Premier League - Today is the climax to another football season
The transfer windows have changed the way supporters view the game forever. It is football but not as we know it, writes Early Doors.
There is one question to ask on this morning of all mornings: did you get what you want? Or perhaps more pertinently, did you get what you need? Transfer Deadline Day is upon us. A time to be lucky, or not as the case may be. There are as many winners as losers on a day like today, but nobody walks away empty-handed. Only time will tell how many booby prizes clubs have on their hands by the close of play tonight. It has been this way for a decade now.
The two transfer windows — one during the traditional close season in Europe, and the other in mid-season - have been with us since 2002. Pressure from the European Commission, claiming the old transfer system breached the treaty 1957 Treaty of Rome, forced FIFA to introduce them. They have changed the logistics of the game forever.
Forget last night's Champions League draw and anticipating Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund in combat, today is the end of another football season. The windows have become a sport within a sport, more engrossing for many than the game itself. It is football without a ball being kicked. Call it what you will - a game of chess, poker, cat-and-mouse - but there is something gloriously fascinating about clubs facing a race against time to sprinkle their squads with gold dust before the window slams shut. Notice how the window never eases down gently.
When time is up, it is up. Nobody gets in, nobody gets out. If you believe the hyperbole, at 11pm (BST), like the final scene in the riotous movie Trading Places, the bell will sound the death knell on another two months of frantic horse trading. Your club will have to go with what you have for the next four months. January provides some respite when the second window opens for a month, but the damage could already be fatal to seasonal aspirations if your team has been left malnourished by what went on right now.
Not everybody is complaining. Sky Sports have turned deadline day into some form of theatre, almost like the average Loaded reader's vision of the country going to the polls. Curvy women and their heaving cleavages, with only their tramp stamps apparently missing from view, are decorated sufficiently to breeze into a local nightclub. Instead they are armed with the news that Clark Carlisle has joined York City on a free.
The ongoing Bryan Swanson seems to have found his calling in life by managing to work a large computer screen with as much assurance as Peter Snow once handled the Swingometer during General Elections on the Beeb. Fellow Scotsman Jim White is a Rangers fan whose previous claim to fame was asking Brian Laudrup during an interview on Scottish Television: Why are you so good? Not now.
These days, today being his crowning glory, he shouts and bawls in his distinctive Glaswegian patois as another deal turns yellow along the bottom of the screen. Of course it is all entertaining baloney. In the final analysis, in whatever accent they preach the news from up on high, it is all about Sky Sports selling their product. And that product is football. The hungry hordes just can't get enough.
Anybody who has played computer games such as Championship and Football Manager will understand why such nonsense is so compelling. At the risk of sounding sexist, this is very much a guy thing. One look at the treasure chests, nothing to do with the £450 million Premier League clubs are likely to spend this summer, on Sky Sports news illustrate the point.
This website's transfer window — with its grand master Eurobot at the helm - has been running since Euro 2012 drew its final breath. It seems such a long time ago now. If there are quietish moments during the window, and there are always down times, some punters tell you to make it up. Unless someone actually pens a deal, all football news is made up. But why let that get in the way of a good yarn. This is how tabloids have earned their dough for years. They enjoy making it up. The punter laps it up. It is big business for TV and papers.
With a whopping £4.4 billion tossed into a fast ocean of shameless spending by Premier League clubs over the past decade, football may yet be a sport that begins to eat itself, but we should perhaps all gaze on in astonishment at this ongoing monument to popular culture, a true testimony to crassness and decadence in times of supposed austerity. Despite such gorging figures, the window is not the sole preserve of the rich.
From the privileged to the impoverished, every fan can apparently rejoice in the windows. Unlike the Champions League, Cup finals and play-offs, every club can access the merry-go-round. Ostracised by QPR, Joey Barton began the window training and playing for Fleetwood's Cod Army in League Two. He looks like ending it signing for Ligue 1 Marseille.
It doesn't matter who you sign in the transfer window, some fans think their club should have snagged one more. Who needs pesky financial fair play rules? Chelsea have spent over £75 million in recruiting starry names such as Eden Hazard yet some will ask: why didn't we go the extra mile to buy Hulk or Edinson Cavani to replace Didier Drogba?
"The transfer market is open for two months and for one month and three weeks, it is nearly closed," commented Arsenal managed Arsene Wenger. "It wakes up completely in the last week and then every minute becomes important."
QPR manager Mark Hughes will be thankful for the extra month to do some business having saw Clint Hill ragdolled by Grant Holt at Norwich last weekend. Nobody saw Esteban Granero and Julio Cesar washing up while he pursued Ricardo Carvalho. Anything can happen today.
At the time of writing, there are 14 hours left for your club to get what you want, or get what they need. Godspeed.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It seems perfect. Marseille fans are very passionate. Ben Arfa, Habib Beye and Adel Taarabt are big supporters of Marseille. I speak with them and all they keep saying is 'This club is perfect for you, the way you play with the passion. If you play like that in the Velodrome, the fans will love you. Hopefully tomorrow we can finish the medical and then I am here." Joey Barton is relishing the chance of a perfect move to Marseille after imperfect times with Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers. As long as he avoids the problematic issues of common assaults, violent conduct and the prerequisite headbutting that tends to bring incarceration, he should be fine.
FOREIGN VIEW: "I am very honoured and I dedicate this award to my Barcelona and Spain team-mates. I am privileged to be here with two such great footballers as Leo and Cristiano," says Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta after completing an almost impossible mission by beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to UEFA's European player of the year award.
COMING UP: Eurobot is ready and willing on this final day of the window to bring you all the news as it reaches us at Eurosport. We go through to the wee small hours of the morning with all the deals as they happen, as soon as they happen and how they affect your club.
Regular blogger Jim White is along with his latest offerings as transfer deadline day builds toward a rousing crescendo while we also have LIVE commentary from the European Super Cup final between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid in Monaco.
Elsewhere, we continue our intensive coverage of the US Open tennis from Flushing Meadows in New York with Andy Roddick potentially playing his last match against Australian Bernard Tomic in the second round. Roddick intends to retire after the tournament.