Friday, 1 February 2013

Window of inopportunity (is that even a word?)

Ahhh February 1st, the footballing equivalent of New Year's Day or the day after your birthday.

Have you ever woken up with the cold light of day piercing the curtains, bringing to an abrupt end a fitful, uncomfortable sleep, with more questions than answers, and a dreadful combination of random lucidity, realisation and fear filling your every thought? "What did I do last night?" "How much did I spend?" Or, in Harry Redknapp's case, "What the hell is Jermaine Jenas doing here?"

On those awful, awful mornings, you spend the next few hours tramping about the house scratching your head, wondering if it is too late to right the wrongs of yesterday, but the evidence soon appears and you are left to scramble hopelessly around, stuck in damage-limitation mode. If we're going to continue this tenuous analogy which has gone way too far already, let me please ask this: how much did Peter Odemwingie have to drink last night?!

I am of course talking about transfer deadline day and, like most things in life, it turned out to be dreadfully predictable. Arsenal once again ignored their obvious need for an extra player or two until long after everyone had cared, signing Nacho Monreal from Malaga. By the way, Monreal looks like a strange mix of Peter Crouch and Luka Modric, which I find incredibly disturbing. The injury sustained by Kieran Gibbs in midweek meant that Arsenal were left without a recognised left-back for at least three weeks. I understand that Andre Santos occasionally tries to find his way to left-back, but the key word is 'recognised'...and I don't recognise Mr Santos as a footballer, let alone a specialist in a position.

By contrast, QPR had a very busy day. Knowing that heroic defender Ryan Nelsen was on his way to the MLS to teach soccerball, the Premier League's bottom club were keen to add a defender or six. Christopher  Samba duly arrived after a turbulent spell at that Russian club with the long name, while Jenas and Andros Townsend came later in the day. Incidentally, Harry Redknapp appeared nonplussed when asked about his association with transfer deadline day, but the man spends so much time leaning out of his car in front of a camera, answering benign questions, he should be made a spokesman for his local McDonald's Drive-Thru.

But seriously? QPR signed three average players and nearly signed two others? Am I the only one who finds transfer deadline day incredibly self-serving and tedious? Much like the Premier League itself, it is an opportunity to maximise interest and revenues in a declining entity. Remember when deadline day was exciting? Me neither, except a few times when a couple of billionaires went mental and bought everything in sight. The main excitement from yesterday was Odemwingie NOT signing for someone. Yes, the West Brom striker will now be left with a situation more awkward than Lance Armstrong playing 'truth or dare' and I can understand that that is vaguely amusing for a minute or two. However, gossiping about how people will have to deal with their workmates is not the domain of the football fan, we seem to prefer hypocrisy and beating the crap out of each other instead. Thanks again Millwall by the way.

Forgive me for making a political/economic point, but in difficult financial times, with a triple-dip recession looming, how can we justify a system which allows Mr Samba - a decent, but hardly world-class defender - to earn £100,000 a week? It is not Samba's fault, but such a vast inflation of his perceived talents are surely thanks in no small part to this ridiculous, over-rated, disappointing day. What the transfer window provides is a licence for men with more money than sense to take vast, unjustified gambles to promote their own image, at the inevitable expense of their club. QPR may have yesterday's activity to thank if they avoid relegation, but what if they don't? What if they are left with these expensive trophies which seemed so attractive the night before? What if, going back to the case of 'the morning after', the club are left with the awkward situation of getting them to leave without giving too much away and not looking like a prick?

In Arsenal's case, why did they have to rush to buy Monreal in the first place? Because they were left with Andre Santos. Why? Because of the deadline day of Autumn 2011, when Arsenal bought five (I think) players in a desperate bid to halt an alarming early-season slide. How many of those signings have proved to be worthwhile? Per Mertesacker still has the jury out, albeit in no rush to deliver a verdict, much like how Per is never in a rush...ever. Yossi Benayoun and Park Chu-Young have since moved on, leaving Mikel Arteta as the only success from that day...and he hasn't exactly set the world alight, has he?

Anyway, that's quite enough from me. I can't believe how many serious points I've made in this post, this is not what I want to do. That said, perhaps I am maturing into a more rounded, context-driven and focused sport writer. Maybe this the new me. Maybe this marks a change in the direction of this blog.

On the other hand, boobs.

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