The sad decline of transfer deadline day
Last night was as bad as it has ever been
A simple question that will never be answered satisfactorily: what the fuck happened to transfer deadline day? Did you think this last night? Did you think this as Leroy Fer completed his loan move to Swansea? As Jordan Rhodes completed an on then off then on again transfer to Middlesbrough?
Something broke the back of transfer deadline day and it will never be the same again.
For a time things were good. Jim White became the statesman of a new national holiday. Robinho and Berbatov moved to Manchester on the same day in 2008 – a big bang moment – and then there was the swaggering flush of deadline day’s imperial phase, which saw a country paralysed as Torres moved to Chelsea and big Andy Carroll went to Liverpool on the same evening. The holiday was diverse, but inclusive. It was as dramatic as those transfers illustrate, but it was also hilarious – who could forget Peter Odemwingie pulling up to Loftus Road in his Range Rover only to be told he couldn’t join QPR? Redknapp explaining through a car window that “wires had been crossed somewhere”? Julian Faubert was loaned to Real Madrid on a deadline day ffs. Julian Faubert.
Was I the only one who could hear the sound of the barrel scraping as a dead eyed Natalie Sawyer could barely summoned the energy to explain Mathieu Debuchy’s move to Bordeaux?
This is my theory.
We have many watershed moments, moments that reach through time. We always remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when they happened. There are a hundred thousand Daily Express mums who could tell you where they were when Princess Diana died. You remember where you were as gunmen rampaged through Paris last year.
And accordingly, deadline day had its own watershed, which I find it hard to forget, but also hard to recall without laughing. It was 2014 and the sun was setting over Merseyside. There was some talk of Tom Cleverley moving to Everton. None of that mattered though. No, what mattered, was the four or five seconds of live television when a grown man, an Everton fan, brandished and proceeded to wave a big purple dildo in Sky Sports News reporter Alan Irwin’s face.
Eras are defined by such moments. Everything that comes after them seems less substantial, less interesting. Transfer deadline day ascended to such a plane of television perfection when Irwin encountered that purple dildo that it has never been right since. Things used to be, said Kanye, now they not. Deadline day once saw a professional reporter warily face down a dildo on live television, now they telling us Eder has left Swansea. It’s not the same.