Offseasons are obviously the worst time to be a fan. No games, no action, no reason to go on. And they're particularly harsh in New Zealand, where months without matches can stretch to an eternity.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Elsewhere, like in Europe when the football transfer window is open, there's plenty of joy to be found in fandom without the games.
British comedian Amelia Dimoldenberg best explained the appeal, tweeting: "'men don't gossip' ok explain the transfer window".
Men have a different name for this gossip: transfer rumours. But like gossip they're fun and exciting and a nice diversion from the mundanity of everyday life/the offseason.
Your team might look like they're gonna suck once again, but did you hear about Player X possibly joining? This will change everything.
It doesn't really matter whether there is any truth to a rumour. In fact, the rumours may turn out to be complete lies. But they're entertaining lies, and in the end, isn't that the real truth?
"men don't gossip" ok explain the transfer window— Amelia Dimoldenberg (@ameliadimz) August 1, 2021
Related to the rumour is the saga. In nations with more player movement, it's a beautiful part of the transfer lifestyle; like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
How to spot a saga? First, the rumours have to become persistent enough to have some basis in reality. Then, there are a few key words and phrases to watch out for. Like 'bid rejected', or 'weighing up an increased offer' or 'the player has concerns about the weather in Manchester'.
And finally, if fans are lucky, a club successfully swoop. Alternatively, disaster: the move collapses. Or even worse, it's hijacked by a rival.
This is all thrilling stuff for a few weeks, although admittedly can become tiresome when a saga stretches over an entire offseason.
But what else are you gonna do when your favourite team aren't playing? Go outside? Read a book? Connect with the ones you love? Nah, get back on Twitter and start yelling at a club's official account to announce a signing, that's what sport is supposed to be about.
Cristiano Ronaldo is not only one of the world's great goalscorers, he's also one of the best at getting what he wants. Or, as we're seeing again with Manchester United, getting where he wants, using a canny playbook of escalations.
It begins with a leak from an agent to a friendly journalist about a player's desire to leave his current team. If the team absurdly believe that player's contract means something, the escalations kick off.
For Ronaldo, first it was a conveniently timed excuse to skip training - the one-sized-fits-all 'family reasons'.
The next move has to be bigger. Leaking details of talks with other interested clubs. Or an interview, perhaps, spun just the right way to force the club into a corner.
Then, bigger still. Preseason matches - or better yet, preseason tours - skipped. A labour stoppage, essentially, only instead of striking for better working conditions, it's to move from one glamorous team to another, slightly more glamorous team.
Eventually, a player will invariably escalate to a point where they get what they want. And the club will have to console themselves with millions upon millions in transfer fees.
4. Give fans reasons to hope
That's really where we're missing out in New Zealand by letting players switch teams only at the end of a contract.
Losing a star player is painful for a fan, yet the return can not only sooth that pain but offer the promise - often deluded - of a better future.
Imagine what my team can buy with all that money, the naive fool says to himself while ignoring the likelihood of ownership keeping all that money for themselves.
In the United States, the recompense is even more alluring, because an owner can't simply pocket draft picks.
Draft picks can be even more enjoyable to possess than the star. Ask Utah Jazz fans, who were going nowhere with talented and highly paid centre Rudy Gobert before he was last week traded for a swag of picks.
Those picks are all theoretical superstars, according to the irrational mind of a success-starved fan. In just a few short years, the picks will be expertly made and a poor roster will be transformed by fresh young talent who one day, fingers crossed, can be traded away for even more picks.
5. Give fans reasons to hate
Hope is fun and all, but fans thrive more on a different four-letter word: hate. And nothing breeds hate like a once-beloved player switching to a rival team, often for illogical reasons like 'wants to win' or 'they pay more'.
That player, if they ever really cared about those fans, will attempt to placate any rabid reaction on the way out the door.
In the case of Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips crossing the Pennines to join Manchester City, they release a muti-page statement that reads like an extended apology.
It'll be made out to 'the best fans in the world' and filled with reasonable excuses about wanting to seek new challenges, designed to soften the blow or at the very least lessen the possibility of death threats.
It, generally, won't work. Fans are not reasonable people. But holding a grudge and vociferously booing a player when they return is an elemental part of fandom.
One that we're lacking in New Zealand, where players can still feel safe walking down the street of their former home cities. It makes me sick.