Giles Smith: These crazy times

How to account for it all? The sheer dislocating oddity of the behind-closed-doors situation; the disruption to the normal rhythm introduced by the summer ‘restart’ phase; the shrinking of pre-season at most clubs virtually to a quick stretching session followed by a glass of water; the prolongation of unsettling transfer business deeper than ever into the autumn: all of these things seem to have played some part in introducing the current unusual levels of volatility.

Well, at least the transfer window is now shut, removing one of those sources of disruption, because, even in the most straightforward of seasons, there’s always an unsettling draught while it’s open.

And, incidentally, one has to say, now that it’s closed: what a window it has been for this club. There are no prizes, of course, for winning the summer transfer window: just the quiet sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing your operation smoothly outperform all others for fearless ambition, clarity of thought, and crispness of execution in the marketplace.

Actually, maybe there ought to be a prize for winning the summer transfer window.

Meanwhile, in emotional scenes at the draw for the Champions League group stage, Didier Drogba, flanked by Florent Malouda, moved magnificently between the bowls to produce a set of opponents for the autumn fixtures that people around these parts can afford to feel quietly content with. But, with that pairing up front, what did we ever expect?

Let’

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