Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Numbers game

Now that the last chance to alter the make-up of the squad this season has passed, it seems an opportune time to look at some figures.

In terms of our league position, we're currently in 15th with 24 points from 24 games and a goal difference of -10. With only 14 games remaining, we probably need at least 16 points to be safe, which means either five wins and one draw, or more likely three wins and six draws. Seeing as we've only managed five wins all season, that seems like quite a tall order at present.

Now let's look at the cash position.

At the start of January, JFK mentioned that he had £10 million to play with, plus anything he could raise in player sales. He tried unsuccessfully to flog Geremi to Besiktas, but did recoup somewhere in the region of £7m for Shay and conservatively £4m for the Zog. That all adds up to a fairly healthy £21m to spend.

In terms of players coming in, both Ryan Taylor and Peter Lovenkrands didn't attract any fees. If we subtract the £4m spent on Kevin Nolan, that means that JFK should now be sat on £17m of unspent transfer cash, which presumably he'll be spending in the summer.

Now, I'm all in favour of making sure we sign the right players, and don't panic buy for the sake of it, but how on earth have we got ourselves in a position where we are left with a tiny squad (net addition this transfer window is one player) and a pile of cash in the bank unspent - which is the problem Spurs landed themselves in when they sold Berbatov at the end of August.

Aside from still being rather understaffed in several key areas, this once again calls into question what our transfer policy is. JFK talked about signing two £5m players from France or possibly one for £10m, as well as some loan deals. What actually happened seems a far cry from that.

So was JFK talking rubbish, or did all those deals collapse? If it's the latter, why aren't we actively progressing several deals, so that we make sure we can get the bodies through the door? Oh, and what exactly was the poisoned dwarf doing during the transfer window?

We can only hope that (a) there really are three teams who are worse than us in the league this season; that (b) our transfer policy in the summer is better prepared than this one; and that (c) with further investment we can really have a recruitment drive to get more quality players in the St James' Park dressing room - not least because we will inevitably see some players depart at the end of the season.

What I can't understand is why, now that we're supposedly being run by a businessman, there seems little evidence of anything approaching forward planning or strategic decision making. Instead we simply continue to lurch from one crisis of our own making to the next, inevitably either making rash decisions that come back to haunt us, or failing to take decisions and so harming ourselves through a self-inflicted paralysis.



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