This week and last, we have seen a Premier League transfer attack on the Bundesliga with Chelsea’s signature of Marko Marin and Arsenal’s of Lukas Podolski, and these pre-contract imports have provided a statement of intent ahead of the 2012/13 campaign. But with the transfer window set to open proper later this month, just how familiar have we become with phrases such as ‘deadline day’, ‘last ditch bid’ and indeed that little yellow Sky Sports breaking news bar that crawls ever so effortlessly along the bottom of our television sets. Yes, the transfer window is now a staple part of not only the off season but the game and its dynamics as a whole.
I might be mistaken because of my 22 years, but growing up there was never really a distinct buzz surrounding the opening up and closing of the so-called transfer window. Yes, players would sign, but there was no real mediated last ditch rush to sign talent or countless reporters at training grounds across Europe stalking for at least a superficial or hinting transfer blurt. Nowadays, the off-season receives almost as much attention as the season itself, with dedicated analysts, transfer spies and Bryan Swanson and that space-aged looking machine that informs us of almost every clubs dealings! Sky Sports has done a lot for the game and positively, but deadline day in particularly is one that few managers enjoy with relish.
It was heavily documented how Arsene Wenger bought several so-called panic buys before the end of the last summer window, but Arsenal weren’t alone in boosting their personnel ranks with many others leaving it as late as the 31st August to add to their squads, when they seemingly had the whole summer to conclude deals, instead of cramming them in nervously at the last minute. Yes, it may be exciting to slump down in your chair and watch the drama unfold across each hour, yes it may be fulfilling to see your club snatch a top pro an hour till the deadline and yes it may be amusing to watch reporter Jim White’s voice get louder and louder with bold enthusiasm but the Sky Sports hype machine has all by itself coined an event which seems unlikely to cease, with its power and reputation growing year on year.
Bryan Swanson particularly gleams with smugness whenever he points to his totaliser, calculating the full amount of every clubs transfer dealings, almost with the child-like freedom of ‘mine’s bigger than yours’. It seems almost a frank disappointment to Sky Sports and their crew whenever clubs fail to engage fully with the January transfer window with reporters eagerly on tenterhooks to break the next big story. What I’m trying to get at is that Sky and mediated sports television as a whole has billed this so-called ‘deadline day’, it has excitingly and inevitably appealed to a majority of fans and therefore clubs have been pressured into the transfer market for signings which may have previously been plan B’s or not even coveted previously such as when Manchester City snuck in to swoop Robinho from the clutches of Chelsea. Deadline day has overseen the transfers of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll in recent times and the pair still struggle in terms of their consistency and system adaptation and provide evidence that the late judgements to sign talent aren’t as robust and rigorous enough as a rationale to peruse a range of more widely available talent earlier in the window where there is more time to weigh up pros and cons. Instead, early window care and consideration is traded for last-gasp shots in the dark.
However, it is almost clubs social responsibility nowadays to thrill on deadline day; giving their fans plenty of fresh-faced talent to chew over and forging spectating areas at the grounds near the car park late into the evening hours for lucky fans to spot new stars arriving in their flash BMW’s and Mercedes for a twilight medical. Those who fail to sign players or shun efforts to engage in the big shopping spree are almost vilified by reporters or are attacked as ‘boring’ by fan bases up and down the land.
We may not think it immediately, but we all have been suckered into Sky’s and other broadcaster’s big idea in their transfer window complex. The transfer window is excruciating for some clubs and their supporters, for example Huddersfield Town who had to dig so deep in January to keep hold of prized asset Jordan Rhodes. You could almost hear then-manager Lee Clark counting down the days ever so loudly until he and the Terriers fans could breathe a huge sigh of relief at maintaining the strikers’ services until the summer at least. Only for reporters and opinion leaders to jump on the bandwagon once more and link the player to other clubs, widening the players eyes and social kudos in the process. With 24-hour surveillance and players watching the hugely successful Sky Sports News channel, you can appreciate how players are blindly suckered into transfers which may not be the correct option at the time. Clubs such as Arsenal and Spurs will too like Huddersfield, hope the window passes without losing their star men such as Van Persie and Modric whose departures would be sorely felt this forthcoming window.
This summer, the same old factors shall return once more. BBC Sport will have their live chat exchange facility whereby the likes of John from Scotland has been told by his mates aunties grandfather whilst doing a gardening job for the players agent, that a new star striker is going to sign for club X. Swanson will be there, flauntingly confirming specific deals as ‘done’ to satisfy the inseparable fans from their screen and clubs will still engage in last minute deals at midnight just to fill the next morning’s papers even though the pre-contract option is being more readily fulfilled. The transfer window, deadline day and panic buying will continue to remain synonymous in our game. Sky have created a monster; rampant with no signs of abating.
What do you think of the transfer windows? Are they hyped up too much? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989