There's only one way to approach the final day of the transfer window. The experienced fan knows the drill by now. One must steel oneself against the misery of hope by adopting a withering and almost debilitating level of cynicism -- the kind of world-weary detachment which would shock even the most misanthropic soul.
Haughty derision must be the default setting as each new BREAKING STORY skitters across the yellow and black ticker. Sneering disdain must be the only reaction when one's club is LINKED with a LAST MINUTE DEAL for a superstar. If these directions are not followed, there is the very real possibility that one may end the evening a gibbering wreck, frazzled by a day of social media skirmishes and Sky Sports' patented hysteria.
This year, Liverpool fans have been mercifully insulated from the worst excesses of Deadline Day. A combination of an early burst of good business, and the hardening of the heart that comes from successive disappointments, made the late arrivals of another batch of exciting talent seem like divine benison and allowed us to embrace the occasion with the comparative smugness of talent-show contestants who have performed well early and await the nervy turns of those late to the stage.
For your beleaguered correspondent, an inescapable and hellish part of this whole pantomime is the last couple of hours of Sky Sports News' coverage hosted by the shrill and unwittingly camp Jim White. The Scot is now synonymous with the kind of squawkingly insistent and yet ultimately vacuous content which that channel has mastered. THINGS ARE SAID LOUDLY ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN'T HAPPENING as Jim and the redoubtable Natalie Sawyer endeavour to mine content from the least significant of happenings.
Jim has multiple phones which he brandishes like magic wands, daintily informing the viewers that he's just had Harry Redknapp or Ian Holloway on the line and you won't believe what they've been saying so stay tuned through the next set of highly lucrative advertisements and then I'll tell you very, very little indeed. Deary Me, it's all happening now, Natalie.
As a spectacle, Sky must have been shattered by the utter lack of drama on this version of Deadline Day. The set-piece of the day's programming was the unveiling of Gareth Bale by Real Madrid, but as we witnessed the Welshman work his simian charm on the assembled hordes at Florentino Perez's grand unveiling, we couldn't fail to be underwhelmed. We knew this was coming. There was no visceral thrill; no pizazz; no Babelcopter. To be frank, it was as disappointing as Bale's lamentable keepie-uppie skills, as he kissed the badge of the club he has never played a moment for. The whole thing was cloying and irksome.
There were clearly good and bad performers, and it is reassuring to reflect that with their spate of signings and unwillingness to budge on Luis Suarez, Liverpool Football Club can be counted amongst the winners in this contrived competition. The arrivals of Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas in the early part of the window was complimented by the recent signing of Aly Cissokho and yesterday's deals for Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori and Victor Moses. The details of each deal have been covered on these pages already, and when combined with the retention of Luis Suarez and the snaffling of yet another talented Spanish youngster in Rafa Paez, it is easy to see why the club might be pleased with their dealings overall.
Elsewhere there were varied levels of success for the Premier Leagues clubs. Tottenham Hotspur made merry with the ludicrous fee they gleaned from selling Bale to fund a major spree. André Villas Boas is now in possession of a formidable squad boasting the considerable skills of Eric Lamela, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado and sundry other talented sorts.
Manchester United spent most of the summer flirting with ALL THE CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS but when Cesc Fabregas, Mesut Ozil and latterly Ander Herrera failed to pitch-up at Old Trafford, David Moyes was forced into spending almost twenty eight million pounds on a last minute deal for Marouane Fellaini. Neither Leighton Baines nor Fabio Coentrao arrived with him.
Everton recruited James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku; Andrea Dossena moved to Sunderland; Peter Odemwigie drove his car to Cardiff and stayed there; Shane Long drove to Hull and had to drive away again; Stephane Sessegnon moved to West Brom and Arsene Wenger finally caved in and spent the gloriously over-the-top sum of forty two million pounds on the undoubted talent of Mesut Ozil.
All the while, Jim and Natalie told us how dramatic it all was and how you just never know what's going to happen next on this special day. We did know. Roving reporters would fend off mouth-breathing troglodytes as they kept across stories all day, Jim would bleat and mince, Natalie would demur, giggle indulgently and link all the rampant inanity together and very little would actually happen. It's soul-crushingly awful and I fell for it again; oscillating between doomed reveries about Juan Mata in red and shallow schadenfreude as yet another Mancunian deal collapsed for Mr Giant Eyes. Oh, it's a bad business, is Deadline Day.