"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate"
Victor Lebow, economist (1955)
Jim White, yellow ties, Harry Redknapp’s car window, fax machines and Peter Odemwingie; just like the rest of the football world, transfer deadline day now has its own clichés. And alongside those clichés comes the ever increasing belief that fans are now more excited by, and more eagerly anticipating the day of last minute deals, ridiculous rumours and loan moves for unwanted League 1 strikers than FA Cup final day, although it’s hard sometimes to tell if it’s the media driving that desire or simply a savvy media responding to the will of the people; the truth as ever, probably somewhere in between.
There are far funnier and more illuminating write up’s out there if you really want a humorous dissection of Sky’s overblown obsession with men standing in car parks, gradually becoming swamped by an ever rising tide of kids and unemployed people that clearly have nothing better to do than thrust dildo’s into the face of Merseyside football correspondents, but while we can all laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, it does continue a trend where what happens off the pitch seems far more important to people than what takes place on it.
The feverish cravings for signings and transfers is of course driven by the desire for on the field success and yet just how exactly a new player or prospective addition will quite fit into the tactical equation or in any way compliments what you already have doesn’t seem to factor into too many people’s thinking, most worryingly perhaps, including the clubs. I’m sure most people would want Falcao, but does Manchester United need Falcao? Want against need is a philosophical debate to be had but in a consumerist world where we always need more, then the consequence of not being able to score against Burnley leads to perhaps an entirely logical solution; pay well north of £200,000 a week for another super star striker.
But where does he fit? How will it work? What’s the plan? It’s pay now and worry about that later. In the rush for the new shiny car on the market it doesn’t matter what you’ve got in the garage at home, if you can afford the repayment scheme or even if you’ve passed your test in the first place; you have to have that new model because that’s what consumerism tells you. Football is just another player in the social and economic order that’s fuelled by the ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts, and football is a player, especially when it comes to clubs in the Premier League that has money - lots of money - burning a hole in its pocket.
Gary Neville argues that you can tell how well run a club is by the extent of its activity on the last day of the transfer window; efficient clubs have done their business early, whereas those rummaging around in the bargain bin at the last minute are the ones you wouldn’t want in charge of the economy. It’s fine in theory, and perhaps even sometimes in practice, after all Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City didn’t seem to be doing too much scrabbling around yesterday whereas Manchester United were… but the nature of the fans to crave new arrivals almost leads clubs to being panicked into action; no-one wants to be seen to be the club standing still and quietly minding their own business on the day, not when there’s the prospect of missing out on Fabio Borrini.
So are we to blame, the modern fan? Perhaps. Or is it the Premier League, Sky, the media, FIFA, agents, Ed Woodward or even dear old Jim White colour co-ordinating his sparkly yellow tie with his breaking news ticker? Or is it in fact the fault of football itself? Or is transfer deadline day simply an extension of the modern consumerist world in which we live, where no-one is satisfied with what they have and where we always want and crave more? As if a global economic crisis and the moral decay of modern society wasn’t enough, capitalism has given us a sense of hysteria over the prospect of Tom Cleverley going on loan to Aston Villa; it has a lot to answer for.