This January transfer window has been pretty lacklustre for many clubs. Whilst it is exciting for fans when their clubs sign players, we won’t be the only ones feeling underwhelmed by a lack of activity. Usually, I am exactly the same as everybody else and love to see Aston Villa Football Club linked with exciting players and eventually even sign a few of them. However, this transfer window was different. For Aston Villa, this transfer window was absolutely pointless.
In our current situation, we had next to no chance of signing anybody decent. When Charlie Austin finally made his move from Queens Park Rangers to Southampton, I was relieved that the nonsense with us being linked with him would finally be over. Worse, the more deluded amongst us who actually thought there was a chance of this happening would now fall silent. Austin was the player we should have signed in the summer and I firmly believe that had we stumped up the cash there and then we could have persuaded him to join us. In our current predicament, there was absolutely zero incentive for him to join us.
The fact is that any of the players available who could have improved our side wouldn’t just be coveted by ourselves. The harsh reality is that Aston Villa is not a viable option for the vast majority of good footballers right now. Newcastle United, for example, completed the loan signing of Seydou Doumbia from Roma. This is a player we have been linked with and enquired about – and that’s about as far as we got. Although it is tough to admit, the choice between ourselves and the Magpies is not a difficult one for a player right now, despite the Magpies being in a poor position also. Even Sunderland reportedly beat us to the signing of Bordeaux playmaker Wahbi Khazri. It is disheartening, of course, but can we really expect anything else right now?
It’s a big shock to us. After such a long time being one of the big boys, perhaps we’ve gotten by for a while simply by being Aston Villa. The sooner we realise that we are no longer an attractive proposition, the better. We are the Pamela Anderson of football – once a sexy, exciting and eye-catching megababe, now merely an old has-been who you wouldn’t want to touch with a barge pole.
Personally, I am not too bothered that we have remained inactive during this particular window. I think we’re already doomed and whilst a prolific striker may have helped us out and given us a chance, I don’t see us winning the eight or nine games required to keep us safe this season with just fifteen games to go.
Therein lies the problem: none of those prolific strikers we may have looked at would have been looking at us with come-and-get-me eyes. We’d be lucky to even get a squint in our direction.
Whilst the fans obviously want to see signings, we have been in situations before whereby we have picked up players just for the sake of it. It doesn’t work out well. It’s almost refreshing that we aren’t just bringing in (more) substandard players for the sake of it.
There is a lot of discontent at the moment due to the lack of signings. However, a pinch of realism is needed amongst supporters.
We literally have no selling point at the moment. We can’t offer Premier League football next season, which is the main thing. The majority of the best Championship players will either hold on and see if they can gain promotion with their existing teams (still a possibility for approximately fifteen teams in the division at this point) or simply be picked up by other Premier League sides (Sam Byram, for example), or even promotion-bound Championship sides (Jordan Rhodes to Middlesbrough).
Garde tried to be clever in targeting players who are out of favour and have outside chances of making their national squads for the upcoming European Championships and who need a good run of form to ensure their inclusion. That was about all we could offer – game time. However, am I fussed that we aren’t going to convince Mathieu Debuchy to sign for us? No. He isn’t an answer to any of our problems. If the stories are true that we would have had to pay £1.5million as a loan fee and £60,000 a week in wages, this is an obvious dodged bullet; we have lumbered ourselves with this sort of financial idiocy before for very little return.
Loïc Remy was one player Garde publicly declared an interest in. Several other sides also showed an interest so this was very quickly a non-starter. In the end, he remained at Chelsea.
Fans may bemoan the lack of signings, label it a lack of ambition and blame Randy Lerner for being tight. The reality is that, behind the scenes, Garde et al have probably been working hard to recruit players but we simply haven’t got anything going for us.
While it is horrible to have to give up on Premier League survival, the players who could transform us and fire us out of this mess are simply not available to us. More accurately, they didn’t want to come to us. The damage was done in the summer – and it led to this window being simply irrelevant for this club.
It’s a strange thing to be saying but I, for one, am absolutely fine with us keeping the purse strings tight on this one occasion. When this abject season is over and the dust settles, that will be the time for us to push hard, be aggressive in the transfer market and show intent. We’ll be the big fish in the Championship, a more attractive option and will be able to throw our weight around then, offering a proper platform for players who want to join our revival.
They won’t be the players we’ll be used to, although we’ll be in a better position to attract the best available to us rather than scrambling for anyone out of desperation.