Michael Bailey: Why the month of January will always be of little relevance

Wes Hoolahan has been back in Chris Hughton's Norwich City starting line-up for recent Premier Leagu

Wes Hoolahan has been back in Chris Hughton's Norwich City starting line-up for recent Premier League games - something City's fans will hope continues. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The vagaries of the transfer window – specifically the January transfer window. A window that for its 2014 edition has already been open for a third of its duration, and barely a deal has been done.

In all honesty, it should probably enjoy some rebranding – into the ‘January the 12th’ window or some such efficiency. Do we really need to go through this whole rigmarole over the period of a month when a few hours would do it?

And this is speaking as someone who enjoys the transfer window…

Following Thursday afternoon’s Colney press conference, it was clear Norwich City boss Chris Hughton wouldn’t join me in those sentiments.

The Canaries have a proud recent record of not selling a player against their will – a trend kicked off by the arrival of David McNally as chief executive. In many ways, that makes this January’s puffed up speculation over Wes Hoolahan’s future and Aston Villa’s interest something of a rare occurrence.


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Since the Canaries were flying in the Championship, January has been all about strengthening the squad for the second half of the season and whatever goal lies closest.

Leeds, Peterborough, Celtic, Brighton – they’ve all been the recent apples of City’s January eye. But this time around, it’s City trying to keep hold of their asset.

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Now let’s be clear – the chances of the Norwich City board agreeing to do business with Aston Villa for Wes Hoolahan are somewhere in the millions. And not in the Jim Carey, Dumb and Dumber sense.

But this is January, and no amount of logic should interfere with a good yarn.

In fact, one of the January transfer window’s redeeming features is its finality.

Take one hypothetical situation, where every negative breath uttered so far about a random player was true – like going on strike to push through a move while their contract gives them no wiggle room. If the window closes and that player is still where they were when it opened, that’s that until the summer.

Do you sulk, stuck in the reserves or development side?

No. You get reintegrated into the first-team squad for the final four months of the season.

Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney etc – the list of examples is lengthy.

Incomings is likely to be a trickier business than recent Januarys too – when City have always made a healthy number of arrivals, even if those deals haven’t always proven to work out.

Hughton’s summer recruitment was significant and for me, there is an argument to wait another few months for the current group to settle down before bringing in more. Not that fresh defensive and midfield cover wouldn’t go amiss – is that greedy?

Whether either transfer window is fit for purpose is a debate football needs to have – same with the loan system. Taking away the option for Premier League clubs to loan players between themselves would stop the big guns stockpiling talent and as a result, could reduce fees.

The contracts may be shorter but given what some of them are worth, that seems only a small issue.

Not that such concerns would be a problem at Carrow Road. As was proven with John Ruddy in the summer and will be with Wes Hoolahan over the coming weeks, the contract paper at City is made of stern stuff.

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