Watching Paint Dry on the Transfer Window

Two weeks into the transfer window and it is awfully quiet out there.

Transfer WindowWe are probably 40% of the way through the January transfer window and despite endless speculation nothing of note has so far materialised.  It would be intriguing to know what goes on behind the scenes with transfers particularly in the mid-season window as it is unthinkable that every deal is struck in the last few hours.  One players transfer is often dependent on another going the opposite way through the revolving door and then there is the complication of last minute medicals to consider.  To the casual observer it has the appearance of disorganised brinkmanship.

As far as West Ham transfers are concerned the same names are still being banded about as incoming targets (Defoe, Snodgrass, Hogan, Batshuay) while the popular recurring outgoing story is Michail Antonio to Chelsea.  It is much quieter on the Dimitri Payet front with many self-appointed in-the-knows now proclaiming that he is “definitely off in the summer”.  There have also been noises about Joe Hart which is fine provided that it is not at the expense of a right back or striker.

It is impossible to know which of the stories that you read about have any foundation and which are totally fabricated.  I am convinced that a rumour of a bid can surface, be denied, rejected, ridiculed by fans and reported as having hit the rocks without there being any substance in it at all.  I often wonder if it is the same with other clubs or whether the more public profile of our board makes West Ham an exception.  As I don’t actively follow transfer speculation of other clubs the first mention of a deal can invariably be when you read of Everton, Spurs or Chelsea swooping to secure the services of their particular target.  With West Ham it would seem that no swooping is involved with deals the result of a long drawn out chase of attrition.

The apparent public negotiating stance of the West Ham board is not something I am keen on and am puzzled why this happens repeatedly when frustration is the inevitable outcome.  I can remember a Birmingham supporter telling me that the same happened when they were in charge at St Andrews.  That the window would open with ambitious claims of top signings only to end with uninspiring itinerants and short term loans.  After the disappointment of the summer window it would have been nice to see a measure of organisation, discretion and dynamism in our transfer activity.

In defence of the board I believe that the claim that they have not made resources available to the incumbent managers to be rather unfair.  Looking at the numbers over the last 5 years (courtesy of the Transfer League site) West Ham sit in 5th place as far as Net Spend is concerned, behind the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea.  In Net Spend terms we have shelled out more than Liverpool, Spurs, Everton and Southampton during that period.  The difference is that we have had few players leave with any remaining transfer value (we are no longer a selling club because we have had no-one worth selling) and looking at the same data for Gross Spend we fall down to 9th place.

The table below shows gross and net transfer spend over the past 5 years by each Premier League club.  If only that money had been spent wisely.

                               Gross Spend                              Net Spend
1 Manchester City £565,650,000 1 Manchester City £402,550,000
2 Manchester United £528,800,000 2 Manchester United £392,650,000
3 Chelsea £507,459,000 4 Arsenal £205,850,000
4 Liverpool £365,600,000 3 Chelsea £192,309,000
5 Tottenham £315,450,000 5 West Ham £125,300,000
6 Arsenal £298,300,000 6 Liverpool £125,270,000
7 Southampton £221,100,000 7 Leicester £88,400,000
8 Everton £167,300,000 8 Sunderland £73,430,000
9 West Ham £151,300,000 9 Stoke City £62,300,000
10 Leicester £129,700,000 14 Watford £59,600,000
11 Crystal Palace £125,535,000 10 West Bromwich Albion £59,141,000
12 Sunderland £124,480,000 11 Crystal Palace £56,635,000
13 Swansea £109,875,000 15 AFC Bournemouth £52,100,000
14 Hull City £92,625,000 12 Everton £50,984,000
15 West Bromwich Albion £89,350,000 15 Hull City £46,925,000
16 Watford £88,400,000 16 Middlesbrough £38,550,000
17 Stoke City £86,300,000 17 Southampton £33,250,000
18 AFC Bournemouth £76,850,000 18 Burnley £23,450,000
19 Middlesbrough £53,725,000 19 Tottenham £5,500,000
20 Burnley £46,900,000 20 Swansea -£9,685,000
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