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Too many losers in transfer mayhem
I MAY have touched on the issue in the past, but let me be perfectly clear on this - I truly despise the transfer window.
I've long thought that the only people to benefit from the January sales - because that is what they are - are agents and Sky Sports News.
I agree with having a transfer deadline, a lockdown of squad rosters, level playing fields and all of that, but actually encouraging a month where clubs can pay inflated rates for players according to their needs, in this current climate, is absurd.
The difference between the January sales and the transfer window is that sofa shops sell their goods that they hadn't been able to shift for a year for discounted prices. In football, there is no such thing as a bargain, and clubs can spend millions of pounds on a player that couldn't get a game.
But clubs do not have the time to strike out deals, due diligence cannot be done, scouting may not be effectively carried out, and, just like January sales, clubs are pressure-sold into decisions.
When you look at Twitter, or Sky Sports News, your own club will be linked with 20 clubs in a transfer window. Easily.
Truth is, your club may not have such a list in mind. They'll go into January with five names maximum. Names which have been assessed by more than one person, looked at plenty of times by coaches and scouts, possibly even spoken to through agents.
Clubs will know whether a scouted player is a good deal or not.
But, invariably, transfer deals break down. Targets sign for other clubs. Clubs realise that agents have been playing them for fools, using the higher profile of a club to secure a move to another club.
How many times have bigger clubs swooped for players which have been earmarked for another club?
It happened in 2002 with Diego Forlan at Middlesbrough.
The club had brought him over for talks and he was intercepted at the airport by Manchester United. The rest is history.
So, when a club has spent three months working on transfer targets that subsequently go up in smoke, they then have two or three weeks to get another one in.
This is when the madness begins.
Managers and coaches start to wing it. Using their contacts book, the old boys' network, working on names, even using the likes of YouTube to identify a decent signing.
Of course, the likelihood of disaster is increased when you use the internet to scout for a player.
On deadline day, players sit by their phones. Before they know it, they could be whisked off to anywhere in the UK, unaware of who they are signing for. Crucially, the club will not know much about a player in the first place.
Newcastle have made their mistakes, the signings of Ignacio Gonzalez and Xisco shining examples. Sunderland too, remember Rade Prica and Milton Nunez?
The latter stages of the transfer window start to resemble the episode of political satire The Thick Of It called Spinners and Losers, where six or seven potential leadership candidates are identified and ditched in a frantic 12 hours.
But in real life, it's not funny when there are millions of pounds involved. How long will this lunacy go on?
Why not keep the transfer window open from August to February?
Clubs can buy or sell as they see fit, then by the winter they will have a settled squad nailed down for the remaining four months of the season.
Sky Sports will still get their ludicrous transfer deadline, but clubs will rest easy in the knowledge that any players signed will be ones they have had a good look at before committing millions of pounds to buying them.
SUNDERLAND have signed midfielder Stephane Sessegnon who, I hope, has been well watched by Steve Bruce and his scouting team.
The word from France is that he is petulant, subject to mood swings, and has been on strike from his - now former - club Paris San Germain.
Workrate has been questioned, and, when I took a look at the French newspaper Le Parisien's website, the comments were united in one thing - "Bon debarras", that is, for you uneducated lot, "good riddance."
His ability seems to be undeniable. His quality is potentially there. I'm convinced Sunderland won't have rushed into it.
But if work rate is in question, I'm concerned about how the fans will take to him.
Anthony Stokes, one of Sunderland's alumni, had superb potential - which appears to be on its way to being realised at Celtic now - but did not work hard on the training ground and, as a result, was in and out of the side.
The best players in the world are the technically gifted, but also the ones that give 100 per cent.
Sunderland supporters do not settle for anything less.