Date: 9th January 2010 at 2:09pm
Written by:

Well, sometimes you just have to sit back, scratch your head and wonder what is going on. This for me is one of those times!

Martin O’Neill said before the transfer window that he didn’t expect any action in the January transfer window. I was disappointed but not surprised by that as he has said before how much he hates the January transfer window and the lack of decent players available.

However he then changed his thinking at the start of January – as featured in a rumour article – Two Strikers Linked OUT + MON IS Looking To Buy – and told the press ‘We are trying to sign players because we will need the squad for a long season ahead.’ .

OK, so that would imply would it not that some action was expected? I’m not reading too much into that I don’t think. He says quite clearly that the club are going to try to sign some players. No other interpretation at all for that sentence? We capitulated last season and one of the main reasons it seemed to us was the lack of strength in depth and the lack of January transfer window action to try to bolster an already small squad.

Now he has contradicted that statement and told the press when asked about the January transfer window and if he expects action:

‘Would I rule out buying anyone? I’d have to answer ‘yes’ at this moment.’

As per the article by Matthew Kendrick at the Birmingham Mail – Click Here – he was also asked whether the lack of activity this January was anything to do with a lack of transfer funds or just that he feels he has enough in his squad for the season (which you would have to argue from his previous quote above that he doesn’t) he said:

‘I will keep any conversations I’ve had with Mr Lerner on that subject confidential, if you don’t mind.’

Well, I tend to agree he can’t be telling the press, fans or anyone else about private conversations but conversely the press and more especially the fans don’t really need mixed messages either. It would have been totally fine if he had stuck to his ‘no movement in January’ especially as we all know that January is a pathetic transfer window where most clubs have no interest in selling their best players and Villa – amongst others vying for the top four – only need the best now to add to the squad. It is also true to say that most clubs around us wouldn’t want to deal with us in January for fear of giving us an advantage.

But why the change and then change back? What has happened in the meantime?

Ok, maybe it is just a slow news day and so quotes are getting analysed a little more than usual but this change does seem very strange and from hopes being raised that we would be looking to re-enforce so that we don’t see a second half of the season collapse like we did last season to ‘no action’ again is a bit confusing.

A bit of consistency in the message would be very very welcome. Obviously there are those – already had texts today about it to be honest – who will also start to question that one part of his response when asked about funds as MON has always up until now said the funds were very much there for him and as manager it was his decision and his decision alone as to who he wants to bring in.

Ho hum, so no movement in January. Will that be enough for us to sustain a charge on the top four? Time will tell, we’ll be there supporting them no matter what.

One glimmer of hope is that we are stronger than last season in most departments and James Milner brings options as he is versatile and can play wide and in the centre of midfield, not to mention up front (he hasn’t for us as yet but he has before for Newcastle) and we do have the ‘new signing’ of Stewart Downing who is more like a January transfer anyway having only just returned to full fitness following his summer move. To add to the positive vibe, we also have options in defence, something we’ve not had for a good while and also the likes of Nicky Shorey who can be recalled from his loan deal at Nottingham Forest given 24 hours notice (and he isn’t allowed to play in the FA Cup for Forest so as to avoid him getting cup tied).

So, it might not be a disaster that we aren’t going to add as long as we don’t sell and the main links outwards are for the strikers, it is surely clear that if no action is expected inward that no offers will be entertained for our main line strikers despite both Emile Heskey and John Carew being linked here, there and everywhere. An injury to one we can survive and obviously there is also the 4-5-1 formation that was used to great effect last season as an option and if the two big men did pick up injuries – which both are liable to do – there is Nathan Delfouneso to provide back up, although at 18 it has to be clear that you can’t put too much pressure on the young lad but an option from the bench nevertheless is there.

I’d also be shocked now to see Villa allow Craig Gardner to go having been linked to Blues and Wolves because, despite not featuring much at all this season, he is very versatile and can cover full back and midfield positions as he has been called upon to do so before.

Still a shame, I didn’t really expect a major movement this January but that didn’t stop me amongst many I’m sure from dreaming of that ‘missing link’ up front to really fire us onward and upward and push the top four very very seriously. Fingers crossed Emile and JC really click and go for it, where their hearts on their sleeves and prove that we don’t need others and that they are up to the job.

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