So, the transfer window has closed. Even for Arsenal. At least we think it has. It’s hard to say for certain when even the FA weren’t really sure when the deadline was.
Like any fan, I love the drama of deadline day. It’s the ludicrous rumours that sometimes actually come true. It’s the excitement and disappointment that can only matched by another Cheryl Cole-less Christmas Day. It’s the fans jumping around outside stadiums across the land at midnight, enjoying their moment in the spotlight in the background of Sky Sports News. It’s the beleaguered Sky Sports News presenters doing their best to appear as if they know more than the rest of us, while avoiding the aforementioned stadium lunatics. It’s the whole Championship Manager feel of it all. It’s pure drama, you wouldn’t believe it in a script, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Except this one was a little bit different.
Firstly, the deadline was pushed back a day, owing to the fact it fell on a Sunday. Seems sensible, but it was only pushed back to 5 p.m. Where’s the midnight drama? I’m sure I’m not the only one who secretly quite enjoys the “I really should go to bed but I’ve just got to stay up for another half hour to find out whether Danny Higginbotham completes his move to Stoke” moments.
Secondly, it snowed. A lot. We’ll never really know the full picture of how this affected the various deals on the day, but I like the image of numerous private jets circling around Manchester Airport desperately seeking permission to land, while Man City execs calculate the cost of insuring Kaka for a parachute descent. Or how about poor little vertically-challenged Andrei Arshavin completing a medical in the snow? Good job it wasn’t more than two feet deep, says I. Because of the snow, homes across the land have been unable to get rid of their rubbish for over a week. I don’t know what they’re moaning about; Wenger’s had that problem for years… Emmanuelle Eboué anyone?
Finally, we’re in a recession [groan]. Sick of hearing about it? Me too. But when it affects football something must be seriously wrong. City and Spurs were the only clubs really spending. Where was the Man U mola, the Chelski cheques and the Liverpool lira? The problem is, with the pound weaker than a John Paintsil left foot ‘drive’, even the rich weren’t keen to splash the cash. Most of the transfers were players moving from one Prem club to another, great if you’re the club picking up Shay Given (not so much if you find yourself ladened with “Charles Imsomnia… Charles Inzobia… Charlie” – cheers Joe) but not much excitement for the neutral observer. I want to see world class players coming in to feature weekly on MOTD, or, preferably, supposedly world class players coming to Stamford Bridge to prove themselves 30 million pound flops.
Anyway… this week’s entry has been a bit Hammer-free. Regular readers of this column [tumbleweed…] will remember my fears of what the transfer window would mean for us. In the end I’m pretty chuffed. We offloaded Bellamy for a decent fee and brought in Savio Nsereko (guess that’s why we call him Savio) who I know little about but I’m sure he’ll be decent. You can make your own mind up on the definition of ‘decent’, I’m settling for being better than David Nugent. But most importantly we’ve hung onto our best players. I know it’s a cliché but it is a bit like signing some new players. My pessimistic side had resigned itself to facing the rest of the season without Parker, Noble, Green, Upson, Ilunga and co which, realistically, would have left us in a world of trouble. Fair play to Gianfranco and Stevie Clarke for a great run of form which has not only encouraged players to see out the season, but convinced the board we can end up with something to show for it. Maybe my pessimistic side is suffering from all this cold weather but at the moment I’m feeling confident. Another easy win over Utd this weekend – “Can we play you every week?!” – some more solid league form and a May date at Wembley would be a nice culmination to a season which at one point looked destined to end in disaster. Who knows, maybe we’d even win the Cup this time round. Liverpool are already out, at least I think they are, ITV??????
On that note, one final prediction to leave you with: ITV securing exclusive rights to screen the closing stages of the next transfer window; with the FA’s unique timekeeping and ITV’s immaculate timing, Wenger may yet get his wish for an endless window in which to not buy players.