It was no surprise not to see any major signings coming through the doors at Ewood Park last week as the Summer Transfer Window slammed shut. In fact, I was surprised to see we actually paid a fee for one player. Whilst Grant Hanley and Shane Duffy left the club for fees as expected, they were replaced by the usual harem of free transfers and loan signings, many of whom, if previous seasons are anything to go by, will make minimal appearances and disappear back to where they came from or be absorbed by the club and spat out at the end of their contract.
I understand that as a club we are haemorrhaging money on a daily basis as attendances fall and the parachute payments grow thinner and thinner, not to mention the massive debt that the club now has to contend with. I understand that we are now in a position were every player has a price and should that valuation be met, we will need to sell to help balance the books. However, we are running short of saleable ‘assets’ now that the likes of Rhodes, Gestede, Duffy, Hanley, Cairney etc have all been sold. Of the remaining squad I would expect to see Evans, Conway and Marshall leave in the next window. I understand that this is necessary to prolong the existence of the club. What I don’t accept is the calibre of players we are looking to replace them with.
I have nothing against the players we brought in during the Summer: Derrick Williams for a fee; the likes of Gordon Greer, Danny Graham, Anthony Stokes and Charlie Mulgrew on free transfers; or Stephen Hendrie, Martin Samuelson or Marvin Emnes on loan – in fact, looking at the names on paper, the free transfers don’t look too bad, and would have generated some excitement in years gone by. The issue is with the players we didn’t bring in, or even look at bringing in.
As always, there was nothing to get excited about on deadline day at Blackburn – no impending big transfers, and no curious last minute loan signings. Yes we brought in Emnes at the eleventh hour – but he is hardly the Ronaldinho or Beckham we were promised, or the Jordan Rhodes of yester-year. And this was on a day when the Transfer Window did somewhat live up to its hype.
Whilst we were happy with the work we had done over the summer, the following players were snapped up on either free transfers or loan deals: Chris Martin; Steven Fletcher; Glenn Murray; Matt Miazga; Rickie Lambert; Ikechi Anya; Lucas Piazon; Aiden McGeady – to name but a few. I’m not saying they would have all been suitable, affordable or even interested, but what would be nice would be to see some intent from the club. At least some rumour of exciting players potentially heading to Ewood rather than the usual radio silence and loan lottery. Yes there is a chance that the loan signings may be a success and we may buy them on the back of that success, but on the face of it, none of those who have come through the door look like they are going to be the next Rudy Gestede. Take Liam Feeney – we had him before and he did very little yet we have got him back again (and he is doing very little).
If you asked most Rovers fans who they either fancied on loan or who they thought we would end up with on loan, 99% would be nowhere near the list of those that were brought in. A further 40% probably can’t name all our dealings as there’s been that many of them.
What this all seems to point to is one thing: the lack of any sort of plan. From the start of the window most Rovers fans knew that Hanley and Duffy would likely leave, yet it took until almost September to bring in reinforcements. Looking at the number of loan signings that have been brought in – they will plug a gap but are they really a long term solution? One or two loan signings can be a good thing if they bring in either experience or promise, but to bring in six and only be able to name five in a squad smells of “we’ll take what we can get and see if it works”. I’m not saying break the bank to bring players in, but do the loan signings really offer anything that players in the Development Squad don’t? I for one would rather see the likes of Wharton and Mahoney given a go – if all else fails and we do get relegated, it will be the likes of them who have the task of trying to get us back up or steady the ship; at least give them the chance to save the ship in the first place.