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West Ham fan Billy Blagg argues the Premier League transfer system is in urgent need of review
10:00am Thursday 30th January 2014 in Latest Sport
As the sash on the transfer window rattles down on the fingers of Sam Allardyce and the inevitable social media storm gathers on who West Ham has – or probably hasn’t – signed, it’s worth sparing a thought for the beleaguered manager and all those in a similar position.
Now generally I’m not particularly sympathetic to the woes of the football manager.
Usually they are ably rewarded and suitably feted when they are successful and amply compensated when they are not.
But there is no doubt the job has been made more difficult by the introduction of the transfer window in 2002/03, and those of us who recall the system before then look back to that time with a kind of rosy-tinged nostalgia.
For, like much of modern football, the transfer window benefits the richer and dumps royally on the poorer.
Any club that has a Champions League place this season or has qualified recently will boast a large squad with a bench full of players who would almost certainly find a first-team place anywhere else in the division.
Outside of that though, clubs struggle to keep large squads happy and it becomes almost impossible to sign a decent player who is satisfied with being fourth or fifth choice, knowing he will only get a game if those in front are either injured or suspended.
It is all very well saying that it was wrong for West Ham to go into the campaign with only three recognized central defenders - particularly bearing in mind the Hammers' unenviable injury record over the past 25 years.
But what was the option?
If James Collins, Tomkins and Winston Reid had all remained fit and were first-choice options, who would have wanted to have sat on the bench all season?
For without European football or a guarantee of a cup run, some might never even get onto the pitch.
The situation is even worse in January.
Struggling sides are held to ransom trying to bring in that key player to cover an injury or a shortcoming.
As Sam Allardyce has discovered to his cost – a club can chase a player, might even find they are close to getting a signing, only to find the person concerned finds a better offer elsewhere, probably with a club that can guarantee Premiership football again next season.
There’s worse though. When you consider in their last home league match against Newcastle, the Hammers defence was embarrassed by the skills of Loic Remy, a man who isn’t even a Magpies player but rather a player on-loan from QPR, you realise the whole transfer system is a farce.
When a season can depend not only on who a club signs but also who it can borrow then surely the whole thing needs an urgent review.
Sadly though, this means direct action from FIFA. Don’t go holding your breath, will you?