Early Doors

Austerity shreds deadline day script

Early Doors

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Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin - football needs you (Reuters)

If only football would cast off its new-found discipline and invoke the spirit of Fred the Shred when he was plain old Sir Fred Goodwin.

A day normally synonymous with catastrophic financial mismanagement and ludicrously ill-considered punts somehow passed with nothing more imprudent than QPR splashing £9 million on a pair of 30-something strikers.

The transfer window is usually described as 'slamming shut' when the deadline passes - this time, somebody merely felt a draught, noticed the window had been left ajar, and closed it gently.

Late last night, the Sky Sports News totaliser ground to a halt and time was finally called on the Austerity Window.

Last month's Premier League spending finished up on a measly £55m - that's 1.1 Fernando Torreses, or roughly the same amount as Sky's touch-screen technology.

Like Terry Wogan at the end of a disappointing Children In Need, SSN felt compelled to offer excuses for the lack of spending.

Brian Swanson practically spat the words 'Financial Fair Play' in lamentation of UEFA's nannyish insistence that everybody tightens their belts.

Incidentally, FFP does not discourage transfers. Spending £200m is fine as long as you recoup some cash. You could argue it encourages moves, because clubs who buy are then incentivised to sell.

It was a deadline day in which football's mask of seriousness dropped, with Djibril Cisse setting the tone.

Cisse is no saint, but he is quite funny, a rare commodity among the deadpan cliche-spouters.

He posed after signing for QPR wearing a t-shirt that pictured a woman holding a finger to her top lip, with a moustache drawn on the finger.

Below that, the words: "Life is a joke"

All very droll, and somehow in keeping with a deadline day on which even Sky Sports News could not maintain the pretence that this was among mankind's most decisive  moments.

The Jim White show gets ever more bizarre, with co-presenters openly mocking his childish excitement, and cameras filming his arrival at work - presumably these same cameramen were last year required to cover actual transfers.

Jim (who actually bears a passing resemblance to Goodwin) was marginalised for the evening as the pesky sideshow of five real-life Premier League games cut into the serious business of Adrian Mariappa's will-he-won't-he dalliance with Wigan and Newcastle (SPOILER ALERT: He won't)

When SSN eventually returned to its regular studio, Jim seemed a little overwhelmed.

He announced the Transfer Window 'officially over' when the countdown still read 52 seconds, then when Big Ben was bonging the actual arrival of 11pm, he stumbled over his words and rather unfortunately announced Bobby Zamora's arrival at 'Coons Park Rangers'.

Certainly no more than a slip of the tongue, but an embarrassing one.

The matches at least allowed for a late, late injection of excitement as managers used their post-match interviews to spell out their grand plans for the next 25 minutes.

Harry Redknapp (how we've missed him this month) played all the greatest hits - Spurs had irons in the fire on account of being down to the bare bones.

David Moyes also declared himself eager to dodge his media commitments and dive into the market, sounding like a man with scant regard for the first 30 days of January.

While there were some grumbles that football dare impinge on the last-minute deals, it is worth remembering that the transfer deadline isn't the real, sentient being some would have us believe.

It's just the point at which you can't buy any more players - and if you've got a match three hours before the deadline, you'd be well-advised to get your business done beforehand.

Frankly, anyone lacking the organisational skills to work that one out has no place managing a pub football team, let alone one in the Premier League.


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PROTEST OF THE DAY:  You will no doubt be aware of the scenes at Goodison Park last night when a man handcuffed himself to a goalpost in a hilarious protest against Ryanair.

Early Doors has had its run-ins with the budget airline over the years and only wishes it had thought of the handcuffs thing first.

The man is believed to be John Foley, angered by his daughter's alleged unfair dismissal by the company - claims the airline rejects.

ED can only imagine Foley's daughter watching in horror at home as her dad was led away by the long arm of the law.

Watch the protest in all its crazy glory here (video UK only).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I didn't prepare well for this game. I thought it was maybe easier. I know here it is never easy, never. I acknowledge my mistake. It is important for me to know this because, like this, I can't do the same mistakes in the next game. The players put everything on the pitch but I made some mistakes during the last three days preparing for this game. I didn't prepare very well."

A cryptic Roberto Mancini lays the blame for Manchester City's defeat to Everton at his own door.

FOREIGN VIEW: Third-tier Mirandes' fairytale Copa del Rey run looks in danger of ending after Fernando Llorente scored twice to give visiting Athletic Bilbao a 2-1 win in their semi-final first leg.

Having disposed of La Liga clubs Villarreal, Racing Santander and Espanyol in previous rounds, the lowly club from Miranda de Ebro are dreaming of a final against Barcelona or Valencia.

They were rocked on their heels when Llorente netted his fifth goal in two games to put the visitors two ahead.

Mirandes, who have an annual budget of just over 1.2 million euros compared to Bilbao's of around 60 million, came out fighting in the second half and their efforts were finally rewarded in the first minute of added time when Ander Lambarri drove an angled shot into the far corner.

Full story here.

COMING UP: Five more Premier League games from 19:45 plus Leicester v Middlesbrough in the Championship and an African Cup of Nations simulcast at 18:00.

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