Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Window of opportunity nears chaotic closure

Ankara’s rammed Esenborga Airport was an unlikely scene of mass hysteria earlier this summer, and it wasn’t a visit from the Pope or an Elvis comeback concert that the Turkish capital was staging, but a feverish welcome for quite a different hero.

Darius Vassell may be a striker with a less than handy knack for not scoring – best known for missing a penalty in England’s Euro 2004 quarter-final exit – but, at his new home, he has been embraced like a messiah.

Described as ‘more than a player’ by Ankaragucu fans’ placards, the former Manchester City misfit looked understandably surprised as around 3,000 supporters let off flares and chanted his name.

And it is this maniacal response to new arrivals that embodies the world’s undying thirst for the circus of the transfer window, which comes to a frenzied close today.

Whether it is a Bosnian wonder-kid heralded as Man United’s new favourite son, or an unattached journeyman going through the motions at a trial match in Grimsby, football transfers capture the essence of a British summer like the sight of a binge-drinking 16-year-old girl lying face down in a puddle of gravy and vomit outside Oceana, just hours after collecting 27 A* GCSEs.

The closure of the window, however, is as much a harbinger of the summer’s end as a chilly autumnal shower, and it is accompanied by chaotic ‘wheeling and dealing’ all over the world.

As 5pm nears, tanned and bejewelled agents across Europe will be frantically trying to explain why their Lithuanian utility defender is worth a last-minute multi-million bid, while managers will jostle for the signature of an aging forward whose ‘dream’ it has always been to join an underachieving Championship club.

And our friends at Sky Sports News will be there, anticipating every routine medical or rumoured trans-continental swap deal with the sort of excitement Carlo Ancelotti feels when he enters Greggs’ bakery.

The window won’t re-open until January the first, so make the most of Sam Allardyce’s latest pursuit of a fading former ‘Galactico’, ’Arry Redknapp’s bid of £3m and a bag of chips for David James, or Phil Brown’s failure to attract a confused Argentine playmaker to Hull.