Date:Monday February 1 2010
The January transfer window closed today at 5pm and for the second successive year, the club have failed to make any signings, despite having targeted players to come in and strengthen the squad.
Since his arrival last January, manager Billy Davies has been a critic of the way NFFC go about attracting players to the club and in particular, the much maligned acquisitions committee. Supporters are perplexed and bemused at the lack of business done by the club again, Billy Davies is probably kicking office doors in as we speak.
Davies will be disappointed, although not totally surprised to have lost out on two of his prefered targets. Victor Moses and Nicky Shorey, both chose Premiership opposition over us and can't realistically be blamed for doing so. But other targets on Davies' list should have been more attainable. Tommy Spurr at the Wendies, Lee Naylor at Celtic and Jon Harley at Watford, are all left backs that could/should have been the answer to our eternally problematic left back position.
For whatever reason, the club have failed to bring these or other players in. The finger of blame will point in the direction of those at the top. Nigel Doughty and Mark Arthur will be in the firing line for a fans backlash for failing to strengthen the team. There can be no doubting Mr. Doughty's financial astuteness or his business acumen, but he is not a football man, he's a business man and a very good one at that. His critics will always point to the fact that he's been at the helm during the worst period in the clubs' history, but we can't argue that without him, the club simply wouldn't exist. To date, he's bailed the club out to the tune of £45-£50M and rising. He stumps up around £6m per annum, just to balance the books. So for that we have to be very grateful. Some will say, we owe him the money, but in reality, it's money he's unlikely to see again.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Arthur will also come in for some stick, because like the Chairman, he's not a footballing man. Mr. Arthur is an accountant and with the help and guidance of Mr. Doughty, has helped to balance the books at NFFC and make us one of the more financially stable and healthy clubs in the Championship. Between them, they've got the club on a sound financial footing. That should be as far as their job remits take them . They should leave the football side of things and the buying and selling of players to the manager. Give him the budget and make him stick to it.
In 12 short months, Billy Davies has transformed the team from relegation certainties, to promotion hopefuls. But all the good work he's done is at risk of being torn to shreds, by the way we carry out our business in the transfer market. Give the manager a budget and let him acquire the players he wants and let him do the haggling as well. Billy Davies is an articulate fella and can sell the club in a better way than the people on the AP. The only person on the panel, with any real footballing knowledge is David Pleat and it's unknown exactly how much input he has at the club. Like any manager, Billy Davies lives and dies by the results of the teams he picks, so he should at least have a major say in who, when and why we sign a player.
According to Davies, he named his targets and listed them for the panel. It is they who have failed, not the manager. Messrs Doughty and Arthur will rightly say that last summer we spent a not insignificant amount to bring in players. Around £5m. According to Davies, that was just playing catch up with the rest of the teams in the Championship. Mr. Doughty is on record as saying, he would add from a position of strength. The team currently sit in 2nd place of the Championship table, and look a good bet for promotion. But, we have a small squad by any standards for this level and can not afford injuries or suspensions. We will be very lucky indeed to get to the end of the season without incurring a few of either. That could be where the failure to add to the squad now could come back and bite us. The club have missed an excellent opportunity to strengthen and increase the chances of going up. It's the best chance we've had in ten years and it could be ten years before we get it again.
There's always the emergency loan window though and that opens a week today. Maybe that's what they had planned all along. They will no doubt tell us it served them well last year, when we acquired, Camp, Gunter and Blackstock. Will we be that lucky again? Who knows. It's a gamble I wouldn't have taken.
Date:Monday February 1 2010
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