(I was going to make some kind of lame attempt at satirising the deadline day rumour-flinging contest, but the Beeb beat me to it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I did spend several hours looking at the aforelinked page, pressing F5 every sixty seconds or so.) Instead, here are a few brief and random utterances on The Day That Changed The Game Forever and other matters.)
As Arsene Wenger audaciously SWOOPED for a French National DVD highlights compilation and a nice bottle of red, all that's left to ponder is that astounding, out-of-the-blue transfer involving clubs in Spain and Lancashire. The surprise of Steve Finnan's move from Liverpool to Espanyol reminds us of how rarely footballers reared within the British system venture without. Back when men were men, shorts were short and the Irish were likely to be British, several Irish internationals had spells in that mysterious land known as The Continent. Liam Brady won two Serie A medals at Juventus at the beginning of a seven-year spell in Italy; Mick McCarthy played for Lyon; Frank Stapleton spent a wretched few months at Ajax before winding up at Le Havre; Kevin Moran played for Sporting Gijón; John Aldridge's move to Real Sociedad was both historic and highly successful; even Gary Waddock managed earn a few francs at Charleroi. Add to this the British players who at least had a go abroad in the eighties and nineties: Platt, Gascoigne, Walker, Hateley, Lineker, Archibald, McInally, Blissett, Cowans, Atkinson, Richardson, Cunningham, Lambert etc. Such hardy explorers are rare these days: a combination of the Premier League's wealth, an insular society and, dare I say it, a lack of interest from foreign clubs in players of limited technical ability. It's always nice to see a British-based player dare to cross La Manche, and it is for this, as well as selfish national-team based reasons, that I wish Finnan every success at Montjuic.
Manchester City's becoming the Chelsea of football has left me dumbfounded. It's all too much for someone of my puny intelligence to take in. I think I feel disgust, but it may be fear.
At time of writing, reality has turned in on itself down Tyneside way. Kevin Keegan is seemingly both manager of Newcastle and not manager of Newcastle. Paul Doyle published a fine piece on the Guardian blogs several hours ago (ah, more innocent times) which is well worth reading. Doyle mentions the "sniggers about his [Keegan's] sensitivity". I've always admired this quality in Keegan, and even as I winced at the downright spooky adulation that accompanied his return to the Toon, I hoped he'd do well. He has been criticised by many for sticking by Joey Barton, but whatever cynics may suspect are the real reasons for this, I'm inclined to believe that it is born out of genuine loyalty and compassion. His outburst about Samir Nasri's trip on Barton may have crossed the line between loyalty and wilful blindness (no word on Barton's near ankle-breaker moments earlier?), but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because I'm sure he's desperate for my approval.
LA Clippers star Baron Davis has a sly dig at Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas over taxation (link via Ball Don't Lie). The gauntlet has been thrown down, Lamps and Stevie G: next general election, I expect no less than a heated argument on Newsnight over the role of Britain in Europe. Get swotting.