Monday 2 February ~
Poor old Robbie Keane – ignored by Rafael Benítez and now, on the day he is supposed to be moving back to Tottenham Hotspur, forgotten by everyone in favour of a bit of snow. Apparently today is transfer deadline day, a modern tradition in which football fans sit at their desk at work refreshing football news websites and posting on forums that they’ve seen Lionel Messi in the Didsbury branch of Pret a Manger where he ordered a dolphin-friendly tuna sandwich and a move to Manchester City. Of course, the excitement of this is put in perspective when people have the chance to go sledging instead.
Along with Robbie Keane’s supposed move back to Spurs, today is the day when Andrei Arshavin is meant to be completing his move to Arsenal after a month of tedious brinkmanship. Without transfer deadline day you get the feeling that this is a deal that would still have been being pondered over when Arshavin was looking for one final payday and Arsenal were looking for an old head in the middle of the park. But beyond finally putting an end to the tedious gossip that fills the sports pages in January, does the transfer window actually serve any purpose?
The main accusation thrown at the transfer window is that it favours the big clubs, who have enough players in their squads to cope with a spate of Easter-related injuries and would never need to buy beyond January anyway. However, some would argue that it will also stop teams who are nervously chasing the title committing Faustino Asprilla and Rodney Marsh-based rushes of blood to the head.
As it is, the main consequence of the transfer window seems to be that it forces transfer deals through that would seem absurd without the aid of a panicked midnight deadline, like desperate teenagers grabbing the nearest person for a snog as the last song comes on at a disco. In the end those that benefit most from it are agents and players receiving signing-on fees for six months’ work at a club before they fill their boots again as the end of August approaches. But that doesn’t stop most of us enjoying wallowing in it, despite the fact we know it will all be forgotten about tomorrow. Much like the snow. Josh Widdicombe