Worm Catching Pays Off
Why do clubs do business so late? The transfer deadline is looming and the usual flurry of activity is upon us. Yesterday saw deals transport players in both directions through the gates of Championship clubs, with Grzegorz Rasiak and Jobi McAnuff joining Reading, Jay Simpson arriving at QPR and Robert Huth and Tommy Smith allowed an extra stab at the top flight. With Tuncay Sanli almost certainly to follow Huth out of the Riverside, the deals are far from over: Reading alone are rumoured to be contemplating four more deals and disruption across the division continues, but why do all this now when there has been a long summer to use?
First, the excuses: contracts don’t usually expire until July 1, so new ones cannot be cooked up until after that date. Secondly, most stars are topping their tans in Dubai or Playa de las Americas for most of June and if they weren’t, their managers certainly will have been. Third, there is the pernicious activity of agents – they’ll shop around a player until he’s fit to drop amid all the motorway traffic. Smith’s “will he, won’t he?” saga merely a lower league echo of the boring Gareth Barry and Ronaldo tugs of war of recent summers.
But which clubs have adopted the “can do” attitude of performing surgery early enough to field their squads pre-season and get the players used to one another? Not unfathomably, they are generally those near the top of the table. Dany N’Guessan, Youssuf Mulumbu, Michael Chopra and Danny Coyne are four who have prospered over the first few games and all were signed in advance of the commencement of training. Managers’ hands may be tied to an extent but plunging an untried formation into the whirl of competitive action without enough of a dry run can leave one with too much ground to make up.