The now-closed transfer window was by no means the worst in the recent history of Swansea City, but then again the bar has been set so low since the change of ownership in 2016, that it really isn’t a compliment either.
We did after all leave ourselves with only one senior centre half in the summer of 2018, and in January three years ago tried to give away one of the jewels in the crown to a divisional rival on loan. When measured against those two scarcely believable episodes, even an average window will look great. But in reality it still isn’t great and that’s how I would describe what has happened in the last month.
On the face of it, every senior player who has left has eventually been replaced. The surprise departure of Ethan Laird has been covered by the arrival of Cyrus Christie. Goalkeeper Andy Fisher has joined on a permanent basis allowed us to send Steven Benda out on loan. Rhys Williams was recalled by Liverpool and as a result we’ve done a similar deal for Finley Burns. Jake Bidwell moved to Coventry and right at the last minute we secured the services of Nathanael Ogbeta from Shrewsbury. The only player we’ve secured as an addition is Hannes Wolf, and even he looked like he would inadvertently become Jamie Paterson’s replacement (more on him later).
Other than that we’ve seen youngsters and Liam Walsh move on loan who will now receive some much needed game time, but it does leave us short of bodies for what is looking like a relentless run of fixtures until the end of the season due to us not playing for nearly a month during the festive period.
Overall I’d say our squad probably looks marginally better than when the transfer window opened. But that only tells half the story. It’s the revelations today in the press that should leave us feeling particularly alarmed.
Midway through January we had a deal lined up for Ryan Longman from Brighton for approximately £500,000 to be paid in installments, only for our owners to pull the plug at the last minute.
This is incredibly unprofessional and most certainly not the way to do business. If the deal collapsed because that’s outside our budget then no problem, but if that’s the case then how on earth did it get that far in the first place? The result of this must be a very frustrated manager, and a club in Brighton who may well be reluctant to do business with us in the future. How anyone can think that’s a good thing is beyond me.
A similar thing happened to Steve Cooper last year when he lined up a deal for Liverpool defender Nat Phillips only for it to fall through because of the owners. Couple that with the Rhys Williams transfer not working out and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Merseyside club will think twice about allowing us to borrow any of their players going forward.
The Matt O’Riley one I can forgive us for. £1.5million would be a big outlay in the current climate and I will never criticise us for not putting our future in jeopardy. It would have been good to have done this deal if possible, but if the finances weren’t there we have to accept that, and this deal didn’t at least get as far as Longman before we backed out of it.
Ryan Giles would have been a coup and would have put the noses out of joint of a certain club which is always an added bonus, but we’ve made the wise move shunning that in favour of the permanent signing of Ogbeta. Moving away from loans where possible is definitely the way to go as we look to invest in younger players we can improve and sell on now that the parachute payments have gone.
That brings us to Jamie Paterson, who is still a Swansea City player after no move came to fruition. This situation is tricky. Paterson has undoubtedly been in the wrong over the last couple of weeks by essentially refusing to play. We’ve needed him and he’s under contract to a deal that he was happy to sign a few months ago.
But at the same time it would not surprise me if he was promised better terms by those at the club who’ve now gone back on their word – that’s exactly the type of shoddy treatment I expect from this regime who may well have thought he’s under contract so why should we offer another one. The truth is Paterson has done very well with eight goals and four assists and I would say deserves to some sort of a reward for that. Not a huge one, but a small increase in wages and another year on top of the twelve-month option the club triggered recently would at least make him feel like he’s been appreciated.
What we really need is for the player himself to come out and explain his point of view, he’s been a real crowd favourite and understandably the Jack Army feel let down by his actions.
But he’s still a Swansea City player for the foreseeable future, so whether people like it or not, both the club and the player need to put this behind them at least until the summer and look to move forward. It won’t do him any good to sit in the stands, and a club who are short of goals and creativity need one of their best options available to them.
In the midst of all this the person I feel the most sympathy for is Russell Martin. The owners have let him down, embarrassed him by pulling the plug on the transfers he had lined up and not allowed him to reshape the squad as he so wishes.
It took a lot of persuading for him to leave Milton Keynes to come to south Wales due to the lack of clarity behind the scenes, and you can’t help but wonder if he thinks he’s on a hiding to nothing at this club. The last month has once again been a timely reminder that this regime isn’t and never will be good for Swansea City and the sooner it ends the better!