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    Jul 2003
    Back in Sussex

    Paul Barber: The Transfer Window

    51 Not allowed!
    I've just received a note from Paul Barber concerning the transfer window, and he was happy for it to be shared on NSC.

    (My addition, this Bleacher Report video showing deadline day at Sheffield United is an interesting watch for those of on the outside:

    The transfer window has, as ever, sparked a lot of debate on social media – some of it constructive and interesting; some of it, naïve and, in places, unjustifiably spiteful. Not surprisingly, and such is the way of the world these days, hardly any of the (largely anonymous) criticism directed at the club on social media has made its way to us directly in the form of emails or letters…

    Nevertheless, our supporters do have every right to express their reasonable opinions. The game is full of opinions. It’s what makes our sport as popular as it is. But personal attacks on our people (least of all, our chairman), or attempts to scapegoat individuals through social media, are totally unnecessary and will never be acceptable to us, not least as we go out of our way to fully engage with our fans at all times.

    As we’ve tried to explain, transfer windows are complex and dynamic. Things can change dramatically in a month, a week, a day – or, even, in an hour. Therefore, the tactics to meet transfer window objectives must always evolve as the window goes on. But even this doesn’t guarantee every target will be landed – and the club, as well as supporters, may end up disappointed (we are) and frustrated (we were).

    We don’t publicise our transfer targets. We don’t comment on media speculation (unless we believe we have no choice but to do so). And only a very tiny group of people inside the club – usually no more than 4 - are aware of our specific priorities at any one time. Our approach is designed to minimise leaks, which can often compromise the club’s position, and give us the best possible chance of doing our business discreetly and professionally.

    Inevitably, this does mean supporters' knowledge or understanding of what did or didn’t actually happen, could or couldn’t happen - or why something did or didn’t happen isn’t always right. In fact, in many cases - and quite understandably – supporters’ perceptions are very often way wide of the mark. This is the same at many clubs, not just ours.

    So, to try to help our supporters digest this past transfer window, as usual I’ll be addressing the transfer window in my programmes notes on Saturday. However, as I’m aware that NSC seems to attract the most vociferous of views, I thought it night be useful for me to let you have my answers to the key questions posed in advance of the weekend. I’ve covered as many points as I can.

    - this transfer window was more over-heated and more challenging than most of us had previously experienced. We were very well prepared but every club, even the biggest, was a little taken back.

    - asking prices, and player and agent demands were very high. No surprise here either but it’s impossible to anticipate every nuance. Publicly, we will always try to manage expectations as we go.

    - as with all previous transfer windows, speculation in this one was rife. Much of it nonsense. Like all clubs, we’ve been criticised for not signing players we didn’t bid for and were not even on our radar!

    - it’s a complete myth that the best transfer business is always done early; if transfers can be done early in the window, they will be. If transfers are not done early, there’s usually a very good reason.

    - equally, it’s a myth that transfers late in the window are “panic buys” or the player must have been “low on our list”; it can be the complete opposite: sometimes transfers just take all the time available.

    - the recruitment team – scouts, analysts, coaches, our manager – looked at thousands of players in the past year or more; relatively few strikers are ever available and even fewer matched our specific brief.

    - it’s no secret that we were looking for a striker different to what we have; we were not the only club looking for this type of player and, unsurprisingly, those clubs that have them wanted to keep them!

    - despite all of this, and missing out on that additional striker, we still secured the overwhelming majority of our transfer window targets - and we have strengthened our squad in a number of key areas.

    - most, if not all, clubs miss out on at least one target, sometimes many targets, in every transfer window. This one was no different. There will always be a multitude of reasons for such misses.

    - a “miss” doesn’t have to mean a flawed strategy, poor negotiation tactics, a failure to meet demands, or that someone is to blame; mostly, it’s just about “circumstances" – often out of the club’s control.

    - we didn’t lose out on players because we couldn’t, or wouldn’t, meet a particular transfer fee or a wage demand; neither did we break our wage structure to secure the players we did bring in.

    - nevertheless, and regardless of ambition - ours is to stay in the Premier League - we always have a responsibility to run the club prudently and sensibly for the chairman and for the benefit of future generations.

    - finances aside, failed medicals are rare – we had 2; players being recalled to their club at the point of signing for another because of an injury/issue affecting a team mate are even more unusual – again, we had 2.

    - these issues don’t mean our scouting or due diligence was flawed; quite the opposite. Our medical staff were excellent in detecting unforeseen issues. We’re spending millions of pounds. We won't take risks.

    - occasionally in a transfer window, different options become available due to totally unforeseen circumstances – sometimes very late on; such opportunities need careful but very quick evaluation.

    - often, such is the recruitment team’s detailed preparation for any given transfer window, we’ve already done our homework on such players so we can make fast decisions on whether they are of interest.

    - if they are of interest to us, we will always seek to agree a deal with the club and agent, on behalf of the player, then consider them alongside other options; however, it can still be down to the player’s choice.

    - when a player decides not to join a club, it’s often about him wanting to stay with the club he’s at, rather than snubbing the club courting him; the two things are very different, albeit we know the net result is the same.

    - it’s very rarely possible to fully complete one deal before starting work on another; in every window, it’s usually necessary - and desirable - to keep moving on a number of targets simultaneously.

    - when we talk about “optimum timing” for a transfer, it’s not just about getting the player at the right price. It’s about a wide range of factors all coming together to make a deal possible at a given moment.

    - and, no, we didn’t miss out on a loan striker because we signed a loan GK; we took a conscious decision to take an excellent loan GK when the opportunity arose.

    - as with every transfer window, we will replay, review, discuss and debate all of our decisions and our tactics; as with previous windows, we will look to see what we can do better next time. There’s always room.

    - right now, we have an excellent group of very talented and committed players, backed by a great manager and staff; they will need and, I believe, they deserve the support of all our fans.

    - we are just 3 games in to the most exciting and challenging league season in the club’s history. It will be tough, very tough, so above all else, we need the club’s strong sense of “togetherness” to, once again, rise up!

    I hope this note will help to answer at least the majority of the various queries, questions, views and criticisms expressed by supporters.

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