Sick and tired of January transfer window
I pretended I was a footballer this week (don't laugh, please). A 21-year-old. I was in my car on the way to Swansea with a view to signing for them. My phone rings and it's Norwich City, asking me to sign for them instead. I turn back. I sign.
In the space of a few hours, my life has been turned upside down - in a way I didn't expect when I got into my car and pointed it westwards. After all, I am only 21 years old and I am being asked to make what are effectively split-second decisions on my future.
While everyone else is watching Sky TV's ranks of reporters who have been sent out with instructions to stick their microphones in any car window that happens to open on the way out of a Premier League club's training ground, the scenario that faced Ryan Bennett illustrated exactly why the January transfer window should be scrapped.
Paul Lambert usually does his business early on, and I don't know what the circumstances were that led him to sign Bennett from Peterborough United in the final hours of the final day of the window. I'd be very surprised if he fell to that emotion that afflicts other managers - panic-buying. The feeling that you absolutely need to buy someone is obvious judging by some of the purchases through the seasons. But it leads to problems: sudden, late decisions can be costly mistakes. That can affect the player and the man who signs him. Andy Carroll was bought for a British record �35m, on the final day of the January window last year. How much of that was a panic buy by Liverpool? How much was a burning sensation in the pocket caused by the �50m cheque banked from Chelsea for Fernando Torres?
Carroll has been a flop. Had he and Newcastle and Liverpool had a little more time to think about the whole deal, they'd have realised he needed to stay on Tyneside a little longer. Instead, some people got a little greedy and a young footballer's career has hit the rails.
Carroll was 22 years old when he agreed to the move. You need more than a day or two to think that one over. But the window and its restrictions and its panicky managers and its big fat cheques doesn't allow that. If you don't take your chance, it may never come again - but if there were no window, then there'd be no need to rush these things.
The wives and children of footballers must dread January, given that their lives could be turned completely upside down - but they have to wait up to 31 days before they know that for sure.
- 1 Blaze sees 20 passengers evacuated from city bus
- 2 First-time publicans transform their local and are already winning awards
- 3 'Significant construction' on A47 to begin in 2023
- 4 Parked cars prevent buses from serving north Norfolk village
- 5 All of the Norfolk streets that won the Postcode Lottery in June
- 6 John Bailey: Lord Botham, our cricketing angler/conservationist
- 7 Vehicles worth £50k stolen from Royal Norfolk Show
- 8 Buses damaged in city centre collision
- 9 Farmers could be paid to leave fields fallow to end homes limbo
- 10 New pub landlord welcomes back families and introduces street food menu
Take away the window and you take away the panic, personal and profesisonal.
Of course, there is this bizarre assumption in football that by signing new players you are freshening up the squad. Why? Buying dross to replace dross doesn't freshen up a squad. Buying much better players does, but then you upset players already in situ, who think they're going to be shipped out or dropped. It's that panic thing again.
And then, just to add to the whole damned circus, the Premier League decide, in their wisdom, to schedule fixtures for the final night of the window.
If panic is the order of the day, spare a thought for the managers who were on the touchline watching their teams when they really wanted to be on the phone trying to sign Tom, Dick and Harry. How many players slipped through the net because they got a manager's answer phone message 'I'm sorry, but David can't come to the phone right now, he's busy watching his team play an important game. But if you'd like to leave your name and number he will get back to you etc etc etc'.
The deadline has become hugely important to fans - the Pink Un's live coverage of transfer deadline day was our most successful yet in terms of traffic. The page recorded 19,342 page impressions.
It is big news, but is that enough reason to make it so unpalatable?
And one more thing. Why do managers go to such great lengths to deny the rumours that inevitably circulate?
Glenn Roeder was asked whether the reports that he was about to sign Arturo Lupoli were true? Roeder said he'd never heard of him. Which would have been fine, except that Fiorentina had announced that they had received an offer from the Canaries, who duly signed the Italian a few days later.
Football is riddled with similar incidents. The transfer window brings out the worst in all sorts.
• WHY THE FA HAVE JUMPED THE GUN
I am a true believer in the justice system – perhaps I am just gullible, but innocent until proven guilty prevails.
Which is why the John Terry situation is such a difficult one. John Terry is innocent. The fact he has a court appearance to answer a charge of using racially abusive words against Anton Ferdinand doesn't alter that.
Part of the reason for questioning his ability to captain England is that he will more than likely be playing for his country in this summer's European Championship in Ukraine - sadly, one of the hotbeds of racial intolerance by football supporters.
If England players are subject to abuse, it wouldn't look good to start complaining when you have a skipper who has a racism claim hanging over his head, would it?
Well, actually, it shouldn't matter.
I am no lover of John Terry, as a player, or as a person. Never have been, never will be. But he finds himself in a difficult position - and it may not be of his own making.
What happens if he is acquitted of the charge?
The FA, by stripping Terry of the captaincy, have ridden roughshod over one of the basic tenets of democracy; the bloke has been subject to some sort of kangaroo court style justice.
Also, doesn't making such a major decision on Terry prejudice his case?
• IT'S RUDDY HELL
There was a time when you could look through the Norwich City squad and pick out players who had bird names for surnames. We had Crow, Crane, Eagle and probably a few more.
The long hours in the Astra on the way to away games were spent picking themed teams - there'd always be cities - Dublin, Edinburgh - or countries - Brazil, England. Yes, I know, we should get out more.
Now the theme is confusion. We have two Bennetts - Elliott and now Ryan - and a Barnett (Leon). We have a Ruddy (John) and a Rudd (Declan). We have two Martins (Russell and Chris) and we've only just whittled it down to one Johnson (Bradley) after Oli left.
The two Holts - Grant and Gary - may well bump in to each other at Colney, but they don't trouble the teamsheet compilers.
My rumour mill stars now - I do believe Danny Fox will be signed from Southampton to cause confusion with D (David) Fox and James Morrison will move from West Brom to confuse us all round with Steve Morison (him of the missing 'R').
And while I predict that Paul Lambert will sign Saints striker Rickie Lambert, I don't believe he will stretch to signing Andy Drury - not to be confused with Adam Drury - from Ipswich.
• CATS THE CREAM
Hope Norwich fans were impressed with their matchday programme on Wednesday. They should have been because Sunderland have won the Premier League Programme of the Season award, with Brighton & Hove Albion taking the Championship award.
The honours come from the national memorabilia magazine, Programme Monthly & Football Collectable. They gave Sunderland an nine out of 10 - City were given seven, while the lowest marks went to Blackburn (five), who were a point worse than Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester United and Wigan.
Blackburn and Wigan may have some excuses, but given that they are all in the top three of the attendances table, you'd probably expect more from the others.
Frankly, I don't think programmes are a patch on what they used to be.