City boss Glenn Roeder today revealed that the door was still wide open for Manchester City youngster Ched Evans to stay for the rest of the season – just as he was bundling the unfortunate David Strihavka out of the back door.
And with the UK Immingration service barring the door to Valentin Iliev's arrival in Norfolk and Roeder insisting that he had never invited Newcastle United keeper Steve Harper to step through the door, it was just another quiet, transfer window day at Colney this morning.
Evans' return remained – for now – the only in-coming piece of business of the week. Initally on an 'emergency loan' basis until February 26, the City chief revealed that the Canaries have until January 31 to 'up' that deal into a window-to-window arrangement – in other words, from the bleak mid-winter of January right through to the end of the season when the summer transfer window reopens.
For whilst Football League clubs can bend a few of the loan rules via that 'emergency' trick, for the Premiership clubs there is no such get-out. Once the January window slams shut, that is it. End of.
Sven Goran Eriksson bolts two new strikers into plans between now and the 31st and Master Evans' hopes of making any impression on the Swede's first team plans could diminish ever further. Come January 30 and Eriksson could well decide that he may be best advised just seeing the teenager again in the summer.
“It wasn't a long conversation – there just a lot of short ones,” said Roeder, as he looked back on a busy week – not just on the Eriksson front.
“First of all we're very grateful to Sven for letting him come back here – and I can completely understand his slight concerns for his own squad,” said as the ex-England boss looks at his slender resources. Or at least until he gets on that transfer merry-go-round himself. Anelka, Cisse… the list of potential Eriksson targets rumbles on and on.
“I'd have done exactly the same as he did – in fact I did it many times at Newcastle last year. And the result was that I never let them out. So I'm particularly grateful to Sven for letting Ched come back here,” added Roeder, suggesting that the young striker hadn't even bothered to unpack his bags so convinced was he that a return to Norfolk was beckoning.
For longer than the initial six-week stint too – if Eriksson does his own transfer business over the next three weeks.
“If Manchester City decide it would be better if he stayed here all year – and it would benefit Ched to stay here – we can do that before the end of January.
“Because as far as Manchester City is concerned, the Premiership window closes then and they'll know exactly where they are in those few days before the end of January. And we can then change that into a window-to-window loan which is ultimately what we'd like to do.”
Again it was clear that Roeder's spell in the England camp – albeit only on a scouting basis – gave him the kind of leverage and relationship he needed with Eriksson to pull off this second loan spell. The new City boss networks for fun; he works his contacts; plays the game.
“Sven Goran Eriksson – and people say a lot of different things about him – but having known him from a distance having scouted for England and he is incredibly intelligent. A very, very clever man; it's all on his brain. And while it might suit me to say this while Sven might have taken his time coming to a decision, I think he's made the right one.”
It wasn't the only decision that today's pre-match Press conference revealed – one was the club's inability to sign Bulgarian international Iliev on a full-time basis, the other to end Strihavka's miseries.
Certainly well before the club triggered the last three years of his original four-year deal and found themselves the better part of another ?1 million lighter. Even so, the 24-year-old's dozen odd appearances and a single goal has still left them ?240,000 and six months wages short. Not one of their finest hours in the transfer market.
Nice guy, but… was the gist of Roeder's short farewell speech as Strihavka headed back to the Czech Republic.
Iliev, meanwhile, had clearly impressed in his week-long trial. But with UK Immigration insisting that any player needs to have played in 75% of his country's competitive international fixtures over the last two-year period, the CSKA skipper was going to prove a problem work permit-wise.
“We've had him in for a week – he's a decent player,” confirmed Roeder. “But we are not by any means confident that he will get a work permit because he doesn't come close enough to having played the 75 per cent of full internationals that's required, so it's very unlikely to happen – very unlikely. And that would be the same if he went to any club in England and I'm sure he'll have to return home.”
Iliev did feature in two of Bulgaria's two Euro2008 qualifiers – not enough, alas, to keep the Home Office satisfied.
Finally and there were the overnight reports of Roeder returning again to Tyneside and slipping in a bid for 32-year-old Magpies reserve keeper Steve Harper.
But with Roeder confirming that there was every chance that a fit-again Matty Gilks could be on the bench at Barnsley tomorrow, it was a report he dismissed out of hand.
“I know what the media is like in the North-East,” he said. “They've got a lot of pages to fill…”
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