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Why are we so in love with a notion?

The circus was back in town earlier this week, and one of its main attractions was Carlton Cole. Yes, it was ‘The Last Day Of A Preordained And Really Quite Long Period Of Time In Which To Sign Players’, or Transfer Deadline Day as Sky Sports would have us call it. But now that the dust has settled once again on the tumbleweeds, can we say who the winners are, if any, of the culmination to this particular window?

Of course, Sky Sports do not know the meaning of ‘underwhelming transfer’. The yellow ties and sunny smiles were out in full force, once again highlighting how there is no business quite like show business. Although in this case, there almost was no business. A surprisingly large part of the day was spent unpacking the intricacies of Robert Huth signing for Leicester City. On loan, too.

The risk Sky Sports takes by putting a substantial number of eggs in its Transfer Deadline basket stems from the fact that the corporation cannot control the events themselves. At least, not yet. Therefore this Monday night witnessed a level of padding not seen since White Chicks. But even when the day yields a spectacle that is far from compelling, every subsequent Deadline Day will still foment enthusiasm and optimism from those hoping their club, or any club really, will pull an intriguing signing out of nowhere. We love the idea that our club could make a dramatic late marquee signing more than we love the actuality of Dame N’Doye signing for Hull. We are in love with a notion, and it doesn’t do us any good at all.

As long as everyone involved shouts loud enough and fast enough, nobody will really notice whether it is any good or not.

Evidently this year Jim White had angered the transfer gods in some fashion. There was something very twisted and hollow about two of the most notable transfers being Ryan Bertrand and Wilfried Zaha signing for clubs at which they were already stationed on loan deals. These transfers may also prove to be two of the most successful. Bertrand to Southampton was a matter of when, not if; his impressive performances in an impressive team ensured that his loan would become permanent, although it is saddening that Chelsea cannot find a use for a burgeoning yet already accomplished English talent. Zaha has proven to be a monumental waste of money for Manchester United, but Crystal Palace will welcome him back with open arms and an open chequebook. Palace will build around him, whereas the then United manager David Moyes buried him to the reserves.

In another uninspiring vein for those seeking drama, Chelsea completed the biggest transfer deal of the day in taking Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina for £23.3 million in a move that absolutely everyone saw coming. Aaron Lennon’s ecstatic arrival at Everton injects a similar degree of pace to Cuadrado, albeit with a greater onus on his performance to improve an ailing Everton’s fortunes. Cuadrado might be reduced to an impact substitute at first, such are the perils of signing for Chelsea. Southampton also strengthened in the attacking department with Filip Djuricic’s loan deal from Benfica, attracting acclamation for their decisive actions on the most hectic of days.

Failure to act on Deadline Day stimulates such condemnation from some commentators, whose discerning eyes cannot possibly comprehend why certain clubs have proved unable to do last-minute business. Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa are obvious examples, neither adding to their striking options. Newly-managerless QPR were touted to require another striker to ease the burden on Charlie Austin, while for Aston Villa it was deemed imperative that they signed somebody who actually had a reasonable idea on the location of the goal. Emmanuel Adebayor and Rickie Lambert were chased by the respective clubs, but neither move materialised. Yet their dormancy in the last mad scramble before the window closed will not be the significant factor if either club is to be relegated. If Austin is injured for a prolonged period then perhaps the exciting talent of Eduardo Vargas can carry the load. If Aston Villa can convince Christian Benteke that he is a £30 million striker and not Emile Heskey, then their entire dynamic of the team will change. If a slouching Adebayor or a deteriorating Lambert are the only options at the end of the window, then perhaps the best business was no business.

The rise of the short-termist approach has developed concomitantly with the worshipping of Jim White and the glorification of his day, Transfer Deadline Day. Long-term strategies and youth academies are sacrificed in the name of quantity-over-quality, of the notion that it is better to do something rather than nothing. Even if that something is the signing of Carlton Cole. West Bromwich Albion and QPR both chased this apparently highly-sought striker, with West Ham blocking a late move to the former. Cole is claimed to have yelled obscenities down the phone to his manager Sam Allardyce in a ballsy move, accusing his boss of ruining his career. Never has the ‘last chance saloon’ feel of Transfer Deadline Day been more appropriately epitomised, and one can’t help but wonder if all the strife could have been avoided with a wee bit of long-term planning.

Ultimately there are no winners on Transfer Deadline Day, because fortune in football does not live or die on a single day. Carlton Cole and Emmanuel Adebayor will be disappointed not to have moved, whilst Zaha, Bertrand and Cuadrado will have delighted their new clubs with their arrival. Sky Sports neither wins nor loses, because come next year people will still care about the day, irrespective of if anything actually happens. Whether football can ever shake the allure of Transfer Deadline Day remains to be seen; short of the abolition of transfer windows altogether, there is no solution. However, the quieter nature of this week may spark a trend of clubs finalising deals much earlier in the window. But there will always remain the possibility of a last-minute deal out of nowhere, and so the last day of the transfer window will continue to be whored out to Sky Sports. And as long as everyone involved shouts loud enough and fast enough, nobody will really notice whether it is any good or not.