The January transfer window is rubbish. Every year is the same, yet it always seems to come as a surprise.
It’s nothing like the summer window, where anything goes and everyone is up for grabs. The winter window is strictly for waifs and strays. Apparently, the majority of strikers signed in January do not find the net for their new club in the remainder of that season. See Gary Madine.
It’s the window for bringing in cover, or paying well over the odds. See again Madine.
Yet every year, you see supporters of clubs that are limping in to the new year, expecting them to fix the mess by buying half a new team. These same people spend February purple in the face, ranting on Twitter about a shameful, unforgiveable lack of ambition. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Cardiff have a new manager with new ideas and to bring those ideas to reality, he needs some of his own players. Chances are though that those players won’t be made available in January though. Clubs live in fear of leaving themselves short, so hoard. It’s hardly surprising when they play so many games over this period and injuries are inevitable.
The flip side of sacking your manager, and chief scout, and Under-23 manager so close to the end of the year is that their plans go out the window with them.
It’s a big ask to expect Neil Harris to acclimatise to his new club, analyse his squad and identify concrete targets for an already difficult window, while playing twice, sometimes three times a week, at the busiest time of year. His recruitment staff are in the same boat and awaiting their instructions.
Had Warnock remained, chances are he wouldn’t have been given money to spend anyway, due to Cardiff’s middling league position and having spent so much in the summer. So there are probably more chances of incomings under Harris, but he’s unprepared and very much up against it.
So the moral of the story is, be happy when he only signs Lee Gregory (his top scorer every year when he was in charge at Millwall, but has struggled since leaving as a free agent in the summer) on loan from Stoke because it’s better than nothing!
Swansea may be signing loads of exciting young players, which is only compounding the situation, but that is an almost unique situation. They have a manager that won a youth World Cup and that makes you attractive to a generation of young players (even if you’re not attractive in any conventional sense).
A new face gives everyone a lift, but the reality is that you could probably fit all the new Championship arrivals in a minibus. No one is rebuilding in January, let alone the club’s that are seemingly scaling back and may soon face a £15m bill.
Probably best to hope for the best and expect the worst. Cardiff may be wasting an opportunity, but it’s only a limited opportunity. At least this year they have some perfectly reasonable excuses.