At last, January is finally here.
This is the month that will give us days of frustration, moments of dejection, glimmers of hope and not a little bit of Googling when we do sign somebody. No wonder so many managers hate it.
As it stands, we haven’t added to our squad yet. It’s still very early days, of course, and having two games within the space of four days does put the schedule on hold. After the Rochdale game though, I expect things to finally start happening…
If you cast your minds back to last year, we had an opening week of not signing anyone, then all of a sudden we had about 3/4 new faces. Granted, many if not most of them were loanees, but experience should teach us that if you don’t sign anyone within the first couple of days, it’s not a disaster.
Mind you, it does sound like NA has already been frustrated. From the SLP:
Gregory was one of a long list of people I was trying to get on Tuesday that I missed out on. There must have been another three which fell through, with one reaching the stage of a medical being arranged. But at the end of the day, Gillingham are able to offer a package which would have been breaking the bank for us. Sometimes we just cannot compete.
This is why we have an apparent shortlist of 50 players – the ones first on your list aren’t always going to come, and if you note that the ones making the initial purchases are the ones at the top of the table. Those lower down haven’t (yet).
None the less, it’s already frustrating to read that we have dipped out on four players thus far. And no doubt we’ll have a few more periods like it. The key is not to get demoralised over it at this stage – we still have four weeks to get the right players in.
Obviously, the later we leave it the more tense it becomes, although one suspects if NA was trying to get in players on the 1st January he’ll want to get players in ASAP. We limped through December, just about, and we can’t really afford to do the same this month if we can help it.
This will test the club as well – to be blunt, it will have to start offering a bit more to potential players than it would otherwise want to. Now is not the time to start getting arsey about paying a couple of hundred quid a week extra to a player who may well get us out of this shit – we are not an accountancy firm.
Coming back to the name we know we missed out on – to be honest, I’m in two minds about Gregory going to Gills instead. He was somebody who you would have thought was a slam dunk of a signing for us, but when you look at it a bit more logically, perhaps he wasn’t.
That he didn’t sign on 1/1 should have been a warning sign, as Southend were also after him as well. He was a player who played in L1, obviously believes he can still play at that level, and Gillingham may well offer him that next season.
Oh yeah, and the money as well.
We were pursuing him, but considering we need more steel, you have to wonder why. Was there an “expectancy” that we should, if that makes sense? He’s a good player, but not when you’re down the bottom. And to be honest, if the money we save on him gets us a different midfielder, who is more suited to a basement battle, we won’t have dipped out.
Don’t forget that Gregory only came in because the previous regime was facing meltdown and was doing anything it could to remain in charge (and I really, REALLY hope our financial power this month hasn’t been compromised because of that). If NA had been in charge back then, would we have taken him on loan anyway? Look at his loanees that are here, namely Sully, Meades and Ajala. All seem different types to Gillingham’s new midfielder.
We’ll see the sort ofÂ the sort of squad our boss wants, if not necessarily the real decent quality he wanted, in due course. Chances are it will be quite a pragmatic, hard working one. And as it’s been said on here a bit too often recently – those we get in don’t need to be really good, they just need to be good enough to keep us up.
Whether NA is one to panic buy or not, we don’t know. And getting in players for the sake of getting them in would be a costly mistake, in more ways than one. But at the same time, we can’t do nothing.
The unexpected win at Torquay on Tuesday bought us time and breathing space. A good result tomorrow at Spotland will also help, but given what we know about this collection of players, a 4-0 stuffing is just as likely. And should that happen, at least it will sharpen a few minds come Monday morning…
I guess we’re currently in that odd part of the transfer window where it opens and you expect things to happen right away. It never does for most clubs, ours included, but there’s already signs of agitation, and will continue until the OS finally confirms somebody.
Speaking of Torquay, you have to believe that the nadir that was Oxford was a massive sharp object up collective anal passages. Those who went commented on how much more spirited we looked, and it proved that Stacey Long really does have testicles of steel.
Needless to say, if they showed that most weeks, we would be reasonably comfortable in mid-to-lower table, and we wouldn’t need to hit the transfer window like we’re doing. But I just don’t trust this collection of players enough for them to sustain it, and given that he tried to get at least three players in on NYD, neither does NA…
Rather interestingly, we haven’t released players yet either. The Christian Jolley transfer rumour of him going to either Luton or FGR for Â£25k+ is one that I hope gets sorted out sooner rather than later, because the dough will come in handy.
I won’t particularly miss Jolley, as after his performance against Port Vale at KM last season, he never recaptured it. Of course, he looked decent at Newport, but so many of our players released looked better in non-league football. If anyone is stupid enough to come in for our players with a cheque, snap it out of out of their hand and run to the bank before they change their mind.
How much of the crap we are lumbered with we can get rid of we’ve yet to find out, although they probably won’t move until we’ve sorted out replacements – part of our current plight is down to this approach in the close season.
And no, I’m not quite cynical enough to suggest they’ll all be here come February.
So, not for the first time, we’re living on a knife-edge for new players. Right now, it’s needs must and all that. We were doing this last year, and you would have expected us to learn sufficiently enough this time round. Should we stay up, there is absolutely no way we can repeat exactly this next season – patience can only be tested so much.
And I thought football was supposed to be enjoyable…