Some windows should be bricked up
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Well that didn’t take long.
A little over three months after the universal euphoria provided by a Wembley win, we find vast swathes of our support plunged into despair following the summer transfer window. While some are merely underwhelmed by our activity, others are choosing adjectives such as shambolic, suicidal and even negligent to describe it.
The biggest criticism seems to be that we haven’t added depth to our defensive options. Admittedly, I’m as surprised as anyone that another body wasn’t added, especially with Turner leaving on loan. I appear to be in the minority by thinking that our first choice back four is up to scratch but even I’d be concerned should we lose Martin or Bassong to injury. Ryan Bennett still looks like he has the potential to become a decent centre half, but at 25 he really needs to start fulfilling that potential, at the moment it feels that his career is just sliding by. The only other cover is Andre Wisdom and while he performed adequately at Rotherham deployed as a full back, he didn’t convince defensively.
If the last-ditch bid for Nedum Onuoha is to be believed, it does give an impression of Xmas Eve shopping style desperation. My assertion would be that we had a *target* lined up which didn’t materialise and that we then found ourselves without an alternative at such a late stage. What happens from here remains to be seen but all of a sudden January looks a long way to travel without picking up injuries or suspensions.
The other possible explanation is that Alex Neil thinks that his defence is good enough, he has sufficient cover and that he was never seriously in the hunt for anyone. If that was the case then he’s earned the right to expect us to support his assessment, however, given his notoriously meticulous approach, I’m inclined to think that we’ve missed out on one here.
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Elsewhere, the decision to sell Bradley Johnson to Derby for £6m has been met with widespread derision. The Barry Butler winner has enjoyed a mixed career at Carrow Road and despite the transfer being treated as though David McNally had been caught sleeping with your wife, it is possible to see the benefits of the deal.
A couple of weeks ago I asked in a Q&A whether Johnno could expect a reduced role this season with Olsson and Brady seemingly going to be the preferred first choices on the left. With Dorrans, Howson, Mulumbu, Tettey and O’Neil all available for the central slots too, perhaps Bradley himself saw it that way too. Therefore the opportunity to join a club that should be challenging for promotion coupled with a guarantee of regular football was probably too good to turn down.
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He was fantastic for us, especially last season, and he’s earned his place in the hearts of the supporters. That his departure has been met with such anger is testament to the attitude, desire and passion he demonstrated on the field for his club and teammates. It’s all the more remarkable because at one point the general assertion was that he’d struggle to pass water; he overcame that and turned the crowd around, plenty fail to manage that.
We all wish him well, I’m sure.
Other than that we’ve brought in Matt Jarvis on loan, presumably as left-sided cover. This seems a reasonable bit of business to me but has again been met with little more than a tut and a raised eyebrow by the collective. He hasn’t ripped up trees at West Ham but I remember some half decent judges thinking he’d have been a great signing for us when he joined the Hammers. Crazily, I’m going to reserve judgment until I’ve seen what he can do.
The same goes for Dieumerci Mbokani. His YouTube reel looks decent but then so did Ricky’s.
Ultimately, it’s done. All the bleating, moaning, relegation predictions, criticism of McNally and the board etc is just a waste of breath. This window may end up looking brave, bold or bonkers but it can’t be changed now and while if we do go down there will be an unbearable host of “told-you-so’s”, I’ll never understand the satisfaction that they garner from it.
The club openly said that they were finding it difficult to attract the names they wanted into Carrow Road, at no point did they try and pull the wool over our eyes – unless there’s a conspiracy that Alex Neil is in on. Perhaps that’s geographical, maybe it’s profile, there’s even a chance that overseas players are still asking Alex Who when we make an enquiry. Many would have you believe that it is a reluctance to pay the going rate in fees or wages; that sits well with those who’d rather have a Marcus Evans than a Delia Smith but thankfully our board aren’t as short sighted.
I understand the calls for us to “speculate to accumulate” with the new TV deal coming but that’s easy to say when it isn’t your future that you’re gambling. It isn’t about an unwillingness to spend money, it’s about a responsibility to each and every supporter to ensure that the club will be here next season, in ten seasons and in a hundred seasons irrespective of the division that they’re playing in. Three teams WILL get relegated this season, we might be one of them and while this window might have been underwhelming, I still wouldn’t want someone risking my club’s future.
But then I think we’ll stay up anyway, I simply don’t believe that there is such a chasm between the Championship and the Prem that the best squad in the Championship can be strengthened and then be woefully short in the top flight. Anyway, the one window everyone got excited about before saw us bring in Fer and the Wolf. Nobody was underwhelmed then; top half, Europe or perhaps a cup.
Until January, as disappointed as we might be, these are the players that we’ve got. The one thing we need to ensure isn’t underwhelming is our support of them.
• Blog post written by Duncan Edwards