What reporting on Tottenham Hotspur on transfer deadline day is really like

Another transfer deadline day at Tottenham Hotspur has come and gone and it’s always a unique experience for journalists as well as the fans.

It’s a day when your phone rarely stops making noises or vibrating, whether it’s pinging notifications or ringing with the possibility of something new arising.

The irony is that, other than the odd deadline day, Spurs are normally quite set in what they’re going to do in the final 24 hours of each window and surprises aren’t commonplace, yet that doesn’t stop mayhem from ensuing.

I’m fortunate that at least I get to do it all from the comfort of my laptop. Sky Sports’ reporters such as Paul Gilmour and Michael Bridge find themselves stuck outside at Hotspur Way all day and night most years, reporting from the training ground when covering deadline day.

A few years back, Spurs made the decision to start allowing Sky’s reporters to stand inside the borders of the training complex, next to academy training pitches, on deadline day.

That came in the wake of one rather embarrassing moment outside another club, which saw a… let’s call it a bedroom toy…. shoved into the ear of one unfortunate reporter mid-live broadcast.

While it was fun to see the fans’ reactions sometimes back in those days, it became more of a fight to get your mates to see you on camera on deadline day and now most clubs let the reporters broadcast inside their training ground complexes, some even let them inside their stadiums.

The clubs are fine with it, as long as they are nowhere near the places where things actually happen on deadline day.

For within the inner sanctums, phones are ringing, WhatsApp messages and emails are flying around and back in the day, faxes were whirring.

Much of that is the noise that seeps out to journalists and plenty of it comes from agents.

For they are busier than anyone on deadline day, not only trying to complete deals for their clients but also drumming up interest in them.

That can result in not only those representatives offering players to clubs but also leaking that club’s supposed interest to the media in order to flush out any real potential admirers who were stalling or unsure.

As always journalists should double source stories before running with them but, presumably in the rush and time-sensitive situation of deadline day some across the world do not appear to.

That in itself creates a snowball effect across social media because the many Twitter news aggregator accounts that extract lines out of reports suddenly can bring a slice of speculation from somewhere as distant as Venezuela to the eyes of Barry from Edmonton or Steve from Wood Green.

Often it’s complete and utter rubbish, something either manufactured to raise interest in a player by an agent or a selling club or simply an unfounded rumour but that doesn’t stop the reader believing it.

That’s where I have to come in, cross-checking everything that I hear from sources outside and inside Spurs.

New Tottenham signing Rodrigo Bentancur after arriving at Hotspur Way this week following his transfer deadline day move
New Tottenham signing Rodrigo Bentancur after arriving at Hotspur Way this week following his transfer deadline day move

I’ve always said it’s more important to be right than first and in the digital age that’s ever more crucial.

On deadline day, getting that second source is even more difficult because the agents actually working on deals or those involved with moves are, understandably, rather busy.

This January with Spurs it was less chaotic because we knew pretty much how the day was going to go.

Both Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski were completing their medicals in Uruguay and Italy/England respectively so they were advanced in their moves.

Likewise by that point Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Bryan Gil and Dele Alli were all expected to go to Lyon, Villarreal, Valencia and Everton respectively.

It was just a case of uncovering the financial side to the deals and, thankfully for us, foreign clubs are often more transparent about that element.

That’s not to say there weren’t curveballs in the final hours. Barcelona were desperate to get Ousmane Dembele out of the door, as was his agent, which resulted in the Frenchman being offered to clubs aplenty, including Tottenham.

With his recent and plentiful injury history and high wages, Spurs politely declined but the reports soon emerged that they were working on a deal, as were Chelsea, only for those stories to be revised later in some countries to the player having rejected Tottenham.

It’s the way the window works, plenty of people trying to make things happen and then attempting to save face when they don’t. Clubs are no different.

In the end it was Everton and Dele Alli who made us wait the longest, a deal sheet required to get that deal done and taking us into the early hours of February 1 before it was finally completed.

I spent that waiting time writing about Fabio Paratici‘s transfer window coming down to a late raid on his old club for two players who, although suiting Conte’s squad well, were two players he’d signed before for Juventus that they no longer wanted, which wasn’t the great advert for transfer window planning.

I also spoke to those around Antonio Conte to find out what he made of the transfer window and discovered that while, like all managers who want more he was no different, but that he was generally content with what had been achieved, particularly in cleansing the dressing room of the unhappy voices of players he no longer wanted or was playing.

On Friday he confirmed that in his press conference when he spoke about his more ‘complete’ squad and Tottenham’s previous transfer mistakes being rectified.

Of those departing players, it was still sad to see Dele Alli go, a player who had the world at his feet but just failed to sustain his incredible momentum for a variety of reasons.

It is a different Tottenham that emerges for the second half of the season and while it has two less players than it started the window with, it’s what Conte wants and that could be crucial going forward.

Source link