January Transfer Window: To keep or not to keep, that is the question.

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January Transfer Window: To keep or not to keep, that is the question.

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Manu Jagan

02/01/2016

With the January transfer window coming to a close, teams gear up for their second and final lap in the race. With weaker teams making a complete overhaul to stronger teams covering their squads for injury, there is an ongoing debate among a small group of people as to whether or not the January transfer window does any good to the competition.

The winter transfer window, although a short one, has caused much debate in the recent years amongst managers and football pundits alike. With one side arguing for its benefits and another calling it unfair. There is a much-needed discussion with regard to its inclusion as much as the one on goal line technology. Although there are a set of thinkers who provide more than valid reasons for its existence, recent dominance of a few teams has caused people to believe its negative impact on the competition.

The Premier League, after ten years of running, decided to introduce a transfer window system with the advent of the 2002-2003 season. Prior to this system, players were allowed to move freely from one club to another, as and when they pleased. This not only caused a lot of chaos among players who preferred to play with short-term contracts but also favoured the rich teams who could entice players with their money from smaller struggling teams. With the UEFA bringing in the transfer window regulations, managers now had a definite roster to work with in the near future. Players now were tied down to clubs and were forced to play for that particular club until their contracts ran out, cancelled or got transferred in a transfer window. Although this was a system frowned upon by some managers as well as players, its implementations was done so with the greater good of the game in mind.

In today’s world, the transfer market spend only increases with every coming season. Averaging the one hundred and fifty million mark in the last five seasons, the 2010-11 season marks a record high of 235 million pounds. This trend, however, has now fallen to criticism among a few managers, who feel that the winter transfer market only hurts the smaller teams and is an unnecessary event affecting the competition level of the league and in turn the game as a whole. However, a few players are of the thought that the winter transfer window is in fact a boon as it allows the un-favoured to ply their fortunes at some other place where they might be a perfect fit.

On December 2014, a young talented striker from Ivory Coast took the Premier League stage by storm as he reached the 20-goal record to become Swansea’s joint all-time top scorer in the Premier League. The Ivorian known as Wilfried Bony then moved to Manchester City mid-season for a sum of around 28 million pounds. This not only stole the Welsh team’s best player but also hindered their progress in that Premier League season. Manchester City, who were in dire need of a striker who would act as a back-up for Sergio Aguero, could offer Bony a better salary as well as a higher platform to play in the form of Champions League. Liverpool, on the other hand, when they sold Torres for a British transfer record of 50 million quickly used this money to bring in Suarez as well as Carroll, two players who succeeded and failed respectively. Both players were purchased in the January transfer window for high prices rendering their older clubs without their star but also had mixed fortunes with their destination clubs.

As argued by many managers, the winter transfer window is indeed a pain to the smaller clubs. When smaller clubs, who build their team around a certain marquee player, start well in the first half of the season, they are always under the threat of this marquee player being poached by bigger clubs with the ability to offer higher salaries. Once this marquee player disappears, it is difficult to bring in a player of the same quality who has the same chemistry with the other team members for the remainder of the season. The team once again has to adjust its tactics and will lose its form.

However from a player’s point of view, the winter transfer window opens up opportunities for many, who either missed the dead line or have not been able to fit in well with their team. In the recently concluded transfer window, we could pick out two players who fit into either one of these categories. Andros Townsend, who was at Spurs, was initially considered Tottenham’s future and the next Gareth Bale. But his problems were usually off the pitch, which included his lack of enthusiasm to train twice a day as required by his manager and his disrespectful incident with the coaching staff of Spurs. Having fallen out of favour in the manager's eyes coupled with some of the other team-mates coming back into form, it seemed nearly impossible for the Englishman to break into the starting line-up. With the Euros coming closer, regular football is the only path that would allow Townsend to get into the national side.

Another example would be the likes of Charlie Austin - the English striker was amongst the top scorers of the Premier League for a while last season when he played with London side Queens Park Rangers. With his team being relegated, this striker of immense quality was forced to play in the lower division when he couldn’t make a definite move to a team playing the Premier League. With the January transfer window, Austin moved to the Saints where he had an immediate impact scoring against Manchester United. Now playing in the Premier League, Austin has a chance to perform and make it into The Three Lions squad for the Euros.

As the pros and cons affect both major parties of the game, it would be difficult to make a quick decision, however given the British and their love for bureaucracy in the football industry, it would be a while before a concrete decision is made. But for now, every club must be prepared for the ups and downs that come with the January transfer window.

Written by Manu Jagan

(Also Read: Thank you, Brendan Rodgers, for this mediocrity – A Liverpool fan’s lament)

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