Thumbs Down to January Transfers
I don’t enjoy the January transfer period in the same way as the end of season madness. According to the laws of business, not football or sport, it will forevermore to be a time of year where ‘developing’ clubs have to sell of their best assets to buy ‘trainee assets’ in the sales to get through the rest of the season. I would hate to be an owner or manager at a club that has an exceptional production line of junior talent and be forced to wave goodbye to them on their way to premier league bench worthy-ness while my club struggles to uphold the rest of our season.
Football is a merry-go-round, rich club buys less rich club’s players: earns more money to become even richer. Very few managers can work on a shoestring to produce amazing results, and even when they do it is through ingenious scouting and bargain hunting, which leads us back to selling on. David Moyes is my favourite example of a super-shrewd manager, but how long will he get to keep his Jelavic for before Everton cash in to chip off at that overdraft?
I often think about solutions to these football annoyances that keep me up at night. When it comes to the January conundrum I would make transfers on a loan basis only. Forever the supporter of the underdog, I like to see the ‘less rich’ clubs do well and know they often need to bolster their squads in case of injury, fatigue, suspensions etc. Realistically, unless a strict wage cap, say £150k per week, comes into play there is no way of giving Premier League football that booster jab of competitiveness we saw in years gone by. Even if this did happen (which it won’t), the accountants will be working out sub-deals on pensions and all sorts of benefits to keep arseholes like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo happy. I slag off the footballers but realistically, the agents and business people have made football this ludicrous cash circus.
Fulham aren’t having the greatest of seasons, Dimitar Berbatov is the dog’s dinner but losing Dempsey and Dembele and even Bobby Z (nice move Bob) is the reason why. It will take them another 2 transfer windows for Jol and his team to work the scouting process to bring them Fulham back up to the way he wants them to be.
The tale of Wilfried Zaha is a perfect example of my January conundrum. Palace are vying for promotion, automatic promotion. A tall order given how competitive the top half of the championship table is. If they cash him in for say £12m, who else are they going to buy who can have that impact in a single game and over the remainder of the season? You don’t need to be a seasoned scout or manager to answer that question. Will Palace suffer financially if keep Zaha until June? Probably. If the money spent from Zaha’s sale doesn’t do the business on the field, there is less chance of promotion, so no Premier League, bye by Sky money. Now, I’m not saying that Palace’s promotion hopes rest on this one player, that would be ridiculous, but he is a core part of the balance that brought about the current good form, why upset that to buy 2 or 3 lesser players? If you want to get promoted you’ve got to really put your neck out in January, not sit on the fence and get splinters up your jacksy.
Keeping hold of Zaha will not ruin his chances of playing at the highest level, if Arsenal nab the nifty Ivorian he will get his wish, and end up at City by the time he is 25.
If players were only allowed to go out on loan that would really test their worthiness as they play up a level, or go to a better club, the ultimate trial period. It would also give older, or benched players who don’t quite fit at their current clubs a few months to shake off the reserve team cobwebs. With a loans only system clubs in need of squad growth to consolidate their seasons would get what they need, the rich boys would be able to test out their pickings and there would be more time for future planning and scouting to replace those who could be sorely missed. Plus, it gives us fans a chance to mourn the loss of our favourites instead of feeling cheated by the finance masters who control the game as we know it.