Thursday, February 02, 2012

Winter window's end

(Image courtesy of Bruno Brunelli)

With January giving way to February, and Sky Sports News exploding in its own over-inflated self-importance, the transfer window closed on Tuesday night.

Unlike this time twelve months ago, when the sense of betrayal and outrage was palpable, today sees me in much calmer and happier mood. While the hoped-for defender never materialised, with target Adrian Mariappa still at Watford despite some unsuccessful bids by us, and an acceptable bid by Wigan, whose contract offer the player rejected, significantly our squad looks stronger today than it did on 31st December.

The arrival of Papiss Demba Cisse for a fee in the region of £9m represents a potentially excellent acquisition given his superb goalscoring pedigree in the Bundesliga and hopefully his partnership with international team-mate Demba Ba will fire for us in a way it singularly failed to do for Senegal during their ill-fated African Cup of Nations excursion.

Perhaps even more pleasingly, the only departures were ones which we can welcome. Alan Smith has moved on to MK Dons, presumably never to cross our threshold again. He's joined there by James Tavernier, whose contract is also due to expire in the summer. The decision to part company with Tavernier seems a slightly odd one, given that the Silver Fox was talking him up only a few weeks ago, but presumably the powers that be have now decided that he won't be able to make the necessary step up.

There were rumours of a last-ditch attempt by Celtic to sign Leon O'Best being rebuffed, with the player reportedly happy to stay and fight for his place. While the fact that this was ever entertained shows that O'Best's time of Tyneside is perhaps coming towards its end, to lose our third-choice striker at present would be a foolish move, so I'm pleased to see him stay.

Whether we go back in for Mariappa in the summer remains to be seen, but hopefully we can keep Sideshow Bob and Mike Williamson fit for the rest of the season, else the sight of James Perch at centre-back will continue to be one haunting all our nightmares.

Significantly though, the likes of Sideshow Bob, Mr T, Dreamboat, Ba and Tim Krul all remain with us for the time being. What we now need to do is kick on to ensure as high a finish in the league as possible to show to those players that we have the ambition and ability to match their own and thereby encourage them to stay at the club into next season and beyond.

So, all in all, reasonably pleased. An additional centre-half would have made it a perfect window for us, but after last January's debacle just keeping hold of our star players represents a massive improvement.




Anonymous Curt said...

Thought perch had a decent game when he came on last night, did you watch the game or are you just spewing Daily Mail style player reviews without actually watching games?

Also, we arent going for Mariappa in summer as Pardew did say days ago, do some research for gods sake

2:39 p.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

Fair point about Perch - though if you read more closely I never said he didn't have a good game once he came on... He was quietly effective on Wednesday, and actually mildly impressive on Saturday. My point was partly that I don't think Perch is a particularly good player but mainly that I wasn't sure it was the best decision from a tactical perspective - we're not exactly renowned for being able to shut up shop and close games out. But we stemmed the flow of Blackburn chances to some extent, so credit to Pardew for getting it right, and to Perch for doing a useful job.

As for Mariappa, it does look as though our patience has worn thin - but we've been known to revive allegedly dead-in-the-water deals before so you never know.

1:10 p.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

Sorry Curt, I should make clear that Paul wrote this transfer window round-up and I wrote the match report on Wednesday's game - thought you were referring to that post rather than this one when mentioning Perch. Paul might like to come back on your comments, though.

1:18 p.m.  
Blogger Paul said...

Hi Curt,

I'm sure you will correct me if I'm wrong, but Perch came on in a central midfield role against Blackburn, and I agree did his part to steady the ship.

My comments were specifically related to playing Perch at centre-back, where I think he remains a liability.

I trust you can see the difference?

With regard to Pardew's comments re not going back in for Mariappa, he also said we weren't looking to strengthen our attack this transfer window, yet our only new arrival is a striker, so perhaps we'll have to wait and see whether we go back in for Mariappa or not, regardless of what Pardew has recently said.

Of course, we'll only find out whether we make a fresh approach for Mariappa in the summer, a point which I make in the post.

So perhaps next time you want to criticise me for a lack of research (which I am happy for you to do if I am wrong) you might prefer to comment on something I've actually stated as a fact, rather than my opinion.

2:10 p.m.  

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