For most of Europe the annoying leak that was the summer transfer window finally stopped its constant dripping in the early hours of Saturday morning, after a final day frenzy when Sky Sports News presenters talked up a “Totalizer” as if clubs were contributing to a charity telethon target rather than often spending their way to the road to ruin where Portsmouth, Leeds United and Glasgow Rangers have already taken the first steps in previous seasons.
Dragging into the season, as well as being a distraction from football itself, the window has meant that games ahead of the international break give little indication of what may follow, with lots of unsettled players who don’t know where their future lies, and managers unable to fully implement ideas with a far from finalized squad.
The reason buying clubs wait for the late deals is obvious, with selling clubs and agents looking to inflate already obscenely high amounts of money for players by generating bidding wars when there is plenty of time for an auction. Come the last forty-eight hours those prices often reduce dramatically as clubs look to reduce wage bills in what for the previous three months has been a seller’s market, fuelled by the media and the idealistic fan, who thinks one more passing midfielder whose name ends with a vowel will suddenly transform the fortunes of a team.
With Paris Saint-Germain’s combined £60m purchase of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva from Milan and the £30m they spent on Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi, there appears to be little impact of the impending Financial Fair Play Regulations on the biggest spenders in the game, although the Italian economy may have had a slight boost. Likewise, in Russia, Zenit Saint Petersburg have given the Portuguese exports bar graph on the re-selling chart a surge with £65m on Hulk from Porto and Alex Witsel from Benfica, with expenditure that far exceeds their income. And their spending is not over yet, with the window still open tonight.
In England the most significant transfer was Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to Manchester United, with his match-winning hat-trick at the weekend showing the relative value of United’s outlay in comparison to Liverpool’s purchases in the last eighteen months, which their owners say affected their business this time round.
Generally clubs continue to repeat their mistakes in having to make wholesale changes after either admitting their managerial choice isn’t working out, or worse, panicking and losing faith in their original strategy and needing to embark on transition on a regular basis.
Little good comes out of the transfer window though in the last week the revelation that two separate twitter accounts who were generating transfer rumours admitted they were making them up was a nice footnote to the frenzy that feeds lazy hacks and fans looking for scraps. Like religion, the baseless transfer gossip shows people will believe in anything if they want to. It gives hits to poor websites, fills airtime on phone-ins and overshadows the real game, at the expense of any insightful analysis. Only three months until the pre-January speculation starts again.
The Substantive Football Columnist Mel Gomes’ new e-book ‘Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley’ is now available to preview and download from Amazon and Smashwords. With past recollections of matches including Clasicos, Milan Derbies and Diego Maradona’s one appearance at White Hart Lane, it covers a journey over land and sea in the 2010-11 Champions League, with an epilogue at the end of the 2012 season. New, independent writing on popular culture, it is being backed by The Substantive.