As the deadline clock ticked towards 11pm, and clubs scrambled to squeeze in one last loan signing, Monday’s closing of the transfer window became awfully reminiscent of the final minutes of a student disco. When the DJ reached for a couple of slow numbers to finish the night those remaining upright, but alone, would scan the room wondering if there was someone left they would want to go home with.
They might have a reputation, they might not be exactly who you wanted, they might be on the rebound, but they were available. Thus QPR and West Ham were attracted to Emmanuel Adebayor, West Brom pursued Carlton Cole and Everton, Hull and Stoke chased Aaron Lennon.
In the end, of those three, only Lennon ended up in the warm embrace of a loving new club, opting for Everton, not that he seemed too thrilled in the photographs. The others were left frustrated on the flattest of deadline days. Indeed, Harry Redknapp appears to have decided to quit the scene altogether and settle for quiet evenings by the fire in Dorset.
The 16 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
The 16 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
1/16 Manchester United sign Andy Kellett
Manchester United, the self-style biggest club in the world, were in dire need of defensive reinforcements. They seemed to be linked with just about every centre-back going, but it seems one player was overlooked. Step forward Andy Kellett. The Bolton player was deemed the worst defender in the Championship according to one statistical analysis website, but that didn't put United off and the 21-year-old joined on loan in one of the strangest deadline signings in memory.
2/16 Peter Odemwingie to QPR?
One of the weirder stories of recent years. Odemwingie took it upon himself to drive to London from West Brom and spoke of his excitement about joining QPR. Unfortunately the Nigerian was to discover his club hadn't given him permission to speak to Harry Redknapp's side so Odemwingie suffered the indignity of being locked out of Loftus Road and sent back to the Hawthorns with his tail firmly between his legs. Unsurprisingly he was shipped out of West Brom as soon as the window next opened.
3/16 Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester - but City or United?
Dimitar Berbatov completed a last minute move from Spurs to Manchester United in 2008 but when he travelled north to complete the deal the cigarette-smoking Bulgarian apparently thought he was signing for Manchester City. United were the ones that picked him up from the airport though and it was Old Trafford he ended up at.
4/16 Robinho's slip of the tongue
Newly rich Manchester City might have been pipped to the signing of Berbatov, but they did their own bit of hijacking by snatching Robinho from under Chelsea's noses. Following his arrival Robinho explained how the deal went down: "Chelsea made a great proposal on the last day and I accepted". When asked if he meant Manchester City, Robinho replied: "Yeah. Manchester. Sorry!"
5/16 Ryan Babel's mystery flight
Ryan Babel was spotted getting in a helicopter bound for London on deadline day in 2010 but where was he headed? No move ever materialised and the mystery continues to this day. Just where was the Babelcopter going?
6/16 Is that what I think it is?
The cheering and jeering behind tired-looking Sky Sports reporters giving bulletins from outside training grounds was nothing new, but last year the rowdy crowds managed to take things to a new level. Incidents involving swearing and a sex toy led Sky to take the cameras out of reach of the public for the latest deadline day, probably much to the relief of their staff.
7/16 How much?
When Chelsea splashed £50m on Fernando Torres, in 2011, some felt they'd overpaid. Fortunately Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool were on hand to put things into perspective by immediately spending £35m of that money on Andy Carroll - a man with just a good half season of Premier League football behind him. Dalglish lost his job and Carroll is now at West Ham.
8/16 Julian Faubert to Real Madrid
Arguably one of the strangest transfers of all time, in 2009 Real Madrid took Julian Faubert on loan from West Ham. To the surprise of no one it wasn't a success, Faubert made just two appearances and once fell asleep while on the bench during a game.
9/16 It was the snow!
When that window slams shut (it always slams) trading ceases - unless you're Arsenal that is. The arrivals of Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil took what felt like an age to be confirmed but Andrei Arshavin's £15m arrival in 2009 literally took days to be announced. There was some excuse about adverse weather conditions, but that didn't stop Arsenal's Premier League rivals from raising an eyebrow or two.
10/16 David Beckham joins PSG
While any criticism of Sir David of course borders on sacrilege, and Beckham's decision to give all his wages from the club to a children's charity is to be applauded, the fact that he chose to make the move on deadline day when as a free agent he could move whenever he liked, did seem quite a lot like attention-seeking.
11/16 Benjani's airport nap
Sounding more like the badly thought through excuse of a schoolboy than a reason that almost scuppered a transfer, Benjani wrote his way into deadline day folklore in 2008. Flying from Portsmouth to Manchester to finalise a move to City, the striker rather unfortunately fell asleep in the airport, missing two planes and nearly ruining his chances of a move. In the end Man City fans must have wished he had.
12/16 Samba time
Nothing sums up the mad decisions made by desperate clubs during the January window than the signing of Chris Samba by QPR. The relegation threatened club forked out an incredible £12.5m to bring in the former Blackburn centre-back to save their season - and also agreed to pay him £100,000-a-week. Turned out he wasn't much help, at one stage even having to apologise for being at fault for two goals in the west-London derby defeat to Fulham. QPR were relegated and Samba returned to Anzhi Makhachkala.
13/16 Leeds let down
When Leeds fans were instructed by their club's official Twitter account 'Don't go to be just yet... there is still work to be done' excitement levels shot through the roof. Who was arriving? A star player from the continent? A big money deal? A little later the Twitter feed was used to announce Matt Smith and Dominic Poleon had left Elland Road. With the deadline klaxon then sounding and still no big arrival in sight, this dropped: 'After a busy last hour that is us done for the 2014 Summer Transfer Window #DeadlineDay'. What teasers.
14/16 Alan Pardew's lucky day
Bizarrely and seemingly with a whiff of something shady, 2006 saw Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano arrive at West Ham looking more than a little confused. In the end the third party deal was ruled illegal and West Ham had to pay a £5.5m fine and £20m compensation to Sheffield United who were relegated when Tevez's goals kept West Ham in the league later that season.
15/16 Arsenal signing Kim Kallstrom
The arrival of Kallstrom wasn't exactly what Arsenal fans were hoping for in January 2014, but Arsene Wenger explained it was an emergency loan. Fair enough. But it turned out the Swede had a back injury (from playing beach football) and didn't feature until the end of March, one of just four appearances for the Gunners.
16/16 Harry Redknapp DOESN'T lean out of his car window
It's a staple of the transfer window but one year the Sky Sports cameras failed to get any pictures of Harry Redknapp leaning out of his car window to offer up some juicy news. Actually, that's never happened. But how much stock can be put in Harry's words is debatable anyway. He once insisted nothing was going to happen only for Spurs to complete an eleventh hour £8m swoop for Real Madrid's Rafael Van Der Vaart. The scoundrel.
What was striking about those Premier League players on the move, or touted for transfers, is that none of them were first team players at their clubs. It was managers clearing out the shed and trying to shift the dead wood.
That was the case for the rest of the transfer window too. Only one first team regular was sold, Wilfried Bony, and even then Swansea made £16m profit and already had understudy Bafetimbi Gomis, retained despite advances from West Ham. Otherwise, from Ossama Assaidi to Wilfried Zaha, Jozy Altidore to Mauro Zarate, clubs were busy trimming their wage bill of unwanted players.
This reflects several realities. Premier League clubs are now wealthy enough to resist most bids for their players, especially mid-season when it is hard to get a replacement. Thus Burnley held on to Danny Ings, Southampton Morgan Schneiderlin and Everton Kevin Mirallas.
Then there are the strictures of Financial Fair Play, both Uefa’s and the Premier League’s. Aside from Manchester City, who seem oblivious to its restraints – and no wonder after a gentle slap on the wrist from Uefa, most clubs largely balanced the books.
Chelsea’s sales more than accounted for the purchase of Juan Cuadrado. Of other clubs who spent more than £5m net Arsenal have cash to spare, Southampton spent some of their summer profits, and Crystal Palace’s outlay was not as large as it looks as Manchester United will have owed money on Zaha. Which leaves Leicester City, who bought conservatively in the summer and so could afford £9.5m Andrej Kamaric.
Maybe clubs were also being careful because the players being moved out underline how difficult it can be to get transfers right. Zaha, Altidore, Zarate, Scott Sinclair, André Schürrle, Samuel Eto’o, Tom Ince, Matija Nastasic, Mohamed Salah, Jordon Mutch and Maurice Edu have all disappointed. And that roll call of failure does not even include Brown Ideye, West Brom’s £10m misfit, signed without Alan Irvine seeing him play and scorer of one fluke goal. Albion were unable to shift him, even at a cut-price fee.
Getting it right in January, when time is often too tight to do due diligence, is harder. There are few successful deals and even some of those that work out, like Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, do not prosper until the next season, when the player has had time to bed in.
Those moves blossomed into long-term relationships, and who’s to say that Dame N’Doye and Hull will not fall mutually in love, and Darren Fletcher lose his heart to the Hawthorns? Mostly, however, transfers consummated on deadline night are soon regretted.
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