Today the transfer window opens, and with it Newcastle United and Sunderland’s chance to put right previous neglect, writes Stuart Rayner.
TODAY the 20th football transfer window opens. It usually starts with three-and-a-half weeks of speculation and the odd low-key move, before exploding into a few days of much ado about nothing.
Sky Sports anchorman Jim White will almost self-combust with excitement and Harry Redknapp will somehow do more deals than Gordon Gekko on speed despite seemingly spending the entire time leaning out of his car window telling reporters how “triffic” someone else’s players are.
Neither Newcastle United nor Sunderland can allow 2013 to follow the well-worn script.
Like blokes at Christmas, football managers know all year when the transfer window will open, yet still leave it until the last day or two before running around in a mad panic. The buys they bring back are often the footballing equivalents of garage forecourt flowers.
After 30 days’ procrastination, Martin O’Neill signed Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos on the final day of the 2012 January transfer window. Sunderland were desperate for defensive reinforcements last winter, but still not that desperate.
Newcastle’s Alan Pardew only made one signing but got in early, buying Papiss Cissé from Freiburg on January 18. It tipped the balance of their season, as good January buys can.
Already there are encouraging signs both clubs are trying to follow that lead this year.
The window was not even open before talk of Tim Cahill joining Sunderland on loan, and Mathieu Debuchy finally coming to Newcastle. Both should be good signings, but must be followed by more.
Both squads have been neglected in the last two transfer windows. Failure to act again will make the problem worse, and undo the good work of early 2012.
With a bit of good fortune both squads ought to be good enough to avoid relegation even without reinforcements. But with more money than ever on the line – next year’s TV deal will shower Premier League clubs with more cash than even Redknapp could spend (in one window anyway) – it would be nice not to rely on Lady Luck. Besides, clubs with their support should have far loftier ambitions.
In January 2012 Newcastle were in desperate need of a centre-back, and had a right-back whose long-term future lay elsewhere. They did nothing about it and got lucky.
When they were unable to land their top August targets at the cut-prices they hoped, they tried ignoring it again, and their luck ran out.
Sunderland had no left-back, no specialist cover at right-back and desperately needed a few centre-forwards. All that has changed is they need one less striker thanks to Steven Fletcher’s successful arrival.