As the transfer window creaked shut at the beginning of September, most Aston Villa supporters breathed a sigh of relief because it confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christian Benteke would remain at Villa Park for another season. The new contract wasn't a cynical gambit just to boost his valuation, there were no blockbuster last-minute offers from a newly Gareth Bale-less Tottenham Hotspur, that was that. Only it wasn't. Because after just a few short weeks and a couple of bumpy results (both on the pitch and in their transfer dealings) it was decided by whoever decides these things that David Moyes and Manchester United needed to Do Something. As a result, you can now google the phrase "christian benteke manchester united" and be greeted by a host of anonymously sourced stories from across the panoply of soccer news outlets from reputable to...not so reputable.
Do we actually need to worry? No, probably not. United is probably happy to distract as many people as possible from the state of mild disarray they currently find themselves in. Will shameless rumour-mongering ever stop linking talented players to the clubs that are on the top end of football's entrenched caste system, thereby perpetuating the brutal inequality that endangers the integrity of the sport? Of course not, it started before you were born and will continue long after you die. On that note, some links!
Chris Nee, co-host of the essential Aston Villa Review podcast, further debunks those silly Benteke rumours. It's also pretty much a guarantee that at least one Aston Villa player will feature at this summer's World Cup. Can you think of any others? Let me know in the comments.
An interview with the writer Michael Calvin, who has written a book profiling a subject that should be near and dear to our hearts as Villa fans: football scouting. It features a nice nod towards analytics but at no point actually mentions the word "moneyball." Trust me, I checked.
Ben Pugsley is a really smart writer who is at the forefront of football analytics, and one of the brilliant minds behind StatsBomb. I'm not going to lie to you, though. This is just here because I think it'd be funny if West Brom spent a bunch of money on attacking players and still couldn't replace Romelu Lukaku and ended up going down. #PrideoftheMidlands