Open Windows: Drafty Rooms

Denizens of the world, hear me: why in all of the gods’ names is the transfer window still open?? The season is underway and teams are trying to focus on maneuvering through the tricky first few weeks. Alas, here we are still pretending to tolerate lazy rumors and leaked-by-agents player wantaway claims. I vehemently do not care which made up international airport Kylian Mbappé was purportedly spotted in (sorry Arsenal fans, it wasn’t Heathrow because LOL OBVS). 

Now, I wholly appreciate the arguments of keeping the window open until the end of August. I comprehend the benefits of beginning a new campaign, identifying weaknesses and consequently spending third world GDPs on papering over midfield-sized cracks. I am also aware that an extra fortnight allows for more complicated transfers to resolve themselves before the September deadline swings its axe. 

Like I said, I appreciate and understand the issues at hand. Notwithstanding, I remain relentless in my opinion and positively brandish the notion of a post-start of season window closure as not only flawed, but unequivocal nonsense. 

A spade: The bigger clubs enjoy a lengthier window. It suits them. They prey upon the stars of so-called minnows whence realizing that there is a distinct possibility that the team they’ve carefully assembled is not very good after all. Take Manchester City for example: they still are not settled (and understandably so) on the Nicolás Otamendi/John Stones/Vincent Kompany/Eliaquim Mangala centre back combination and have swooped in for a late Jonny Evans bid for that luxuriously greedy depth only Middle Eastern oil and natural gas backed rosters enjoy. Evans is not only the captain of West Bromwich Albion, he is their most accomplished (3 title medals and a Club World Cup gong amongst other successes at Manchester’s more vaunted organization) and talented player (see aforementioned United medals) by many miles. Imagine being multiple matches into the season and you are suddenly out your leader and champion with no recourse whatsoever! Keep in mind that the smaller clubs cannot just easily dip into the market to replace late on bought players. The premium prices of an end of window signing are simply unaffordable to every team besides the ultra rich few. AND, these late, often times large offers turn players’ heads. The subsequent career second-guessing naturally rocks the foundation of a footballer. This leads to the parent clubs having no choice but to omit them from their lineups (Chelsea with Diego Costa, Arsenal with Alexis Sánchez, Liverpool with Philippe Countinho, Swansea with now sold to Everton Gylfi Sigurðsson and even elsewhere in Borussia Dortmund with Ousmane Dembélé) until they’ve either committed to staying or packed their haute couture bags for their new home. This is no good.

But let’s dig on in a little deeper: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, we’re looking at you. #COYS. Can someone please have a quiet word with these chaps?? Chaired by the famously stubborn and impossible Daniel Levy, clubs sincerely do not enjoy dealing with Spurs. He raises prices arbitrarily and concludes player releases at the last possible moment (see: the Dimitar Berbatov saga of 2008). He also is tight spending-wise with no team having any motivation to deliver upon him a bargain of any sort (see: no Spur makes more than £100,000 per week). His last minute changes to conditions and overall hardline negotiation tactics are unwelcome across the continents (see: no major team having the energy to bid for Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen…I could go on). 

Levy has oddly started the season with the same team that finished as runners-up in May minus Kyle Walker (a scrumptious £50m check from Manchester City). In some ways he has engineered a coup in keeping the likes of Kane, Alli and Eriksen as well as Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, which should be applauded to a degree; however, the summer inactivity smacks of complacency. Tottenham should be aiming for the title and nothing less. They are a storied club with legends (Ossie Ardiles, Jimmy Greaves, Gary Mabbutt, Paul Gascoigne and Glenn Hoddle, to name but a few) and history (League and FA Cup double winners 1960-61; UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1962-63; UEFA Cup winners 1971-72, 1983-84; to once again name but a few of their trophies). 

With their current absence of anything even remotely resembling depth, a league triumph is matter-of-factly inconceivable. The midfield contains some girth, but with Érik Lamela a persistent injury worry and Moussa Sissoko demonstrating how a few of us were seemingly correct in deeming him overrated, there are sizeable gaps were any of the starters to go down. And listen, I’m not even sure how to begin a conversation about the attacking prospects. Harry Kane is an outright phenom. A total finisher with poise and guile. A proper striker who just instinctively senses the net. The English haven’t seen such a consistently dominant force of this sheer goalscoring ilk up front since the likes of Alan Shearer twenty years ago. Thus, to my point, if ol’ Harry were to fail in his fitness, the business would suddenly be in the hands of Son Heung-min and Vincent Janssen. *Eyebrows raised emoji* Son is certainly not an out-and-out number 9 type forward (he operates most effectively and quite capably from the flank) and Janssen in the best of terms could be accurately described as a replete calamity. This is frankly unacceptable at such an elite level. No club vying for ultimate greatness can have such limited and unqualified substitutes. 

Which leads us to the present and a yet to be shut but definitely should have been transfer window. The fans are baying. Critics have sharpened their ball point knives. The racket, oh that rapturous din of frustration and annoyance, has finally hit deafening volumes. Levy is on the clock! And there’s movement in the shadows. He has recently hinted at a shopping list of four players. FOUR PLAYERS! It’s the third week of August and bruv is out here chatting like it’s spring. Good luck! Nevertheless, cue Davinson Sánchez of Ajax and Colombia signed just today. A young, and extremely expensive at a fee plausibly rising to £42m, centre half with potential, but surely an understudy to stalwarts Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Not exactly fulfilling a need and, honestly, an absolute snooze fest of a purchase for the supporters clamoring for 2018 glory. To add, it is imperative to note Ajax have begun their season. They are in the midst of attempting to reclaim their Dutch crown from Feyenoord and progress in the Europa League, a tournament they were runners-up in this past season. They are now short of a key defender thanks to Daniel Levy’s inability to navigate a transfer window. 

And believe me, it is truly an inability we are discussing here. Not just with Levy and Tottenham, but with many clubs in England (Chelsea not finished sniffing about Danny Drinkwater, Arsenal lining up a possible Julian Draxler addition) and around Europe (Barcelona most notably this go round with their Neymar money to spend on his replacement as well as a fill-in for the injured and thoroughly racist Luis Suarez). Signings do take time and apt preparation, but the scouting should be done by the time the summer begins. The requirements are diagnosed and the shopping lists are composed. There shouldn’t be this panicked, rash spending spree on newly recognized targets as the sun sets on the window. That is definitive disorganization; it is a failing. And we are witnessing rampant failures belonging to the top brass. 

Importantly, forging a successful and productive lineup involves training and preseason and the forming of chemistry. That is evidenced by the high number of transfers that purely fail or take many months to effectively materialize in the January window. A buy in January is instantaneously thrown into a side and asked to perform. There is no preamble, no how are you this fine morning, but just a tightening of the laces and stray hope of results. Which you will surely find is uncommon. This is the Premier League for goodness’ sake! The most brutal and demanding sports league on the planet. You cannot just waltz into a team, have a cuppa and get on with it. The gelling and understanding take time and the bonds need to be nurtured. I cannot overstate that point. Look at the table topping 2015-16 Leicester Foxes! 

Undoubtedly, the disruption exists in both parties. The buying side adding a fresh body into the mix of a team already in the throes of a season. And the selling side scrambling to compensate and replace an abrupt departure. It is an entirely avoidable stumbling block that can be remedied with one simple solution:

Closing the damn window!

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