And so, after a recount, the only people in football expected to be completely moral and good little boys during a transfer window are…managers. Everyone else – go nuts.

Strange sport, it really, really is. All manner of chicanery goes on, from the highly financial to the disputing of a throw-in, yet some behaviours are still meant to be as white and pure as all that snow we saw on Tuesday morning.

Come Wednesday, Paul Simpson was getting it in the neck from fans of Bradford City, and a day later, the Bantams manager Graham Alexander was joining in, followed today by their chief executive Ryan Sparks. Simpson’s sin was to answer a question about Carlisle United’s reported interest in the League Two club’s striker Jake Young.

Bradford, said Simpson, were quoting a “ridiculous” fee, and on that basis a deal would not be happening. In saying as much, the Blues boss, according to some, had broken the fifth wall, traipsed over a line, betrayed a code, said “Macbeth” to an actor.

You don’t talk about a player who is contracted to another club, the principle goes. And in an entirely just and clean world, fair enough. But – cough – this is football.

It might not sit easily with those keen on propriety (or, more accurately, those loyally defending their own club’s honour by having a pop at a rival) but if everyone else is free to play their cards during transfer goings-on, why isn’t Simpson?

The matter of Young’s availability, his degree of keenness for a move, Bradford’s willingness or otherwise to do a deal, the strength of Carlisle’s or others’ interest...these aspects will have been amply known behind the scenes long before Simpson replied briefly to the News & Star’s enquiry at a chilly Oakwell on Tuesday night.

Also, this is the transfer window, not Narnia. The reason reporters like Alan Nixon, Pete O’Rourke and Fabrizio Romano dominate the stage at times like this is because a) people tell them things and b) they are connected enough to be the first avenue of such information.

Not a single person doing the telling is without agenda, whether that agenda may be as low-level as maintaining a helpful contact or as calculated as pressing a negotiation into the mainstream.

News and Star: Bantams boss Graham Alexander hit out at Simmo's comments this weekBantams boss Graham Alexander hit out at Simmo's comments this week (Image: PA)

Agents, obviously. Players, at times, no doubt. Clubs too: don’t doubt it. There’s always an angle to work, a gain to seek, a whisper to be placed. You either choose to live in this world or put yourself at its mercy.

When reports circulated in the summer about Blackpool’s bid for Owen Moxon, Carlisle were clearly unhappy – but in their unhappiness there will also have been realism. United met that nakedly leaked story with a statement of their own, opting to get some blows in on the battlefield, rather than allow themselves to be governed by this briefing or that.

Similarly, Bradford might not like Simpson speaking as he did this week – “plain and simple, it’s wrong”, Alexander said, while Sparks has even suggested EFL action – but the League Two club will surely not be so naïve privately. They have a manager who has been around several blocks, a chief executive experienced in media and administrative circles, and are of a size which, you’d think, can cope when muscles are being flexed and comments tabled.

They will know the drill, in other words, and surely it’s wiser to accept this as the way of things rather than force managers onto some sort of pedestal from which they must not dare descend.

The game retains these odd little codes, written or unwritten, quaint and laughably pointless in the face of actual events. Another is on the playing side, in the idea that one should never try to get a “fellow professional” punished.

The term “fellow professional” is haughty enough in itself, as if low behaviour is only good enough for grubby amateurs. Then watch a fractionally late challenge come in, a player collapse, and his team-mates bustle towards a referee in faux outrage, as some of Barnsley’s did when Luke Armstrong fouled a Tykes defender in Tuesday’s second half.

And let’s not spend too much time in the penalty area, because we’ll end up feeling totally soiled. The line of propriety concerning “contact” and a player’s right to hit the deck is not so much blurred now as washed away, the latest evidence being Barnsley’s 86th minute penalty.

None of this is specific to particular clubs. Carlisle’s players have pursued officials, lambasted them and won the occasional shady spot-kick as much as anyone else’s. None of it leaves a particularly pleasant taste but at least the game could stop pretending it operates by scruple when, most of the time, the opposite is the case.

The name of the game, by practically whatever means, is to gain an edge, nurture an advantage, and that applies in the smelly depths of the transfer market as much as it does in the margins of an actual game.

News and Star: Jake Young, rightJake Young, right (Image: PA)

Young, it is speculated, may have been the subject of an attempt to “turn his head” by Simpson. Again: really? And none of this has already been possible through previously leaked reports of interest in the player (by whom, I wonder), through whatever his agent has already handled and filtered, and through whatever Bradford have or haven’t said, before Young, one midweek day, flicked on his phone, loaded up the News & Star and Telegraph & Argus websites and stopped being able to think straight? Unless the Bantams can prove Simpson was trying to induce Young by saying what he did, that ground is not especially firm.

Simpson’s instinct when faced with a question is generally to answer it, which is, at base level, refreshing. He’s also, let’s be honest, a man who seldom speaks without thinking, and he’ll have anticipated the Young question and fathomed his response well in advance of Tuesday’s post-match.

One online critic of the disgraceful outrage that followed went on to accuse Carlisle’s manager of a particular one-handed habit before predicting that he’d be suffering unemployment soon: an impressively supple display of morality in a single tweet.

January, then, isn’t the time for pearl-clutching, nor is football the sport for it. If you want innocence, CBeebies is channel 202 on Freeview.