Window of opportunity or pane in the ass? Part 2

Posted by on Feb 3, 2010 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

We’ve covered the second tier’s January transfer window winners – now for the losers…

Nottingham Forest
The Tricky Trees may be routinely sweeping aside the opposition with the sort of free-flowing football any neutral fan would be happy to pay good money to see (or at least they were until Saturday’s defeat by – of all teams – Derby), but there’s a potential fly in the ointment: the thinness of their squad, particularly by comparison with their main promotion rivals ourselves and West Brom. Should the second half of the season bring injuries and loss of form, as it surely must, they may find themselves having to stuff square (or inexperienced) pegs into round holes. The BBC’s Jonathan Stevenson, a Forest fan, spent the entirety of deadline day praying for his club to sign a left-back but it never happened, and so it must have been particularly galling to have to report that former England defender Nicky Shorey had been recalled from a spell at the City Ground by parent club Villa only to be shipped off to Fulham. Of course Billy Davies splashed the cash in the summer on the likes of Chris Gunter and Paul McKenna, but I can’t help thinking (and hoping, I admit) that their inactivity over the last month – whether the result of complacency or masking frantic but ultimately futile behind-the-scenes efforts – may come to haunt them.

The Bluebirds are in much the same position as Forest. The lack of outgoings may have come as something of a relief, as it did for near-neighbours Swansea – Adam Matthews has been attracting attention from the Premier League, and Peter Whittingham’s form might have aroused the interest of those in the lower reaches of the top flight. But the expectation was that Dave Jones would actively bolster the squad with revenue raised through season ticket sales which had been explicitly earmarked for just that purpose. Peter Ridsdale’s embarrassed admission that that cash would actually be directed towards servicing outstanding debts understandably riled the fans and left the club with a first XI which is undoubtedly very good indeed (when they’re in the mood – just ask Bristol City) but perilously susceptible to decimation by injury and suspension.

Sky Blues fans have got more reasons than most to be casting envious and spiteful glances in the direction of St James’ Park. Not only have we brought in Patrick van Aanholt to cover for Jose Enrique, Chelsea’s young Dutchman having enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Ricoh in the autumn, but we’ve also poached arguably their key man in Leon Best. With only Stockport midfielder Carl Baker on the new arrivals list, Chris Coleman will be hoping that those players he still has at his disposal are up to the task of keeping them in the Championship. Even if they don’t actually flirt with relegation, I’d expect them to be at least making eyes at it.

Crystal Palace
When Jose Fonte left Selhurst Park, dropping down a division to sign for Southampton and declaring “I want to play in the Premier League and I think I can do that quickest by moving here“, eyebrows were naturally raised. But when the announcement came that the Eagles had called in the administrators, Simon Jordan’s blushes spared only by that all-concealing luminous orange tan, it all made more sense. Perversely, though, it was tempting to group Palace among January’s winners – after all, despite their precarious financial position the only other departee of note was teenage forward Victor Moses, who, pursued by a clutch of suitors from the Championship and beyond, was always going to move on anyway while they managed to keep hold of Darren Ambrose, Neil Danns and Nathaniel Clyne. No headline-writer-pleasing “Moses leads exodus” stories, then. All the same, ten points worse off and shorn of their talisman is not how they would have hoped to have wound up when the transfer window closed.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Eleven points off safety and with their closest rivals having made useful additions – Reading reinforced their back line with Premier League loanees Andy Griffin and Zurab Khizanishvili while Plymouth signing Damien Johnson was Birmingham’s midfield lynchpin not so very long ago – Peterborough chose deadline day to part ways with manager Mark Cooper after less than three months and only 13 games in charge. Of the players drafted in in January, only Arsenal’s young full-back Kerrea Gilbert catches the eye (might the signing of Exodus Geohagan have been prompted by someone in the replica-shirt-lettering department bemoaning the loss of Toumani Diagouraga?). Cooper’s replacement at London Road has already been named as Jim Gannon, but he’ll be inheriting a squad hastily and haphazardly augmented by his predecessor and while chairman Darragh MacAnthony has belatedly accepted partial responsibility for the club’s plight, his petulant and ill-advisedly public tirade against pretty much everything won’t be easily forgotten, not least by the playing staff who came in for the brunt of the criticism. The future looks increasingly bleak for Posh.

Ben is a long-suffering Newcastle Utd supporter (is there any other kind?) who co-founded and co-wrote Black & White & Read All Over, a blog that, over the course of a decade, chronicled the ups, downs, chaos and calamity of the club he has the misfortune to follow. Since the blog hung up its boots in May 2014 (note: not as a mark of respect for Shola Ameobi leaving St James’ Park), he has contented himself with sporadic, splenetic Twitter outbursts and shamefully rare contributions to The Two Unfortunates. He is currently haunted by visions of Joe Kinnear returning to the club for a third spell and pondering whether he’ll live to see another victory over the Mackems, but at least has a cardboard coathanger with Robert Lee’s head on it for consolation.


  1. Lanterne Rouge
    February 3, 2010

    Forest will be hopping mad to lose Shorey as I think the former England man is a good fit for Fulham: he will be pleased to start with a cosy encounter against Pompey. Coventry must be feeling the pinch, as Best's departure had fire sale characteristics. I wonder what regular commenter Scarf thinks about Carl Baker's prospects?

  2. Matt R
    February 3, 2010

    Cov lost Jack Cork as well, whose latest loan stop is Burnley. Don't know how well he did at Cov but was terrific for us this time last year, would expect him to be a loss.

  3. Matt
    February 3, 2010 Reply
  4. Lanterne Rouge
    February 3, 2010

    I had been hoping Cork would show up at Reading in the Summer but Brendan Rodgers' promised influx of Premier league youngsters never really materialized.

  5. scarf
    February 4, 2010

    @ Lanterne Rouge: It's difficult to say re: Baker – he spent almost all his first season at County injured, having been a very good player at Southport and Morecambe. He was outstanding in a very poor team during the first half of this season, until his form dipped slightly because he was playing in a bottom-of-the-table side for which he was the only attacking threat and, moreso, because of the tragic death of his brother, Mike, from leukemia. Hopefully the move to Cov will be a fresh start for him. He's certainly got the ability to make it in the Championship, but at 27 he's going to have to adapt quickly. I think he's a mid-table Championship player – good ability, passing, dribbling and awareness but ultimately lacks the pace or stamina to make it at the very top.

    @ Ben – I was pleased to see Coventry, Palace and Cardiff either shipping players out or not adding to their squad. More clubs need to go the same way, because cutting your cloth accordingly is massively more important than chasing the Premiership dream….because, if you don't have the infrastructure for it, that dream mainly ends up turning into a nightmare very quickly. Look at the financial problems at Sheff Weds, Forest, Barnsley, Bradford, Watford, Charlton, Leeds, Newcastle, Palace, Leicester, Derby, Coventry, Ipswich, Norwich and Southampton, just to name a few, over the past few years having dropped out of the Prem. Bolton, West Ham and Hull would almost certainly head the same way if they fell out of the top flight, hence why clubs overreach themselves financially in an effort to stay on board the gravy train that is the Premier League. The vast majority of pro football clubs in this country are in a huge financial mess, and, as a football fan, sorting that mess out has to be a higher priority than new plyaers. Knowing you'll have a football club that you can take your grandchildren to support shouldn't be taken for granted. As a supporter of a club who chased the dream in a relatively minor way – we went into admin for the comparatively paltry sum of £300,000 – I should know.

    Incidentally, I think the transfer window is a terrible thing because it is really biased towards the big clubs and works against the small clubs. In this age of player power, a player will leave if he wants to – so a small club can't 'not sell' their prized assets if they want to go. All that happens is they go on loan, denying the small club vital funds that might be the difference between survival and administration. Meanwhile, the inflation of transfer fees that comes as a result of the transfer window means that only the super-rich clubs can afford to seriously add to their squads. The days where Tranmere, for instance, were able to solve their debt problem by selling someone like Kenny Irons to Huddersfield have gone – and that, from a football finance point of view, is not a good thing. Legally, too, this is a restraint of trade – how this is legal I'm not quite sure?!

  6. Lanterne Rouge
    February 4, 2010

    Faustian pacts seem all the rage in football – I wonder how many Pompey fans worried about whether they could take their grandchildren to football on that May day against Cardiff? They certainly weren't holding up “fit and proper” banners then.

  7. scarf
    February 4, 2010

    Pompey didn't even have a Supporters' Trust until about two months ago. No sympathy for them whatsoever – just like I wouldn't expect anybody to have sympathy for us (Stockport). If you play with fire then you deserve to get burnt; if you don't cut your cloth accordingly then this is what happens. Players are just piece of meat – it's the club and what football clubs can do for the local community that's the important thing.


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