Ten reasons why I hate the January transfer window
I despise the January transfer window. Some of the reasons could equally be applied to the summer window, but that feels more defensible as at least there isn’t any club football taking place concurrently. No solutions here – just a bit of a rant. Everyone loves a good rant.
1] Propaganda issued by clubs
Not that there’s been a particularly high-profile example of ill-judged statements on a leading English club’s official website recently, but PR spin from football clubs has always irritated me. Even if you feel the need to say something in the first place, is it not enough to simply say that a bid has been rejected? Perhaps because it was nowhere near any existing valuation? Do we have to have a whole song and dance about objectionable offers and how hilariously they are received? It is pathetic and usually signals a desire to attract larger offers for a player rather than downplaying a willingness to sell. Cut it out.
2] Jim sodding White
Yes, he’s very funny with his incomprehensible shouting and his furious delight at the sight of some donkey turning up at Stoke’s training ground at 11.55pm but HE SHOULD NOT BE ENCOURAGED. Football clubs spending vast amounts of money at the last available minute makes very little sense to anyone and it is no coincidence that the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger only get involved on transfer deadline day if they are feeling extremely desperate.
The recent advent of a giant iPad showing the amount of money spent during the transfer window on Sky Sports News should sicken people rather than excite them. It is easy to get whipped into a frenzy by all the hyperbole (and Lord knows I have fallen victim to this disease before subsequently entering a period of self-loathing) but it is virtually impossible to reconcile all the millions flying around on transfer deadline day with the traditional demographic being priced out of attending football matches.
Which is why this is brilliant news we should all celebrate wildly.
3] “The missing piece of the jigsaw”
One of the biggest misnomers in football – the idea that a huge squad is missing a vital component. Any squad of a decent size can be adapted to play in a certain way and still function as a football team should. In December, of course, supporters begin to point to that missing cog which grows to appear overwhelmingly vital in its absence. Which leads neatly on to…
4] Treading water during the festive period
How often do clubs appear to give up the ghost towards the end of December and go through the motions as they prepare for the January transfer window and their opportunity to magically make everything right again? It sounds almost fanciful but it does seem to happen, resulting in short-changed supporters and long trips to away games for which bizarre team selections are fielded. There are three points on offer for winning any game – be it the first, last or 23rd game of the season. The busy fixture calendar means that players are often rested over Christmas and New Year but this is not always a valid excuse.
5] Panic buys
Probably the most offensive item on the list. You work hard all year, you pay your money and your club scratches its collective behind for thirty days and then pulls a skanky, three-legged rabbit out of a discarded hat and pays seven figures for the mangy creature to boot. We want our football clubs to be well-run and for their significant purchases to be considered and well thought-out, not a reflex action as the clock ticks towards midnight. At least, we should do…
6] People who prefer speculation to… y’know… actual football matches
Ugh. I am honestly beginning to think there are some people who prefer the gossiping and nonsense of transfer speculation to the spectacle of a live (or even televised) football match. Of course, some of these people have their own interests in mind when giving that impression…
7] The role of the national newspaper website
Maybe I was naive before. Maybe I didn’t really think things through. Maybe I didn’t care. But for a little while now, there has been something crystal clear about the way that certain sections of the national media operate. Why link a player to one club when you can chuck the names of four other clubs into the article in cack-handed fashion, just to ensure a few more messageboards supply links through to your employer’s website and increase the number of pageviews your work receives. Newspapers might get a thousand click-throughs apiece from the idle placement of each club’s name. With rewards like that on offer, no wonder there is so much garbage written to bring in the punters.
8] Fantasy starting elevens
You know the ones. Always on club messageboards. Always set out in a formation, often centred on the screen. Always including two or three wildly unrealistic transfer targets slotted seamlessly in to cover the weaker positions in a supposedly first-choice side. Football Manager has a lot to answer for…
9] Big opinions based on little knowledge
How much can one supporter of a lower league club really know about a player who has never played for that club? Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit you don’t know that much about a particular name, but that can be too much for some people to admit. Instead we have a complete analysis based on one game from three years ago. Or, even worse, how highly-rated a player is on a computer game.
10] Player power and contract situations
I remember the good old days when you didn’t have to sell a player seven years before the end of his contract just in case he left on a free transfer. I didn’t dream that, did I? These days, clubs seem to panic when there are still eighteen months left on a contract. I miss the days when players stayed at clubs for ten years and it wasn’t a big deal. It doesn’t seem to happen quite as often any more. I think that’s a shame, personally.