I have already admitted in an earlier post that I would never be able to earn a living as a street trader or as a poker player. I can neither bluff nor hold my nerve when negotiating a price for something I desperately want and have the wherewithal to pay for.
So, it`s pointless asking me to say how much I would give for Johnson, Bassong or Mills because our need for central defenders is so great that I would be inclined to pay well over the odds. Perhaps, it`s just as well that the Ms are in charge of finances. As he indicated in an interview earlier today, the chairman certainly stresses the need to curb the inflation in transfer fees. My head tells me he is right (£35m for Andy Carroll?) but my heart worries that, as a result, other teams, willing to pay more in fees and/or wages, will snap them up.
I don`t mind top clubs spending huge sums of money for star players because we couldn`t match them, even if we could attract them to the club. The problem lies with the Sunderlands and Newcastles of the PL, who are awash with the cash gained from such deals and who are therefore in a position to outbid us for players, whom we could reasonably expect to sign up.
It`s a fine balance and to succeed one has to have a cool head and a detailed knowledge of the market. Even Mr. Morgan`s stance is not an absolute one … or, if it is, it is probably unsustainable. On the one hand, he asserts that if the clubs with whom WW are negotiating do not reduce their valuations, he will not complete any deals with them. On the other hand, he admits that he would break the transfer record in order to secure the right players. And, of course, the right players might cost £2m-£3m more than that (perhaps far more).
How high is he prepared to go for quality central defenders … and what about a left back? The board has to consider the fortunes of the club over the course of next season, if we do not acquire solid, reliable players in these positions. To me, it foretells another relegation battle. Surely, management has to factor in the sporting and financial implications of that.
As I write, the game of poker is in full swing. Unfortunately, while Mr. Morgan occupies the moral high ground and is keeping his hand close to his chest, his position is undercut by a knowledge of our fragile defence. Even worse, the clubs, who hold the contracts of sought after players, are aware of our predicament and this gives them an advantage in the business of brinkmanship. It`s a dilemma he has to face.
Perhaps, I would be more optimistic, had management been able to show a better track record over signings. Yes, I am aware of the successes (as well as the flops) but I am focusing here on the ones who got away. I am not asking for the splashing out of silly money – we all want a stable, financially secure club- but merely a bit of flexibility in our rigid approach to transfers. The fate of the club could depend upon it.