Trumpets trump, fireworks explode, agents scramble, fax machines are twirling and Jim White's face is looking more and more like a pomegranate as the evening draws in. That's right folks the transfer window is drawing to an end and I for one am glad to see the end of it. In the age of 24-hour sports, TV news and Twitter, a monster has been created.
It is a heaving, all-encompassing monster that sucks up whispers, conjecture, misdirection and flat-out lies, only to spew them out in 140 characters or a rolling yellow ticker at the bottom of your screen. A monster that has its ring master in the form of a silver haired Scotsman who can muster incredulous excitement from the most mundane of transfers.
A monster with its own legends such as Robinho expressing his delight for signing for Chelsea when it was in fact Manchester City he had joined and who could forget Peter Odemwingie driving to Loftus Road to push through a transfer as football fans looked on agasp. A monster that creates comedy gold like 'The Roll up man' reacting to the fee paid for Wilson Palacios.
As I settled down to watch Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield the buzz in the pub was all about the transfer window which was a mere 36 hours from 'slamming' shut. Patrons were commenting on the quality of the transfer window - it somehow now has a measure of quality. It is now a source of entertainment, an event, but how did we get to this stage and how culpable are we in its creation?
It was 2002 when the transfer window was made compulsory by FIFA. Initially devised to bring some sort of stability to clubs and to prevent those irascible scoundrels, football agents, from destabilising players and clubs by making 'come hither eyes' to other clubs in the hope of a better deal. It also served to stop big teams from destabilising rivals at key parts of the season.
The explosion of social media in the last few years has proved to be a real game changer when it comes to the transfer window. Unsubstantiated rumours become solid gold facts within a couple of retweets. Countless times this summer tweets have appeared referring to deals being done and then the clincher appears on your timeline: "Betting has been suspended on X's move to Y." You can point fingers at any number of potential culprits for these red herrings: agents or players trying to get a new deals, clubs trying to force offers from other clubs or clubs playing PR games with their own players.
These summer transfer stories take one of a couple narratives. Stoorman, Thiago, Fabergas, Fellaini and now Herrera; it has been a rollercoaster summer for Manchester United and their fans in their hunt for a new midfielder. Years of Alex Ferguson ignoring the declining quality in the United midfield meant that David Moyes' first task was to secure a top class midfielder. An addition would solidify the idea that United were making moves to improve an evidently stagnating midfield. Narrative established, it was now down to agents and media to run and run with a long list possible candidates. Fans, myself included, get sucked into the maelstrom and begin to fantasise about the possibilities of these superstars. We should know better, and in moments of clarity we recognise how silly and irrational the whole thing is, but then again there is often very little rational about the relationship supporters can have with the game and in particular their club.
The final narrative is the unhappy superstar. Of course rich footballers can be unhappy, it's just a more comfortable kind of unhappiness. We have been spoiled for choice with both Rooney and Suarez filling backpages and timelines with their emotional states. 'Angry and Confused' was Rooney's state of mind after some provocative quote selection by the press. 'Liverpool lied to me' came the headline from Uruguay. The beauty of reports coming in a different lanuage is that anything can be put down to mistranslation. Lazy journalists and Google Translate are a dangerous mix. Fans lap this up and with loyalty being a curious and precious commodity for football fans, the unhappy superstar is manna from heaven for the football media. This is especially true if you have another club willing to play the potential suitor. "Rooney is the only one for us," said Mourinho which turned out to be a barefaced lie, but we enjoyed it.
We have opened Pandora's Box with the transfer window. It has become too big an event now to revert but it certainly could do with reform. The window should shut before a ball is kicked in anger, managers make plans for their season building plans around their most talented players only for a big club to swoop in with an offer which can't be refused. The added TV money has made this occurrence less prominent this season. Modern technology has meant that I will never go back to checking page 338 on Ceefax for transfer rumours but that is not to say that we can't still be surprised by the odd football signing.
For all the transfer junkies the season is drawing to a close but fear not it is only a short four months to the January window and a giant clock counting down on Sky Sports News. At this stage the window could only be improved as a televisual event by the addition on a massive gong to be struck at midnight followed by streamers and fireworks and Jim White flying around the studio like a deflating balloon.