‘MASSIVE news coming in from Stoke, where Eidur Gudjohnsen has arrived for a medical’.
Except its not that massive at all, is it Jim? I was relatively interested when Eidur Gudjohnsen joined Barcelona from Chelsea. After watching his career take a small dip in Spain, I was reasonably amused when he joined Monaco, but the breaking story itself was nothing to write home about. Due to their rivalrous nature to my own blue boys of West London, his loan to Tottenham may have cast my eyes over towards Sky Sports News for a little while. So by this point, a loan deal to Stoke City at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon is not really that ‘massive’ for anyone, Stoke fans and even Gudjohnsen himself included. It’s relatively ‘un-massive’. Minute, if you will. Its barely even news.
But such is life at Sky Sports Towers. Not content with bastardising the fixture list to create feasts of football on ‘random Sundays’ throughout the calendar, Rupert and pals have managed to conjure up an entire day in the football calendar single-handedly, where nobody even plays football. One, pre-2006, that nobody could really care less about. It’s Transfer Deadline Day.
Look at it. The alliteration, the dramatic use of ‘deadline’, the way it rolls off the tongue. Sky Sports News was practically invented for this day. The countdown began in July, and it all came to a glorious climax with a shot of Big Ben chiming at 6pm this evening. Up to this point, Sky Sports has pulled out all the stops to make this the biggest sporting media event of the summer. Jim White has spent most of the day shouting at me, bellowing such non-descript anecdotes as “it’s been high drama, all in high definition”, whilst Ed Chamberlain meekly sits alongside him, the Robin to White’s Batman. Whilst the yellow ticker moved into overdrive, Sky Sports’ equivalent of Christmas temporary staff stood awkwardly outside every Premier League training ground in the country, clutching to any rumour that should be thrown their way.
However, unless I was watching in the wrong definition, there seemed to be little of White’s promised high drama. Up until 2pm, we were left gripping to Marcus Bent’s loan to Wolves from Birmingham City as the deal of the day. Surely Wolves should have had the grace to at least provide us with a permanent deal for our buck? This isn’t Freeview any more, Mr McCarthy.
Sunderland then proceeded to tick one of the key transfer window boxes, in signing a World Cup superstar in Asamoah Gyan, who they hope will be more Bergkamp than Diouf in the grand schemes of hasty, post-tournament transfers. Alexander Hleb and Gudjohnsen moved about again, the Robinho saga came to a predictable end, and Liverpool booted Emiliano Insua off for a year and replaced him with Paul Konchesky, cutting some of their youngsters in the process. The day wouldn’t be complete without Harry Redknapp wheeling and dealing, so Spurs provided the only drama of the day in throwing a few million at Rafael Van der Vaart with a few minutes to spare. As the afore-mentioned timepiece ticked towards six, we were all left feeling a little underwhelmed by a day that has failed to produce in recent times.
So did we learn anything? The ‘biggest done deals’, as the BBC describes them, are listed below:
Jean Beausejour [Club America - Birmingham] Undisclosed
Marcus Bent [Birmingham - Wolves] Loan
DJ Campbell [Leicester - Blackpool] Undisclosed
Tom Cleverley [Manchester United - Wigan] Loan
Franco Di Santo [Chelsea - Wigan] Undisclosed
Eidur Gudjohnsen [Monaco - Stoke] Loan
Asamoah Gyan [Rennes - Sunderland] £13m
Alexander Hleb [Barcelona - Birmingham] Loan
Emiliano Insua [Liverpool - Galatasaray] Loan
Paul Konchesky [Fulham - Liverpool] Player exchange
Robinho [Manchester City - AC Milan] Undisclosed
Gylfi Sigurdsson [Reading - Hoffenheim] £6m
Joseph Yobo [Everton - Fenerbahce] Loan
Out of those deals, six of the thirteen are loan deals, and none of these loans are enough to get excited about by any standards. In a world of transfers for mega-bucks, only one of those deals is for more than ten million pounds, and most would say the price of Gyan has been over-inflated by his performance in the World Cup. The transfers of Hleb, Insua, Konchesky, Gudjohnsen and Robinho were predictable for weeks up until today. At the end of Transfer Deadline Day, the footballing public have been surprised and excited by precisely nothing.
For this, however, we only have ourselves to blame. We knew this was going to happen. Firstly, the tightening of purses in world football means that everybody apart from Manchester City and the Spanish big-boys are being more frugal in the transfer market than in previous years. Secondly, anybody that does spend an enormous amount of money on a player will probably do it in good time, rather than relying on a rusty fax machine at two minutes to six. Finally, and most importantly, before Sky Sports turned FIFA’s 2002 ruling into a media circus in the latter part of the decade, the end of the transfer window has always been a bit underwhelming. We fondly remember ‘the Robinho incident’, but this stemmed from the rarity of two of the Premier League’s silliest spenders going head-to-head to purchase a player from the world’s silliest spender. Such a rollercoaster transfer was a one-off, the likes of which will rarely be seen again, on the day of the deadline at least.
However, Murdoch and the like can sleep easy. We’ll all tune in again in January. Ready to consume the ridiculous rumours, the shifty supporters who gather at Stoke, the inevitable awkward interview with ‘Arry in the car park, and the roaring White who will again guide us through the day with all the subtlety of a Spitfire. A harmless festival of fun, or an unnecessary distraction for players, managers, chairpersons and fans alike? You decide. But don’t expect high-defined, high drama in any of it. Save that for the football.