I think we can all safely agree that the transfer window is one of the real absurdities of modern football. Sure, the big man upstairs did a lot of us a favour today by bringing in the heaviest snowfall for 18 years, and we were able to sit in and savour the deadline day soap opera- thanks to SkySports News.
It is extraordinarily difficult to ascertain what exactly the window does. I suppose it is the footballing authorities’ futile attempt to prevent players being unsettled throughout the season. There are two things wrong with this premise:
Firstly, it arguably serves only to create hotspots upon which much hope, hype and discussion is focused, which has the effect of unsettling players. How exactly did it help Portsmouth, when Tottenham and Real Madrid came looking for Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra respectively?
I appreciate that Roque Santa Cruz might be a thorough professional, and although I respect Blackburn Rovers for keeping hold of him, it’s difficult to see exactly what they are going to get from an unsettled player until May. Likewise, even if West Ham had been more aggressive in their attempts to keep Craig Bellamy, what use would the closing window have been? When you start to look at these things more closely, the weaknesses, in principle, of the window are accentuated.
Secondly, there is nothing against managers moving in the window. Again, this season’s example is Portsmouth, who are a uniquely small Premiership club, were run superbly in a certain way by Harry Redknapp. All these sorts of unique and special things are supposed to be protected by the window, but ultimately it doesn’t actually serve any purpose at all.
But what of this particular window? Who were the winners and losers?
Chelsea: Should Big Phil manage to nick in and sort out a deal for Ricardo Quaresma, what a fantastic deal. With the ineptitude of Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou, and the injury to Joe Cole, he’ll enjoy the new lease of life at Chelsea, and should thrive on the games he should be given. This deal could see Chelsea are given the injection that they need to kick on and put some zip back into their title challenge.
Tottenham Hotspur: Harry’s done the business, for sure. I don’t think the signing of Carlo Cudicini is as inspired as people think- he’s hardly played and looked too hot in recent years, and I don’t know exactly how much he wants it now. Wilson Palacios looks like a good buy, though, and should provide a much-needed thrust to their midfield. For me, there’s too many in that central area, such as Jenas, Huddlestone, and Zokora who won’t like the tackles week in, week out. Signing Palacios might just give a bit more license to the likes of Aaron Lennon, David Bentley, Luka Modric and even Gio Dos Santos. With O’hara in the middle too, they should be fine. And lastly- Robbie Keane. A £5m net gain, a possible club captain returning to the fray, and an absolute fighter, who will be delighted to return after a disastrous spell at Liverpool. Should Jermain Defoe stay fit, he, Pavluychenko, and Bent should have enough goals alongside Keane to ensure they can kick on perhaps even to the Uefa cup spots.
Fulham: They might have lost Jimmy Bullard, but Olivier Dacourt is a sensational signing. The driving force he will give them in the middle of he park is an absolutely incredible plus, especially as they look to push for 6th or 7th. Well done, Roy Hodgson.
Aston Villa: I suppose it’s usually the quiet ones! Emile Heskey will prove a phenomenally good piece of business. Looking at their strengths, its pace, especially on the flanks. And what better way to get their top players in the game than to have a big, clever guy up in the final third working his socks off, bringing them into play. At around £3.5m, it’s an absolute snip. They’re certainly hitting form at the right time.
Wigan Athletic: Along with Roy Hodgson and Martin O’Neill, Roy Hodgson, Steve Bruce is one of the managers that have been outstanding this season. He might have lost Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios, but he has been utterly shrewd by bringing in Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodagella, and Mido. All three in different ways will be keen to impress, and Rodagella looks brilliant on the other night’s Match of the Day Footage. Although Mido has personality issues, if he plays (and he should), he will certainly score goals, and N’Zogbia will certainly given them some additional width, alongside Valencia, to provide the big men up top.
Blackburn Rovers: Might seem a bit odd, going on what I said above, but I reckon Santa Cruz was worth keeping, and he’ll hold his value until the end of the season. If you give Allardyce £20m he’ll work out a way to spend it and build the squad effectively. Added to this, El Hadj Diouf will be an excellent addition for what Blackburn need- he’ll scrap, create, and score the odd goal. And they are desperately in need of width, particularly with the injury to Emerton at the weekend. All in all, they now have a strikeforce that will probably keep them up, with Roberts, McCarthy, and Santa Cruz.
Liverpool: A terrible window, and an absolute sucker punch after a great win against Chelsea. I was happy to see Keane go as a Liverpool fan, but I thought Liverpool might have some sort of fresh replacement to come in and give the squad a bit of a lift. How on earth can Liverpool hope to compete with Man United with Kuyt, Torres and N’gog as the only strikers in the squad. Moreover, it is a pathetic statement about the club’s ambitions, particularly in the short term. Perhaps it serves as a sad reminder after yesterday of the true mess that the club finds itself in.
Everton: Like their neighbours, clearly they do not have enough cash to kick on and really look to strengthen their squad. Jo might fire, and fair play if he does, but I can’t see it working to the extent that they need it to. It’s great they they’re on a run with such a thin squad, but this will surely catch up with them.
Portsmouth: It’s all gone so wrong, so quickly. Money is no longer there it seems, and Harry has gone. Having lost Muntari, Portsmouth now have to make do without Defoe and Diarra. The signings of Pennant, Mullins, and Pele can hardly soften the blow, either.
Middlesborough: I saw them this weekend, and if Afonso Alves doesn’t start scoring pretty sharpish, they are in trouble. Marlon King is simply not the answer, particularly if played on his own. Mido probably had more quality in that role, too, so Southgate has lost out there. They look devoid of talent in the middle as well, with Digard and O’Neill struggling, and resorted to playing Bates in the middle on Saturday. Worrying, indeed, especially when loan deals for players such as Olivier Dacourt were flying around today.
Newcastle United: After losing out on Michael Johnson, and adding Ryan Taylor, Kevin Nolan, and Peter Lovenkrands, their squad still looks light. Unless they keep Owen and Martins fit, they will be in diabolical trouble. Coloccini looks shaky, and losing Shay Given ensures that they will leak more then their fair share, too. The fans will play an absolutely massive part in their survival.