It is nigh on impossible to remember a transfer deadline day which did not feature a veritable flurry of activity. Sky Sports News advertises their programming for this day way in advance, safe in the knowledge that there will be last minute drama. Cue television crews and reporters camped outside training grounds hoping to talk with a manager, player or owner. Fans text and email these reporters to say that their friend has just seen Marcus Bent alight a taxi near Molineaux or that Eidur Gudjohnson has been spotted at motorway service station. This year’s final day of the window may have been missing the dramatic events of previous years but still featured Ryan Babel lost over London in a helicopter and Tottenham’s deadline pushing capture of Rafael van der Vaart. But is the inevitable scramble to do business at the final hour to the detriment of sensible transfer activity?
Two of the more memorable deadline day transfers in recent years have been Robinho’s switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City and the unexpected arrival of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez at Upton Park in 2006. Manchester City fans would surely concede that Robinho’s expensive transfer was erroneous. The transfer had more to do with the newly wealthy club flexing their financial muscles. The Sky Blues were also after Dimitar Berbatov but signed the unsettled, troubled Brazilian who coincidentally departed for AC Milan on Tuesday. Despite the transfer of the two Argentines eventually costing nearly as much as Robinho’s British transfer record fee, Hammers fans believe it was well worth it.
Conducting business on deadline day invariably smacks of frenetic panic buying but the reality is a more mixed picture. The appearance of a late frenzy is tempered by the views of Ian Holloway who was said to be exasperated and frustrated for long parts of the summer when recruiting players. Moves for players do not come much later than Tottenham’s successful acquisition of van der Vaart. Two hours before the close of the window they place an £8 million bid for the Dutch ace. “The fee has come crashing down because the deadline is so close,” said Harry Redknapp. This is open to debate according to Real Madrid but seems excellent business for Spurs. He is an experienced midfield playmaker who passes well, strikes the ball excellently and is dangerous from set plays.
Reluctant to lose their star striker Asamoah Gyan, Sunderland were forced to pay in excess of £13 million to Rennes. After selling Kenwyne Jones and Frazier Campbell’s unfortunate injury the Black Cats felt they had to break their transfer record to sign the Black Star’s forward who was widely valued at £7 million earlier in the summer. Gyan, however, is strong, quick, has an eye for goal and is an extremely hard worker. West Ham have had a busy summer but had failed once again to find a suitable right-back. Running out of options the east London side moved for Lars Jacobson on Tuesday. The Dane featured at the World Cup but fell behind Michel Salgado and Pascal Chimbonda in the pecking order at Ewood Park.
Following a busy day in the Potteries Stoke City will be pleased with their late transfer dealings. Tony Pulis had been seeking to recruit players capable of offering a new dimension to the team, building on their top flight progression. Both Gudjohnson and Jermaine Pennant were brought to the Britannia on loan. Birmingham City were also industrious and astute to bring in Alexander Hleb, Martin Jiranek and Jean Beausejour.
By waiting to the final day of the window some clubs argue they can force down the price of players while others desperate to buy will pay exorbitant fees to reluctant sellers. Moreover Roberto Martinez has blamed the window for unsettling his players during the early stages of the new season. Given the option most clubs would wish to conclude their business sooner but this often requires plenty of money. Manchester City could avoid last minute signings by having clear targets and deep pockets. For the rest of us it is probably wise to try enjoying the drama and hope a faulty fax machine can be blamed if your club submit their paperwork late.