The transfer deadline is upon us, a mercifully shortened affair this year with the new 6pm cut-off. I just hope Daniel Levy remembers the deadline is five hours earlier: judging by the weeks of claims and counter claims surrounding Spurs transfer activity, I’d rate the chances of us turning into mid-table pumpkins come 6pm as “high to inevitable”. Like many fans, I’ve fallen out of love with transfer deadline day in recent years. I think, after that manic day when Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano rocked up at Upton Park, it’s been downhill since. Sky’s coverage, certainly, has long since jumped the shark.
So here, as the rain lashes down and a fortnight-long international break begins, are 10 things that I hate about the transfer window.
Daniel Bloody Levy: Here we go again. Deadline day is upon us, and Spurs have big holes in the squad plus several unwanteds stuck on the payroll. Maybe Levy will pull a rabbit out of the hat, landing a Witsel where once he landed a Van der Vaart, but more likely Spurs will be left with the scraps. I understand that the Son Heung-min deal was one that may have happened later, but there is no excuse for failing to bring in Saido Berahino and Clinton N’Jie at the start of the window. Likewise, Levy totally failed to learn the lesson from Morgan Schneiderlin and move early for Victor Wanyama before Southampton take down their annual “for sale” sign. Maybe it is a result of a bad few recent windows, but Levy’s reputation in the transfer market is far from what it was and I am losing trust. If he has left Mauricio Pochettino without a back-up striker and a quality central midfielder, and if Emmanuel Adebayor and Aaron Lennon are still kicking around the club, he has let down his manager.
The Sky Sports News HQ Money Counter: “The Kevin De Bruyne deal brings the amount spent by Premier League clubs this window to £750 million,” a Sky Sports News HQ reporter with shiny bald head breathlessly tells the world. Do Sky not realize that it is its own viewers who are funding this? Us saps who’ve forked out hundreds of pounds a year for TV subscriptions, and many hundreds of pounds more to see the games? Sky is expensive, so maybe dial down a bit on rubbing our noses in it, will you? I am happy that the Premier League is successful, and proud that English football attracts so much global talent, but I hate the way Sky flaunts the excess. Hundreds of millions of that money will be pissed away on agents and players who contribute nothing and make no connection with fans. I don’t think this money counter is a GOOD thing — it is just a visual reminder of how bloody expensive football has become, and how our money is being misspent. It’s like the US debt clock, ticking ever upwards towards doom. But you sense the great reckoning is coming sooner for English football than the US economy.
Lack of transparency on numbers by clubs: If the amounts are grotesque, what gets me more is the lack of transparency. Spurs are about the worst club for this — Spurs NEVER state how much a transfer costs. I presume, this is for, how shall I put it, “accounting” reasons. Yeah, we all know — whatever it takes to keep Spurs competitive. But even if Spurs don’t benefit from transparency, fans would like to know — for example, just how much did Spurs actually lose on Roberto Soldado? As I said in the last point, it is our money that ultimately keeps this whole circus going. And it would be easy to do on a technical basis — FIFA’s transfer matching system could be made public. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Lies of the media: Some of the reporting of football falls foul of standards that would be expected in other sections of even most tabloid papers. Take The Sun, with it’s insistence through the summer that “Spurs are interested in Yannick Bolasie”. If you have followed this story, it is obvious that this is factually incorrect — the story is, “Yannick Bolasie is interested in a move to Spurs”. Bolasie and his agent have been shameless in trying to lure Spurs into a deal — not that I blame them, because Bolasie’s stock will never be higher and he’ll never have a better chance of a big contract. But newspapers wouldn’t get this sort of thing the other way round in other sections. “David Cameron interested in naming Boris Johnson as successor” is quite a different piece of news to “Boris Johnson interested in being named as David Cameron’s successor”. The football media should have higher standards, even in this age of shameless clickbaiting.
Lies of the managers: Statement of the window has surely come from Roberto Martinez, rivalled only by Brendan Rodgers as the leading talker of total guff among Premier League managers. On John Stones: “Obviously he’s been put under massive, massive pressure. The transfer request was something he didn’t mean to do.” Oh, alright then! What an unfortunate accident. It’s like that line in The West Wing when one of the characters tells his colleague he accidently slept with a call girl. “What, did you trip and fall?”
Demonization of the players: I felt sympathy with Raheem Sterling during the summer for the torrent of abuse he faced from the endless series of Liverpool talking heads across every TV station and in every newspaper. Apparently, due to the aura of the club and its great history, he should have accepted a lower than market-value wage and played for a manager who he no longer trusted with his career. Same now with Saido Berahino. WBA should either pay him what Spurs are prepared to pay him, or they should sell him. WBA have broken contracts through the summer in buying players, so they have no ground to stand on in terms of “Saido has a contract”. They are making him sound like, at best, a misguided idiot through their public statements. Berahino should fight back with statements of his own — I’d start by calling Tony Pulis a long-ball merchant with no record of developing young talent. And add that Jeremy Pearce is desperately trying to sell the club and has no vision for its future beyond a personal profit. And point out that Berahino’s career should not suffer for this. You know, up the ante a bit.
Arbitrary deadline: Why do we need a deadline at all in the first half of the season? I recall how the deadline used to be in March or something, and it seemed to work OK. So it was maybe a touch late — but why not shut if after, say, January? All it does is create an environment in which brinkmanship rules, clubs are more likely to buy players they don’t need, and value is hard to assess. I really can’t remember the justification of changing the transfer system, and would like to know how it stands up to the market reality now. Ignore what the managers say, making the window shorter in the summer will make it far more mad.
Sky Sports News HQ coverage: Is anyone else bored of Jim White, the yellow ties, and the excessive enthusiasm of experienced reporters for essentially very dull pieces of news? “Robert Huth is close to joining Leicester City on loan!” Oh sorry, say that again so I can Sky Plus it and have a record for eternity. Deadline day in January was the one day when I thought BT Sport did a better job than Sky — they mocked the whole thing, and it was actually quite funny.
Excessive reliance on super agents: Agents like Jorge Mendez make a killing essentially shuffling their roster of clients among the super rich clubs, thereby earning a percentage on every move. Good on them for finding a smart way of making money. But I hate the way this leaves some really good players stuck at clubs like Monaco, or out in Russia. Someone like Joao Moutinho would have graced the Premier League, I am sure, instead he is playing in front of a few thousand fans at Monaco. What a waste — I hope he enjoys his money. Likewise, you see English clubs relying excessively on agents — and limiting their choices. All of Villa’s French signings this summer had the same agent, I believe, while United lean on Mendez. These are big enterprises — it shows a terrible lack of imagination and ability to find value in the market.
The rush on medicals: The biggest problem of late business being done now, beyond matters of finance, logic and sanity, is that there isn’t enough time to do a proper medical. This isn’t just about the length of time a doctor needs to check the knees and hamstrings. It is about, if someone fails a medical, finding and agreeing a deal for a replacement and conducting a medical for him in turn. You see a scenario on Tuesday morning where Spurs fail to land Berahino and turn to Charlie Austin. Austin has previously failed a medical at Hull, but has a great fitness record in the past couple of years. So it could go either way. But certainly, you’d want to check him thoroughly, and leave enough time to find an alternative if the knee cartilage turns out to be in the Ledley King range. Or to put it another way, do your business goddam earlier, Levy.
So that’s 10. What am I missing?
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