Football’s transfer market has become a huge media driven spectacle in it’s own right. Driven by the modern format we lovingly know as the ‘transfer window’, the bartering and quibbling seems to intrigue the football public as much as the game itself. Sky Sports News have been known to put a timer in the bottom of the screen in early August to inform the public how many days hours and seconds it will be before the window closes – a prestige not afforded to the actual start of the football season itself. When discussing a team’s possibilities we can even hear talk of good windows and bad windows… and this is where the actual football can be carelessly overlooked.
Every year, football generates billions, of any currency you choose to name. Many players, at all levels, see contemporaries transfer to new clubs and we can reasonably assume they involve a hefty pay rise. Some (but by no means all) of the aforementioned transfers are no doubt motivated by agents who themselves stand to gain from the moves in question. Now, in all fairness, with so many billions swilling around the game it isn’t as flawed as some believe to see the people who generate the money – the players – receive such humongous financial rewards. Incredible salaries are paid but, the point has to be made, it’s an extreme situation.
The modern culture of quick fix purchases is a flaw in the modern football psyche. It seems the solution to any situation in any team is to throw money at it. Football clubs don’t want to appear unambitious so choose to spend X million pounds to demonstrate their enthusiasm. Some clubs would surely benefit as much from coaching and encouraging the players they already have. One of football’s legendary stories was Brian Clough aiding John Robertson’s metamorphosis from overweight cigarette smoking plodder to a worthy European Cup winner. Clough coined a little saying to describe his management strategy… observe and replace. This was to look for a player’s strengths and weaknesses and implement them in the most effective way possible. To replace was to simply be aware his team could always improve and when possible alter the personnel accordingly. At Liverpool, one of Bob Paisley’s masterstrokes was to move Ray Kennedy from attack to midfield. In this age they would feel obliged to spend £26 million on a midfielder who may or may not be what they want and if it doesn’t work out spend another £26 million the next time one of those deplorable portholes opens up.
This doesn’t mean football clubs are making a mistake by buying new players. Nor does it suggest supporters are foolish to want their club to invest in their squads. However, huge financial outlays aren’t the only route to success. Some clubs might be better advised to spend time working with their current team to improve fortunes. In some cases the answer might be right under their noses.
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