Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t
So the dust has now settled on another transfer window. Amongst more minor transactions, Derby have broken their transfer record for a new centre forward, sold an academy produced player for £10m+, loaned our top scorer for the last 3 years to a fellow Championship club (note I don’t class Fulham as a rival) and signed an international winger for £4m.
With all of that, plus an effective cull of our fringe players (Albentosa, Bucko, Warnock, Shots and Grant), it seems strange that the general opinion amongst many DCFC fans is that we weren’t that active.
In order to properly assess our work in this window you have to consider the context in both general terms and within our club itself.
In general terms I think everyone would agree we have just seen the most insane transfer window in the history of English football. The Premier league teams have never had so much money, clubs at home and abroad ask daft prices and people pay them without a blink. Likewise in the Championship we have a very unique situation where two of the relegated teams are actually two of the top ten biggest teams in the country. Subsequently they have the budget, pulling power and desire to hoover up all the best Championship talent with little or no consideration to the asking price. Clearly this makes life significantly harder for anyone else at that level who is looking to “have a go” (see Derby, Sheff Wed, Brighton).
In the context of Derby there are two start points. Due to last year’s reckless recruitment, we already had a massive squad of players, in fairness, mostly proven as good quality at this level. The second point is we had a new manager who has unanimously been welcomed by Derby fans as the change in direction we need.
It would have been easy for Pearson to come in and ask for this player or that player and I am sure Mel would have backed him. However I have heard from several people that Pearson actually told Mel he wanted to have a look at what we had first and then if we needed to do something we would look in August.
What you are seeing now is Pearson’s realisation that a significant number of this squad aren’t suitable for the fast, counter attacking, 4-4-2 he clearly favours. I also tweeted at the time that the horrific/pathetic performance at Burton felt like the end of an era and the subsequent sale of Chris Martin is as big a symbol of that fact as you are likely to see. As Jon Rodgers put it to me tonight – “NP has identified we need restructuring and not tweaking”.
I will write separate pieces on the individual deals and the players we have actually bought and sold. However I think the biggest surprise to everyone is that in selling Martin, we didn’t replace him with a big or powerful striker to compliment Vydra and Wilson. Indeed, in the increasingly toxic world of #DCFC twitter, there was pretty much uproar from 7pm to 11.30pm as it became increasingly clear that was the case.
Like everyone, I would have loved nothing more than for us to roll in Ulloa or Rodriguez (I don’t believe we were ever in for Rhodes or Assomballonga – the latter maybe for devilment). But that would be £10m for either or probably £3m+ just for a season. Been there done that and it didn’t really work out. Clearly we put serious money down for Forestieri and Kodjia, but fair play for not storming into a panic buy when these genuine targets didn’t come off.
So let me end with how I think it is:-
- Pearson needs to build a new team. This takes at least 3 or 4 windows never mind one.
- We have a new recruitment team with a proven track record. Let them get organised, agree sensible targets based on people who are different or better and lets start picking them off in January.
- Ignore FFP in any thought process. I know Derby are all over this and it never has been and never will be an issue for us.
- If last season was a golden shot which we messed up spectacularly, this season is a very long shot which weirdly takes some pressure off Pearson to deliver immediately in my view. That said, if Vila and Newcastle pull away, the play offs is anybody’s.
- Martin’s departure is only the start. You will see others start to be “managed” out the club in the coming months so their agents are chomping at the bit to get them out come January.
Finally, Derby County know better than most teams that the difference between success and failure in football comes down to very fine margins. Money and wages are great but the right leader can account for that vital few percent that makes the difference. Villa may have beat us to Kodjia and maybe Adomah and McCormack too, but don’t forget we beat them to Pearson, who was their first choice all summer.
There will be lots more on Ramspace next week, so keep the faith and keep it locked.
Come on you, all new, Super Rams!