THE English transfer window. Deadline day. Jim White. Yellow ties. Purple objects flying at reporters in cold, dark car parks, and underwhelming, overpriced, last-minute transfers. These are some of the notable facets associated with the transfer market in the modern game, writes JAMIE RUSSELL.
Of course, some supporters won’t want to lose these aspects of the window. But there is a strong argument for the window to change in favour of clubs, players, and fans.
If the window slammed shut before a ball had been kicked, the stability and certainty that all parties long for would become a reality without losing the excitement of the transfer window.
This over dramatised war of bartering, bargaining and tapping up players kicked off in the 2002-3 season when transfer windows were first brought in. The reason being? To preserve contractual stability for both the player and the club. Of course, players need assurance that they aren’t going to be laid off with two weeks’ notice. On the other hand, the club and their supporters need the guarantee their assets won’t be off to play for a rival club in two weeks. Certainty is desirable.
The old system left clubs with major uncertainty for the majority of the season. With players being able to move until March 31, managers would have been answering questions on player departures in every press conference. Jürgen Klopp is already bored of such questions. And he, like 13 other Premier League clubs, wants more than what the current system offers.
The current system, in theory, allows managers to plan for a set period of time – the first half of the season. This offers stability and certainty. However, the 2017-18 season has started and what are managers, players and fans finding they don’t have? Stability and certainty.
The importance of stability and certainty can be summed up by the Reds boss himself. Only last season, after signing a new six-year contract, Klopp discussed his desire for consistency.
“When you see what happens around us, in a world where everything is changing, it is really difficult,” he said. “I like this sign for certainty.”
The point here is that, Klopp appreciates the club’s desire to become consistently proactive, and not simply, reactive to the changing world. This applies in every decision being made in the club, right from the manager signing contracts to the club deciding not to sell their best players in an increasingly dynamic and unpredictable transfer market. Creating certainty.
Yet disruption still remains as the window closes after five or six games. The current system prevents clubs having this certainty at a time when full commitment is paramount to achieving a quick start and developing the squad.
The squad are going through one of the most important periods under Klopp with Champions League qualification at stake, and are missing, without a doubt, their most influential player. The injured back is a necessary excuse by the club but it is not a coincidence that, if Phillippe Coutinho does have the honour of pulling on the red shirt again, it will be after the August 31. Klopp needs players in the correct mindset which will only be achieved, in Coutinho’s case, when the window is closed.
The current system is damaging and will continue to damage the club’s intention of creating stability and certainty as it allows clubs, such as Barcelona, to disrupt plans during the season. This unnecessary hindrance to the squad can be stopped, and it’s the Premier League’s responsibility.
Klopp has implicitly expressed similar feelings in his recent pre-match press conference in Hoffenheim.
“It would have helped us this year if the window shut when the season started,” he said. “It makes sense that when the season has started, planning for the team is over.”
If the window, hypothetically, closed at the beginning of this season, he would have been successful in retaining Coutinho and Liverpool’s attacking prowess would have gone unscathed. Defensively however, he would have failed. The extra few weeks the current system offers gives Klopp time to find an alternative to Virgil van Dijk, time which he would not have had if the proposed system comes to fruition. With all due respect, he can’t have it both ways.
In reality, Klopp needs to focus on making his signings as early as possible, “in a world where everything is changing” — in his own words…
That’s without even considering the uncertainty that this has put into a player’s head. Coutinho is now faced with the incredibly difficult trade off between wanting to fulfil his boyhood dream and letting down the fans who have been so affectionate towards him throughout his Liverpool career.
The Premier League say that the current window offers a time where fans can emotionally invest in the current squad. A time of certainty to embrace the new and the old.
In reality, fans find themselves investing in the team and its new additions for the opening game of the season, only to be brought back down to earth when European giants turn their stars’ heads.
Of course, you can say this overlap period provides managers with a time to tweak their squad having had a look at them in competitive action, make changes they perhaps didn’t feel were necessary during pre season.
Klopp recently said The Reds need more experience in midfield. Maybe he thinks it is one season too early for Marko Grujic to be involved in the first team regularly, maybe he regrets allowing Lucas Leiva to move to Italy. He knows how difficult it is going to be to sign the necessary experience. Why? Because he knows the history.
Liverpool’s signings after the season has started since transfer windows were first introduced are hugely uninspiring and, in some cases, embarrassing.
The only post-opening day purchase in the last two seasons was youngster Allan Rodrigues de Souza — who is yet to play a professional game due to work permit issues.
The one signing after the start of the 2014-15 season was a risky investment from the club and one that definitely didn’t pay off. It’s none other than Mario Balotelli. Never have Liverpool had a player so full of himself and so unwilling to put in the work for the club who employed him.
In 2013 Aly Cissokho was first to arrive, on a season-long loan from Valencia. He hardly pulled up any trees. Then came deadline day and the arrival of trio Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori and Victor Moses. Sakho had a short spell making inroads to supporters’ hearts but managed to royally embarrass himself and the club through his unprofessionalism. Moses made a big impact on his debut but did little else to get bums off seats. And who even is Ilori?
There was an early start to the 2012-13 season with new manager Brendan Rodgers having to navigate a Europa League qualifier at the start of August. That meant the majority of business got done after The Reds clash with Belarusian side Gomel. Joe Allen was the first to get on board and despite some good moments, he never really lived up to the hype prior to his move. Oussama Assaidi, Nuri Sahin and Samed Yesil shortly followed. Assaidi had some talent but was clearly not cut out for the Premier League. Sahin, it could be argued, wasn’t give enough of a chance in his favoured role. Yesil only made two professional appearances.
That’s not to say that either Klopp or Rodgers were hopeless at making signings, because that would be far from the truth. In actuality, the players that managers want to sign are unavailable. Why would teams want to sell their prized assets when the season has already started? They’ve made plans and they want to stick with them. It’s too late to make such huge changes. Ring any bells?
By reducing the length of the window, all the modern facets associated with transfer deadline day will not be lost, they will simply be moved forward to before the season starts.
The end of transfer talk after the season has started will maintain contractual stability to players, but more importantly it will give certainty to managers and supporters.
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