The
WALTER
PILKINGTON
COLUMN

PRESSING 
DEADLINES

MEHSTG Vol. 2  Issue 20  -  April 2001

So transfer deadline day has come and gone and are we any better off ?? Not as far as I can see. No new faces to brighten up the place and no movements out of the club either. So, while other clubs were rocking all over the world, you could say the Status Quo has been maintained at White Hart Lane.

Long gone are the days when lots of top name players moved around on the last day of trading for the football market, before the run in through Spring to the end of the season. Especially it would seem to Tottenham Hotspur. No more last minute swoops for players. And why is it that a move to transfer a player to a club is always a swoop ?? Do clubs act like vultures to get their prey or is that just the way that the agents perform their business ?? Surely, some deals would be better described as a transfer swop, with a player going each way or a player one way and money the other ??

For many clubs, this is a chance to boost the squad before the final run-in against relegation, for promotion or a championship push. For many others, it is the opportunity to get players in for next season with a period to allow them to settle into the side before the game starts afresh after the summer. And then for a number of clubs, it is a time to sit on their hands and do nothing. Like this season and last for Spurs.

The season before last was no better. Roger Nilsen picked up on a free transfer from Sheffield United as cover with the FA Cup semi final against Newcastle United coming up. He lasted only one game, funnily enough against Newcastle in a league match just before the Cup clash and did pretty well, but he moved on at the end of the season.

Is it the fact that the Bosman situation has resulted in players not moving around this time of year because their contracts are usually set to expire in the summer Ė normally July ?? Or is it that they are content to sit tight waiting for a better offer than the ones that their clubs might try and generate to raise some cash for the player rather than lose them on a free at the end of the season ??

The money generated on the last day of transfers in this country also used to go wholly to other British clubs. From about the start of the Eighties, money started leaking out of the UK and going to Europe and then further afield. This has resulted in many lower league clubs being in dire financial straits. Their lifeblood of selling on young or up and coming players, has been cut off like a tight tourniquet by cheap alternatives form abroad. As most people will admit, the quality foreign stars only enhance the game, but other mediocre imports (and we have had some at Tottenham, havenít we ??) do not add any value to the game and only prevent talented home grown youngsters breaking through. How many of the current crop of Tottenhamís bright players who have graduated from the youth system would have been drafted in had the side been packed with non-entities from the continent ?? You see lots of teams bringing in players who are from Europe, so they reckon they must be good. Selective buying is the only way that it will benefit the sideís progress, as you need the right player in the right place within the team, wherever they come from.

Having said that, the pressure on foreign players to produce the goods (especially at Customs) is great and it is only now that we are starting to see the best of Sergei Rebrov. Players of whatever standard need a period of time to settle into their new life and it is most unfair of the Press to start slating players because they arenít doing what they have done elsewhere when they have been uprooted with their families from familiar surroundings and team-mates. Those of us who have changed jobs, can sympathise with the move to work with new and different people from those we are accustomed to. It is completely disorientating, even if you donít move to play in the Far East (of London) !!

But back to our original premise and the last day of the sales. When the doors open on that day, the happy shoppers rush in through the entrance looking for any bargains they can find. Perhaps the pressure on managers who fear for their jobs in the end of season rush means that they are unwilling to spend lots of money and risk enraging their chairmen ?? That is how it seems these days. No record transfer fees. No huge amounts of money changing hands. No big stars on the move.

There wasnít even a move to bring in Roberto Carlos on the other flank to partner Stephen Carr. So, Mr. Buchler, whatís going on ????


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