The January transfer window didn’t slam shut as much as it gently eased shut on self-close hinges, at least where we were concerned.
There was no indication of any possible late deals, so by 8pm we were done and dusted, and even then, we were ‘only’ announcing a signing that had been more or less completed, bar the paperwork, for a couple of hours. It was a window on which so much hangs – but has it been a success? What does success look like in terms of the last 31 days?
Firstly, there’s no definitive answer here. 365 days ago, our transfer window was deemed a success, but the best of those signings, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, didn’t get into the team straight away, and Ben House was a slow burner. John Marquis, Morgan Whittaker and Liam Cullen were decent signings, but did they have the impact we’d hoped over the next three or four months? It’s debatable: our PPG up to Jan 31st 2022, was the same as our PPG after.
The success of this transfer window might not be obvious this weekend – it might not even be obvious come May. Players like Dylan Duffy could go on to be Lincoln legends, but we wouldn’t see it straight away. However, we can base the quality of the window on one simple question – have the recruitment team left the squad better than it was before December 31st? Are we stronger right now?
Who’s On The Move?
Firstly, this is the list of players who have either come or gone from the squad from other clubs.
January Outs – Jamie Robson, Jacob Davenport, Jordon Garrick, Tom Hopper,
January Ins – Harry Boyes, Mide Shodipo, Luke Plange, Dylan Duffy, Ethan Erhahon
We have loaned out four players, Charlie Kendall, Sam Long, Freddie Draper and Elicha Ahui, two of which were around the squad in December, but Morgan Worsfold-Gregg and Jovon Makama have returned from loans and remained with the club. So, our actual numbers haven’t changed drastically from returning loan players or those we sent out.
The first observations have got to be the numbers – we sent a loan player back, terminated a short deal and sold two players, so in all four went out. Matty Virtue’s injury certainly influenced our thinking in my opinion, and we mustn’t forget that although Tashan remains part of our squad, he’s unlikely to feature. I’m a little confused as to why he didn’t return to Stoke – I wonder if the terms of his deal meant we couldn’t terminate? Either way, when it comes to numbers, we’ve gained one, but with Virtue’s injury and Tashan’s situation, balanced against Montsma’s return, we’re probably about even.
With that in mind, it’s important to look at the business from a really objective point of view. We didn’t add depth, and that’s something that I have mentioned before. We didn’t decide to get an extra striker or pepper the squad with makeweights, and it’s something that I believe hinders us when there are three cups to contest, but hopefully not so much over the coming months. I won’t go back on what I said about strikers, I feel we need three around the squad rather than two, but that’s not going to be the case, and we didn’t have one before the window opened, so we’re not weaker for it.
Robson / Boyes
The first like-for-like swap is Jamie Robson for Harry Boyes. I really liked Robson; I won’t go back on that. I’d shouted him as a better player than many gave him credit for, and despite him occasionally being targetted with high balls early in the season, I always felt he was growing into his position on the left flank. Much of the argument against Jamie was he ‘wasn’t a wing-back’ in many people’s eyes. Harry Boyes is, but we’re now not playing wing-backs.
Personally, I am indifferent to this being an upgrade or downgrade. We haven’t seen anything like enough of Harry to determine whether or not he’s going to impact us enough in the final 20-odd matches. MK fan Jonathon Harries really liked him when we went to their place, but we haven’t seen enough at the Bank to comment. As a Jamie Robson fan, it would be a bit too rose-tinted of me to say we’ve replaced him adequately However, if we’ve recouped the fee we’ve paid, and impacted the wage bill, then there are positives.
Outcome – Unsure
Garrick / Shodipo
It’s another like-for-like swap, so it is hard to say definitively that we’ve upgraded here. In terms of numbers, we’re pretty much the same, but Shodipo has got a better record; both were in teams that had League One play-off campaigns, but Oxford made it in 2021 and Plymouth did not in 2022. As recently as December, Shodipo started for Queens Park Rangers, whilst Garrick looked utterly lost in Papa John’s Trophy games for us.
I found Garrick a huge disappointment, but he’s had a great start to his Forest Green career, scoring more goals in three games than he managed for us in five months. Still, given how he’d disappeared from the first team and having seen glimpses of Shodipo’s talent in the bore draw with Cambridge, I am going for upgrade here.
Outcome – Upgrade