West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray is not one for reading the newspapers during the football season but, in the summer months, they can sometimes provide amusing holiday material.
Rife and inaccurate speculation is not uncommon in some dehydrated sports sections while Centre Court and cricket take centre stage but the specious nature of the stories have reached even greater levels this year.
Not only has the manager frequently seen his name linked with players he has never watched in action; in some cases, he has been on the verge of buying players he hasn’t even heard of. Like Daniel Arismendi, the 25-year-old Venezuelan striker, whom Albion or Wigan Athletic are upposedly close to signing.
However, there is one rumour circulating and gathering momentum which is causing Mowbray more concern than usual – the one linking Kevin Phillips with Birmingham City.
He said: “Sometimes the newspapers make me laugh. I get people firing names at me all the time but they just don’t register because I have either never seen the players play, or even heard of them.
“As for the one concerning Kevin, I am sure we will know a lot more in the next day or two. From my perspective it is probably better if I discuss things when we know one way or the other what he’s going to do
“I had a good conversation with him on Wednesday. He is fully aware that clubs are back training now and he has been doing his own bit in the gym because he’s that sort of person. His advisor knows what deal is on the table and that is not going to change. ”
Despite having lost Martin Albrechtsen and Zoltan Gera, missed out on Paddy McCourt and failed to secure Phillips before pre-season began, as was the intention of chairman Jeremy Peace, Mowbray does not feel as though the club is behind schedule in its recruitment.
The number of new faces doubled when winger Graham Dorrans completed his £100,000 move from Livingston, to accompany the £3.2million arrival of Holland Under-21 right back Gianni Zuiverloon from Heerenveen.
Mowbray said: “McCourt was a wild card for us. We have done that before with the likes of Sherjill MacDonals, Shelton Martis and Dorrans - low-cost signings who come in and try and force their way into the first team.
“He wouldn’t have been let down by his talent. We would have seen how we have got on with his work ethic and industry for the job. There was no frustration, emotion or envy on my part at all when he decided not to join.
“It always looked like that might happen. He went to Celtic, the club he supported as a boy and good luck to him.”
Dorrans, who has three Under-21 Caps for Scotland and was last year’s player and young pung player of the year in Scottish League Division
One, signed a two-year deal with a further year in the club’s favour. His fee could rise to £150,000 depending on appearances.