People get a little overworked when you take away something dear to them. Or perhaps not, perhaps it’s just the thought of having something taken away from you that riles people, even if they don’t really need it.
Football fans crave the January transfer window and view it as their own Christmas. Forget Happy New Year and all that, January 1st marks the start of insane decisions made by those in the boardrooms of clubs and the insatiable hunger from fans to unearth as much gossip as possible – only for them to shoot down the messenger when they hear something they don’t like.
So what’s the point of the January window? I know Sky will come up with a whole host of reasons to keep it going. In fact, how much of their yearly viewership comes from that month alone? When there’s not much else to talk about (or gossip about), reruns of an interview with a bloke in his car will do.
But’s it’s not really about Sky or the fans, and it never has been. I’m not one for saying I haven’t sat there insisting certain clubs should start taking themselves seriously and spend some money, but why shouldn’t clubs live and die by their own decisions? If clubs can’t make it through the season from their business in the summer window then maybe some managers need to give the whole football thing a rethink.
QPR have bought two teams in the space of six months and they still might go down. Buying a goalkeeper halfway through the season because your first-choice has been ruled out for months is acceptable, as Real Madrid were fortunate, sort of, that Iker Casillas’ injury came during the last week of January. And that’s the purpose the window should serve, not in allowing clubs to field two completely different teams in a league campaign just because a manager or owner severely screwed it up the last time around.
Isn’t a good football manager viewed as someone who can take his team and prove that they’re the best (or just a little better than others) over the course of 38 games? That’s why a league title is a better representation as to how good a team is or was than a Champions League title.
Isn’t it said that the most managerial sackings occur in November? And it’s hardly difficult to understand why. It nicely sets up a big month of spending for a new manager and his new club, who, in all honestly, don’t really have the means to part with the sort of cash usually required for a January fire fight.
Some sports leagues do the whole thing of leaving the transfer ‘window’ open throughout the year and close it just prior to the playoffs, but that really couldn’t work in football. For starters, sports teams in America are largely protected from having their best players poached during random stages of the season due to contracts, salary caps, no-trade clauses etc. None of that exists in football, and who’s to say clubs with the means to do so won’t just harass their way to victory in the transfer market? In fact, forget them. The better perspective is to look at clubs like Everton, Tottenham or Arsenal, who have players wanted by bigger clubs in England or on the continent but who are protected by the closure of the windows in August/September and January/February.
You look at the bigger teams in the Premier League this January, and for the most part you can say they were all sensible. Liverpool were always in need of another striker but also managed to find a bargain in Coutinho. The arrival of the Brazilian will improve Brendan Rodgers’ side, but it wouldn’t have broken them if they didn’t make the move. Manchester United rolled the dice on Wilfried Zaha but loaned him straight back to Crystal Palace. Nothing really to write home about there, they could have completed that signing in June. Arsenal’s move for Nacho Monreal was out of necessity, but it could be argued that Arsene Wenger should have made a signing of that quality last summer. And the same goes for Chelsea, who picked up Demba Ba for a release clause rumoured to be in effect during the summer window.
No one really comes out of this January mess on top. Clubs like QPR may survive and benefit from the increased television revenue, but then what? A club like that are unlikely to see added windfalls from competitions like the Champions League, so how do they deal with the wages they picked up this January?
Football, in reality, scraps a whole month-worth of football because the majority of clubs are too wound up with the transfer window. Emergency signings should be sanctioned, as we’ve seen in the past. But if a club is not adequately guided or prepared during the summer months for the long haul of a league season, without any safety net midway through, then that’s their problem. Live and die by the decisions you make ahead of each season.