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Sky's troops taking the pizza in pursuit of D-Day landing


Leeds United striker Ross McCormack

Leeds United striker Ross McCormack

Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Leeds United striker Ross McCormack

'This is deadline day," they roared regularly on Sky Sports News and possibly on all of the other channels which now push their deadline-day services, but nobody roars like Sky Sports News roars.

For deadline day to work, there needs to be some jeopardy, a QPR which has decided to panic and panic in the most public fashion.

Sky tried, they tried hard on Friday night and when Ross McCormack went on air to talk of his deep despair at what was happening at Leeds, Sky felt they could have the last-minute cross-country chase that drives the plot.

There was a desperation to get things moving. They quickly revealed that "six clubs" were now interested in helping McCormack make a break for it, information which had come from McCormack's "team of advisors".

This was not the time to ponder why Ross McCormack would need a team of advisors and it wasn't really the time to consider real news, the unfair sacking of Brian McDermott, not when that sacking could lead to some frenetic activity and provide a twist in the transfer market.

Without this danger, the event loses its purpose and its purpose is, of course, to provide mildly hysterical television for a day.

"Wow, now we've got our breath back," Jim White said at the end of the night and nobody could question his breathlessness.

It would be tempting to say that Jim White has jumped the shark except that would suggest that there was a time when he was an Ed Morrow figure, calmly delivering the deadline-day news instead of a man who has always been prepared, not only to jump the shark, but to wrestle it to the ground if it would provide some entertainment.

White is like a man who is visited by a documentary crew as he prepares to appear in The Mousetrap for the 7,456th time, determinedly insisting that the role still holds a massive, massive appeal for him.

He was captured arriving at Sky's headquarters carrying a briefcase which contained "important documents". Why anyone would give Jim White important documents remained unanswered.

Jim mugged furiously for the cameras, handed his co-host Natalie Sawyer some flowers furiously for the cameras and generally provided that furious energy on camera which was his hallmark before it became self-consciously his hallmark, perhaps due to it all being captured on camera. Sky's deadline day provided some evidence that clubs had got wise. Even those at the bottom of the Premier League like Fulham and Crystal Palace were involved in steady and reasonably private acquisitions.

Manchester United have had a season-long panic but when they signed Juan Mata, they would panic no more. David Moyes told Sky there was no need to stand outside the training ground, United would be doing no more business. Sky feared mind games and their man stayed where he was.

All their men did, no matter how unlikely things appeared. In Stoke, the excellent Rob Dorsett ended up reporting on the delivery of a pizza while the man in Sunderland was fretting over Lee Cattermole.

"We're trying to work out the future of Lee Cattermole," the Lee Cattermole correspondent reported and while it could be an enduring riddle, it was a riddle which would probably involve many, many red cards.

So Sky were right to create their own cast in the studio, bringing in men like Simon Jordan and, well, Simon Jordan to explain how it all works. Deadline Day has now become a celebration of the contribution made to our game by men like Christian Purslow.

Purslow's greatest triumph in a transfer window was to sign Joe Cole but every six months he appears like a grizzled veteran, doing the job that used to be done by men like Charlie Wheeler during a US presidential election.

Strangely, the Cole deal didn't get much of a mention as Christian cast his expert eye over proceedings and expressed some regret that the money Liverpool received for Fernando Torres hadn't been better spent.

Liverpool were out in the field again. Ian Ayre was in Ukraine hunting down Yevhen Konoplyanka. It was a spectacular achievement to turn the pursuit of a player Liverpool didn't really need into a crisis, even if Ayre might have been blameless.

Ayre, off-camera but believed to be in Dnipropetrovsk, began to resemble Paulie and Christopher in the Pine Barrens episode of The Sopranos when they get lost in the forest in pursuit of a Russian they thought they'd already killed.

Ayre was out there somewhere, closing the deal only to find that the deal didn't want to be closed.

This epic pursuit ended like so many others on the night. Sky's deadline day was turning into an act of existential angst which would have pleased Beckett. Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful.

At one point the presenters of the news interviewed the presenters of the next section of the news who were relaxing in the Sky coffee shop. What did they have coming up on their show, the presenters of the news asked the presenters of the news in a minute.

We have been schooled well enough by Sky to know that if anybody had any news, they wouldn't be sitting in a coffee shop waiting for their shift to kick in.

They would be hurtling through the building, followed by the camera crew, high-fiving members of the production team and Christian Purslow before arriving on the studio floor by knee slide.

Sky might have destroyed whatever it was that made deadline day but they created whatever it was as well. They know too that they have a captive and desperate audience. The craving for transfer speculation is the craving for an immediate high. It is the crack pipe for football supporters who know that the only thing worse than taking a hit is not taking a hit.

So Liverpool fans despair, forgetting that they once celebrated the arrival of Andy Carroll and Joe Cole, expending the same energy in celebration as they did on Friday night getting angry.

Deadline Day is the great celebration of our addiction. We are waiting for the man and if the breaking news is that there is no news we'll wait just a little bit longer.


Irish Independent