This is one Pete Sixsmith prepared earlier, a jaundiced look at the dying phase of the transfer window …
It’s the last day of the transfer window. The excitement is lifting the roof at wherever Sky Sports are based. Jim White has had to nip off screen to change his sweat laden white shirt, buff up his perma tan and inhale a small amount of nitrous oxide to keep the whole show ramped up.
Reporters are stood outside stadiums, training grounds and in the streets waiting for news of the latest Venezuelan or Cambodian to sign a contract at QPR or Arsenal. Grown men, and some women, are sat in front of their 47” screens to see if they can get through the evening and the early hours of the night without leaping around in joy or gnashing their teeth and renting their garments in frustration.
It’s like this every year. It’s like Christmas, GCSE results day and the X Factor all rolled into one. And I am waiting for University Challenge to come on.
I know that it has never been the same since they changed the arrangement of the theme music to the wishy washy string quartet type thingy that it is now. And Jeremy Paxman has a reasonably sensible name unlike Bamber Gascoigne. In 40 years at the frontline of the education system, I never came across a child called Bamber, which suggests that he did not cut the mustard with the teenage girls of Ferryhill and Chilton.
To be honest, University Challenge without the sound on would be more interesting than Sky Sports Jim White show. Many people find the whole thing a tad overblown, from the manufactured hysteria that tells us that Sam Clucas has left Mansfield for Chesterfield (wailing sounds emanating from the former Notts coalfield) to the hysterical hysteria that I am sure will manifest itself whenever Danny Welbeck signs for someone or Good ol’ ‘Arry winds down his car window to hand out the Celebrations to the waiting hacks.
Apparently GoA has bin and gorn and signed Fabio Borini, the player that our Head Coach wanted above everybody else. Borini has turned down the chance of playing in front of 40,000 knowledgeable, loyal and dedicated fans for the opportunity to strut his stuff in front of 17,000 max including an idiot who wears a shirt with Grandad on his back, has an old fashioned rattle and a horn that he squeaks at regular intervals and who winds up the visiting fans. Possibly the most irritating new wave fan I have come across; he makes the drummer at Leicester look like Bamber Gascoigne – or Jeremy Paxman for our younger readers. (Of course we now know he hasn’t gorn off to W12 but he’s still turned down the chance to play in front of 40,000 every other week. Ed)
I gather from BBC Newcastle that we have signed a Uruguayan centre half from Liverpool with an English sounding name and an Argentinian winger form Internazionale Milan with an Argentinian sounding name. Hopefully neither will follow in the tradition of some of our other deadline day signings – Danny Graham, Wayne Bridge, Kyriakos and the huge centre half that O’Neill brought in and never played.
This fiasco started in 2002-03. Before then, managers could sign players at any time up to the middle of March and the transfer market rolled along nicely. Goalkeeper injured? Sign a new one. Centre half loses form and starts to play like Steven Taylor? Sign a new one or (heaven forbid) introduce someone from the junior team. Centre forward is found in flagrante with the physio’s nubile 19 year old (son or daughter – no sexual discrimination here)? Ship him out to Blackburn pdq.
Now, we have to put up with panic buys and players being signed because they may come in handy. Hull City are currently hoovering up several, although Danny Graham is not one of them. QPR are now stalling on Borini’s wages and are signing players that GoA has signed before – Diarra, Marc Boogers (ended up with a nervous breakdown and living in a caravan after a spell at Upton Park under GoA) and Wilson Palacios, on who he wasted £12m of Daniel Levy’s money on at White Hart Lane. I may have imagined the last two.
The best organised clubs rarely get involved in this mad scramble. Manchester City and Chelsea seem keen to ship players out – Torres to AC Milan, Richards to Valencia, Scott Sinclair to anyone who will have him, while Stoke, Newcastle and a few others have also done their business early.
That leaves clubs who have either not prepared properly (QPR, Palace), been given an open cheque book by the owner (Hull City) or who have behaved like a not very attractive teenage boy who asks a very attractive girl to come to his party and she keeps saying “Almost sure to” and then, at the last minute says she is going to a more glamorous house where the food and the vodka is better. Who can that be I wonder?
It is now 9.24. Liverpool have duffed up Sheffield in University Challenge. The contest reflects the parlous state of the English education system as the Sheffield team, made up of medical students, had no idea who the batsman was who scored two triple centuries at Headingley in the 1930’s. Surely they teach these things in the elite public schools that these types come from? When Paxman gave the answer, the blank looks on their faces suggested that they had never heard of Sir Donald Bradman.
Our business appears to be over. Two central defenders out (Roberge and Diakite) one central defender in (Coates – he looked useful against the might of England in the World Cup) and a left sided midfield player who scores a few goals and who may give us some much needed verve and pizzazz.
Now the Head Coach needs to forge a cohesive unit out of these players and make sure that we start to pick up some wins. He has until December to do so because the whole bloody thing starts again in January. Look out for a similar piece in early 2015 – unless University Challenge is on.