him – much more, funnily enough, than I wished Kenwyne, though I fully recognised the big man’s ability – the very best. Provided he sets his geographical sights beyond Tyneside.