Tales from the gossip columns

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…or one football man’s inability to set up a coffee morning.

Things have apparently been moving slowly on the transfer front over the last week or so, but there’s still been plenty to keep the massed ranks of keyboard worriers occupied. From Norway, via Chile and ending up in Moscow, and with no kind of chronological preference, we take you through the stories that you are already sick to death with.

We’ll start of with today’s news that good old Happy Harry is sniffing around that Nigerian lad that we may or may not have on trial from Lyn Oslo. I know he’s got a name, but as it seems as likely that he’ll sign as Dave Whelan will admit that John Benson’s appointment was little more than a favour for an old mate, I can’t be bothered looking it up (go on then it was Chinedu Ogbuke).

With Portsmouth losing Fernandes, the player they wouldn’t play for three games on the bounce for fear of having to shell out £12 million quid (and we think we have it bad), to Everton, they’re in the market for a new attacking player and it seems that their bid will be £1.8 million. Now considering the price when we were interested was £3 million some one is clearly having a laugh.

Next up is a trip to Craven Cottage just in time to find Papa Bouba Diop’s agent telling the world that a host of clubs are interested in signing the player. Seeing as Latics have had a £5 million bid accepted by Fulham, those clubs will have to be pretty brave to go in for a player who has tested the patience one of the more laid back managers in the Premier League. It seems unlikely that anyone (bar West Ham, for whom money is no object at the moment) will want to match our price, but if lesser bids are put in then we’ll just have to see how the cookie crumbles.

it comes as no great surprise that Henri Camara’s mate isn’t mad keen on coming to be slagged off by the ever dwindling Latics faithful. Just in case no one else fronts up there’s been talk of loan deals and release clauses. As long as the deal breaker doesn’t end up being 60 grand a week we should be fine.

Whilst we’re in London and talking about wages we might as well take a glance over at Upton park where Lucas Neill has signed on. His decision to join the Hammers is apparently about being behind Steve Finnan in the pecking order at Anfield and nowt to do with the double your money offer to go south.

Neill insists that his salary is ‘in the wage structure’ which doesn’t bode well for West Ham should they go down.

After that digression it’s time to get back to things Latics related and the appearance of a mystery Chilean midfielder for the reserves last week. Apparently Jorge Acuna had been playing in Holland but has been without a club for the last six months. He may or may not have got injured during a riot between rival fans. You might think that sounds just right up our street, but he has disappeared as quietly as he arrived.

From South America to Eastern Europe now, and whilst it appears that our near record bid for a player has gone the way of all Paul Jewell’s attempts to spend Uncle Dave’s retirement fund, our spies are still operating behind the iron curtain. Strangely though, the Croatian striker we were set to bid for abandoned his Premier League ambitions as soon as if heard of Latics interest.

Before we return home, let’s head further East where the Korean press have reported that their international winger Lee Chun-soo was flying over to England for talks with Paul Jewell. Don’t get too excited as Boro may also be interested, so let’s hope Latics aren’t paying his air fare.

Back in England the transfer story that has rumbled on since a fortnight before we even started in this division looks no nearer a conclusion. It seems that the Duke is no longer on fire and has started on the Prozac instead. He is apparently still Jewell’s top target and the famous Mr Finnegan is hopeful something will be sorted for Monday.

So we’re back to where we started, with nothing to report but plenty to talk about. With less than a week to go the tension is palpable. The situation isn’t helped by the lines coming from manager and chairman. Both have told us how difficult it is to sell Latics to potential signings and whilst Jewell insist he’s still trying his comments about players returning from injury suggest that he may not be expecting any success. Mr Whelan’s answer is to sign players on loan, is he being realistic or tying the manager’s hands.

The club’s low standing has caused enough problems since we were promoted to the top flight, now they’ve been combined with a low league position those problems look increasingly insurmountable. With the number of players reported to have declined the offer of a free pie and a chat with John Benson standing at 13 and us not being able to get near the one player who is desperate to sign for us, things are not looking good.

Whilst panic may not be the right word things are looking mighty desperate. Whilst Latics are in need of some extra bodies they need to be of the right calibre. Whilst there may be some temptation to follow West Ham’s lead, we can’t even give it a go if players won’t talk to us.

Paul Jewell must be clinging to the hope that as the window drags on and other options do not materialise, some of those players will change their minds. It seems unlikely that no-one will sign on before the end of January, even if they are the 15th or 16th choice on the list of targets?

Still, we need to start facing up to the possibility that We’ll start February with no more than we have now.

Just imagine the press conference. ‘Lowey and myself have trained every day since retiring and although we may be a couple of weeks off match fitness I am convinced that we both can bite an important part to play in us staying up. Mr Whelan is a little further behind us in terms of fitness but will provide more than adequate cover on either side of the back four.

It’s true that we had also registered David Lee to play right wing now that Valencia has returned to Spain, but once we recieved the loan offer from Aspull FC it was clear that we had no option but to let him go. I would never stand in the way of a player whose heart is somewhere else’

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