Speculate to accumulate

Since its introduction in 2003, the January transfer window has prolonged the season of excitement and good will to all of those involved in the game, and has given everyone the chance to speculate just who could be on the move. Clubs have the entirity of January to conclude a transfer, yet the biggest deals often surface at the month’s climax. This transfer window was the most costly yet, with the reported figure of more than £200 million being splashed around by just Premier League clubs, and the British transfer record twice broken on the same night. There have been some fantastically exciting off and on sagas, and some last minute panic buys; some fans will be elated, others bemused, and some just downright disheartened. The case is always put that a manager cannot make a huge impact taking over halfway through a season, one quality signing however can be the difference between promotion and mid-table, or relegation and survival. Its a mid winter lottery, and some are more willing to gamble than others.

I speak from my own experiences as a Norwich City fan, that the January window can be a delight or a dread. Some of the best signings that the club have made in recent years were conducted in January. Darren Huckerby was the first January transfer window signing presented to the fans, as his successful loan spell was  made permanent, and promotion soon followed. The following January, a prodigious lower league striker, Dean Ashton was signed and charged with firing the Canaries to Premiership survival (a task that he almost accomplished). Fast forward a year, and Ashton had been snapped up by West Ham to be replaced by the prolific goal getting Robert Earnshaw. This year with promotion again a possibility, the  squad has been modestly bolstered, and much to the surprise of many supporters, a proven goal scorer was not added to the roster. With the current crop of frontmen miss-firing, it would have appeared that an out and out striker would have been on the shopping list, but Paul Lambert stated that he would not spend money for the sake of it, and that he was happy with the squad to complete the job in hand. When a large number of clubs were calling press conferences for the last minute signings, Lambert was discussing the build up to last night’s game with Millwall, and the serenity of the situation was easily visible.

It is interesting to note that although Norwich are very much a club in transition, creeping from strength to strength, they have a reasonably settled squad, and have not chopped and changed much this winter. This can be aligned to the Premier League’s top 3: of these teams, only Manchester City have spent money this January, and that was to concluded their 6 month courtship of Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg. It appears that these teams have stability, and that too many new faces midway through the season could potentially rock the boat. Dzeko’s signing reflects Mancini’s attempt to complete his squad, and although at £27million the Bosnian did not come cheaply, he has shown glimpses that he could be the final piece in City’s silverware quest, and will thrive at Eastlands alongside Tevez and Silva.

Monday night was an amazingly exciting evening of late transfer action. It all centred around Fernando Torres’ £50 million move to Chelsea, with the Merseysiders reinvesting the money on Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. When the possibility of Torres moving to London surfaced this weekend, I thought that Daglish would persuade him to remain until the end of the season, and then allow him to depart if he still wanted. It seemed to take forever for the Suarez deal to be confirmed, but now that he’s finally here I believe that he’ll take the League by storm. He’s pacy, technically very strong, tenacious, and most importantly has a footballing brain, allowing him to slip in seamlessly with Meireles and Gerrard. Perhaps the most unexpected transfer of the night was that of Carroll, who became the most expensive Englishman yet. He is Newcastle born and raised, and it appeared unlikely that he would be jettisoned from the club whilst he was still in development. Although he has been in fine form this season, gaining his first senior England cap, he has only played 40 top flight games, and at £35 million could be a risk. He is a young man of quite some potential, and has the ability to become a Liverpool legend. Despite losing one of their two world class players, Liverpool fans have much to be cheerful about with their new multi-milion strike force. Daglish has reinvested into the squad wisely and has brought in two hungry young forwards, that could fire the boys in red back into those Champion’s League places.

Now to get to the record breaking transfer, the £50million man, Fernando Torres. His form this season has been questionable, and his body language often has suggested that sharing a pitch with Lucas Leiva and Paul Konchesky is the last thing that he would like to do on a Saturday afternoon. In recent weeks however with the appointment of Daglish, Torres has returned to his potent best, and appeared to be enjoying his football once more. Over the period of a weekend however, he has become the most hated man on Merseyside, and the Kopites that once worshipped him, have been seen burning his shirt to banish his presence from Anfield. In Torres’ defence he has made it publicly known that he will be donning a blue shirt in an attempt to add to his medal collection, and it is fair enough to say that he would have to leave Liverpool to gain the success that he craves. It is possible however to gauge his recent improvement of form as an attempt to display his talents for potential new employers, and to put himself in the shop window. Now that he has procured his big money move, he will have to establish himself in the Chelsea lineup, alongside Drogba and Anelka. The arrival of Torres suggests that one of the established forwards at the club will be forced to leave, Didier Drogba’s name has already been mentioned. He and Torres if compatible would be one of the most fearsome strike pairings ever to grace English football, but I fear that they both perform at their best when supported by wide men and a second striker, and that Ancelotti will have  to make a straight choice.

So after such an exciting January, it will be interesting to see how the new additions bed in, and who by the end of the season will have been worth the money, and whether there will be another Shevchenko style flop. The transfer window has its faults and merits, but there’s no denying that all of that frantic speculation and action would be missed if it ever were to be stopped.


About htedbaker
I'm an englishman in America. Avid football fan/ aspiring sports journalist.

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