ITK definition:

Someone who is ‘In The Know’ about a football club’s transfer policy. Generally tends to be teenagers. Usually obsessed with their follower count. Will definitely have used the “Liverpool Sign Bent” joke at some point. Often confused with parody accounts

WHEN the transfer window swings open (the action that must originally occur in order for it to slam shut later) it not only allows the purchase and sale of Southampton players to take place, but it also shepherds in the kooks, the kranks and the weirdos.

Much like in the summer months, when we can’t wait to open a window and let a cool breeze come into the house to freshen things up a bit, transfer season gives clubs a chance to get rid of some deadwood and, hopefully, ship in the new and exciting.

Sometimes when we open a window a wasp flies in, too. It’s an irritant, something we’d far rather wasn’t there and that has no real use. You’d be happy to ignore it, but someone else in the room keeps pointing to it and panicking about where it will land and what it will do.

Football - F.A. Youth Cup - Final 1st Leg - Liverpool v Manchester City

During the transfer season the wasp, if you haven’t already figured out the metaphor, is the ITK.

They sit on their fat arses and tweet about how a “reliable source” has told them that club X is considering making a bid for player Y. They retweet blurry photos of someone who looks a bit like a Bayern Munich youth player landing at John Lennon Airport. Then, when a ‘deal’ they’d tweeted about actually happens, they complain if a national newspaper refers to it as “an exclusive”.

Here’s the thing: ITKs are never wrong.

Let’s look at Liverpool FC, for example. On a recent TAW podcast the football agent Stephen Morris mentioned how a scout of a League One club he knows told him that in a single day he had received about 460 text messages from agents and representatives of players looking for a move.

Rival fans will, of course, disagree, but LFC remains one of the biggest and most successful clubs in world football. They have a scouting network that stretches the globe. There is not a player on the planet that those that work for the club don’t know about. More importantly, if a player is looking for a move, of course the club will consider making a bid for them. That consideration might only last as long as it takes for the thought to form in the scout’s head before being dismissed, but it will be there.

Some spotty little twat tweeting that Liverpool are “considering making a bid for Benzema” isn’t exactly ground breaking. It goes without saying that the club are considering it. They may also have heard from the player’s agent that he’s got his heart set on somewhere else, so there’ll be no point bidding. They will still have considered it, though.

An ITK will never be wrong if they suggest a club are looking at a player. They’ll also be right a lot of the time if they say the club’s in talks with the player’s representative. The talks might go: “Is he interested?” “No” “Ok, ta” – but they’ll have happened.

Football - FA Cup - 5th Round - Liverpool FC v Barnsley FC

Take Ronaldo, for example. If he told Real Madrid that he wanted to leave, every club that has the money would be looking at him. I’d be fuming if Liverpool hadn’t considered bidding for him. It doesn’t mean we’d get him. But it’s worth a shot.

ITKs do exactly what everyone who speculates about transfers do: throw enough sh*t at the wall and then see how much of it sticks. Sometimes, like in the embarrassing case of Duncan Jenkins, the ITK gets more right than he gets wrong. But, just like with Jenkins, the ITK is still making it up as they go along.

Jimmy Rice is a journalist who used to work for the official LFC website and as he himself said recently, who at a football club would risk their job in order to tell someone on Twitter the names of players Liverpool were trying to buy?

A friend of mine used to work for a law firm that had dealings with a top-flight club. He never told me exactly what he did, but it was something to do with player’s contracts. He never knew about a signing until it was as good as done and dusted.

If a club’s lawyers don’t know about potential new players, who exactly does? The tea lady? The security guard? The kid who washes the kits?

No. The only people who truly know are the management and the people responsible for making the deal happen. Anyone else is just a bullsh*tter.

I don’t hate ITKs, though. They make me laugh. If they think a fun way to spend their time is by making up rumours about players a club intends to bid on, in order to get themselves more Twitter followers, they should get my sympathy – not my disdain.

The people I worry about are those that take them seriously. The fans who celebrate when they read a name like Kroos being linked with the club. The folk who spit out their dummy when they hear that we may sign Bony. It’s madness.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the transfer window can be quite fun – if you let it.

If you’re Tony Barrett or James Pearce then I can imagine it’s a stressful bag of bollocks that you want over with as soon as humanly possible. People like them have genuine, real-life top-level connections at the club and will, from time to time, be given true titbits of information.

The reason they’re given those bits of info, though, aren’t always crystal clear. Perhaps, for example, a player at the club is playing hardball over their contract payments. The club might, therefore, decide to leak it that they’re looking at a player in the same position as the guy causing the trouble. All of a sudden they stop playing hardball, sign a new contract and everyone’s happy.

In that example it’s not that the journalist wasn’t telling the truth – he published the story the club had given him – it just turned out to have been false in the first place.

Football - Liverpool FC Asia Tour Day 1

Then Barrett or Pearce or Ben Smith at the BBC gets slagged off for getting it wrong, whilst simultaneously being asked who else the club is looking at. It’s lose-lose for them. To say nothing of the fact that they are actually employed by a company to get scoops for them – not the people who follow them on Twitter.

Yep, it’s probably a bullsh*t time of year for professionals.

But for the rest of us, what’s wrong with a bit of speculation? Isn’t it fun trying to figure out who the club might sign? Isn’t it good to dream a little?

Just don’t get carried away with gossip and hearsay. Your best mate’s wife’s sister may well cut Alex Curran’s hair, but she doesn’t know diddly squat about transfers.

If you love hearing from an ITK, though; if you really can’t get enough of what some random fella on the internet, with a cartoon journalist as his profile pic, has got to say about Liverpool’s transfers, then here’s my info – straight from the club itself:

Liverpool FC will hopefully sign some players. But may not. There’s no way of knowing for sure.

The time to celebrate isn’t when an ITK trots out a name they’ve taken a wild guess at – it’s when Zaf Iqbal is cupping their balls and there’s a photo of them leaning on a shed up on the website. Everything else? I’ve heard a rumour about that…

Pics: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda