It promises much but the January transfer window is generally an anti-climax, although that does not stop the speculation industry going into overdrive in tempting you to visit their websites with an enticing story about the latest 24 year old goal scoring sensation linked with a move to the London Stadium. Like the Transfer Deadline Day of old the January window is dominated by desperate measures of clubs eager to avoid a relegation battle or to boost their flagging chances of promotion or European qualification.
For me, the winter deadline is characterised by pointless loan deals for the likes of Ilan, Mido, Pogatetz, Chamakh, Diego Tristan, Benni McCarthy and Roger ‘The Relegator’ Johnson. It has rarely led to the recruitment of quality players with the possible exclusion of Dean Ashton in 2006 and Demba Ba in 2011.
West Ham go into the window with a very unbalanced squad that includes some gaping holes of which the most notable are at right back, striker and, probably, central midfield. The failings of the summer transfer deals which focused on quantity rather than quality to support an expected but unrealised Europa League campaign is there for all to see. Summer recruits Zaza, Tore and Calleri are all likely to be out of the door and could soon be followed by Feghouli if in-the-know gossip is to be believed; then there is the question of Dimitri Payet about whom there is a growing consensus that he is unhappy, disinterested and wants away. If that really is the case is it worth holding on to him?
If West Ham were a few points better off then maybe we could just write the season off as a bad job and address the squad problems in the summer when there is more time and more options. But with the relegation places not too far away then doing nothing in January would be a very foolish strategy despite the fact that getting good value in the window is rare. We were unable to improve the team in the summer so what are the chances of doing so now?
The difficulty arising from our situation is that clubs know we are desperate and so will be inflating prices. We are most likely to overpay for players who are expedient stopgaps and not part of a project to build an ever improving side. The forward players who have been most regularly linked, Defore, Long and Snodgrass, are all in the wrong age profile for the longer term even if they might prove useful for the survival imperative. Scott Hogan is in the right age group but is relatively inexperienced while Moussa Dembélé is likely to be unavailable and destined for greater things than east London.
Something has to be done about the right back position which has been a blind spot at West Ham over many years. The approach reminds me of Sunday morning park football where you put the lads who are no good anywhere else at full back. Maybe Sam Byram will make a injury free return but we need backup and it should be someone other than Carl Jenkinson again.
We are a week into the window and nothing has happened apart from some outgoing loans and the transfer of Lewis Page to Charlton. Usually nothing much happens until the last few days anyway but let’s hope that this time the money is used wisely.