There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which a boardroom of marketing men are trying to think of a holiday to exploit the eventless summer months. Eventually, they decide on a rubbish, pointless celebration called “Love Day”. For football’s parallel, one does not need to look much further past the last day of the summer transfer window, known to Sky Sports News viewers as “Deadline Day”.
Twice a year, for there is another “Deadline Day” at the end of January, Sky Sports News hype this occasion with a few tried-and-tested techniques; firstly, they try to instill a sense of nostalgia into a day of bargaining, desperation, confusion and gossiping. Who could forget that memorable 2008 “Deadline Day” when Robinho joined Manchester City whilst across the city United managed to capture Dimitar Berbatov? To be honest, it really hasn’t dramatically changed my life.
Secondly, Sky Sports News post reporters to every stadium and training ground where they reckon a deal is going to be made. I have never understood properly why they feel the need to do so; do they think their words have more gravitas if they are being said from a reporter looking fairly uncomfortable in front of a bunch of juveniles from Stoke? It always reminds me of weather coverage, because during a typhoon there is always some poor sod who has to talk to a camera in the middle of it equipped with just an umbrella.
The final tactic which they use which makes me despise “Deadline Day” is that they will literally report anything, often without fact-checking. To get away with flourishing rumours, they refer to “Sky Sources”, which could be completely fictitious. For example, when Nikica Jelavic was linked with move to Leicester City, “Sky Sources” revealed he was travelling south from Glasgow. In reality? He was in Croatia.
“Deadline Day” was not quite up to the “vintage” of 2008, but there were still some surprises to be had. For one, injury-prone Owen Hargreaves managing to get a one-year contract at Manchester City. Hargreaves is on a “pay-as-you-play” contract – with his record of injuries this may just be a polite way of saying he is on the dole now. Peter Crouch joined Stoke to join other unusually tall players like Robert Huth, Kenwyne Jones and Jonathon Woodgate in the penalty box for Rory Delap’s throw-ins. Stoke should just rename themselves “Met Office FC”, because they’ll know what the weather is like before you do.
The thing with this “Deadline Day” is that all the important stuff, the big money signings, is generally all concluded way before the final day. Look at Manchester United; they had their new (and arguably improved) squad all in place before their pre-season tour in America. Sergio Aguero and Cesc Fabregas may had swapped their country of residence in August, but this was still relatively early compared to Mikel Arteta’s move to Arsenal. “Deadline Day” is not so much exciting as a sign of desperation, much like the final hour of a nightclub. If you ask me, I’m glad all the rumours, speculation and Jim White will all calm down again. At least until January.
Oh, and if you are wondering, the only transfer activity in Scotland was that Inverness signed a Chippendale. Yip.