Sad scenes all round this week as the transfer windows close and football clubs have to just play football matches for a few months and can’t just buy footballers instead.
Of all the top clubs my team Liverpool are deemed to have had the worst January, certainly by their own supporters. Which is funny because if you look at Premier League results for the last five games, Liverpool have the most points in the entire league.
So not a bad January, really. But, of course that’s not important any more. Net spend > Net Points.
That’s not to say I don’t think selling your best player half way through a season is daft, or that I don’t wish The Reds had spent some of that hundred odd million on a player who can help us achieve our aims this season.
I’m just not having that all of our rivals have left us for dead with their extravagant, brilliant transfer business. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
The current champions Chelsea managed to buy a striker that Arsenal, below them in the table, didn’t want anymore. But not before loaning out the striker they were going to play that night and then getting beat 3-0 at home to Bournemouth.
They’ve also signed Ross Barkley, who will go back to Everton on loan in August, and a defender who’s played twice this season because he’s done his knee.
No wonder Conte believes he is overachieving.
Billionaire playboys Manchester City lost out on their first choice centre half (to Liverpool who are crap in the transfer market). They then lost out on their first choice attacking option, and then couldn’t get their back up over the line because Leicester wanted too much money.
So apparently, you can have more spare change than Bill Gates and still struggle – who knew!
Arsenal have got two big names in, quite literally. But they have still sold two players who always scored goals for them in Sanchez and Giroud and replaced them with two players they hope will have the same collective impact.
They’ve also sold Walcott and Coquelin which weakens their squad, if not their starting eleven. And they have won one league game in January and are now eight points off fourth.
Spurs look like they have got a good one in, but they’ve told us that before. Manchester United have definitely got a good one, even if he did nothing on his debut and they got beat. But they are paying him the earth and that might come back to bite them in the form of agents banging on their door.
Liverpool, with four wins in the last five, have decided to stick with just buying the most expensive defender of all time and some kid from Falkirk.
That expensive defender hasn’t played that well so far, truth be told.
Which again shows any signing is a gamble, especially when you need them to hit the ground running mid-season. Not that anyone should write him off, of course.
But it is interesting to hear Jamie Carragher talk about him being possibly overweight (I shudder to think what he’d make of me) and lacking fitness. It’s also notable that Jurgen Klopp dropped him on Wednesday, and Liverpool kept their first clean sheet in a month.
Unsurprisingly, the two centre halves who have played together a fair bit looked to have a better understanding. However, you do sense they are currently auditioning to see who partners Van Dijk long term.
Joel Matip looks ahead in that race so far, but I’m not sure. I wonder if they are both a bit similar, a bit too relaxed. You could use a lot of words to describe Dejan Lovren, but ‘relaxed’ isn’t one of them.
I wonder if they might be a better combination. That Lovren could give Van Dijk a bit of urgency and Van Dijk could teach Lovren how to not lose your head completely and go from looking like the best defender in the world to the worst within a minute.
Ahead of them there was a welcome return for Jordan Henderson in the week and the Liverpool midfield looked infinitely better for having him, not just for his qualities, but how it liberated Emre Can.
He’s a funny player Emre Can. I can’t figure out if he’s going to end up being the best midfielder in the world or will always infuriate you with his extreme inconsistency.
I don’t see how the same player can throw in his last two performances within four days of each other, never mind how good he was against Manchester City.
We’ll probably find out on someone else’s watch now as a new contract looks less and less likely.
But he’s got an important role to play for the rest of the season, as have many of the players mentioned, in the race for Champions League football.
What will win out, teamwork, coaching and consistency or buying and rolling expensive dice? We’ll all have to wait and see.