For those who have been off the grid for a day, today was ‘Deadline Day’, the day when the football world goes crazy for deals and….
Actually, it wasn’t. Today was the close of the window for permanent transfers, that much is true, but thanks to the EFL altering the rules this year, loan signings can still go ahead for another 22 days. Basically this was half of a loan window and anyone that followed my live blog will know that in essence, nothing really happened. It’s still a decent read though, I’m sure.
League Two saw the odd deal here or departure there, but in the main only one club really had any business to do: Lincoln City. We brought in two new faces, as you’re already aware, in Joan Luque and Jason Shackell. The first name will be familiar to anyone who has followed the Imps in the last month, the latter familiar to anyone who follows football in the top two divisions.
Firstly, the squad is still a bit light but the loan window is still open, so there’s no panic at all. Luke has been replaced and we’ve added to our options, but we’re still a player or two short of a full squad. I fully expect Danny to move once more, maybe not until the final day but who knows. The point is, there’s still no panic, apart from for me because in three weeks I have to do it all again. Great.
Firstly, Luque. This move delights me because I said a couple of weeks ago I wanted us to have a ‘project’, a player coming from nowhere who might just be the next big thing. I’d hoped it would be Lee Shaw, but to a degree Luque is perhaps less of a risk. Shaw would have taken up one of those precious striker positions, whereas Luque is flexible and can play in a couple of positions, meaning his chances are likely to increase.
There’s been some talk of the six-month deal and whether there’s an option and all that. I think in this world of instant communication and connectivity, everyone feels they need to know the ins and outs of all the deals. It’s the same with transfer fees, fans pay their money so they should know how much a player costs, right?
Tell me, when you buy chips for dinner, do you demand to know how much the potato costs?
Tell me, when you buy chips for dinner, do you demand to know how much the potato costs? Do you want to know the supply deal that brings the potato to the plastic tray? The analogy may be stretching things a bit, but as fans we don’t have ‘the right’ to know these things, not when it is best for the club we don’t. With so much scrutiny these days of football, it is imperative that the club retain some power over agents and buying clubs, especially when it comes to the money we’re paying out.
I don’t know about options after six months, all I would say is no deal Danny has struck in the past has let the club down too badly. If Luque makes the grade I would imagine we are protected as a buyer.
That announcement came at five, expected but perhaps not so much thanks to some rather mischievous individuals on Twitter. I must confess I don’t get the whole ‘fishing’ thing, making up rumours or saying outlandish things just to get people to react. My own belief is if you’re motivated by that, you maybe need to get out a bit more.
At 6pm came the Luke replacement, the new number five that has the unenviable task of picking up where our decorated skipper left off. In Jason Shackell, I’m reliably informed we’ve secured a major coup. My boss at Football League World said ‘some signing that’, EFL expert Gabe Sutton said it was ‘a real coup’ and numerous other fans have expressed delight and shock we’ve secured such a major player.
Me? I’ll be honest, I had heard of Shackell and knew of his talents, but I couldn’t tell you his entire career, not until a bit of help from Google. There, I said it. I’m not ashamed. I knew he’d been released from Derby thanks to my FLW work, but I couldn’t have told you about his Premier League experience, nor that he’d never been out of the top two divisions. Why? Because up until a year or so ago, I really didn’t give a toss about the Championship. I didn’t know he’d earned promotion out of the second tier with three teams, twice as Champions. I know now.
I saw a 34-year old sign for us who hasn’t played too many game in two years, but I’m told that is secondary to his phenomenal influence, experience and knowledge. He’s not just been brought in to command the defence, something he’ll do with aplomb, but also to exert his influence across the squad.
When Vincelot signed for Crawley, I raised an eyebrow and thought they’d achieved quite a coup. When I look at our squad now, I wonder if I could ever have dreamed we’d have such a blend of experience and exciting young talent. Jason Shackell is certainly the former, the elder statesman of the squad, but someone with as much in his locker as anyone I’ve seen sign for the club. He’s maybe not as quick as he once was, but in the middle of a three he can organise and direct, with the other two mopping up and covering if need be.
What I will say is this. I remember David Phillips, Steve Foley and Trevor Hebberd. A long and fruitful career in the upper reaches of the Football league can mean very little. I admit, on paper, Jason Shackell is an impressive signing and people will be talking about us once more, but we must also be cautious not to get carried away.
In January this year, the transfer window closed and everyone was up in arms at us not signing a striker. One year ago we were sat waiting to hear if Akinola was joining the club, only to be let down. Before that we had the Theo incident, the Margetts incident, in truth the transfer windows have always shut with a bit of controversy or negativity surrounding them. This year, all that has changed. Some feel Shackell is our signing of the summer, the big name that we’ve needed to make people take note. I’d argue he’s the latest in a long line of high-quality players that have been meticulously scouted, approached and enticed to the club, a group of players hopefully being woven into a side capable of challenging the very best this division has to offer.
I know Danny said we had come from the National League and Northampton from League One, I know he said some (who, me officer?) were getting carried away and they knew where they were as a dressing room, I also know two paragraphs ago I said we need to not get carried away, but let me ask you this: when have we ever gone head to head with ‘unnamed League Two’ clubs for a special non-league talent, and won? When have we signed the striker everyone wants, the 20-goal a season man? When have we attracted the players that everyone else says ‘they must be on a fair whack’? When have we been the team everyone wants to play for?
I’ll tell you when: before I was born. Maybe never.