Authored: By Les Packer, a long-time Sunderland fan who has worked for numerous British newspapers for over 25 years
As we approach the end of another January transfer window, I never cease to be amazed by the knowledge of the ordinary fan, his ability to read the minds of the respective coaches, owners, and the gift of being able to predict which players will end up where, and let’s not forget the assessment of their respective abilties.
Of course, as fans of our beloved club we like to think we are different. If you tune in to any podcast, or survey the numerous message boards and Social Media outlets, the reality is that we’re pretty much all the same, that’s if you exclude our demented neighbours who really are different in so many ways.
Gone are the days when we waited with great expectation for the signing of Santiago Vergini. Unfortunately, we are no longer in the market for such illustrious players and have to make do with Trai Hulme, one for the future as the club would say. I hope you detected my notes of sarcasm regarding Vergini by the way. Just checking.
No matter the club, whether it be a mighty Premiership team, successful and at the top of its game, money burning a hole, vying for the signature of one of Europe’s finest who is desperately seeking the opportunity to play in the Premiership, because ‘it’s the best league in the World’ and it’s nowt to do with the money, or a League One ‘journeyman’ who has spent most of his career plying his trade around the lower leagues, looking for that move to kick start his career, or finish it. The chat is the same. He’s crap, he’s overpriced, he doesn’t score enough, he’s been here before and it won’t work, et al.
A good one, is rival teams buying player after player thus perceiving to increase the strength of the squad, and opposition fans expressing their concern. ‘We should be after him’ and ‘that’s a sign of intent.’ Oh and another one, ‘our directors need to start spending money otherwise we’re going no where.’ As much as I recognise the right of each fan to be concerned about their club’s tansfer activity when this ridiculous transfer window comes around, I’m sorry but I’m never going to upset myself when a rival League One club buys a player who has spent most of his career playing for Forres Mechanics, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Aberdeen and Derby County. Fair enough, I might give you the last one.
Now I don’t pretend to be a great follower of football in general these days, in fact 99.9% of it involves watching our beloved club, but how many out there, with the possible exception of the clubs this player has been part of over the years, will have even heard of him? Don’t write in as I don’t really care, but do you get my drift?
I’m an old fashioned kind of guy. I pay my money and I trust those in charge to make the right decision. No matter what the division, I’ve always been a glass half full type. Even in the bad times, and I suppose League One can be deemed a bad time, I always believe there’ll be a turning point. When I say turning point, I mean a point where we turn and head in a foward direction, not one where we’re turning and heading backwards. We have made that manoeuvre on too many occasions over the years, but nonetheless it’s forward momentum I’m referring to
In order to reach that turning point, we don’t necessarily have to sign Lionel Messi, although on past history he may struggle here. No, we may uncover a jewel, a Kevin Phillips or a Michael Bridges. There are others. How many fans would have foreseen the impact these two players would have on the club, albeit more of an impact player in the case of Bridges, who ironically was a victim of KP’s success. No one had even heard of Kevin Phillips when he was signed by Peter Reid and if I recall, concerns were being expressed back then. I appreciate that Phillips didn’t sign in January, but you get my point
I quite like the fact that, as a League One club, a number of our fans are getting quite excited about the potential signing of a young Premiership footballer who’s been out on loan seven times in his career, and he’s only 24. I actually find it more appealing in some ways to awaiting the result of our forage for multi million pound player. This has actually happened if you can remember that far back.
Anyway, I’m not a fan of this transfer window. Others may agree or disagree of course. Apart from giving Sky Sports presenters the opportunity to spout garbage for hours, ending up saying nothing, it also allows fans to talk endless rubbish, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses of players they pretend to know about, advising the coaches who have spent hours learning their trade, or speculating on the wealth, or lack of, of the respective owners. Oh, and I almost forgot, as a result of this painful 31 days, the rich clubs become richer, the poor clubs poorer, fans become disconnected from the players and we are subjected to the anti climax that is deadline day.