While City’s business in this transfer window has been less crash, bang, wallop than most, I guess we ended up in a decent place.
The general consensus on #NCFC social media appears to be that the net result of the comings and goings leaves us, at the very least, no worse off than we were on December 31st, and so (not for the first time) I’m out of step with many.
Prior to Marquinhos being announced, I’d argue the squad looked weaker rather than stronger – a curious position to be in when you’re supposed to be gearing up for a promotion charge – but the arrival of Arsenal’s young Brazilian at least negates the loss of Aaron Ramsey.
Personally, I’d like to have seen a ball-playing centre-back and an Oliver Skipp added to the group but that was just me dreaming (again). When you’re up against it financially – our default position – then we have no option but to sit tight and do ‘bits and bobs’.
I understand Stuart Webber’s loathing of the January window and the lack of value it offers – it’s just a tad frustrating to watch others make hay in those 31 days while we tread water.
For the record, our business in January is thus…
- Marquinhos (on loan, Arsenal)
- Christos Tzolis (loan recall, FC Twente)
- Przemyslaw Placheta (loan recall, Birmingham)
- Todd Cantwell (sold to Rangers)
- Jordan Hugill (sold to Rotherham)
- Jonathan Tomkinson (loaned to Stevenage)
- Saxon Earley (sold to Plymouth)
- Aaron Ramsey (loan cancelled, Aston Villa)
- Tom Dickson-Peters (loaned to Grimsby)
- Tyres Omotoye (loaned to Forest Green Rovers)
- Danel Sinani (loaned to Wigan)
Of the outs, only Cantwell and Ramsey could be considered potential starters and of the ins, Placheta realistically is nothing of the sort, while Marquinhos fills the hole in the squad vacated by Ramsey. That leaves the wild card – Tzolis.
If, and it’s still a big if, the Greek Under-21 international can start to be the player we thought we’d signed in the summer of 2021, then that changes the landscape. With David Wagner having had a look at Tzolis while he was here recovering from injury and, as a result, asking if his return can be arranged, then the head coach clearly believes it to be possible.
With Daniel Farke, it appeared more than just a Tzolis-not-delivering thing. He clearly took the hump over the penalty incident in the Liverpool cup game and found it hard to forgive. Under Dean Smith, it appeared more a case of him being unable to get a tune out of the player although, as it transpired, other than Josh Sargent, he didn’t get a tune out of anyone.
So, of the many challenges that lie ahead for Wagner, this is one of the most interesting. The Tzolis that we were originally promised would be a huge asset to any promotion push and if our new head coach can deliver on that score where his two predecessors have failed, then that in itself would be quite something.
Also quite something was the fact that Aaron Ramsey, he of the potentially season-ending op that necessiated his return to Villa, has popped up, as fit as a fiddle, in Middlesbrough. One can only assume his loan to City was inextricably linked with the presence of Dean Smith, but it all seems a little odd to say the least.
A good player is young Ramsey. It’d be a blow to the nether regions to see him lead one of our promotion rivals to the one promotion place we’ve earmarked as possibly ours.
Either way, as ever, the success or otherwise of any transfer window can only be judged three or four months down the line, so we just have to hope the Webber of 2018, as opposed to the Webber of 2019, 2020 and 2021, has delivered for us.
Elsewhere in the window, the Premier League was as grotesque as ever.
Chelsea’s ludicrous spending – part of which saw them smash the English transfer record when buying Benfica’s Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez for £107million – helped elevate the total spend by Premier League clubs in the window to £815million.
All against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis the like of which most of us have never seen.
Yesterday alone saw more than £275millon spent. In total this season, Premier League clubs have spent £2.8billion.
Deloittes reported this morning that Chelsea on their own spent more on transfers than all of the clubs in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 combined, and spending by Premier League clubs accounted for 79 per cent of the spending of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues.
So [note to self], don’t get too sniffy when complaining about City having not a pot to pee in. No one wants to be like Chelsea … or Man City … or Newcastle when there’s so much hardship and suffering elsewhere. If all of that doesn’t sit uncomfortably with the Premier League suits, then it bloody well should.
Talking of which, there was an interesting piece on The Athletic last week [there is a paywall – sorry], which aptly looked at the sustainability of the game at the highest level in Enghland.
In terms of the second tier, Norwich have the highest ‘sustainability factor’ in the Championship (see below).
It appears to be looking at the here and now rather than further down the line (I suspect we may not score too highly in a year’s time if we are still in the Championship), and most of those with the highest scores are in receipt of parachute payments, but it does shine a light on that thin line on which most normal clubs are teetering.
The same piece also has City scoring highly with regard to governance and fan engagement, which is ironic given the recent misgivings from fans over the club’s attempts to engage and the club itself acknowledging that it has to do better.
Finally, that bloody awful January transfer window is no longer a thing and we can move on without the constant speculation until it all starts up again… in around a month.
Onwards and upwards… starting on Saturday.