Football clubs up and down the land are setting out their stalls for the January sales, and looking around in the hope of snapping up bargains of their own. Pete Sixsmith would cheerfully save them all the bother. It’s all enough to make him toy with the attractions of Shildon at home instead of the FA Cup this weekend …
So, the eagerly anticipated transfer window has opened at last. Excuse me while I yawn, while Sky Sports News presenters have 28 days of collective orgasms as they break the news that Gillingham have signed a Spurs Reserve who not even Harry Redknapp has heard of and while tons and tons of newsprint are wasted on “exclusive” stories that turn out to be so exclusive that they are pure fiction.
Fans’ message boards will be full of sightings at railway stations, training grounds and airports and that well known figure “a mate of mine who knows a bloke whose dog was once run over by the brother of (insert players name here) tells me he is signing for Dagenham and Redbridge – possibly”.
The madness has already started. Managers have been sacked because chairmen/owners do not trust them to waste, sorry spend, money in January. Most of the sackings have been near at the bottom of leagues, but there are also clubs run by idiots/savants/the naive (Blackburn Rovers) who want to splash the cash themselves.
I read this morning that Rovers are “in talks” with Ronaldinho’s representatives in Brazil. It’s not the manager who is talking to them, but Venky’s Brazilian office. The hilarious prospect of a fading super star pitching up at Ewood Park in the middle of winter to play alongside a team of water carriers, labourers and charmers like Chimbonda and ElHadj Diouf is a train crash waiting to happen.
Elsewhere, the Beckham situation is grabbing the (limited) attention of football writers. Will he go to Spurs? Does Harry want him? What about him becoming a member of the Geordie Nation for three months? Could he cut the mustard at Blackburn?
A far bigger question is “Who the hell cares?”
Beckham is 36, has played in a poor league for the last three years, is finished with international football, and people still think he could be the missing link in Spurs Championship hopefuls. Piltdown Man (another notable fake) would do better.
What about us? Well, we probably need one player to settle the team. I imagine Charles N’Zogbia will have his agent’s minions trying to squeeze a decent deal out of any club in the Premier League that plays in front of decent crowds, doesn’t begin with a W and is managed by a man who has given up lager and pork pies.
Our record in the January window is mixed. Since we became involved in it in 2007, we have had a fair mixture of good, average, and downright bloody awful.
Mick McCarthy brought Rory Delap to the club when we were on the way down with 15 points, and poor Rory rarely had a chance to shine before being shipped off to Stoke.
Roy Keane had a great first January window. In came Carlos Edwards, one of my favourite players of the last 10 years. He will never be forgotten for those stunning goals at Southampton and at home to Burnley; 10 out of 10 for this one, Roy.
We also got Anthony Stokes, who looked as if he might be a good one – but wasn’t, Stern John, who did a decent job for us and Jonny Evans, who looked a world beater.
The next year, in the Premier League, he got two out of three right. Evans came back and settled the defence, Phil Bardsley signed on and is now one of the most popular players at the club and there was er, Rada Prica.
He is a prime example of the idiocy of the January window. He wasn’t a bad player, but he was no more suited to the way that we played under Keane than I would be in the pipe-smoking, bridge-playing common room of a public school. It was an awful signing and cost us a lot of money. Some would say that Keane lost his ability to spot players after that – Chimbonda, Diouf and the injury prone Tainioare all good indicators.
Ricky Sbragia used his window to get the malevolent influence of two of those out of the club and probably saved us from imploding. He brought in Tal Ben Haim and Callum Davenport, both decent players who did their best as we struggled to stay up.
Last year we coughed up £2m for Matthew Kilgallon, which does not count as money well spent as a) he is not a Premier League player and b) he has a bad back. Mind you, we palmed Nyron off onto Sheffield United, so I suppose that was decent business. We also took Benjani on loan; his “performance” for Blackburn on Saturday makes any comment of mine superfluous.
For this window, we may let one or two go. Andy Reid, Paulo da Silva, Kilgallon, are all probably surplus to requirements and may well be looking for permanent deals away from the Stadium. Angeleri’s 10 minute cameo on Saturday was reminiscent of Dick Malone at his worst, but like Super Dick, he may well come good and guide us to FA Cup glory.
Talking of which,I have a dilemma on Saturday as Shildon are due to play Coalvile Town in the FA Vase. Should I go to the Stadium for what could be a dull game against Notts County or decamp to Dean Street for what could be a thriller? Dear readers, I await your advice with eager anticipation.