We’re almost there folks; a few more weeks and we’re in the January sales. There’s no doubt that Brendan will be out there, looking for bargains, but unlike some we’ll be shopping in a high quality market, not raking through bins for freebies.
Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with freebies; the January window starts just as a lot of players enter the last six months of their contracts, and that means there are top footballers out there who’ll be looking for new clubs in the next campaign and we can start talking to those guys right away.
It’s a market we haven’t exploited in a while, and it’s traditionally delivered rich pickings. Mikael Lustig came to us on a Bosman, and so did Joe Ledley, and that’s to name just two.
January has also been a good month for us, traditionally, when it comes to paying for good footballers. Forget the naysayers who tell you there aren’t good players to be found in that window; Armstrong, Griffiths, Ki-Seung Yung, Kris Commons and Neil Lennon all joined us in December – January, and all were significant players.
I don’t expect us to get anyone in who will have as profound an impact as any of those guys, but it could well be a good window nonetheless. We will certainly bring in at least one player at the back – a central defender, for sure – and perhaps more; I still think a left back backup for Kieran is a must. The one thought that is almost guaranteed to keep me awake at night is him getting injured. He’s also the player most in need of a rest in all of Scotland.
It’s difficult to see where else we need to strengthen; we’re well covered in most positions, and unless someone really exceptional is out there and in our price range I don’t know if we’d be looking to buy someone in midfield or upfront.
The one other area of the pitch is the goalkeeping position. De Vries has recently signed a new deal, so if we were signing a keeper the logical assumption would be that he is to replace Craig Gordon. A lot of fans would not welcome such a move. A lot of fans would. I am on the fence about it, but only in the January window. If we could sign a high quality keeper in the summer I would, I’m afraid, be all in favour of it, not being Gordon’s number one fan.
All such talk is secondary; the priority remains signing a quality central defender, and Brendan knows this quite well. We cannot go into the Europa League campaign with what we’ve got; Simunovic’s injury situation is too unpredictable, Sviatchenko may not be fully fit and Dedryk is still prone to making silly mistakes. We need reinforcements in that area.
The other thing about January is speculation about the players currently at the club; as per usual there will be a torrent of it. We’ve gotten used to it over the years, but with Dembele and Tierney being watched by half of the EPL there will, naturally, be a lot of transfer tittle-tattle.
I trust Brendan on this one, and I’ll be listening carefully to what he says.