The middle of winter has always seemed a stupid time of year to open a window and leave it open. In 2015, it remains on the latch until 23:00 GMT, Monday 2nd February.
From here on in, it will be known as ‘JTW’ (to save a bit of keyboard time).
Some fans seem to get excited by the imminent opening of the JTW and who they’d like to see their club bring in to give the second half of the season that often much needed shot in the arm; either towards promotion or to stop the rot and prevent a plummet to the league’s nether regions.
Others, like me, feel it’s a cop-out for under-performing managers and coaches – at least at the top level. How many times do we have to be subjected to a Harry Redknapp or a Neil Warnock saying that everything will be okay if they just spend another 5 or 6 million on a guaranteed season saviour?
It rarely turns out that way.
Call me old-fashioned but the job of the coach or manager is to get their existing players to improve, to raise their game for the sake of their own careers and the sake of justifying their over-inflated salaries.
Prior to the 2002-03 season, such a limited wintry transfer period had long been discussed but never put into action. Why does the JTW have to happen and what is gained by it? I’ll let the erudite ‘Jersey-man’ Graeme Le Saux explain the detail.
Why? Because the clever dicks at FIFA know best and enforced its introduction twelve seasons ago despite the Premier League being distinctly frosty to having it imposed in place of what was already in use – the opportunity to buy and sell at the right price all year round.
No matter. What FIFA wants, Blatter gets and the JTW became mandatory across Europe including our little island bobbing around in the North Atlantic. Their reasoning was that it would stop agents permanently buzzing around like bees and allow managers to get on with their jobs.
But who really benefits? The Premier League’s big boys of course.
Wilfred Bony’s transfer to Manchester City (you could almost hear the twang from the FFP rules being bent) certainly ruffled the feathers at Chelsea and Arsenal but it’s not like the managers of those enormously financed clubs have never made, or would never make, such a ‘sneaky’ move to try to ensure success come spring time.
As with most systems, the JTW seems to be skewed for the benefit of those already with most of the resources, although I’ll refrain from getting too bogged down in the politics.
For the lower leagues it does genuinely give the minnows a chance to bring in troops on loan and patch up already small and low cost squads hit by injuries and suspensions.
It also allows young talent not quite ready for full time action at their parent club to experience the rough and tumble of the ‘big time’, even if that does involve a wet and windy Wednesday night at Hartlepool or Accrington Stanley.
Masters McGeehan (Cambridge Utd), Loza (Yeovil) and Murphy (Scunthorpe) can only benefit from such an experience as they work their way up the lower rungs of the footballing ladder. Good luck to them in the face of an increasing attrition rate of young English talent making it to the top rung.
Also, the JTW gives a chance for the out-of-favour, perennial bench warmer to resurrect their flagging career in a new and stimulating environment; Daniel Ayala to Middlesbrough, Elliott Ward to Forest and Jacob Butterfield to Palace being recent examples. All are now established in Championship sides.
With the help of the internet I’ve been trying to rack my brain to recall how many success stories have emerged from JTW entries into Carrow Road in the past twelve seasons.
Under the last seven managers, our JTW dealings have proved to be pretty unremarkable, with the exceptions of Dean Ashton, Rob Earnshaw and Ryan Bertrand. With the club experiencing the financial rollercoaster it has done over the past decade or so such names stand out above a swamp of averageness.
Here is the best Canaries JTW starting XI I could put together (out of a total of 25ish players signed either permanently or on loan since 2002);
Marshall (GK) – Tierney, Whitbread, Yobo, Bertrand – Lappin, Fotheringham, Gow, Johnson (Oli) – Ashton, Earnshaw.
*Note: no recognised right back as we never seem to have brought one in during the JTW.
The moral of the story from this fan’s point of view, and my starting XI, seems to be don’t expect any incoming players to have a major effect on the rest of the season.
By all accounts, Alex Neil is looking to bring in one or two of his former Hamilton charges who he feels can ‘do a job’. That’s as maybe but I hope the new boss is confident enough and good enough to coach the best out of the big and not inexpensively-assembled existing group on the chilly fields of Colney; a number of whom have tended to let down the previous owners of Neil’s job.
If anyone fancies doing a Canaries-related ‘funny photo caption’ challenge (free to enter – no prize) just as a bit of light relief from the tortures of the 2014-15 season, then send me a blank email (*address below) with “photo caption” in the subject line. I’ll reply with the simple rules, attach a photo and allow 5-7 days for suggestions back to my email. I’ll then e-mail out all the entries (anonymously) for a democratic vote to pick a winner. If there’s enough interest, I’ll try and do a couple a month.