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On the road to nowhere

The fact that we became so enamoured with the Peter Odemwingie tale on transfer deadline day is probably not coincidental.

Peter Odemwingie was less happy last Thursday eveningPhotograph: Getty
Peter Odemwingie was less happy last Thursday eveningPhotograph: Getty

Frankly, not much else happened, at least not involving the top clubs. Left-back Nacho Monreal to Arsenal for £8 million, striker Danny Graham to Sunderland for £5m, a few other bits and bobs. The two biggest deals, Mario Balotelli swapping Manchester City for Milan and Chris Samba making his pricey return to the Barclays Premier League, were finalised on "Deadline Day" but announced several days before.

It was a lot like last season in fact, when the biggest reasons for Jim White to get excited were Nikica Jelavic and Pavel Pogrebnyak.

And a hell of a far cry from 2010/11, when Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll, David Luiz and Fernando Torres did their musical chair thing for more than £100m combined.

Without much else going on – apart from the pathological Stoke fan who stood next to the Sky Sports News reporter and kept lifting his shirt to expose and massage his nipple – Odemwingie took centre stage.

Led to believe that West Bromwich Albion were on the verge of negotiating his transfer to QPR, Odemwingie and his agent hopped in his car and drove the 80 or so miles down to Loftus Road.

When they arrived though, they found that the deal was far from complete. And, in fact, QPR would not allow them into their offices.

It's the sort of thing that happens all the time in football but, of course, the TV cameras were there, prompting much hilarity.

West Brom said he wasn't authorised to be there (as if they can "authorise" what Odemwingie does when he's off duty), QPR boss Harry Redknapp called it "a mix-up" and the media picked on the Nigerian international as some sort of paradigm of the greedy footballer, forcing moves to other clubs. Which, as Odemwingie himself pointed out, was rather funny, since what happened wasn't too dissimilar to the way his transfer to West Brom from Lokomotiv Moscow unfolded. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

The West Brom striker insists that technical director Dan Ashworth gave him permission to leave the club, that he went around and said farewell to players and staff, and that QPR were expecting him. It's an entirely plausible explanation.

But, of course, it's not quite as funny as the image of the Nigerian man knocking on QPR's doors and being turned away, just like the predictable Twitter funnies "Odemwingie is on my front stoop! He wants to come in! I'm going to tell him to get lost!"

Tee hee. How droll. Sometimes fiction – and yes, just because it's on TV doesn't mean it's real – is funnier than reality. At least to those who are easily amused.

Only Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have a higher seasonal net transfer spend than QPR. With Redknapp's crew dead last in the premier league, you can see why they rolled the dice on the likes of Tal Ben Haim, Loic Remy, Yun Suk-Young, Jermaine Jenas, Samba and Andros Townsend.

Alas, apart from the latter, who is on loan, all those guys will be stuck on QPR's payroll now. A bit like Robert Green, Samba Diakite, Stephane Mbia (the man who, lest we forget, thought he was joining Glasgow Rangers), Esteban Granero, Julio Cesar, Junior Hoilett, Park Ji-Sung, Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora, Nedum Onuoha and the rest of the gang Mark Hughes brought on board during his 11 months in charge.

Owner Tony Fernandes has hinted that he might sell the club if they get relegated. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that QPR will be worth close to nothing if they do go down. In fact, like a large pile of rubbish, you may need to pay someone to haul it away.

Who's going to stump up real cash for a club with a tiny, outdated ground, less than five miles from two other premier league sides (Chelsea and Fulham) and an enormous payroll thronging largely with players who have no resale value?

Because that's the reality of QPR. Except for Jamie Mackie, the holdovers from the Warnock Era are ancient (Clint Hill and Shaun Derry are 34 and 35 respectively). Adel Taarabt is a gem, but his erratic ways have earned him the "nutjob" label. Most of the rest are older guys who have huge long-term deals making them very difficult to shift, even on free transfers. Or folks such as Jermaine Jenas, who has started two league games in the past 20 months but, somehow, got a contract at Loftus Road.

Relegation shouldn't be a death sentence if a club is run properly.

QPR, however, have made such egregious mistakes that – if they go down – they'll need to throw good money after bad and swallow huge losses.

That will be Fernandes' dilemma. You'll lose shedloads of money either way. Do you stay and fight, knowing it will cost you another small fortune? Or do you take it on the chin, suck up your losses and walk away?

Apart from Lucas Moura – whose £35m transfer from Sao Paulo to Paris St Germain actually was finalised in the summer but only completed now – the transfer window's biggest move was that of Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk to Anzhi Makhachkala for £30.4m.

Some see it as heralding some kind of shift in the balance of power from west to east. We've heard it before and it's a bit premature to draw such a conclusion. But it remains a fascinating move for so many reasons.

Willian is 24 and Shakhtar arguably played the best football seen in the group stage of the Champions League. He not only had the chance to achieve something important with Shakhtar this season (they face Borussia Dortmund – a tough, but not impossible, draw), he also had access to the best possible shop window of all. Instead, he's moving to Anzhi where he'll get some Europa League action and may or may not qualify for next season's Champions League.

Would it not have made more sense to wait until the summer?

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