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Despite Fan's Uproar Southampton's January Transfer Window Is Reasonable
Tuesday, 2nd Feb 2021 10:57

The January transfer window is always one where the panic button is pressed, but this one is different than usual with all clubs struggling for cash due to the Covid 19 pandemic, it was not a perfect one for Saints, but they got business done so will be reasonably happy with it.

The problem at the moment for Saints is they are in the middle of an injury crisis, one that has exposed some areas in the squad where we lack cover, that leads many to think that we should be bringing in that cover in the January transfer window.

But these are tough times financially, many posts I have seen on social media decry Saints for not spending money, but the harsh truth is that it is not just our club who have no cash, every other club is losing money on a monthly basis and is having to trim it's outgoings and that has meant virtually every deal done in this window has been a loan move.

Liverpool a side with big injury problems at the back and chasing both the Premier League and Champions League glory bought a 26 year old journeyman central defender from Preston for £1.6 million to solve their problem.

That highlights the current financial crisis in the Premier League, incomes are down and no one has any money.

Saints fans have been moaning about our "poor" transfer window, but their thoughts & worries have been accelerated by our current injury crisis.

Most are asking why we didn't sign full backs, the reason is that when fit we have full backs, yes it is a strange decision on the face of it when we have let Yan Valery and Jake Vokins leave on loan, but Ralph Hasenhuttl clearly feels that he has others who can cover and that if KWP or Ryan Bertrand do get injured, he would use those others rather than Valery or Vokins at this stage, that being the case, letting them leave on loan makes sense financially and enabled us to fund Takumi Minamino.

Of course Ralph looked at all the options as was shown in the interest in the likes of Brandon Williams and Ashley Maitland Niles, but the problem in bringing them in was not only financial in that they would not have come cheap, but the players themselves knew that they would only be back ups.

That is why Maitland Niles chose West Bromwich Albion, he knew he would get game time, whilst at here once our injury crisis was over he would be on the bench.

So signing a full back was never going to be easy and this was the position that most fans were demanding.

But we do have players who can drop in to cover the full back roles, James Ward Prowse, Ibrahima Diallo, Jack Stephens are three who can play there.

So when everyone is fit there isn't an issue, yes the situation is not ideal, but Ralph has taken a calculated gamble it is manageable.

The real issue for Saints is not this transfer window, but getting everyone fit again, already the likes of Nathan Redmond and Djenepo have returned to action and Jannik Vestergaard is on the verge of a return, if there are no other injury issues then the problem isn't cover at full back, but how we fit all of the players into the same team.

Minamino isn't a full back and to my knowledge hasn't played there in his career, but his arrival means that we can free up players in the midfield to cover other positions.

So although most of the Saints fan social media I have read has been all about the fact the fans feel that this has been a poor window, I feel the truth is it has been a reasonable one in the circumstances, the squad is stronger in terms of players considered to be in genuine first team contention and more importantly we have got money off the wage bill.

Saints have got 6 players off the payroll and that is a saving, but not one of those 6 is considered a first team starter and only Shane Long would even get on the bench in normal circumstances.

Do not take this as a lack of ambition, Saints are not alone in trimming the wage bill, Spurs have blustered a lot in this transfer window, but they have made no signings and got 10 off their books.

Manchester City considered the club with bottomless pockets have spent only £7 million yet got 7 off the books.

Perhaps most surprising, Leicester City, a club who many Saints fans hold up as one we should be emulating, they more than anyone could do with a boost to their squad as they chase a possible Premier League title and fight on other fronts, but they have not made one signing this window, they have sold two players though one for an undisclosed fee, another on a free transfer and 6 out on loan.

Everton are another chasing glory and with an owner who usually has no hesitation in blowing his money on overpriced players, yet there only signing has been Josh King on a loan deal, out through the out door go 8 players mainly on loan.

So this transfer window has to be taken in context, it has not just been a quiet one for Saints, every Premier League club has had to cut it's cloth to adapt to the massive downturn in income.

In every club out on loan to the lower leagues have gone the fringe players, but there have been few coming into the Premier League the other way.

Indeed there appears to have been only 21 signings made by Premier league clubs, 5 of them by West Bromwich Albion and 5 clubs have no made a signing at all.

In comparison, 100 players have left their clubs this transfer window , again mainly on loan and to lower league clubs.

This is an amazing statistic and shows how the global pandemic has affected every club in the Premier League, no one has any money to spend and that is not likely to change much this summer as clubs have to tighten their belts to absorb the losses made over what will then be the last 18 months.

So I feel that taking everything into account this has been a reasonable transfer window, we might have made only one signing but it has been a good one, we have got a lot of money off the payroll for the rest of the season and this should not be seen as a lack of ambition but a sense of reality.

Sadly the situation is what it is, we have to make do with what we have got, if we had signed a couple more players just as cover for the full backs and they had spent most of the season on the bench, there would be uproar, but truthfully although like any club we could always strengthen, when everyone is fit it is a good squad and one we need to strengthen in a couple of key areas in the summer, we do not want to waste money on loan signings who will add nothing if everyone is fit.

Yes we could gamble to try and move us up a place or two, but the reality is that now one in the Premier League is doing that and the reason is that they don't have the money !!!

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DorsetIan added 11:12 - Feb 2
The story of this window is that we needed to strengthen in our full back positions but instead we let the cover we had in those positions go out on loan.

As I fan, I really don't care about trimming the wage bill wage to the extent of Valery's and Vokins' wages. I care that the squad is now weaker than this time last week.

The loan signing of Minamino is interesting and he will hopefully add to our attacking threat, but that's a side issue.

This window demonstrates once again that Saints under Gao is living from hand to mouth.

Block8 added 11:15 - Feb 2
The fact that we tried to sign, at least, three defenders seems to suggest Ralph knew we needed cover. Maybe we set out sights a little too high & a lot too late!
We shouldn't need to play, what are essentially, our first choice midfielders in defence?
One versatile, even veteran, defender would have been helpful!

SaintNick added 11:29 - Feb 2
Dorsetian- to take your points

1. The problem is that we couldnt get cover in, everyone we tried to sign knew they would be just cover so didn't want to come, truth is that both Maitland Niles and Williams could play as wide midfielders , we didnt try to sign cover for the full backs we tried to sign options elsewhere

2. Ralph clearly didnt consider Valery and Vokns as his best cover for full back at the club, he mentioned in interviews he felt that Diallo was perhaps the best cover for that position

3. As a fan you should care about trimming the wage blll, Saints like all Premier League clubs are losing millions on a monthly basis , it can't be sustained, read the stats in the article every club is in the same boat.

4. Why is the squad weaker than it was last week, we have let go two players who have barely played in the Premier League Vokins 66 minutes and Valery who has played 101 minutes, they are hardly cover, Ralph prefers Stephens and Diallo.

% We are living hand to outh becauseof Gao !!!!!! You need to look at the revenue Saints are losing beause of the pandemic

saint22 added 11:38 - Feb 2
classic saints
weaken the team and remain reasonably happy
staggering we sold all our options when we have the injury list we do
our revenue stream will look a lot worse the lower we finish and defeat to newcastle and wolves will mean we arent even safe

felly1 added 11:44 - Feb 2
I agree with Nick.
A lot of our fans are just not facing upto reality.


SanMarco added 11:49 - Feb 2
The Minamino thing looks interesting. Let's be brutally honest he won't score fewer goals than Long because that wouldn't really be possible and if he stays fit (a big if at the moment) I am looking forward to seeing him.

I think the 'uproar' is understandable given the fact we obviously were desperate for full-backs but seem to have (no other word for it) failed. I agree with Nick's points on the whole and no reasonable fan expected us to splash the cash but the club seems to have got it wrong over the full-backs.

The question over the full-backs is who is the cover now? Nick says that Ralph clearly thinks he has 'other options' but only names non-specialists. Ralph obviously doesn't rate the two Vs and they have gone but why weren't these other options playing against Arsenal instead of the two Vs?? I understand that you can't look at just one game for a window and tonight is looking pretty tough so perhaps we lose and move on with Djnepo or someone 'marking' Rashford. I am not up-to-date with the youngsters at the moment but I just ask who are the two full-backs who are not as good as Bertie and KWP but are better than the two Vs? Players who weren't good enough to pay vs Arsenal but are now better than the two that did play in that game?

Oh and good luck Shane. Perhaps a move down will get you back amongst the goals, or well, get you amongst the goals to be more accurate, 'back' doen't really go in that sentence...

DorsetIan added 11:51 - Feb 2

1. End of the day we didn't get people in but we nevertheless let what we had go.
2. Valery and Vokins were the ONLY cover we had in those positions. Neither player was perfect but they could do a job. Suggesting players from other positions are cover is nonsense.
3.I care that the club is financially well run. I don't care about the individual entries on the profit and loss account.
4. Because we had two players and now we don't. You can argue that they weren't any good, or that it's not much weaker because they weren't any good, but you can't with a straight face argue that it's not weaker.

You know as well as I do that these financial constraints pre-date Covid and will continue beyond Covid. You say that Gao can't get money out of China. I don't care what his reasons are but we both seem to agree that he isn't able or willing to invest. And any well run business needs to be able to invest to improve.

GeordieSaint added 12:04 - Feb 2
I think that the club has taken a pragmatic view here. Although some people won't be happy with this the reality is we only need 11 more points this season to guarantee staying up. The possible great season has already fizzled out due to injuries and a shallow squad.

Vokins and Valery going out on loan makes sense. They clearly were not quite up to the task against Arsenal although it was tough to replace both full backs at the same time. Both need to play to improve and at the moment that is not at St Marys. It sounds like the club thought they had Maitland Niles in the bag who could play either full back or centre mid which was behind those decisions.

Shane Long going out also makes sense. I doubt the club would have given him a new two year deal if they knew they were going to go a whole season without fans (obviously barring the exception for a couple of games.) Added to that, Big Dan up front has been preferred as has Nathan Tella.

The rest of the season, with the cup as the exception, is going to be about blooding those kids who are knocking at the door. Find out how good they are are and give them a chance. It really is a unique season that with half the season gone we are in a position to do so. You never know, we might end up with 6 or 7 lads in the first team who have come through the academy next year. Football has changed with the rest of the world over the past 11 months and for a club reportedly losing over 3mill a month that is a promising blueprint.

ChristchurchSaint added 12:29 - Feb 2
Although we really did need a cover at FB, I think the overall financial affect of the pandemic is the reason behind most clubs’ actions. A year without fans on the terraces will cripple most clubs- with the exception of a few. Even big clubs abroad like Barcelona have serious financial issues, and a possible liquidity problem if they don’t find nearly £250 million over the next couple of months. Sadly, this is not going to be something which goes away quickly, even if fans are back for next season, and I am glad that we have prudence within the club. We have seen several clubs struggle for a long time due to overspending in the past, and I think there may be several more, before normality returns.

redandwhitedee added 12:40 - Feb 2
Very happy with this transfer window. Our problem is not in defence. It is upfront. With A fraction more creativity or a real goal scorer we would not have lost to Leicester nor Villa.

There is an economic crisis in all industries right now so to spend millions on simply back up fullbacks would be a disgrace and risk bringing back the administration/bankruptcy days again.

Valery & vokins needed experience as are both well off premier league quality at this stage.
Sensible management by the Club.

highfield49 added 12:46 - Feb 2
As ever, everyone is entitled to their opinion but I'm firmly on the side of the fact that RH knows what he is doing and fringe players had to be stripped from the wage bill. King went to Everton, apparently because they were able to offer more money to stuff in his bulging wallet, but we've got a player from Liverpool who wants to play and not count his bank balance. Long was surplus to requirements and, like others, I wish him well because he wouldn't be getting much time on the pitch at St Mary's. The fact that neither full back in which we were interested wasn't signed seems to be more to with their clubs not loaning players to their competitors than lack of desire or ambition. Playing for West Brom is unlikely to do too much for a player's chances of making the England team as Maitland-Niles had hoped. I don't know how RH intends to cover any injuries or suspensions in the fullback positions until the end of the season but I'm pretty sure that he'd decided that Valery and Vokins weren't the answer to the problem. I am thinking that maybe we could be looking at cover from experienced players who are out of contract. I believe I'm correct in saying that we can sign players who are effectively out of work in the coming weeks?

TimSaint added 12:46 - Feb 2
We are only allowed TWO loan signings. As we already have Walcott, we could only make ONE further loan signing this window. We are also losing money, so it was extremely unlikely that we would ever sign anyone, especially a back-up, on a permanent basis this window. Yet despite these facts, the club should have signed more players.

Bettwsresident added 12:46 - Feb 2
I for one will be pleased not to see Ralph have to turn to Long when we are a goal down and then rest of the team is running out of stream after 70mins of high press. Long was brilliant in 2015-16 but has streadily declined and is now a shadow of that player. I think we have secured a gem and it will turn out to be shrewd business.

Agree with Nick. We have been blessed with the emergence of diallo and now have 3 quality midfielders, 2 of whom can play full back, (JWP looks made for it) with a decent crop coming through from the acadamy, Watts and Smallbone both look tidy. We also have 3 decent CB's when the big Dane is back with Stephens also good as a defensive full back. We have 2 quality full backs in Bertrand and KWP and decent cover within the squad. Where we were lacking is the get a goal to save a game option. Long and Nlundulu havent done it, but I think Minimino can.

davidargyll added 12:49 - Feb 2
Quite right Nick and GeordieSaint.
Everybody is moaning and groaning saying we haven't got any ambition, Gao is a hopeless owner, we've got rid of our only cover in the back line etc.
Seems to me these comments are a repeat of what we read constantly after every single transfer window since the year dot.
But this season, we - and everybody else - are in more a pickle because of a smuch tighter schedule of games and the resultant injuries, plus of course the effects of COVID. Why do you think that the table is so tight and some of the recent results look very odd?
So I wish everyone would stop bleating and support our team and excellent manager; and if the Blades - with nothing like as good a squad as us - can beat ManU, then why can't we...? (he says with his fingers very firmed crossed behind his back...!)


TimSaint added 12:50 - Feb 2
Ralph obviously does not think Valery or Vokins are up to the job and has stated that he has others he prefers as stand ins when needed. So they have either been sent out to get more game time and experience, OR it is his way of telling them that they are not good enough, so go and find yourself a club that is more 'your level' ?

Colburn added 12:55 - Feb 2
I have to agree with Nick and his summary here. We have no money and yet have players who need game time for the future and to get them match fit in Valery, Vokins, etc. Bertrand is back and so will Vestergaard and Salisu in the next week or so. Stephens can fill in at full back in emergency and we have Will Ferry as further back I on the left. So the only defecit is right back and the KWP injury is not long term and he would have instantly replaced Valery, leaving Yann without football again, so to me, all the loan moves out make total sense for the team's future and the individuals and again Jack can fill in if needed. Our real issue recently is scoring goals and with too many of our creators flattering to deceive, we needed an extra option up top. Minamino provides this and is no gamble at that price, he's quick, clever, good feet, can create and score goals, a live wire keen to succeed. I think this has been a very sensible window, the only defenders who would have strengthened us were unavailable or not keen to come here. We've done our best and in these crazy times we can't be disappointed with our business.

davepid added 12:57 - Feb 2
Nic I tend to agree with your take on the window. But when you say we’ve got 6 off the books that isn’t quite correct.Presumably we are still subbing part of their wages especially to the Gillingham and Sunderland , and Doncaster in the case of Sims.

saintmark1976 added 13:07 - Feb 2
Nick, however you attempt to dress it up in your never ending attempt to offer succour to the club’s owners and management, when an Arsenal full back prefers to go to a club that are managed by a Dinosaur and certain of relegation, we really have got big troubles.

I accept without reservation that the club has serious financial problems. That’s evident from the last two sets of accounts and is obviously not been helped by the current virus situation. That being the case, why hasn’t Kat, let alone our Chinese friend stepped up and provided some support? No, we have to go to the market to obtain a “ bridging loan “ at an eye watering rate of interest which long term can only add to our current financial woes. Fit and proper owners who have the club’s interest at heart? I don’t think so.

saintTom added 13:22 - Feb 2
I just hope Minamino gets to play. That’s not a given with Ralph who seems to wait 3-4 months until professional footballers learn to press the ball.

kristianJ added 13:39 - Feb 2
I think letting Vokins and Valery go on loan is unwise. Given the tighter playing schedule and the demands we put on our full backs to get forward we can only expect more injuries, therefore we need adequate cover. Neither Stephens nor Diallo are natural full backs. JWP can do a decent job at right back, but given that he’s been one of our best players this season, it greatly weakens the team to move him from CM. I am struggling to follow the argument that we needed to do this to save money, when we’ve brought in Minamino. Surely neither Vokins nor Valery were on high wages? Both were likely to get more playing time if allowed to stay. Valery already has EPL experience and I think Vokins is a good prospect. It would have made more sense to keep them and play them a bit more allowing KWP and Bertrand to have a rest and for the youngsters to gain EPL experience.

stmichael added 15:45 - Feb 2
I’m not outraged but it is totally amateur when you have an injury crisis in defence to let your back up defenders go out on loan.
Stupid beyond belief.
Our bench tonight will be laughable for the level we play at.
Another ridiculous window both incoming and outgoing...

redwight added 15:54 - Feb 2
The reason Maintland Niles went to West Brom, saintmark 1976, is simply that he could be guaranteed game time there. You may have all kinds of reasons to beat the club up over transfer policy, but that is not one of them.
Of more concern is the frustration expressed by RH in the Echo that the club doesn't have the funds to buy him the players he wants. This would seem to be the first sign of a fracture in the thus far happy relationship between club and manager. I hope I'm not over reacting.

underweststand added 16:21 - Feb 2
I go along with highfield 49 and Nick on this one.
None of the loan-outs were contenders for the first team, and Long occasionally got 15 minutes sub. apps. in games we were already losing. We have a number of young players already out on loan (Sims, Hesketh, Slattery, and now Valery and Vokins) aside from the errant group of; Elyounoussi, Lemina, Hoedt and Gunn who are still on contract and costing us a fortune in subsidized wages whilst playing for other clubs. No longer teenagers, these young men need to leave "schoolboy football " behind them and get involved in the "man's game", and if / when they come back...Ralph can judge their performances and maybe look at new contracts for them.

I join those (above) who are lamenting extra defensive cover (especially at LB ) but the main reason is the consistancy of Ryan Bertrand who, since Shaw's departure, has seen off a row of wannabee replacements including; Mc Queen, Targett and now Jake Vokins
yet still Bertrand remains undisputed first choice. Next in line is Will Ferry, who is an exciting prospect in the B team, but this is an issue to address in the summer when Ryan is out of contract and long term-decisions must be made.

I think the signing of Minamino is more exciting than it may seem at first. He's obviously out to impress Klopp, as at present his only chances at L'pool are 10 minutes subs. ....if Mane, Salah or Firmino get tired. He could be a game-changer for us, even if we only have him for the remainder of the season.

aceofthebase added 16:59 - Feb 2
RH playing people out of position nearly got us relegated last season and now some are saying that this acceptable. I find this new 'RH can't do any wrong', attitude baffling and annoying.

NewburySaint added 21:11 - Feb 2
I am soooo glad we didn’t King for many reasons-Minamino will be an upgrade on our current wide players, excluding Armstrong, and I hope he goes straight into the team when available.

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Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #29 by wessex_exile

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