Have we come out of January stronger or weaker?
The incomings and outgoings:
Gudjohnsen (on loan)
Walker (recalled from loan)
Gio (on loan)
O'Hara (on loan)
Hutton (on loan)
Naughton (on loan)
Keane (on loan)
For all the players linked to our club over this transfer window and the summer one, we've seemed to done pretty much nothing in the way of filling the (alleged) gaps that need filling. From my perspective, and possibly from yours too. It's been a dull non-event of a window and granted, you don't always do the best deals in the month of January and it's best not to panic buy. Although arguably, if we've had targets since the start of the season, all the ground work should have been done in the months between the first window and this one. Seems for all the talk about lacking depth in the CM positions and allowing for the possibility of certain players being sold (Bentley, Pav) - nothing has actually happened of much significance. Well, nothing other than quite possibly failing to consolidate 4th spot.
Best chance of finishing 4th, theoretically that is if we injected something extra into the squad to aid us chasing City who will probably win their games in hand.
So what have we done exactly? Are we stronger or weaker for it? Depends on your perspective.
One for one
Keane is gone. He's been a shadow of the player he once was and there's no doubt that regardless of the obvious personality he brings to the dressing room, he seems devoid of it out on the pitch. Rumours (as ever) suggest that he wasn't displaying the right attitude having been handed back the captains armband on his return from boyhood club number I. He's never been the same player after that particular shambolic adventure. And him on his way (to boyhood club number II) is in no way detrimental to the side because we've signed Gudjohnsen, who might not be as prolific as Keane once was - but he'll link the midfield with attack as good as anyone meaning he can play alongside Defoe or Pav. With Crouch back to being Plan B.
Keane might come back refreshed in the summer, or score enough up in Scotland to aid a permanent move. Either way, problem solved.
Cover for two positions
Kaboul. The utility player. He'll cover CM, DM and RB if required. One player, three positions and no prolonged Brazilian style negotiations (Sandro) or ridiculous transfer fee demands (Sissoko). He's improved, matured and will quite possibly blossom in our decent side (rather than struggle like he did first time round). And Kyle Walker is back to cover the fullback position. Must have impressed at Sheff Utd.
Squad consistency retained
Could have done with a goal keeper just in case Gomes does get crocked. But we tried, it seems, on three different fronts to sign one. But otherwise, we've got rid of the deadwood and players who simply wont be getting near the first team and therefore are better spent playing elsewhere.
We've got 4 forwards. One blows hot and cold. The other hardly scores consistently. The other one hardly ever plays. The new one isn't match fit yet. Letting Keane go, regardless of his lack of oomph, is hardly the best thing doing when you consider we are about to enter a proper ding dong battle to keep our noses that point or two ahead of the teams chasing the same thing we are. He's worth a bundle regardless of his tainted mojo, so sending him out on loan to a Scottish team seems to imply trouble at the mill. Plenty of pressure on EG then.
Go back to the summer window and remind yourself of when it closed and Harry admitting that letting O'Hara go to Pompey had left us without any true cover in the middle. And yet, here we are, after the closure of the winter window and once more - no cover. If Sandro is genuinely the target and we have to wait until June/July that doesn't change the fact that if Wilson gets injured we're in a spot of bother. We've been crying out for an understudy for an age. Massive risk by Harry and Levy IMO. Looks like Kaboul is our DM cover for the time being. I'm scared.
CB looking good
With Woody MIA and attempting to find some way back from injury and King playing part-time, signing Kaboul has fixed our CB cover out for now. Dawson, Bassong, Kaboul, Corluka. It's all good. Except that Kaboul once upon a time made an awful Daws look good as he's the type of player that manages to make massive mistakes in games that are costly. Corluka never really does it for me at CB and if either Daws or Bass get a knock, we're once more biting nails.
No RB cover
We've gone from having 37 right-backs to one. Kaboul looks like he's in for a busy return shift. Hutton and his cameos are no more with his loan out to Sunderland. If Charlie gets injured...well, you know the drill. It's Kaboul Time. Again. Unless the young lad Walker is going to play a proper part in the squad rather than watch from the sidelines much like Naughton has done.
So, good stuff of wtf?
Is there a lack of quality out there at the moment that has left us having to look for a bargain rather than a newly discovered gem? The Keane situation is a mess. I did laugh reading Harry's comments about Robbie being a Celtic man and how this is a dream move for him. Plenty of blag in his words, it's obvious he's building him up and hopefully Keane can have a positive spell up in the SPL - but no matter the great times he's had for us down South, he's tainted his legacy with the whole Liverpool episode. But I guess given a once in a life time opportunity - which is how Keane perceived it - he took it. Shame he didn't stop to think what he had and the rather obvious fact that Rafa wasn't really interested in him to start with.
One of my favourite Spurs players of recent years. When he was on form he was excellent. His partnership with Berbatov in that first season was ridiculous. Scored a bundle for us.
I guess these things happen. The fact he was only ever re-signed because Defoe got injured sums it all up. One booze trip too many in the end.
We have the players to finish 4th. If people think Liverpool do then there's no reason we can't. The problem is, so do Man City and Villa. All our hopes are on the players - the ones we're left with - pulling together and believing. Enough with these points being dropped. If they don't step up together, then the dream is over and we should all agree that we don't have the right balance of players who can give the right level of application when it matters.
You'd think considering City will spend around £200M next summer we could have done with some of that consolidation right now.
But it's not all grim, is it? We're enjoying one of our best (if not the best) points accumulation in a Prem season we've ever had and the problems we are having are ones that are fixable. If Harry has the right amount of cello-tape to go around. Game for game, pound for pound, we're not doing too badly at all. It's just frustrating that we could have been 5-8 pts better off. I guess one or two other clubs would say the same thing about their predicament.