January Days

Martin O'Connor 02/02/2021 6comments  |  Jump to last

With thoughts already firmly looking forward to the Summer transfer window, what is to be made of the January Days just past and the Blues’ transfer business?

The only incoming was Joshua King. This was to be expected and both Carlo Ancelotti and Marcel Brands had made it clear that the Club was not looking to bring in players during January. It was clear with the loan move by Cenk Tosun that the Toffees were short up front. King was in the last 6 months of his contract at Bournemouth and the Blues beat Fulham to his signature.

King had a record of 53 goals in 184 appearances for Bournemouth. Okay... but not stellar. It also has to be noted his goalscoring prowess has been mostly non-existent over the last couple of seasons. He has not scored a league goal in the Championship for Bournemouth this season before his move to the Blues. It would seem we have loaned a misfiring striker out and replaced him with another misfiring striker. On the plus side, King has been signed for what we are told is a minimal fee and has only been given a 6-month contract. So we are not losing much on his signature; he may even be motivated to get himself another contract from the Club in the Summer. If this is the case then, great, and let’s hope this is how it turns out... but I have my doubts. It has the feel of the Enner Valencia loan from West Ham under Ronald Koeman.


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Which brings us to the players leaving Finch Farm, all but one on loan. The one who has moved permanently is goalkeeper Jonas Lössl who moved to FC Midtjylland, either on a free or for a minimal amount. Never having made an appearance for the Club says it all — a tick in Brands’s box here — but it was under his watch that Lössl was signed!

We can add the underwhelming Yannick Bolasie to the “goodbye for good” list. With his contract up in the Summer, his move on loan to Middlesbrough means he won’t be coming back, and we have at least got a portion of his wages off the books.

The same can be said for Matthew Pennington, who joined Shrewsbury Town on loan and whose contract is also up in the Summer. 25 years old, playing for the Under-23s in the first part of the season, and now on his sixth and final loan. The way we have handled Pennington has been ridiculous.

I have seen some Blues claiming the window has been a success. Well, sorry, but not for me. Tosun (Besiktas), Kenny (Celtic) and Baningime (Derby County) have all been moved out on loans until the end of the season. They will then be rocking back up at Finch Farm — all are under contract until June 2022. Do we really think Besiktas will have any real money to spend on Tosun in the Summer? Most Turkish clubs have real financial troubles. If they do take him, it will be a big financial hit for us, so why not have tried to have got it done now?

Derby County’s financial worries are in the news daily while Celtic will have a new manager in the Summer and a complete overhaul of the squad which, sad to say, has blown the ten in a row. So would any of these clubs make a deal for the loanees? No, they won’t.

There were strong rumours that Burnley were in for Kenny but that Everton wanted too much. (£10 million was the figure I saw reported.) In this COVID-hit world, did we really think we could get such an amount (if this was the actual amount we wanted)? Either way, it would have been much better to take whatever Burnley had put on the table and let Kenny go, as he is clearly, in my opinion, not good enough for the first team. But what does Brands do instead? Sends him out on another loan.

We can also add to this list the collapse of Bernard’s move to Al-Nasr. Meanwhile, we have Muhamed Besic twiddling his thumbs and taking good money while Con Ouzounidis and Nathan Broadhead, instead of being moved on, were turning out for the Under-23s on transfer deadline day.

Finally loans were secured to the end of the season for Jarrad Branthwaite (Blackburn Rovers), Ellis Simms (Blackpool) and Anthony Gordon (Preston North End). Branthwaite has already shown he is a prospect for the future and a loan will help his development further as, at the present moment, he is behind our four centre-backs. Simms has a lot of learning to do; when I have seen him for the Under-23s, I don’t think he has what it takes to make it at the Blues. But this is his first loan, so we’ve got to give him a chance and see what he is like when he comes back.

The same goes for Gordon who, as an Under-23 star, has shown little when given chances at first-team level. A loan will hopefully develop him further and we can assess him next season. But was Preston the best move for him? It was clear there was definite interest in him from Germany. I don’t know if it was possible to have got him a loan move to the Bundesliga, and if the Club actually explored this. If it was a possibility this would have been an infinitely better loan option for him, but this is just speculation on my part.

So January was an average window – that is my conclusion. Keeping the powder dry for incomings until the summer was certainly the right decision, while Josh King seems to be an inexpensive gamble. I don’t think we should have done it myself, but hopefully it pays off. I’ve got no problem with the loans for Gordon, Branthwaite and Simms (although I don’t think Simms has a chance at the Club myself).

Bolasie, Pennington and Lössl will be gone but, after nearly 3 years, Brands should not be still getting loan options for players such as Kenny, Tosun and Baningime while the Under-23s are still fielding players such as Ouzounidis and Broadhead who have no chance of making it at the Club. Meanwhile... we still have Mo Besic!

Yes, it is harder to move players while we still have a COVID-hit transfer window, and we pay daft money to players. But, after nearly 3 years, should we still be loaning the like of Tosun and Co, still have players in the Under-23s who are just there because we have to do something with them, while we also have players such as Besic wasting their and our time?

As we move on to the Summer, one thing is certain: As I have written before, we need a decision on Marcel Brands and the job he has done at the Club. His contract runs out in a few months, so we need an answer from the Club ASAP on Brands who, in my own opinion, has done a decidedly average job.

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Reader Comments (6)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 03/02/2021 at 13:09:10
Good summary, Martin. I think you described everything pretty much spot-on in terms of the sad realism we must now proceed with for the rest of the season.

Not a rosy synopsis and it certainly won't please the happy clappers – it may even be called "negative" based on recent threads!

Andrew Ellams
2 Posted 03/02/2021 at 13:20:32
With Gordon, maybe he didn't want to go abroad in the current climate and preferred to remain in the North West.

Going to Germany would not have been to anybody's benefit if the player was going to be unhappy.

Barry Rathbone
3 Posted 03/02/2021 at 16:40:56
Bar a very few instances (early Wenger at Arsenal) the transfer market is a scenario of throw enough at the fan in the hope some sticks.

SAF at Utd was profligate in his mistakes and at real big money (Veron, Berbatov, Falcao, Ci Maria, Zaha etc) but it didn't matter the shit that stuck were Ronaldo, Rooney, Schmeichel, Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy

The same philosophy permeates City, Chelsea and the shite

We're not in that game and until people wake up to that fact and grasp what is truly required we will continue to plough the furrow of mediocrity.

Kieran Kinsella
4 Posted 03/02/2021 at 17:48:59
Marcel's job is a like having a front yard sale and trying to flog your platinum edition "Greatest UK hits of 1988" LP that you paid 10 quid for years ago. People turn their noses up as they can get better quality for free. In the end you lend it to your neighbor for six months and he returns it after his cat scratches it and his dog pees on it. They you have another yard sale and try and flog it for 5 quid. At some point, it's got to end up in the dumpster.
Dave Williams
5 Posted 04/02/2021 at 10:36:34
A good article with some interesting opinions. I think King will be a good deal but seeing is believing.

As for the question of why didn't Brands get permanent deals for some of the outgoing players, I'd guess it's because – with the exception of Kenny – none of them are good enough for clubs to commit!

I have never seen anything in Tosun as a player; Besic seems determined to keep his salary intact; plenty of clubs have had a close look at Pennington on loan and declined to make it permanent; Beni Baningime has had unsuccessful loans... so why in the current financial climate would any club take a risk with these players?

We have been very cautious ourselves with King by only committing for 6 months in the same way as Liverpool have been careful with their new centre-back from Germany.

Financially, times have changed in football with no gate money and I think Brands did the best possible job in the circumstances. I still think Kenny can make it at the top level and he certainly has the will to win which so many players lack. Simms now has a great chance to mature at Blackpool and show that he is more than a flat-track bully. Fingers crossed for him!

Robert Tressell
6 Posted 07/02/2021 at 13:18:59
Quite a few leave for free in summer which will free up money for wages. Might be able to get a few fairly modest fees for Tosun, Bernard, Delph and Kenny. Then maybe about £40m for Kean. If so, we might be about to spend about £100m to £120m on incoming players. Even more if, say, not quite regulars get a good offer elsewhere (Iwobi and Holgate).

That should buy us Olsen (not perfect but dependable), a right back and some more (maybe 3) dynamic players in wide and attacking midfield areas.

Still plenty to play for this season - and really lots of encouraging signs for next.

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