Transfer deadline day: An evening with Jim White

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What better way to spend a Monday than eagerly watching the likes of lovable Scottish ‘cheeky chappie’ Jim White and his fellow sports news presenters aimlessly stumble their way through a whole raft of tedious transfer rumours and tittle-tattle in?

Cutting yourself repeatedly with a rusty blade while reading Ashley Cole’s autobiography and listening to Scouting for Girls’ back catalogue for 24 hours, perhaps.

In any case, this is exactly what many thousands of football fans the length and breadth of the country will have done yesterday (the sports news channel thing, not the Scouting for Girls thing, we hope), anxiously waiting for their club to unveil the shiny new centre-back/goalscorer/bloke who can actually kick the sodding ball straight they’ve been desperate for since... well, mid-August.

Scouting For Girls? Try finding us a good left-back instead, mate...

When woke up on Sunday morning, Manchester City were the country’s favourite ‘crisis-club’, on the verge of a footballing and financial implosion. By the time our heads finally hit the pillow in the early hours of Tuesday (just to clarify, we all sleep in separate beds), they had gubbed Sunderland 3-0 away from home, become possibly the richest club in the world thanks to their new Arab owners and completed the sensational signing of Brazilian superstar Robinho, having put feelers out for Dimitar Berbatov, David Villa and Mario Gomez along the way.


All the excitement at Eastlands wasn’t enough to tear Mark Hughes away from the golf course, with the City boss seemingly insistent on finishing his round before sitting down for talks with Berbatov, long after his club had agreed a fee with Spurs (City may have new owners, but they're still quaintly old-fashioned in the way they get permission to speak to players before doing so).

Whether it was that delay or the fact Berbatov wanted to play Champions League football at a club where it isn’t blatantly all going to end in tears (come on City fans, we’ve been here before haven’t we?) remains a mystery, but chances are it was a bit of both.

The confirmation that the Bulgarian would finally be completing his protracted move to Old Trafford actually came after midnight, with Spurs announcing the £30.75 million deal on their official website at 00:35.

Berbatov smiles. No, the photo's not upside-down...

It was in this statement that a more surprising transfer was confirmed: Fraizer Campbell’s loan move to White Hart Lane.

With allegations abound that Sir Alex pretty much abducted Berbatov from Manchester airport and drove him to their own training ground when Spurs had been expecting him to travel to City’s, it is at this stage unclear whether the ramifications of United’s conduct will be any more severe than a slap on the wrist and being forced to spend 20 minutes on the naughty step.

One thing that is for sure is that, for the first time this summer, a tedious, drawn-out transfer saga has ended in the player getting the move he had initially wanted, after Emmanuel Adebayor, Cristiano Ronaldo, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Gareth Barry all ended up staying with the clubs they spent 2007/08 with.

Best day EVER!!!

Despite the amazing scenes in both the blue and red corners of Manchester in the dying hours of Monday night, the big question on the lips of the good ship was whether Sky Sports News duo Ian and Alex Payne were related or not.

The pair doubled up between 10am and 1pm, with Payne the younger getting a bit carried away with the excitement of it all, as displayed by the following dialogue:

Ian P: This is one of the best transfer deadline days ever!
Alex P: This is one of the best days ever!

Bless him. We can't discount the possibility that Alex is Ian’s 13-year-old son and has been brought in to Sky Sports HQ to stave off the boredom of the final few days of the summer holidays.

There were more scenes of slightly over-the-top elation developed later on outside the Britannia Stadium, where Stoke clinched late deals for Sunderland defender Danny Higginbotham, Palace midfielder Tom Soares and Sheffield United winger Michael Tonge – him that looked really good five years ago. Literally dozens of fans congregated outside the ground to await the return of the Messiah (that’s Higginbotham by the way), Tonge and Soares, who, as good as they are, would probably be the first (and second and third, presumably) to admit they’re not quite in the Robinho bracket.

"...and for my next trick, I'll turn water into a long punt upfield!"

Other than the two last-minute Manchester mega-deals, the deadline day was probably an anti-climax. No big new signings at Tottenham (other than the confirmation of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka arriving at White Hart Lane), Arsenal, Chelsea or Newcastle (the fact Valencia and Deportivo were more keen to point out that their players were leaving Spain than Newcastle were to announce they’d be arriving in the northeast speaks volumes). Everton, oddly, announced the £15 million signing of Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellani from Liege at gone six in the morning. Maybe their fax-machine was knackered.

So the window shuts for another four months and fans of most clubs outside Manchester (and Stoke, it would seem) may well feel like they’ve got their little finger caught in the swine. Roll on January 1st!