With deadline day passing off peacefully in these parts it was left to the rest of the footballing world to hang on the every word of Jim White and his Sky Sports colleagues.
Far be it for me to suggest that transfer windows are the brainchild of an unhealthy alliance between Sepp Blatter and Rupert Murdoch, but Sky’s ever burgeoning coverage of said twice-yearly event is now verging on the farcical.
Sky Sports News IS ‘Deadline Day’.
While we were spared – at least to my knowledge – the tiresome sight of ‘Arry chatting to a gaggle of reporters via the wound down window of his brand new 4×4, we were instead treated to frothing hoards of excitable teenagers surrounding various roving reporters as they pored over the latest miniscule scrap of ‘news’.
Invariably said hoards were sniggering, gesturing, cheering uncontrollably or a combination of all three; each handover back to the studio guaranteed to end with Sky’s finest being engulfed amidst a sugar-addled, adrenalin-fuelled mass of cavorting chavs.
Neither big nor clever but there was no taking the smile off Jim’s face; Natalie Sawyer the ‘lucky’ recipient of the Scot’s indefatigable exuberance.
For all its drama and excitement – and as exciting as a third hand snippet that has morphed into a ‘Sky Sports understands’ moment can be – I can’t help but feel City were well out of it, with the majority of ‘eleventh hour’ deals smacking of more than a little knee-jerk.
The one area that Chris Hughton hinted to be a possibility for further recruitment was in the winger department with Elliott Bennett’s untimely cruciate injury leaving him a little short of options in that part of the pitch.
Alas, despite a busy day (one suspects) of enquiring phone calls by David McNally and co, there was no deal to be had and so City’s summer activity 2013 has ended on eight new signings; value in the region of £25million. All of them completed in an uncomplicated yet clinical fashion, and done within the ‘club’s recruitment policy’ as confirmed by Hughton in conversation with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham – which I’ll admit was a new one on me.
A couple of names that did the rounds today – both of whom warranted the briefest of ‘Sky Sports understands…’ mentions – were James Troisi and Ricardo Vaz Te, both pacey attacking players from Atalanta and West Ham respectively.
Whether either came close to fruition will likely be revealed later in the week, but with Anthony Pilkington historically prone to niggling injuries and Nathan Redmond still only 19 and therefore susceptible to peaks and troughs in form there was certainly logic in attempting to plug the gaps out wide – particularly in terms of providing competition and cover.
Although not especially in keeping with the rest of the summer signings, Vaz Te is one who has promised much – his winning goal to secure West Ham their return to the Premier League his career highlight to date – but has generally failed to deliver. Most of the arrivals to date have been on a sharp upward career curve; Vaz Te, in all honesty, has probably flat-lined but was perhaps one that Hughton hoped would reignite his career courtesy of a new challenge.
Alas we’ll never find out.
While the Troisi deal appeared to fizzle and wither like the attendances at Portman Road, the Vaz Te deal looked to have been largely dependent on West Ham agreeing to a season-long loan deal; the Eastenders preferring instead a permanent deal with cash to match.
The search for cover in central defence – while once in full swing as evidenced by the bid for Toby Alderweireld – appears to have long since cooled, with the final nail in this particular coffin being hammered in by Atletico Madrid when they, this evening, signed the Belgian international on a four-year deal.
While in pre-season this clearly registered with Team Hughton as an area that required strengthening, the emergence of Russell Martin as quality cover in central defence looks to have convinced City’s boot room that other areas – notably the attacking third – were a greater priority.
With City’s business having been completed early in the window – so much so Sky gave only cursory coverage to comings and goings at the gates of Colney – the main focus was around those heading out of the fine city.
The option of permanent deals initially appeared off the agenda but there was however talk of the likes of Jacob Butterfield and Luciano Becchio heading northward for loan spells – Middlesborough again entering the frame to offer game time to City’s fringe players.
As it transpired a deal that takes Butterfield to Boro was agreed and announced in the early hours, but it was a permanent one that affords the ex-Barnsley man the comfort of a two-year contract. He joins another ex-Canary – Kei Kamara – who also heads to Teeside on a similar deal.
Interestingly, two of City’s summer targets, Ola Toivonen and Fabio Quagliarella, both have stayed with their respective clubs with PSV and Juventus opting to retain their services.
All in all, an exciting day for some – in particular for supporters of Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid – but most importantly another day to remember for Jim White.
Only another 151 days to go Jimbo before we do it all again.