It probably says everything about the place transfer deadline day has in modern sport that for the past year the National Football Museum has been displaying a yellow tie in the same glass cabinet as one of John Motson’s sheepskins and the old Spitting Image puppet of Gary Lineker. It belongs to Jim White, the Sky Sports presenter who is now so synonymous with the first day of September the cameras actually follow him from his car and through the air-conditioned corridors to begin his shift, wearing the important look of a prime minister who has just cut short his holiday to take care of some urgent business. “A symbol of one of the biggest days in the football calendar,” Kevin Moore, the museum director, said on the historic day that yellow piece of cloth was handed over.

This part of the year certainly makes strangely addictive viewing even if it is difficult to think that anything on Monday will ever trump that night, six years ago, when the Abu Dhabi United Group took control at Manchester City and introduced themselves by spraying out big-money offers for just about every superstar footballer who might be available – including, as mentioned here before, a £30m bid for Lionel Messi in one of the classic Garry Cook moments (after a comment about “it’s getting messy” was misheard on a telephone line from Abu Dhabi and Manchester and somehow became “let’s get Messi”).

Funnily enough, Barcelona weren’t keen to do business. Yet it quickly became apparent City were never going to be the same club again and it still feels slightly surreal remembering getting through to Sulaiman al-Fahim via a delayed line to the Middle East, and hearing him, in his role as a spokesman for City’s new owners, outline what to expect next. Fahim mentioned Thierry Henry, David Villa, Mario Gómez, Cesc Fábregas, Fernando Torres and more.

Cristiano Ronaldo was at Manchester United at the time. “Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world, so we will see in January if he is serious,” Fahim said of a team that had finished the previous season with an 8-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. It was journalistic gold-dust. Then a little more research revealed Fahim hosted an Apprentice‑style show called Hydra Executives in which his catchphrase was “Impress me!” Bond-villain style. It was not long before Sheikh Mansour decided he wanted someone with a little more decorum to front the new regime.

Six years on, City will be keeping their distance this time. Sky might send someone to stand outside the Etihad stadium but they would be wasting their time. A few people might turn up to get on television but the shutters will be down. It was last October when the club held their strategy meeting to identify the players they wanted over the summer. By the second week of June, the deal for Bacary Sagna was confirmed. Willy Caballero came next, followed by Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala. Identify, negotiate, complete, and leave all the last-minute business for everyone else. That’s the way City operate these days: quietly, efficiently, and with a firm understanding that it is always better in football to do your talking after the event, rather than before it. There is a lot to be said for it.

The transfer window is certainly a good barometer as to which clubs have been operating with logic, forward planning and minimal risk‑taking and, just as relevantly, which have not. This year’s trolley dash at Arsenal is for another defender and a replacement striker for the injured Olivier Giroud (even though they have had five transfer windows since Robin van Persie left the club to assemble a forward line capable of dealing with that kind of setback). Manchester United are still in the market for a centre-half and another midfielder, even with Daley Blind coming in from Ajax. These are the moments the transfer-holic football fan seems to love. But the best teams always tend to get their business done early then watch the rest with haughty detachment. All that scurrying about, standing by the fax machine and trying to beat the clock for whoever might be available is not a good look.

Chelsea are a good example of how it should be done bearing in mind their main business, in the form of Diego Costa, Fábregas, Filipe Luis and Didier Drogba, was all in place by July, and they could hardly have moved with any greater speed for Loïc Rémy once it became clear Fernando Torres was leaving for Milan. Of course it helps belonging to the super-rich but Arsenal are hardly skint and there is a recurring theme given they have signed nine players this way in the past 10 seasons, including Mesut Özil this time last year. The injury to Giroud is unfortunate but successful clubs do not tend to be overly reliant on one player and Arsène Wenger, trying his best to convince us he will still be happy if no one comes in, will have to forgive the scepticism when the first person he mentions among the “unbelievable” list of alternatives is Yaya Sanogo, who has never scored for the club and with the best will in the world looks like he could do with a spell on loan in the Championship.

United, too, should be better than this bearing in mind the amount of time they had to identify replacements for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, especially when behind the scenes they will admit long-held concerns about the way Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans have not advanced as they had hoped, and their shared tendency to pick up injuries. Sir Alex Ferguson used to say the club were above all this last-minute haggling and, with a couple of exceptions, that was generally true. These days, their experiences in the transfer market can resemble the clubs they used to scoff at. It’s Manchester United, but not as we know them, and it is tempting sometimes to think it might benefit them to bring in someone to fill the director-of-football role that Louis van Gaal will understand well from his days in Holland, Germany and Spain.

That model has certainly done City no harm bearing in mind the expertise with which Txiki Begiristain has done his work alongside the manager, Manuel Pellegrini, in a way that recognises the chief executive, Ferran Soriano, and the chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, already have a 24/7 job running other parts of the club. Begiristain does not blur the lines by dabbling in team matters like some sort of quasi-manager. He does, however, have an immense contacts book and an acute understanding of football, relationships and negotiations.

Perhaps it is also time Brian Marwood, his predecessor in the role, was given more credit, especially when City have just awarded new contracts to five of the players who were recruited on his watch and largely form the bedrock of the team: Sergio Agüero, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov and Edin Dzeko. Roberto Mancini resented Marwood for not beating United to Van Persie’s signature and never missed an opportunity to bring up those grievances when everything started to unravel. Elsewhere at City, Marwood is regarded extremely highly. He delivered far more good than bad before becoming their academy director (and don’t make the mistake of thinking that was a demotion) and he and Begiristain have shown it does work having someone in that position between the manager and the top of the club.

They, like Chelsea, will be watching Monday’s events with the indifference that comes from thinking it is the last opportunity for the unprepared. It is the other clubs, trying to beat that moment when White wraps up everything with the bongs of Big Ben, that really need to consider whether there is a better way.

Leeds on way to making Venky’s look good

A while back, I expressed the hope that someone was working on the full warts-and-all book of Blackburn Rovers in the Venky’s years so it could be held up as a permanent keepsake of how not to run a football club.

Blackburn, to give them their due, appear to have stopped operating to the theory of chaos and now it is the turn of Leeds United’s, once again, to take over as football’s equivalent of Monty Python’s Silly Party.

Dave Hockaday will surely have to go down as the most ludicrous appointment in the club’s history but, then again, it was always likely to be that way when we are talking about someone whose previous job, eight months earlier, at Forest Green Rovers is encapsulated by online videos of fans chanting for his sacking. The first rumblings I heard of Massimo Cellino wildly exclaiming the job was too big for Hockaday came one game into the season, but the Yorkshire Evening Post now reports that it went back to pre-season and that when Hockaday tried to offer an opinion about the club’s fall-out with Ross McCormack he was reminded to “shut the fuck up”.

Cellino’s time at Elland Road has also included an internal investigation, with the Football League notified, about suspected cocaine use by unnamed parties (nothing found) and the story of Paddy Kenny, whose apparent weight issues were compounded in the eyes of the owner because he was born on 17 May – and 17 is the number the superstitious Cellino finds so offensive he banned it from his previous club, Cagliari, insisting the seats were called 16B.

Staff at Leeds talk of Cellino chain-smoking in his office with a tower‑block of cigarette packets stacked up on his desk and, best of all, a fruit bowl filled to the rim with jam doughnuts. Keep your eye on this one because this isn’t going to be the last of the fun. Unless, perhaps, you are a Leeds fan.

Moyes snub shows Celtic’s waning status

Ronny Deila, who already seems to be ageing after nine games as Celtic’s manager, was not first choice for the job. One of the people Celtic discussed was David Moyes but feelers were put out and the message came back that the former Manchester United manager did not find the idea appealing.

Moyes’s view was based on the fact Celtic had to negotiate three rounds of qualifying matches for the Champions League and his assessment of the team was that there was far more likelihood than not they would come up short. After that, what is left for Celtic but the near‑formality of winning the league? Even that would be a strange kind of job satisfaction when Glasgow’s other major club, and the two from Edinburgh, are not involved.

It turned out his judgment was spot on and the past few weeks have brought home just how much they, and Scottish football, have fallen behind. Celtic have had bad times before but it always felt like they meant something outside of Scotland. They mattered. But right now, even if it is only a passing phase, it does not feel that way.

Just consider what has happened to the manager who left at the end of last season after winning three titles, the last of them by 29 points, and making no secret that he wanted to work south of the border, even if meant starting in the Championship. Since then, nine different jobs have been filled in England’s top two divisions and Neil Lennon has not been near any of them. He will get his chance eventually, but success with Celtic appears to be tainted success.