Tuesdays have never been so exciting. Even the institution that is the UEFA Champions League and the subsequent “Champions Tuesdays” fanfare it precipitated hasn’t managed to turn a day of boredom and wistful gazing towards weekends past and future into anything more than a filler day.
Seasoned office conversationalists agree on very little- the Euro, Jordan, the eternal cheese versus egg debate- yet most manage to reach a gruff compromise when it comes to naming the most banal day of any week. Tuesday.
Because it works like this. On a Monday you have weekend tales to tell, and in a strange way it can be nice to see people you haven’t seen for an entire two days again. You might even have a new shirt and tie from your weekend excursion to Gap. Wednesdays, well they tend to have office five-a-side in the evening, so the day can be spent picking and re-picking teams, as well as poring over the midweek football coupon.
Thursdays, well they are the start of the weekend these days aren’t they? And there are the five-a-side stories to embellish also. And the Friday feeling, twenty years after the PR department Crunchie tried and failed to, simply cannot be explained. You take that tie off and throw on the new polo, you plan a few drinks in a low-quality alehouse, you talk incessantly of plans for the weekend as if they are of great importance, and the work seems secondary somehow. Phones do not need answering, customers do not need serving, and the clock seems to be in on the act, ticking faster than normal.
Tuesday, by contrast, has nothing going for it. Sure you can chat about the Champions League action, but that only really helps fans of a couple of clubs (or the purist, but since when do they have office jobs?), you can maybe dissect a Monday night game (though SKY and ESPN seem reluctant to utilise this Premier League invention). Tuesdays drift by with nothing to discuss, nothing to enjoy, nothing to anticipate.
Well not any more. This week sees the most exciting time of year condense itself into….a Tuesday! Yes, the transfer window is slamming shut a day later than originally scheduled, due to an unforeseen Bank Holiday which will undoubtedly lead to a pile up of paperwork in the Premier League’s admin department, with most staff off parading round Notting Hill in hula skirts. So the 31st August deadline becomes the 1st September one. The Monday night deadline becomes the Tuesday teatime one.
And boy are we excited. Not as excited as Sky Sports News of course, that would be impossible, but excited nonetheless. Already sensible, grown men are preparing their phones for endless texts to news institutions offering dubious tip-offs. “Marouane Chamakh just arrived at my taxi rank looking for Shenley Training Centre, whatever could it mean?”
Some managers love the last few days of the deadline, Harry Redknapp is like the gambler who takes a jackpot out of a fruit machine- or twelve points from twelve- only to go after that repeat chance and throw another couple of million at a promising young full back.
Tony Pulis’ scout appears to have set up home in the North East and is attempting to relieve both Middlesbrough and Sunderland of all their players- expect Danny Collins and perhaps Kenwyne Jones to appear in a sentence beginning with “Stoke bid” before 5pm on Terrific Tuesday.
Paul Hart too, should be a busy man, Portsmouth’s squad quality may have plunged depths low enough to make Alain Perrin cackle, but he added four new faces on Friday. All of them rubbish. Expect a few more to fatten out the numbers over the next few days, with the last two remaining good players- David James and Niko Kranjcar- likely to leave.
Arsène Wenger is a lot more sensible of course, but still capable of a little deadline day indulgence. Andrey Arshavin was the (tedious) story of the last window, Lassana Diarra was snaffled on deadline day a couple of years back, Denílson a year previously. This year, he may decide to keep his credit card in his wallet after a useful start to the season, though if you ask most he should be scouring the aisles marked “Goalkeepers with goalkeeping ability” and “Strong tall centre midfielders”. Whether he will remains to be seen, Wenger is nothing if not loyal to his charges, but expect plenty of player sightings in and around St Albans this week.
Sir Alex Ferguson is another who is publicly sceptical of deadline day, though that didn’t stop him performing a Bronx-style kidnap on Dimitar Berbatov this time last year in a bid to stop the Bulgarian from taking his languid, chain-smoking, hair-flicking style to Manchester City. This year he has claimed a disinterest in further strengthening the Champions’ squad, though early signs suggest they may need a little fine tuning, perhaps in midfield. Looking round the pool of talent available however shows there are little obvious solutions to such a problem, particularly with Arjen Robben swapping white for red and Real Madrid for Bayern Munich this week.
Rafa Benítez meanwhile is turning over couches all over Merseyside as he looks to stump up enough cash to add in a bit more depth and quality to Liverpool’s squad. Sotirios Kyrgiakos may have been added, but at £2m represents the goo at the bottom of a barrel of sweets in terms of signings, and with the likes of Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin showing little sign of covering for Gerrard and Torres consistently, a new forward option is patently needed. One wonders whether loan moves for the likes of Eidur Gudjohnsen or Ruud Van Nistelrooy would be feasible.
Manchester City seem to have quietened down a bit since they managed, via Joleon Lescott, to dismantle/galvanise (depending on who you listen to) Everton’s team spirit. Lescott & Sylvinho may be the end of Mark Hughes’ summer spending, but with City struggling to turn dominant possession into commanding wins, there may be a sneaky signing or two to arrive at Eastlands, even despite Pep Guardiola’s insistence that he holds little or no interest in signing Robinho.
And speaking of Everton, they are finally in a position to spend a bit of cash. But like the lad who has been out of work for so long that when he finally gets a paycheque, he spends it on needlessly costly designer clothes, David Moyes is taking risks in the market. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov cost £10m from Lokomotiv Moscow, whilst Sylvain Distin cost £5.3m from Portsmouth, both made a winning debut against Wigan yesterday. Reports suggest that perma-frown Scott Brown of Celtic, Johnny Heitinga of Atlético Madrid, and Ever Banega of Valencia will follow them into Finch Farm over the next few days, though Moyes’ forte has always been the capture and polishing of lesser known, hungrier players. His new policy will be under firm scrutiny over the coming months.
Elsewhere down the division, West Ham will be looking to sell before buying. Their latest raid on Serie B has been completed with the capture of Alessandro Diamante from Livorno (jury hasn’t even turned up yet on this one), but the likes of Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson and James Collins are all sure to be linked away as Gianfranco Zola attempts to balance the books, with an FA fine and potential ban for crowd disorder expected to add to the financial constraints at Upton Park. The Hammers have already turned down a bid for Upson from….Fiorentina?!!…but will be bracing themselves from bids from the likes of Villa &, of course, Spurs.
Phil Brown at Hull will be busy, and not just in the mirror either, as he looks to add low quality Sunderland players to his squad. Paul McShane looks a done deal, now if only we could get Daryl Murphy too, we would be certain to go down. Benjani may represent a better signing, though the fact that he was last seen carrying Emmanuel Adebayor’s luggage through the lobby of the Manchester Hilton may count against him.
Sunderland themselves are hatching a sneaky plan of their own, buoyed by Lee Cattermole’s decent start at the club, Steve Bruce is looking into a plan whereby every player who has a 6/10+ performance for Wigan over the last two seasons arrives on Wearside for big money- Maynor Figueroa and, cough, Titus Bramble the latest to be linked. Which is handy, because Roberto Martínez is adhering to a similar policy himself, with a sign in the DW Stadium reading “Wanted: Players. Must have Swansea/Spanish roots”. Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez could soon be joined by Ferrie Bodde, Angel Rangel and John Toshack at Wigan (suppose it’s either that or bring back Amr Zaki and his ego?).
Which leaves the quieter clubs, Bolton, Blackburn, Villa. Villa should add to unfortunate Richard Dunne to their ranks before the close, whilst both Gary Megson and Sam Allardyce will no doubt be maximising the filter option on Football Manager in a bid for cheap/loan signings. The Lancashire clubs in particular appear in dire need of some investment, even if Bolton’s just comes in the kit department.
So make the most of this week boys (and girls, there is no reason why girls can’t love a bit of transfer action), enjoy the moment, this Tuesday may be one of a kind. Terrific, tasty, tantalising……tedious. Wait and see.