Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Mystery of Transfer Deadline Day - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Mystery of Transfer Deadline Day - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Mystery of Transfer Deadline Day

31st of August and 31st January are two days each year which could easily gain national holiday status. Across the country men and women of all ages are gripped from the minute they wake up till the minute they go to sleep by the transfer deadline day saga. All PCs, televisions and phones are tuned into Sky Sports News showing live updates with a dramatic aura. It is a rollercoaster of emotions for the fans, managers and the chairman, with the constant “will he won’t he” creating a sense of uncertainty. It is a baffling situation where clubs of all sizes and backgrounds get the opportunity to finish their business in the transfer market until the next window. However, why is there such a mad rush? Clubs have had since July in the summer window to begin dealing in the market, yet in many cases clubs “miss out” on the last day due to a lack of time before dealing closes. Deadline day is stressful for all; managers are locked in rooms frantically calling agents, clubs and players; players are dashing up and down the country in all modes of transport; while fans are sat nervously in front of their television sets hoping, wishing and demanding that they get their man. The 2011 summer transfer deadline day provided drama and excitement of epic proportions, but who has gained and who has lost out in the day etched into all football fans’ diaries?

The clubs most involved on the final day were Stoke, Queens Park Rangers and Arsenal. Remarkably Arsenal had gone through much of the transfer window without delving into the transfer market considerably. It was glaringly obvious to neutrals and Arsenal fans alike that the Gunners were weak at the back and needed significant investment. However, it took an 8 – 2 drumming by Manchester United for Wenger to see that reality. Only on the last day did the usually tight-fisted Frenchman sense the urgency to bolster his squad. With the money made from the Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri departures, Arsenal welcomed German centre-back Per Mertesacker, Brazilian left-back Andre Santos, South Korean striker Park Chu-Young, Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun and dramatically in the last hour Spanish centre-midfielder Mikel Arteta. It is unheard for Wenger to spend so freely, but it will certainly provide Arsenal fans with a little more reassurance going into the rest of the season after torrid first month. As the case with most transfers these days, they were all completed for an undisclosed fee. But as Arsenal fans across the country wake up with a sense of relief after their day’s dealings, there will be another set of fans waking up in despair, those from the blue side of Merseyside.

With an hour to go before the end of the window, a reasonably quiet day for Everton FC due to their current financial constraints was coming to an end, with Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe looking set to be the only capture of real significance. By 11:15pm the mood had changed around Liverpool, as it was confirmed that star player Mikel Arteta would be joining Arsenal on a four-year-deal. The Arteta deal was a coup for Arsenal, who needed a creative midfielder to replace Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, however, for Everton it was tragic. Everton were able to spend precious little over the summer months due to the financial constraints which were upon them, but the one thing that provided a little joy for the Toffees was (what they thought) the understanding that they would keep hold of all key players. Unfortunately this was not the case, and it now leaves David Moyes in the tragic position where he has lost his key man and left a matter of minutes to find a replacement, which is impossible.

Transfer deadline day has winners and losers, Everton clearly in the summer of 2011 are the ones who have lost out, however, Arsenal are by no means the only club to have a successful last day of trading. As with the Arsenal dealings, I am baffled by the sudden spending power shown by Stoke City. Like Arsenal they had been rather quiet throughout the majority of the transfer window, with a steady stream of free transfers being the only new arrivals at the Britannia stadium. Similarly to Arsenal though, Stoke manager Tony Pulis thrived under the pressure of a clock ticking and managed to complete some of the most impressive deals of the day. New arrivals included England international Peter Crouch, former Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome and Honduran centre-midfielder Wilson Palacios. All experienced Premier League players, with the former’s signature smashing Stoke’s transfer record at £10million. Clearly good business by Pulis, however, the question has to be raised, where on earth was this money previously? Why did it take the last day to realise the club has money in the bank and we should strengthen? It’s one of the mysteries of transfer deadline day, only the clubs will know.

Crouch and Palacios moved to Stoke as part of a max-exodus from Tottenham Hotspur. Others leaving the club included Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley and Alan Hutton. With the influx of funds made by sales, you would imagine the usually busy manager on deadline day Harry Redknapp, would make a few astute buys himself. Harry Redknapp and transfer deadline day come as a pair, every year the North London club release information of a big name transfer with only minutes to go. However, remarkably it was a very quiet day for Spurs with Scott Parker the only player to join the club, with business being tied up earlier in the day. Transfer deadline day is riddled with rumours and speculation, with Spurs usually being at the centre of gossip. With an hour to go in the window, Sky Sports News (SSN) was reporting that Brazilian international Kaka was set to sign for Tottenham. What I fail to understand is where do reporters gain such information from? Harry Redknapp only minutes later confirmed the rumour was false. It is just another mad aspect a mad day, where the reality and rumour are hard to distinguish.

Queens Park Rangers have gone a considerable way to strengthening their chances of avoiding relegation. QPR had already been rather busy in the transfer market up until the 31st, but made a further statement under the new guidance of new chairman Tony Fernandes, signing Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Philips, Luke Young and Jason Puncheon. Before the 31st it was clear that QPR could be struggling in a relegation dog-fight come May. This all may have changed in one day of frantic business, with scenes of players running into Loftus Road stadium with only minutes to complete deals. Similarly frantic to QPR’s deals was the news that Liverpool’s Portugese centre-midfielder Raul Meireles had handed in a transfer request at 10pm, before the 11pm closure and somehow managed to negotiate a deal to move to Chelsea.

Transfer deadline day is a day of mystery, with players plagued by injury like Owen Hargreaves making moves to big spending giants City after leaving the club’s rivals; a day where helicopters are toing and froing between cities transporting players; a day where at the final hour a club could attempt to hi-jack your deal as in the case of Ruiz to Fulham/Newcastle; a day where clubs suddenly have bottomless pits of cash after months of inactivity and finally a day of stress, sadness, joy and excitement which few of us will understand but few will take their eyes off. See you on the 31st January.

David P Harrison

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