Early Doors

Happy transfer deadline day!!


Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the day that common sense forgot! Join us on our journey for the next 15 hours as we traverse the orgy of frenzied speculation and alarming panic-buying that is transfer deadline day!

While Romans once had gladiatorial combat and the Greeks the ancient Olympics, the peak of modern sporting combat plays out in the nation's boardrooms and training grounds and, of course, the coliseum itself, the Sky Sports News studio.

Watch logic and economic theory fly out of the window as a day drenched in testosterone and adrenalin reduces even the most hardened manager to a twitchy, sweaty mess. It really doesn't get any bigger than this.

Well, that's the theory at least, enthusiastically advanced by those who have a vested interest in making the day a national TV event to rival the Queen's Speech, Comic Relief or the final of Tom Daley's Splash!

Sky Sports News' transfer deadline day shtick can get tiresome after 10 or so hours, but Early Doors can only commend the success the channel has had in transforming a day that essentially features speed admin into high drama.

Before the birth of Britain's only 24-hour sports news channel, before the Internet even, ED and others would experience deadline day through Ceefax, waiting for the analogue service to flick round to page one of the done deals list and quickly scanning it in the vain hope of seeing confirmation that Hristo Stoichkov had arrived.

Now very little is left to the imagination. Thanks to the endearingly smug army of on-site reporters - ranging from the rubber-faced Gary Cotterill to friend of the stars David Craig - and the Minority Report-esque SkyPad that, manned by either Dharmesh Sheth or the perma-grinning Bryan Swanson, attempts to identify the latest pre-crime taking place at QPR as Tony Fernandes gets robbed blind again, the vast majority of transfers are tracked all the way, their anatomy poured over.

Sky are there at the start - their mysterious sources either turn up great stories or follow Twitter's lead with suspicious speed - they capture players arriving at training grounds, entering hospitals for medicals, bunkering down at hotels and, finally, are often rewarded for their hours spent out in the freezing cold and rain by being given the scoop when the deal is actually done.

It's easy to get sniffy about the Isleworth hype machine but in truth Sky own transfer deadline day. And if there was no Sky Sports News to watch, to analyse or to gently poke fun at, every single other media outlet would have an awfully difficult time of filling their live blogs all day long.

Of course, the slightly deranged star of the show, now Andy Burton has retired his two phones at least, is Jim White. Such is his rampant enthusiasm for deadline day, you could be forgiven for assuming he has taken to mainlining liquid Viagra for the duration of his shift.

Hyperactive, intensely irritating yet undeniably essential viewing, White is Sky Sports News made flesh on this, their biggest day of the year.

ED will be watching, you will be watching, everyone will be watching. So to make it a little fun, here's a mini bingo card of what to look out for. Play along if you want.

1. Idiot fans

Twice a year it is now an annual ritual for kids to bunk off school and congregate behind their nearest Sky Sports News reporter, cheekily mouthing obscenities in shot as they boast to their mates on the phone. For some reason Stoke always seems to have the most boisterous local youths, as well as boasting the finest deadline day extra ever seen, Roll-up Man.

2. A hoax

With so much information flying about the ether, and speed being of essence, mistakes will occur. ED remembers a famous occasion when a man purporting to be Jonathan Woodgate's agent led the team at Sky on a wild goose chase by convincing them Arsenal had made an offer for his client. Similarly, what else but a hoax could explain the presence of the words 'Carles Puyol is on his way to London to sign for Tottenham' on the famous yellow bar in January 2008? Yes, that really happened.

3. Harry Redknapp's car window

It is a dreadful cliché, and derivative jokes about Redknapp winding down his window while Kevin Bond sits implacably next to him have now reached 'John Terry celebrating X' levels of inanity, but it will happen. It just will. He will poke his head out and say: "I like Jermaine, yeah, he's a top, top player, but really you'd have to ask the chairman about that Gary, he does all the deals."

4. Jim White's arrival

In recent windows, Sky have taken to filming the deadline day sensation as he arrives at work, heads to make-up and then emerges on set like some kind of silver screen darling, a modern James Dean. It's all very self-reverential and annoying, but you can't help but admire the niche he has carved for himself thanks to years and years of hyperactivity. No TV personality has been as intimately associated with a particular day since Jools Holland and New Year's Eve, and they both get to enjoy a countdown with Big Ben too. Transfer deadline day? More like Jim White's Hootenanny.

5. A helicopter

The standard mode of transport for Premier League stars hoping to push through a late, late move on transfer deadline day. It used to seem as though Benjani had a private 'copter on retainer, such was his penchant for last-minute moves, while Ryan Babel famously used one to travel down to London in 2010 to talk to West Ham. That led to the birth of the term 'Babelcopter', which the former Liverpool man now uses liberally when debating the day's moves on Twitter.

So there you have it. Make sure you play along today and fingers crossed something half interesting actually happens. The Eurobot is already in gear and is an essential accompaniment to all the day's developments.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'd wanted to play for Milan for such a long time. Obviously I played for other teams and couldn't come. But when there was the chance, I ran." - Mario Balotelli leaves no one in any doubt as to the fact that he is desperate to join the Rossoneri. That will go through today.

FOREIGN VIEW: Teenager Raphael Varane earned Real Madrid a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. The 19-year-old centre-back, in due to the injury-enforced absence of Pepe, enjoyed an exemplary game, making a goal-saving tackle on Pedro before nodding home nine minutes from time to keep Madrid on level terms ahead of the second leg. Cesc Fabregas's earlier goal means Barca have a good foothold approaching the second leg.

COMING UP: It's all about deadline day today, though you can also watch all the highlights from the midweek Premier League games online now. We will also be publishing our Team of the Week and speaking to Jan Molby.