Connolly column: Deadline day great fun

David Connolly discusses transfer windows, training in Holland and England, and what he believes makes a good manager in his latest column.

Last Updated: 12/02/14 at 12:13 Post Comment

Manuel Pellegrini: Capable of handling different personalities

Manuel Pellegrini: Capable of handling different personalities

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David Connolly has played and scored in every division in England, as well as in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord and internationally for the Republic of Ireland. He has got the highest possible UEFA coaching licence and is still playing in Sky Bet League Two for Portsmouth.

Every Thursday, David will provide an insight into life as a footballer throughout the leagues in his exclusive column for TEAMtalk.

More should follow Hitz: David discusses Thomas Hitzlsperger's revelation and explains why he's never used an agent in his first exclusive column for TEAMtalk.

Refs can be influenced: David explains how referees can be influenced, insists diving players should 'protect the sport', and talks penalties and fan owners.

Spurs prove formation myth: David uses Tottenham to explain why there is no 'best' formation, while he says training ground rows like Dani Osvaldo's are common.

Deadline-day drama great to watch

It's transfer deadline day on Friday and it's just as exciting for players as it supporters. The majority will be sat watching everything unfold and you can't deny it is great drama for TV.

I have moved on deadline myself in the summer but not in January, however the similarities are there

At Leicester I was top scorer in the Championship and heard Wigan were interested if they sold Nathan Ellington, which they did, so I joined along with Henri Camara.

However, I knew that Henri and Jason Roberts were the favoured two up front so after scoring on my debut and starting the next one or two I soon knew I was back up.

I was forever grateful to Paul Jewell for giving me my chance in the Premier League but the following season, also on deadline day, I left to join Sunderland and help get the club back to the Premier League.

I was their major money signing and it was a late night drive up there with telephone conversations on the phone regarding contracts and medicals so that by the time I arrived the deal was pushed through very quickly just before midnight.

I've never arrived at a new club in a helicopter like Juan Mata did at Manchester United, just a nice MPV! But seeing that reminded me of when I joined Feyenoord.

The custom was that the big signing of the season would land in a helicopter on the centre of the pitch at an open day attended by over 50,000 fans and that year an Argentinian striker called Julio Cruz, who went on to play for Inter Milan, jumped out to much applause, while the rest of us new signings popped out of a magicians box under the players tunnel. That was more than enough showbiz for me!

Transfer window not always beneficial

The transfer window is exciting but it doesn't always benefit clubs and players.

Some clubs will lose important players and be unable to replace them, some will overspend in a bid to keep up with rivals, and some clubs will rush into signing a player that wasn't even their second or third choice originally.

The target list is ever changing dependent on who moves where and when.

In January, big spenders can blast their way to promotion. QPR at the top of the Championship or Wolves at the top of League One, for example, will look to strengthen as one last push for a few signings will mean an initial outlay but the possible riches on offer mean it's a gamble worth taking.

However, these players invariably look expensive once they have done their job in getting promotion and often they will be deemed surplus to requirements as the quality needed to move on again will require a better standard of player.

That's a cost clubs are willing to take to make that final push to get over the line, but these sort of moves do not always benefit a player in the long run.

The window can also shut on a player's future at a club, too. When I was at Southampton and we were at the top of the Championship the club signed Billy Sharp, and he scored some crucial goals to help us to the Premier League.

His arrival meant I moved on and lost another chance to play in the Premier League but I did get another medal and you have to move on sometimes, it's just part of football.

At Sunderland we benefited from the January transfer window when Jonny Evans joined on loan from Manchester United. He hadn't been playing so it suited both parties for him to join us.

So January can be helpful in getting in loan players from bigger clubs, particularly if they believe in how you play or if the two managers know each other and have a good relationship.

I also remember Everton signed Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan one January window in 2012. Both were loan deals but both players boosted their team significantly so if you know who is out there, you can get the right characters and players in your club for little or no money.

It's not always about sky-high transfer fees such as Mata's. The clubs that can afford that are few and far between and often of greater interest to me are those wheeling and dealings that garner less headlines but are of equal importance to those not swimming in the same pool as the big boys.

Readers' questions

alospurs (Tottenham Hotspur): Do you think AVB's achilies heal was that he couldn't adapt to the team and formation he was playing against? He didn't seem to have a plan B, just one up front, when everyone was crying out for two up front.

I watched Chelsea against Southampton live at Stamford Bridge last month and Chelsea played 4-2-3-1 but were trailing at half-time. They couldn't stop Southampton from keeping possession and Fernando Torres was unable to hold on to the ball when it came to him so Chelsea couldn't advance up the pitch.

But Jose Mourinho sacrificed a midfielder and switched to 4-4-2 at the break, and Chelsea scored three in the second half and won the game.

By playing two up top Mourinho stopped Southampton passing out from the back, forcing the ball long to John Terry and Gary Cahill. Chelsea won the ball back earlier and then played long themselves with the added presence of Demba Ba up top. They penetrated more, won more corners, free-kicks and had more shots all by changing their system.

Against the likes of Barcelona or Bayern Munich Mouriniho will not play 4-4-2 but I feel he could play that way against more Premier League sides and the same applies to Tottenham.

adriansmooth (Manchester United): You've been a professional player for 20 years, it would be nice to have your input on how things have changed over the years in terms of training and football club culture.

I left England to go to Feyenoord, an amazing club, and the difference then was huge. All the players were in for training at 9am as opposed to 10 or 10.30, and they were so professional and disciplined, doing lots of extra bits and pieces to get the best out of themselves.

In pre-season there were no long runs, everything was done with a ball, and training would always begin with a circle of keep ball which I had never done before but this was 1997 and nowadays most clubs have a circle to warm up with two in the middle and the rest on the outside keeping possession.

We would do passing drills every day working both feet, first touch, movement, receiving skills, passing skills and to this day I have not done passing drills every day at a club consistently like I did at Feyenoord.

I believe it works as Robin Van Persie was in the youth team when I was there and he has that technical proficiency that only those who have been been through such a system seem to have.

Also, the season I left Feyenoord won the UEFA Cup, beating Borussia Dortmund in the final, and I believe these daily skills work in honing your technique.

When I joined I was technically so far behind the other players but I caught up a little over time. One of my last games was against Ajax; we won at their stadium for the first time in 26 years and I was man of the match after scoring twice against an team which included the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Cristian Chivu. It just showed how far I had come in a little over three years.

lfc-oz (Liverpool): Will we see you managing soon?

I would love to be a manager/coach one day. I feel I have experienced most things football has to offer having played in all divisions and internationally, and also done some coaching at a lot of my clubs, even Feyenoord occasionally when I visit my friends there.

Football has been a way of life for me and it's something I love so keeping in the game is something I would love to do.

I believe how you talk to people and treat people is crucial as well as having the technical and tactical knowledge. Although I have come across so much technically and tactically over the years there is still so much to learn, but eventually you come to the point, which I am approaching, where you don't need to read the book; you have lived the book.

I look at some managers who are able to inherit players and deal with them really well, and I look at what they have said in the press and what the players say about working for them.

Harry Redknapp and Manuel Pellegrini seem particularly astute. Is it their age?Are they more experienced in life? Is it because they are more relaxed? They seem to be able to deal with different personalities that some younger managers cannot.

David Connolly's column comes to you courtesy of Sky Bet, the title sponsor of the Football League.

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