The January transfer window closed last week, and here RICHARD CAWLEY got the lowdown from fans from each of our professional clubs to see how they viewed the transactions completed.
The January transfer window – was it good, bad or indifferent?
Jack Pierce (Crystal Palace, Five Year Plan): Good. Up until about 9.30pm on Deadline Day, good would certainly have been a push but the arrival of Michy Batshuayi at the 11th hour certainly added some quality to the squad and made it a very good window. Given the stodginess of the market, Palace couldn’t have done much better.
Nick Hart (Millwall, Achtung! Millwall Radio): On balance it was a good window. I know that will sound a little odd as we missed out on Rudy Gestede of Middlesbrough. But the return of Ben Marshall and not losing any of our key men was better than the signature of a so-so striker of limited quality.
Rick Everitt: (Charlton, Voice of the Valley): Bad – the sale of Karlan Grant and failure to replace him with another out-and-out striker, while loaning out Nicky Ajose and losing both Billy Clarke and Jamie Ward overwhelms the solid work done in other areas. It makes the team ridiculously dependent on Lyle Taylor.
Chris Draper (AFC Wimbledon, 9yrspodcast): Indifferent. Some fans have a negative view that the transfer deadline day was a bust, but we signed Aaron Ramsdale and Dylan Connolly earlier in the window and both of those have made good starts. We shouldn’t write off Shane McLoughlin or Micheal Folivi too early – both came from clubs higher in the pyramid.
Who are you expecting to be the best signing?
JP: All hopes are pinned on Michy. A poor spell at Valencia should see the Belgian want to impress in his half-season spell in SE25 and Palace need a goalscorer.
NH: Nobody should expect another 17-game unbeaten run, but Marshall was a key part of last season’s heroics and he will make a big difference for us as we push toward Championship survival.
RE: Jonny Williams has brought an energy to the midfield, although it’s worrying that we are only signing players on six-month deals when there are so many whose contracts are expiring in the summer already.
CD: Bournemouth loanee Ramsdale. His save in the dying minutes of the win over West Ham was a high point.
Were any of the outgoings a loss – or could maybe come back to prove it was a mistake to let them go?
JP: Sad to see Jason Puncheon go but with his contract expiring in the summer, it made a lot of sense to go and play games. Palace fans hope Jonny Williams maintains fitness for a spell so he can showcase his obvious talent.
NH: Sid Nelson signing for Tranmere Rovers for the remainder of the season is probably a realistic end to a Millwall career that once seemed to promise so much. All Lions fans will wish “one of our own” well in his future career.
RE: Grant is clearly a big loss to the team, although I find the idea he is ready to play in the Premier League somewhat far-fetched. The situation with Billy Clarke was odd, as he did well when he was fit before.
CD: We didn’t ship any of our own players out. I liked Tom King but we had already lined up Ramsdale, so it was no great loss.
Who would have been the last player you would have wanted heading out the exit door?
JP: Wilfried Zaha. To lose him half way through the season would’ve really hurt, on and off the pitch. I fear that had he gone midway through the campaign, the impact would’ve been huge.
NH: Despite missing from close range in the last seconds against Rotherham last Saturday, Lee Gregory remains, for me, the player of the season so far. Word on the Bermondsey streets is that he wants to head back up north. Let’s hope the bright lights of the big smoke hold his attention for another contract extension this summer.
RE: It would have been insane to have let Lyle Taylor go, although under owner Roland Duchatelet we have come to expect the least sensible thing to happen in any given situation. Joe Aribo would have been a big blow too.
CD: Would have been criminal to allow Will Nightingale out of the door, he has grown into a great defensive midfielder and is a quality example of how good our youth set-up is. I can see him becoming too good for the club if we remain at this level, so the longer we can hold on to him, the better.
Are there any areas where the club is looking weak still?
JP: If we’re lacking competition anywhere, you could cite left-back. Patrick van Aanholt appears unchallenged for his starting berth each week and the Dutchman’s form in recent weeks hasn’t been fantastic .
NH: We can’t afford to keep missing plumb goalscoring chances. Injuries have reduced our front line to the bare bones.
RE: With Ben Purrington and Chris Maxwell coming in we now have a well-balanced squad, apart from that gaping hole up top. It was ever thus with Roland. I’d really like to believe Igor Vetokele, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild or Josh Parker can fill that gap, but at the moment it’s a triumph of hope over expectation.
CD: We have been desperate for a striker who can a) score goals regularly and b) stay fit for more than three games in a row.
If you could have signed one relatively realistic target in the window, who would it have been?
JP: We were linked with Jack Clarke of Leeds during the window but given their aspirations for this season, that move was very unlikely. A more feasible option might’ve been Ollie Watkins at Brentford had Palace had the necessary funds.
NH: We need more firepower up front. We’ve mentioned Gestede blanking us, but Matt Smith of QPR would have been a good alternative for me.
RE: If Bowyer had been given just a fraction of the Grant money to spend I’m confident that he and recruitment head Steve Gallen would have come up with a suitable striker. Tom Eaves at Gillingham is an obvious name who has been bandied around because of his goalscoring record.
CD: Bournemouth striker Sam Surridge. Had a successful loan at Oldham but then the Cherries decided not to send him anywhere for the final months of the season.