Why top managers throw January transfers out the window…

As the January transfer window enters it’s final week a pattern of low spending at the summit has become evident. This is a pattern that has now been developing for some years now and it is starting to catch on.

A recent media example of January 'flops'

Four of the league’s top five sides have opted not to dabble extensively in the transfer market this season. Sir Alex Ferguson has sealed only one transfer this month and that was the signing of Anders Lindegaard, a young Danish goalkeeping prospect. Therefore Manchester United have only spent approximately three million pounds. Other  title contenders Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal have between them only spent around the three million pound mark also. So why is it that the bigger and better sides choose not to invest come January?

Well, initially it seems unclear why these great sides, all striving for perfection in their own unique ways, would refrain from spending big at every opportunity given their financial superiorities. But it is undeniable that the last few seasons have seen an increased level of avoidance of the January market by the bigger sides.

Ferguson and Wenger both tend to avoid 'panic-buys'

Managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger seem to go as far as dismissing it as an inconvenience, a bother and an unnecessary inclusion into the routine of running their clubs on a day-to-day basis. The word branded about regarding their tendency to dismiss the opportunity is often that they do not want to ‘unsettle’ their respective squads. After all do you really believe that the likes of Ferguson would ever start a season without a side that he believes are capable of winning silverware? Of course he wouldn’t and we’re all well aware that bullish and stubborn characters like Ferguson don’t just change their mind on a wim and a prayer.

Such managers much prefer the option of pre-season preparation and are therefore far more inclined to make any transfers they deem necessary in the summer off-season. The length of and the preparatory nature of this period is a much more apt occasion to make additions to the squad and blend new members with far greater care and attention. These managers realise just how vital pre-season preparation can be and therefore utilise this period by bringing in new players and giving them the chance to ease their way into the set-up in lower-key and far less important games. Such preparation sets players up for far greater chances of long-term success at a big club.

Major clubs tend to regard January purchases as ‘panic-buys’ and therefore avoid them at all costs. However, the same can’t be said for the lower league sides. Premier league under-achievers Aston Villa who went into the weekends fixtures in 19th position have this week forked out a whopping twenty four million for Darren Bent, a player with just one international goal to his name. ‘Panic-buy’ or not, he begun his spell at his new club with a winning goal against a title contender. Can it be that the January transfer window can benefit lower-league sides but not top sides?

Didn't seem to be offering O'Neill that sort of money..

In conclusion, I believe the transfer window can benefit sides. It has happened before and it will happen again, the classic example of success was the upward charge of Harry Redknapp’s ‘Pompey’ side a few years back after wholesale January changes. The proof is there that some managers can indeed use it for the greater good of their respective clubs. However, the top clubs lack of need or desire to splash the cash in January is down to their superior pre-season preparations. If all teams prepared as shrewdly as the top clubs then the January transfer window would become little more than a mid-season lottery. As it stands though, it is a window of opportunity, especially for those clubs feeling the winter blues.

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4 comments on “Why top managers throw January transfers out the window…

  1. I think the key reason why managers from the top four don’t splash put is because generally (the exceptions of evra and vidic of course) the market is inflated against them. Any player they might want is far above market value and so they dont see the point in investing, linked with this is of course the idea that these top four (five?) clubs want the best for their squads so generally they are not going after players from smaller clubs. They need to buy from the likes of Barcelona to get true quality that they require to actually make their squad better who wont be willing to spend because they dont want to lose their best players at a time when they will struggle to bring in a replacement. What are your thoughts on doing away with the Jan transfer window? David Moyes hates it! And Aston Villa underachievers? Or have they overachieved in the last few seasons?

  2. Completely agree the the top sides are being priced out of moves for any players of any worth to their respective squads. Fergie has this said this week that there “is no value in the market.”

    I think Villa probably have slightly over-achieved given the lack of financial backing O’Neill was being provided with, but they are definitely a top seven or eight club. Good English contingent, good youth production line and then proven performers like Petrov, Dunne and Friedel as well. Now they have a quality goal scorer they should be top six or seven calibre again.

    I think for excitement sake the window still has a place, it definitely gives clubs who are having major injury problems (West Ham every season!!) a second chance to re-shape their squads. I just think that the market is sadly stretching outside the bounds of most Premier League sides means, therefore we’re missing out on the best players and the league it is getting weaker.

  3. Interesting all round. I like your writing style Jack! What are your thoughts on Brighton’s season so far? Going from good to better I’d say! Just hope they hold onto Glen Murray! He’s tops.
    Keep up the good work bro!

  4. Brighton seem to be well and truly on the up; good young team, great manager and a new stadium on the way. They could quite feasibly be a Premier League club within a few years, who would of thought that?!

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