Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Reflections on the window

So here we are, another 24 hours of madness at St James' Park, and the close of another transfer window. Presumably everyone at Sky Sports News spends much of today in a cold shower.

Anyway, reflecting on the transfer window as a whole largely involves reflecting on events of the last 24 hours. However, before we get onto 31st January 2011, it's worth remembering that for our part, the remainder of the transfer window had seemed largely successful. We confirmed Hatem Ben Arfa's permanent arrival and then spent the rest of the month watching as Alan Pardew repeated his mantra that Rocky wasn't for sale at any price, and that we were resisting bids from all of our star performers, whilst also seeking to add players if they became available.

Making space in the squad was Wayne Routledge, who found himself back at QPR on loan, and instantly proved what a devastating force he is in the Championship.

Pardew himself had previously stated that any player he might bring in had to be big enough to wear the shirt, so presumably mental strength was pretty high up the wish list.

Then 31st January arrived, and things all went a bit awry. Firstly, Liverpool suddenly found themselves imminently short of a striker and cash-rich. They knocked on our door, waving big bags of cash and presumably saying "Watch your striker, mister". To which, after some to-ing and fro-ing, the club decided to wave Rocky goodbye.

Now, as I pointed out yesterday, £35 million is an awful lot of money for a player who has the potential to be a world-beater, but who also has a bit of a history as a people-beater, and whose career could just as quickly go downhill (if his party lifestyle gets the better of him) as it could continue on an upwards trajectory.

There are, however, two caveats to this. The first is that we must stay up. If we are now relegated because we can't score enough goals, then this will look like the worst deal in history. Secondly, Pardew needs to be given the cash to spend on strengthening the squad and finding replacements. If that happens, then £35 million buys several very good players who would bolster the team and the squad, and should make us a much more stable Premier League club going forward (assuming we don't waste it on crap). Of course, if Jabba just banks the cash, then again this becomes a disastrous move (albeit one over which we currently have no control).

The player, apparently, was reluctant to go (as this text transcript suggests), but equally, seems to have done OK out of the deal, with reports of a phenomenal wage hike coming his way. Should enable him to replace his burnt out car, anyway. Of course, if he ends up having to live with his new captain, it's to be hoped they don't get in a fracas over the choice of music on the stereo...

Also slinking out of the door, and keeping a typically low profile, was the Xisco Kid who is now back in Spain with Deportivo La Coruna on loan - hopefully that's one loan deal which will become a permanent transfer.

With Rocky gone to pastures new, we did manage to add the midfielder we'd been chasing for a while, with Stephen Ireland eventually arriving after some curious reports suggesting that he'd failed his medical. Whilst undoubtedly a technically gifted individual, does anyone think that Ireland's record indicates he has the mental strength to wear the shirt (something which Pardew stressed was imperative)? I hope he proves to be a fine acquisition, but there must be a question mark over his signing (albeit on loan).

Then, with the clock ticking down, and Sky Sports News reaching fever pitch, rumours surfaced that we'd bid between £10-£12 million for the Zog. Given that we don't need another left winger, we flogged the player (under a cloud) for £6 million two years ago and that Dave Whelan and Jabba really don't get on, this just seems like the biggest bag of rubbish I've heard in ages. Thankfully it didn't come to pass.

Apparently, we were also gazumped by Blackpool who trumped our bid to take Jason Puncheon on loan from Southampton.

Where we go from here is crucial. Planning must start now for the summer, with the identification of the targets that we are going to look to bring in. With an attacking line up of Ameobi, Ranger (who really must start taking his chances), Lovenkrands and Best, we don't look the best equipped strike force in the country, and a lot of pressure will now rest on the shoulders of ASBO and Nolan to ensure the team picks up enough points to ensure our survival so that we can really look to kick on over the summer.

What all this does for the credibility of Pardew is up for debate, but either he was lying when he said Rocky wasn't for sale at any price, or he wasn't being informed of Jabba's feelings on the subject. Either way, it can't make his life any easier.

If we're to move on from this quickly, then a win on Wednesday is an important step forward. A defeat, and the feelings of betrayal and mutiny in the stands might well begin to boil over - again.

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Blogger Michael said...

In the end, the bid was too good to turn down. However, that's what we said when Milner left, and we ended up with Xisco and Gonzalez while Villa doubled their money.

I'd like to see this as part of some wider strategy, as was the case when Keegan sold Cole. The spin on the transfer request and N'Zogbia story suggests otherwise.

10:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wish I could look at one of you positive scenarios and think it's gonna come true. But sadly I have the sinking feeling that this will be proven to be a disastrous move for the club.

Regardless of who's at fault (Pardew, Ashley, Carroll) ultimately it's the fans who are the losers.

12:38 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:22 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Nicely put, Paul. This, in essence, is my view too, on reflection. The money was too good to turn down but our survival isn't yet guaranteed so it's a significant risk, and the lack of a contingency plan and farcical last-minute clutching at straws (Zog and Puncheon) is depressingly familiar. I'm with you, Michael - I don't hold out much hope for there being a wider long-term strategy in place...

Funny how one of my first thoughts was of Rocky forming some kind of tag team with Stevie G to roam Merseyside in search of obstinate DJs they could threaten with an "accidental glassing"...

1:23 pm  
Anonymous Pradajames said...

We're just 8 points off the zone...we've managed w/o Rocky for 4 games. If we can squeeze 10 points out of the remaining we'll be ok. Frankly, losing Carroll puts immense pressure on our defense...as if it werent there already.

Looking forward to summer, 35 mil can buy a lot of good, young talent. If we stay up, its going to come out as a savvy move. Always a gamble w/Ashley.

2:16 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

£35 million buys a lot of good, young talent if you have an adequate scouting system already in place. Other than Graham Carr, do we actually have anyone?

4:44 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Honestly, Michael, I've got no clue. Wise was responsible for overseas scounting, but whether he was replaced in some form after he departed, I don't know.

9:14 am  

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