With Wycombe sitting in the relegation zone of League One for the majority of the season, the January transfer window looked like it had come at the perfect time and would give the Wanderers a good chance to strengthen the squad and push onto safety. However it turned out a little differently to what we expected.
The first signing of the window took place on the very first day with Grant Basey joining on a permanent deal after an impressive loan spell where he made 11 appearances. He came in after previous left-back Andy Sandell left the club ‘to regain his love of the game after being fed up with the travelling to Wycombe and playing left-back’. He went to play as a striker with Forest Green Rovers. On the same day, summer signing Ben Harding moved on loan to Northampton Town until the end of the season after making only a few appearances in central midfield.
After defeat at Preston, Fulham’s Marcello Trotta’s loan deal at the club came to an end. It was no surprise that he decided to not stay for longer after scoring 8 times in 8 games. Trotta recently made the bench in Fulham’s F.A cup game against Everton and again in the Premier league fixture against West Brom, leading Gary Waddock to admit that he was looking for a replacement.
The defence at Wycombe has been beyond poor this season, not helped by a number of injuries. This was the main area the fans believed needed to be focused on. It started well as Waddock bought in centre-back Louis Laing on a one-month loan deal from Sunderland. It seemed as if ex-manager Martin O’Neill had done us a favour as Laing’s first game saw him keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 home victory against Rochdale. Wycombe had the worst defensive record in January conceding 16 goals which is four more than any other team in the professional leagues.
Another one month loan signing was on the cards as experienced midfielder James Harper joined. He will bring more depth to midfield with both Scott Donnelly and John Halls long-term absentees. Harper has 400 games of experience in the top two leagues, helping Reading win promotion in 2006 and then going on to feature in all of their fixtures during their two year stay in the top flight.
It was nearing the end of the window and Bournemouth came in with a bid of £250,000 for top-scorer and hardworking striker Stuart Beavon which was thankfully rejected. The club were determined to hold onto Beavon to help fight for safety. Fortunately Bournemouth instead purchased Crawley striker Matt Tubbs for £800,000.
The day before deadline day, rumours were flying amongst Cardiff fans that promising youngster Kadeem Harris would be joining them. These were confirmed later in the day and Harris joined the Bluebirds for a reported fee of £150,000. This upset many Chairboys fans like myself, who believe he is worth far more. Despite this as Kadeem was out of contract and unwilling to tie himself down at the club so he could have left for free in the summer. Good luck to Harris who looks set to have a bright career ahead of him.
Deadline day was upon us and after letting Harris leave a winger was a must with only Joel Grant and Gareth Ainsworth left to take on that position. Waddock also had the task of strengthening our defence after another shocking performance at Brentford just a few days previous.
Transfer deadline day saw two players leave and two come in. The first move saw striker Scott Rendell join Oxford United on loan for the rest of the season. A weird decision but fortunately young Watford striker Matty Whichelow joined on a one-month youth loan later in the day. Waddock had said that he was looking for a Trotta replacement and hopefully Whichelow can be that man.
It was getting late and the 11:00pm deadline was drawing ever nearer, were we going to see the winger or defender we needed? It was then announced another player was leaving. This time Ben Harding, who had joined Northampton earlier in the window, had made his deal permanent.
By now rumours were flying around that winger Kevin Betsy, who had only left by mutual consent a couple of months earlier, could be resigning for the club, surely not? Finally late in the day, winger Anthony McNamee was signed to ensure that at last we had our much-needed winger. McNamee has just been released by Mk Dons and had a spell on loan here just a couple of weeks earlier. He had shown enough in his time here that he would make a reasonable acquisition on a permanent deal.
However the main concern now is that despite having the worst defensive record in the country we had failed to sign a defender. Waddock said he was close to a number of deals but was unable to push them through before the deadline. However he is hopeful that we can resurrect some of these deals in the loan window so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Our next game sees us take on Tranmere Rovers at home, which is a very winnable game and may be vital in keeping fans hopes of survival alive. Sadly we don’t have a very impressive record against Tranmere but hopefully things can change. A result on Saturday will help us push us onto safety with a good run of games against some of the teams around us coming up.