January Transfer Window

Opinion: A Quiet January Will Be Just Fine

Author: . Published: at 7:06pm

After a torrid start to the season, West Ham United fans are starting to breathe a little easier after the first of their festive fixtures, having witnessed by far the Irons’ best performance of the season as they dispatched Swansea 4-1. Beyond the result, what will have satisfied the supporters and club hierarchy most of all about today’s game was the involvement of several of the club’s summer signings in key moments, as Andre Ayew, Edimilson Fernandes, Havård Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli all had direct influence on the goals.

Attention therefore, will soon turn to the upcoming January transfer window, and any useful additions that Slaven Bilič could make to his squad. Tweets demanding the opening of wallets and the venturing of hands deep into pockets are already being directed towards David Gold, and peculiarly, David Jr and Jack Sullivan – Irons’ fans presumably alight with a fine rage as they click ‘Send’ on a tweet to a teenager, demanding they squander millions of pounds, one assumes of their pocket money, or perhaps that which belongs to a club their father owns, on a 30-year-old Colombian.

Despite these 140-character tantrums, it is this writer’s opinion that the club must exercise caution in any dealings this January, and that we the fans must be braced for a window of loan-to-buy agreements and potentially, failed deals if the owners are priced out of the market. There seems to a be a not-so-silent part of the fan base that seems to see such sensible curation of club finances as corrupt embezzlement of riches they perceive as their own, presumably envisaging David Gold as some sort of Scrooge McDuck figure, swimming in the ten million pound coins he could have otherwise spent on Gokhan Tore. Of course, Gold and Sullivan, and even their children, cannot win in such a scenario, and will inevitably be accused of one thing or another, but Twitter abuse from those with little grasp of how a club, or indeed a business, works is small price to pay for fiscal solvency and a squad not laboured with deadwood.

January has never been a fantastic time for value, rather like buying your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve instead of on Black Friday. Something that has been common knowledge for many years now, Sir Alex Ferguson always complained about the window itself, becoming known as an open disciple of the anti-January window ideology. And, with the Irons’ owners being in the market for a new striker who can guarantee 20 goals a season, rather than a reserve goalkeeper, so too are West Ham subject to the pricing and risk that Ferguson complained about – the pains of shopping for a commodity everybody needs right now and not nearly everybody can have. It is, sadly, just basic economics.

In addition to this, as a club, West Ham don’t have a fantastic recent record of making signings in the January window that make a long-term difference – Nicky Maynard and  Vaz Te helped the side on to promotion in 2012, whilst  Demba Ba nearly staved off relegation a year before that, but you’d be hard pushed to call them effective in the long term. Otherwise, beyond Sam Byram it’s been slim pickings in terms of sound investments for a good few years. Such business is fine if you’re in a relegation or promotion battle and need anyone from anywhere you can find them to get you 5-10 goals between January 29th and May 20th, but when a team is considering paying twenty million pounds for a shiny new striker, it’s a big risk, and has historically yielded West Ham very little reward.

Rumours are already swirling of Bilic re-igniting interest in Batshuayi, Bacca and Iorfa, all of whom would be wonderful additions, and certainly plug gaping holes in a team that needs it, but the club should also maintain a collective cool head and not dip excessively in to funds that could be used in the summer to greater effect at better value. West Ham have already experienced the bad side of risking money on a striker this season, as they did with Simone Zaza, and they no doubt thank their lucky stars that they avoided paying twenty-five million for him.

Nonetheless, given a promising December, leaving Eighth place only three points away, Gold, Sullivan, Bilič and the fans have every right to be aiming high and thinking positively, but it is in the best interests of all the involved parties that the best solution possible is found, whether that entails in spending the money now, or holding on to it until better value is available in the summer. Perhaps then, West Ham fans should prepare for a quiet window, and enjoy whatever comes if and when it does, there’s plenty of promise ahead regardless.




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  • Chris
    27th December 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Sorry but completely disagree. With money in the game right now we need to constantly add to our squad or risk falling behind. Especially when consider african cup of nations around the corner and our injury record. January is a bad window to spend but then again every window players price seem to rocket anyway. Had they spent last january we would have made champions league…

    If they cant be competitive with all the new stadium lies and promises, they need to sell up.

    • Joe Doran
      29th December 2016 at 12:07 am

      My point, Chris, is that no recruitment is better than bad recruitment. If they find a player worthy of the team, that we can sign for an amount within our means – wonderful! I’m more than supportive of the idea of the board spending £30m on a striker, but they need to be sure it’s the right one – we don’t have endless lots of £30m. If they aren’t sure, they shouldn’t pull the trigger, so to speak. I agree with you wholly that the team needs reinforcement and cover ahead of AFCON, but at least with loan-to-buy deals we get a chance to assess the player proper first – More Lanzini’s and Carroll’s instead of Zaza’s and Tore’s will do me fine.

  • Ian Gravett
    27th December 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Weird how some of the Summer signings have started to step up, I myself guilty of slating Nordtveidt. However even he has started to look more composed since the howler against Spurs

    • Joe Doran
      29th December 2016 at 12:09 am

      I think the more time the new boys are given, the better they’ll be. We’ve been blessed over the last few years to have the likes of Cresswell, Payet, Kouyate and Antonio starting very well, but that isn’t always the case. With the stadium move and the team playing poorly, I guess it’s easy to see with hindsight why it’s taken a while. I’m confident they’ll step it up further – we know for sure that Nordtveit and Ayew aren’t dud players – you’re bang on about them improving since Spurs, so I guess we just have to get them playing as they can.

  • 28th December 2016 at 12:38 am

    We can’t keep going on the way we do we need to build a team so we have to spend . Got load of shit in the summer . So they need to spend some good cash in jan…. If they don’t then sorry they aint the right people to take us to the next level ..

    • Joe Doran
      29th December 2016 at 12:13 am

      I think that’s very negative, Dale. In my opinion, the majority of our signings have been positive; Ayew, Masuaku, Nordtveit, Fletcher, Quina and Feghouli (on a good day), far outweigh the failures of Zaza, Tore and Calleri – who thankfully we don’t have to keep! We’ve added depth, albeit they’re taking time to settle in. I think we need to improve, and the board seem to agree. I do wonder if perhaps blowing the budget on players we aren’t 100% sure on is a good idea, personally, I’d rather more loan-to-buy deals than spending £20m on a gamble.