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The Great January Transfer Window Lie!

 There is a popular misconception that football clubs can't do good business in the January transfer window. This is patently not true. Clubs can, and have, completed great transfers in the January window. However, having said that, the clubs needs and player availability are often different to the Summer.
Clubs are either crying out for reinforcements, as they are struggling and fighting relegation, or are crippled by a massive injury list and need fresh blood to get them out of trouble. These clubs are often desperate, especially with relegation being such a massive financial blow these days.
At the other end of the scale, clubs are either challenging for the title or to qualify for Europe and are looking for that little bit of extra quality to carry them home.
The trouble for both of these clubs is that they need players to come in and perform straightaway without a bedding in period, where they can get used to club tactics, formations and team mates movement and runs. If a player has moved to the Premier League from abroad very often the culture of football in England needs adjusting to as well, the pace and ferocity of every Premier match, the ref's willingness to let a few more things go than their continental counterparts would, full houses every week and the intrusive nature of the press.
Players don't necessarily want to go to clubs battling relegation and looking like they might go down, and clubs that are experiencing success looking for extra quality might struggle to get their man even if he wants to come. The parent club being reluctant to let good players go mid season, especially if they are still in the running for honours themselves and because then, they would have the problem of replacing a player mid-season .
Clubs in relegation battles are looking for this years Paul Kitson and John Hartson. In 1997, before the January transfer window had even come into place West Ham were doomed. They were bottom of the table in mid-February having taking one point from six games since Christmas. The then West Ham manager, Harry Redknap stunned the footballing world by signing two strikers on the same day. It was a massive gamble that paid off handsomely. Kitson and Hartson hit the ground running, scored twelve goals in the last thirteen games and somehow on the last day of the season West Ham survived. It was a move that cemented Redknap's reputation as an arch wheeler dealer along with his London accent and "barrow boy done good," persona. I have always considered this image did Redknap more harm than good, detracting from his capabilities as a manager, and hiding the fact that he clearly has a very good eye for a player.
The problem for clubs in relegation trouble of course is that these remarkable stories of escape are remarkable because they don't happen often and that allied to the desperation of the clubs can lead to bad decisions.
Many of the so-called big clubs have made January transfer window howlers, Fernando Torres to Chelsea/ Andy Carroll to Liverpool which smack of excess from Chelsea followed by panic from Liverpool.
So who has been the big January transfer window winners? Inevitably,  those clubs that don't need the player to make an immediate impact but want to bed him in, in readiness for the following season. The greatest January buy is probably Luis Suarez, also one of the finest players to grace the Premier League. Signed at the same time as Brendan Rodgers took over a struggling Liverpool side that was in no danger of relegation but wasn't threatening the top of the table either. There was no pressure to succeed straightaway and as a result they were able to develop and grow into their roles together. Rodgers, of course made great purchases the following January whisking Philippe Countinho and Daniel Sturbridge away from the benches of AC Milan and Chelsea respectively, and turning them into superstars. It was his summer purchases that ultimately cost Rodgers his job.
Alex Ferguson, as he was, in most aspects of the game, was a master of the January transfer. He once stated that foreign players often needed at least six months to feel at home playing in the Premier League and understand the pressures of a big club like Manchester United. Therefore, he would often buy players in January that he didn't need immediately,but could drip feed them into the first team in readiness for the following season. Arguably, in January 2006, he did this to perfection, signing left-back Patrice Evra and centre back Nemanja Vedic. Initially, both looked like really bad players and not up to the required standard. However, they were allowed time to settle and given the right support and both left Manchester as United legends.
Clubs can make a success of any January purchases, but they have to have a clear idea of what they want, what they are prepared to pay and do their due diligence.

By Clive Palmer

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