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The Window Of Opportunity
By: Jake Olley
CURRENTLY the hottest topic among Premiership managers, the English transfer window, has now been slammed open and with it brings a month of uncertainty for most Football League clubs as they wait to see if any Premier League, or even Championship clubs – given the current financial gulf that separates Leagues One and Two and the FL’s top flight, will make a move and nab some of their best players.
Steve Coppell is the latest manager to lash out at the window but, as a Mariners fan looking out for Grimsby Town FC I am all for it. Let’s face it – even if the clubs could – there wouldn’t be much permanent movement in League One and Two during the season and the window gives us that safeguard and stability during the season to stop the bigger clubs nabbing the lower league’s top young players and shoving them in their reserve squad which can only damage their development.
I can see the argument of allowing the Premier League clubs to buy abroad during the season but as protection for the FL clubs, and the lower leagues don’t get much help from Mr. Barwick and co. at FA HQ, I don’t think domestic trading should be allowed during the season.
Given our current league position this wouldn’t normally affect the Mariners, nor the majority of clubs around us, but given the superb start he has made at the start of fledgling football career it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if a ‘larger’ club snaps Ryan Bennett up in the window and takes a punt on him.
Recently, Swindon Town defender Ben Tozer, also seventeen, joined Newcastle United for an initial £250,000 – with the figure rising to £1 Million depending on club and international appearances. Unfortunately, I feel the likelihood of receiving £250,000 up front for young Bennett is very slim but I feel – should Town be offered a six figured sum rising significantly depending on appearances – we should take it and use, at least 50% of the initial figure, to raise the transfer and wage budget and sign ‘one or two quality players’ who’ll see us guarantee safety this year and push on for a play off place next year.
I know it’s very stereotypical but as a Town fan who watched brilliant league ties against the likes of Leicester City, Manchester City, Derby County and Birmingham City week in week out, not to long ago, I don’t want to be stuck in League Two forever and become the new Rochdale – establishing ourselves in this league. To do this – and reach the next level – the squad, without doubt, needs strengthening. However, I don’t think this would cost as much as we think. I’m sure, with Alan and Stuart’s experience in the market, any fee used from the Bennett transfer would see us in League One by the 09/10 season.
I read a few Lincoln City messageboards following Saturday’s victory and – to my surprise – one of the main rumours circulating on their board was the possibility of signing unsettled Huddersfield Town striker Luke Beckett. Well, if the Imps, are talking about the possibility of getting someone of his calibre on board – and he isn’t necessarily a player I know a lot about, apart from his very good record at lower league level – if the sale of young Ryan can result in a signing, or two, of that calibre of player then I don’t feel losing Bennett will be all that bad.
Another point which I feel a lot of people have missed is the fact – for the first time in a long time – Town have the ball in their court when it comes to any potential transfer deal. Unlike previous interest in our players in the past we're not forced in any corners as Bennett’s contract still has a bit of length to run on it and he seems an honest enough lad to be happy enough with whatever situation arises. Also, like many deals in the past, for example Joe Hart’s transfer from Shrewsbury to Man City, the Mariners hierarchy could include a ‘feeder club’ condition or simply a term which sees Bennett, or another of that club’s young players, stay/join the club on loan.
Young Ryan is a real talent but I just feel that if we can get a decent fee for him, as let’s face it the days of John McDermott are long gone and we will be forced to sell him at one point, we should not stand in the boys way and profit from what seems a shocker of a decision by Ipswich Town to release him last season.
Many fans will disagree. Every Town fan has an opinion on the situation but whether he stays or goes, I personally believe we do need strengthening in one particular area this January.
Defensively Hird and Atkinson have helped us look a lot stronger at the back and I feel Jones, Northy and eventually Butler will get a few more goals on the table for us. The area I feel when we can really look weak at times is in the middle of the park.
I feel instead of playing one defensive midfielder (out of Bolly, Bosh or Hunt) in a 4-4-2 formation we tend to play two, or even three when the dreaded 4-5-1 rears it’s ugly head, when really we should be playing one, of the aforementioned, alongside a midfield man who can rip teams apart with some precise passing, get forward and score some goals for Town.
I don’t expect we’ll find a player with the calibre of John Cockerill at a club like Stafford Rangers again, and with Buckley not fancying Ciaran Toner in the middle of the park, maybe – if we can get Rankin off the wage bill, we can bring someone similiar in who can do the business for us.
However, things – admittedly are looking up – on the pitch for Town and hopefully we can build on a very productive festive period and get a good result on Saturday at Chesterfield. 1-0 – Bennett winner, anyone?
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