A wise old man once told me that those who wait have the last laugh, no doubt inspired by the fable of the hare and the tortoise. Whether this works for the January transfer window or not is a different matter, yet this still hasn’t stopped the predictable rush of desperate and confusing signings from clogging up my ‘Cor-Blimey-Terrific-Tuesday-Transfer-Window-Special-FIREWORKS’ feed on Sky Sports, with the countdown clock a constant reminder of how pityful mortal life can be. I’m only still watching to see who Nigel Quashie has signed for.
The most surprising, or not, thing about the January transfer window is just how ill-thought out much of the dealing is. If I’m cooking dinner, I don’t wait until all the veg is cooked before running out and buying a chicken, so why do managers and clubs wait until the very last second, zig-zagging helicopters up and down the land in an attempt to get the best deal, to realise all-to-late that they have no strikers left (See United, Newcastle last season). It’s not just the buyers which make little sense; why suddenly sell your best players at the last minute when you could have accepted a bid earlier in the window to accomodate for their loss (See Rangers, Glasgow). Sir Alex Ferguson, despite the fact that Manchester United look like a team in desperate need of a re-shuffle, may have got it right when he said that in January you spend a lot for not much. It appears that other teams are starting to take notice of this observation; only £40m, probably rising to near £50m depending on which rabbit is pulled out of the hat tomorrow morning, has been spent this window, compared to the £200m last outing (greatly helped by the successful signings of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll). That still, however, has not stopped clubs making some utterly bizzare decisions.
Everton win the award for deal of the window, convincing Tottenham that Louis Saha is still worth investing in as a footballer. Potential jail-bait Harry Redknapp’s trial for skimming payments from transfers (ALLEGEDLY . . . wink wink) appears to have re-kindled his interest in dubious transfer dealings with the utterly baffling signings of stretcher-junkie Louis Saha and Blackburn paper-weight Ryan Nelson. It’s as if Don Levy (as he is known by nobody) went into Blackburn and Everton demanding ‘we want Samba and Jagielka’ and instead has been handed Saha and Nelson, freshly wrapped for the impression of freshness. Still, it’s not like Spurs have enough injury prone players, is it? Stranger still are those they are replacing; Bassong fair enough, but Pavyluchenko is (was) one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. Arsenal have done the same, knocking on Borussia Dortmund’s door for Mario Gotze and leaving with Thomas Eisfield; the signing Arsenal desperately needed to shore up there soft centre. Likewise, QPR are doing their best to buy players who are just easing beyond their peak. Zamora and Cisse, both decent signings, both very expensive, come with a high risk policy; those are a lot of wages to cover if they get relegated. What QPR really need are defenders and prolific strikers; neither of these two aging boys have ever been prolific goal-scorers, and last time I checked Zamora wasn’t much cop at centre-half.
Elsewhere, Championship big spenders West Ham have gone for the scatter-gun approach to recruitment, buying every attacker with half a whif of availability to their name. Nicky Maynard is a good signing, despite appearing to have confused his desire to play in the Premier League with the potential to be there (like Southampton signing Billy Sharp). More importantly, it makes a mockery of Bristol City’s ludicrous rejection of Leicester’s £6m bid for the striker in the summer; surely it would have been worth cashing in earlier in the window if they had decided to sell, giving them time for a replacement, rather than panic-accepting a bid of under £2m? Former-Manchester United youth team product Ravel Morrison is a bit of an unknown signing, raising his profile by pimping himself to everyone from Manchester City to Barcelona, whilst Ricardo Vaz-Te has, apart from his purple patch of the last few months with a very good Barnsley team, been a non-entity for his entire career. Judging by the 5-1 defeat to Ipswitch, they have a few more problems closer to home, or closer to their own goal.
Still, all is not lost; there have, contrary to all expectations, been some decent and shrewd signings in this window. Nikica Jelavic at £5.5m is worth the risk for goal-shy Everton, whilst Bournemouth have pulled a coup in the signing of Matt Tubbs from Crawley for £800k. Leicester’s signing of Danny Drinkwater is sensible, a solid and creative midfielder with a bright future, whilst Billy Sharp might just be the striker Southampton need, with Rickie Lambert, to finish the efforts of their slick attacking midfielders. Kevin De Bruyne will be a good signing for Chelsea, eventually, whilst Norwich’s signing of Leed’s captain Jonny Howson is the mark of a team going places; watch out too for new Barnsley signing Stephen Dawson, a class act in centre-midfield from Leyton Orient. However, for most clubs, the best bit of business has been holding onto their best players, nestled safely away from the prying vultures.
Best move of the window, however, goes to ‘big’ Kris Boyd, who, after surprisingly falling out with his Turkish club, has signed for the Portland Timbers, famous for giving their players a log freshly cut by their team mascot, a logger, when they score. The thought of one plank being gifted another is almost too much to bear. Oh, and Hibernian have signed ‘The Gambian Roberto Carlos.’ Think on that.
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