January opportunity for Prem strugglers

Rich Kitto gives his take on the January transfer window and the advantage it can offer to those teams struggling to get out of a hole.

Last Updated: 07/02/14 at 11:48 Post Comment

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Likely to throw Vincent Tan's cash around

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Likely to throw Vincent Tan's cash around

In a month typically associated with frugal spending in the sales, football's January transfer window is usually dominated by overzealous bids, media frenzies, and Harry Redknapp speaking wishfully whilst leaning out of a car.

But after a disappointing summer spending spree, or a disastrous start to a new season, do teams deserve a second chance to make matters right at the expense of those that can't afford such luxuries?

Initially considered in 1992, the main idea behind two 'windows' was to enable managers to spend more time coaching instead of foraging for additions or dealing with wantaway stars, whilst in turn reducing the power of agents touting about their clients throughout the whole season.

Though it wasn't until 2002-03 that the system was installed in England and across mainland Europe, much to the malign of then Arsenal chairman David Dein: "The English clubs did not want it, they were very happy with the existing system but...were advised by UEFA that we had to comply and we have no alternative but to comply against our will."

Fast forward 12 years and not much appears to have changed. Players, perhaps with the exception of Luis Suarez, still retain all the cards, and just ask Roberto Mancini about the extra time he was allotted to handle Messrs Tevez and Balotelli.

Whilst no doubt it provides entertainment for us punters (though perhaps at the expense of Sky Sports News presenter Jim White's blood levels), it can create an unfair advantage for those teams willing to 'throw money at it', has the ability to dismantle teams, and to cost managers their jobs.

When faced with a question in late December around plans to spend in the window, managers' token responses usually contain the words 'difficult', 'value' and 'time period'. Though in a scenario whereby Andy Carroll becomes the eighth most expensive player in the history of football, this revelation by the men in charge is no longer a surprise.

Though as mentioned, it does provide a wonderful opportunity for some to dig themselves out of a particularly tight hole. Up in Manchester, David Moyes and co will be working all hours sent in order to turn around what is very quickly becoming a disastrous first season in charge at United.

As things currently stand, there is a very real threat on the horizon of his team finishing outside of the top four and therefore missing out on the Champions League. Whilst the two sets of fans are unlikely to converse regularly, United supporters should ask Liverpool journeymen just how damaging this could be for them.

As such Moyes is faced with an extremely difficult stick or twist situation. Do the club spend big to attract players for well over their value, in the hope that this will reignite their season but potentially damage the financial structure if they still fail to make the grade? Or does he stay put with what he has in the hope they can turn the proverbial corner?

Of course, the decision may not all be his, and if rumours are to be believed then Real Madrid are currently doing all they can to either prevent their left-back Fabio Coentrao joining the Manchester club, or at the very least ensuring he goes for an extortionate price.

But, publicly at least, it appears that Moyes has been heavily backed in the window by owners the Glazer family so all eyes will be on him and Ed Woodward to make sure that the pantomime summer activity is not repeated.

And it could well be that if the Scot cannot bring in Coentrao, or Marco Reus from Borussia Dortmund, that they will look domestically in an attempt to shorten the typically required 'settling in period'. Its well known that he still harbours an admiration for Leighton Baines at Everton, whilst Yohan Cabaye at Newcastle would certainly bring something to a United midfield lacking drive and creativity.

So for both Newcastle and Everton the window serves as nothing more than a huge inconvenience. Yes of course the aforementioned teams have the opportunity to strengthen regardless of whether a prospective bid comes in or not, but the main reason they are both doing so well is down to stability.

Many mocked when Joe Kinnear arrived through the gates at St James' Park in the summer with the plea to be 'judged by his signings' for only Loic Remy to join on loan, but the Toon Army have been one of the in-form teams recently and stand a good chance of pushing for a return to Europe. Equally, it was suggested that Roberto Martinez would require some bedding in at Everton but they have as good a chance as anyone at this stage to claim that coveted fourth place spot if the team sticks together.

Naturally charity starts at home, and in their current predicament Moyes will be showing no mercy if he believes others have what he needs in order to achieve.

Though it isn't just pinching a player directly from an opposing team that can create disadvantage, as Arsene Wenger believes, with reference to last January, but it's an unfair advantage for two different teams to face the same opposition - one before the window and one after it - and as a result face completely different line-ups.

Wenger said: "It is unfair some teams have played, for example, Newcastle already and then some still have to face a side with six or eight new players."

Of course it's not just Manchester United that may make use of the four-week gap, as it could be that the Chelsea team which travels to Manchester to face the blue half of the city on February 3 come armed with Radamel Falcao or Diego Costa in attack.

Equally, Chris Hughton's Norwich have a potential six-pointer at Cardiff on February 1, and who knows what sort of team Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have assembled by then with Vincent Tan's big pot of cash.

For some the January window is used to keep a watch on predators outside the gates, but for those managers desperate for change it provides a view through to a promise land. Come what may for these men, because over the coming weeks all eyes will be on them.

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ilarious, thanks for that. But if I may, I do suspect the reason of your partners' ire is not Tottenham, but most probably all the compusilve gambling :)

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