There’s not long left in the transfer window, but based on comments from Manuel Pellegrini, we won’t be bringing in anyone before the opportunity passes us by. Now, this seems ridiculous. The opening months of the season have been far from perfect, especially away from home. We look weak in defence, can’t cope with injuries, and have rolled over against top half teams in an unacceptable fashion. So why are we not scrambling to make signings, when we’re still fighting on four fronts?
I’ll be honest with you: the title of this article is misleading. I do have a theory on why we’re not buying anyone. If we’re to get Guardiola in the summer, which I very much believe we are, and all signs say he’s already agreed to come then maybe we don’t want to be signing players for the long run. We’re now a club which does have to make a profit as one of the key motives of everything we do and managed to do just that in the last financial figures released.
The result of that is we may not want to pay extortionate fees in this January window, in order to aid what may be Pellegrini’s final half-season in Manchester, only for the player to be thrown on the scrap-heap if he can’t fit into Guardiola’s system in the summer. Alternatively, while a signing might fit into Guardiola’s signings, the Bayern manager may have already drawn up his list of targets, and be readying his assault on the transfer market during the off-season. But the result would be the same: ‘wasted’ money this January.
We’ve already seen this window the extreme prices being paid by some of the clubs lower down the table. Bournemouth have splashed £7m on Lewis Grabban, Norwich have paid a staggering £8.5 million to bring Steven Naismith on board, then, perhaps the most surprising fee of all is the £12m from Newcastle for Jonjo Shelvey. This is either the attempts of clubs desperate to earn survival by May (all of those buying clubs sit in the bottom five), or it reflects the inflated prices which we’ve become accustomed to in January.
Frankly, I can see the sense in not wanting to pay the exorbitant rates for players – we all know how good we are at negotiating. But I can also see the much greater sense in buying for the present.
At the time of writing, we’re second in the league. We’ve been off and on in the league for months, and it’s been an uphill battle at times. Kompany has spent much of the year injured, much to our detriment, and we’re yet to find a secure defence without him. Mangala has failed to maintain the early-season form which promised so much. After the mixed bag of impressions from last year, the Frenchman looked unshackled at the beginning of the campaign. But, without the Belgian skipper alongside him, the £40m defender now looks like he again can’t cope, and is now out injured.
Taking both of those in mind, and not even considering the form of Demichelis and Otamendi – who, to their credit, are coping as best they can – it seems baffling to me that we wouldn’t make an attempt to bring someone in, purely in case they aren’t to the liking of Pep when he arrives. Of course, the case could be made to sign for other areas – strike, perhaps, although Iheanacho is proving to be both a vindication of the academy and an invaluable asset now, and potentially someone as a potential replacement for Yaya Toure (I’m a particular fan of Leicester’s Kante, although he wouldn’t come cheap).
Yet, we’re second in the league, through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, a game away from a League Cup Final at Wembley, and we’ve got our most winnable Champions League knockout tie ever coming up next month. This is a huge moment in our recent history.
To be clear, I don’t expect us to win a quadruple. But in order to give us the best chance of a double or even a treble, I think we needed to make the moves the other top clubs have failed to make this window. We’re still very much in the race, but I don’t understand why we wouldn’t try and gain ourselves another few inches in a trophy race which looks set to be our hardest yet.