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The winter transfer window proved particularly fruitful for many Premier League clubs in 2011/12
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January deals make huge impact

By prolifik on May 24th, 2012 in English Premier League Analysis 24 comments
January deals make huge impact
Lethal finisher - Papiss Cisse
If the typical big-money summer signing inherently carries a significant amount of risk, then the January equivalent is generally seen as an even bigger gamble, playing poker games with the highest stakes imaginable. With only a month to conclude all dealings before the European transfer window slams shut, there is ample opportunity for a club to be rushed into paying over the odds in order to beat the deadline.  

Of course, whether you’re negotiating a new acquisition or trying your hand at online poker, haste can indeed make waste – witness the events of January Deadline Day, when Liverpool sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a British transfer record £50 million, before rerouting £35 million to Newcastle to make Andy Carroll the most expensive British footballer ever. Suffice it to say neither move has paid handsome dividends thus far, with a combined three managers paying the price.

It’s the kind of example that can increase the natural trepidation towards major January moves, even if there have been a fair few successes (Liverpool did add Luis Suarez not long before Carroll that month). Some of that is certainly justified; the most talented of recruits can take some time to bed into a new team in midseason, even more so when coming from a different league.  

The 2011/12 Premier League season was unusual for a number of reasons, and one of them was the widescale impact of January signings. Despite falling some way short of the eye-watering £225 million spent in 2010/11, the effect of the winter dealings in the English top flight was far more pointed, with moves ranging from eight-figure marquee signings to short-term loans bearing fruit all across the division.  

Strikers, whose contributions can largely be measured simply by looking at their goal tallies, proved particularly useful investments. The name that stands out, of course, is Senegal’s Papiss Cisse, signed by Newcastle from Freiburg for £10 million. Cisse capped his debut with a superb opener against Aston Villa which announced the lethal finishing skills which would be regularly on display for the next four months; his last goal of the season, a goal-of-the-season contender against Chelsea, was also his 14th for the Magpies. In just 13 matches, he had already convinced most that he was worthy of the famous Newcastle Number Nine shirt. Such was his impact that compatriot Demba Ba, himself one of the signings of last summer, was shuttled into a supporting role to accommodate Cisse and the emerging Hatem Ben Arfa up front.  

Had it not been for Cisse’s stunning performance, the darling of January might instead have been Nikica Jelavic, a £5 million acquisition from Rangers. With his quick thinking in the box, aerial ability, and hold-up play, the Croatian proved the target man the Toffees have long been missing, rattling home 11 goals in 16 games in all competitions.

Another Cisse, former Liverpool and Sunderland man Djibril, made a unique impact after coming over from Lazio: the Frenchman literally spent the entire half-season either scoring (once in each of his six games), getting sent off (twice), and serving suspensions due to those dismissals (seven games in total). In the end, the good outweighed the bad as he helped the R’s survive the drop by the skin of their teeth. Russian Pavel Pogrebnyak hit a record five goals in his first three games for Fulham after a signing from Stuttgart until the end of the season and ended with six in 12.  

January also featured a number of cases of players returning to their old stomping grounds, via different routes and with mixed (but mostly positive) results. Former Arsenal icon Thierry Henry, on a short-term loan from New York Red Bulls in the MLS, managed only two goals – albeit both winners – in his emotional return to North London. On the other hand, Paul Scholes’ return from retirement proved all the more astounding for the effect he had on the Manchester United midfield after several months out of the game; the Red Devils would not even have had the chance to throw away the league title without him. Tottenham’s Steven Pienaar (whose goal against United, incidentally, effectively handed said title to Manchester City) spent a hugely productive loan spell at Everton, reminding the Merseyside club of the invention they had been missing on the flanks since shipping him to White Hart Lane.  

Amazingly, the list of key midseason moves doesn’t stop there. Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson, on loan from Hoffenheim, found the net seven times in 18 games for Swansea; his dead-ball expertise, long-range shooting, and eye for the killer pass gave the Swans midfield that bit of unpredictability it had previously lacked. Chilean Jean Beausejour, acquired from Birmingham, had made little impact in his previous Premier League stint, but found his niche as a left-sided midfielder/wing-back in Wigan’s unusual 3-4-3 system, a formation similar to the one he is used to at international level. American forward Landon Donovan, as in 2010, proved a handy short-term addition on loan from MLS side LA Galaxy; while he failed to find the net, he did manage six assists in just nine appearances.  

It would be foolhardy to draw ironclad conclusions from such a short sample size – after all, players like Cisse or Jelavic could easily find it much harder going once the league gets the measure of them. Still, it would appear that if one looks hard enough, there are players out there who can come in and make a difference. The danger is in recklessly pushing through deals from a position of weakness due to the time constraints of the January window. That’s how you end up betting the house on a Torres or a Carroll, and losing more than your shirt in the process.
By prolifik on May 24th, 2012 in English Premier League Analysis

January deals make huge impact
24 responses
13 Jun, 2012
I think Joachim Loew is the man to help us play in our unique and bnenniigg to prove effective style.He is fairly young compared to a lot of Todays Most Successful managers I.e Sir Alex Ferguson,Carlo Ancelotti and Harry Reddknapp. I think that wanting a good fairly young manager is the right way to be looking but Some people will now say that We tried AVB and he failed AVB backfired as he is an inexperienced manager who was not ready to take on the Chelsea Old Guard'. Joachim Loew is more experienced, older and he isn't easy to push around.The style he plays with the German National team is like ours. If he came in it wouldn't be a complete overhaul of tactics and style of play like what AVB tried to do, it would just be a few tactical tweaks here and there and sell + buy a bit.Reply
14 Jun, 2012
I like the use of the efficiency score. It makes me feel bteetr when I also rate Cisse over Gomez. The player's got a wonderful story and it's incredible to think a lad thumping it around in France's 2nd division was being eyed by the likes of European heavyweights in January because of this season. Well deserved indeed.
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