And so with the clock striking 11pm on the day of February eve, with it saw the padlock on the January transfer window firmly fastened shut. But with the relegation battle being possibly the tightest yet in the league’s history, which teams have recruited smartly, and which teams may have missed their opportunity.
CARDIFF brought in new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bang on the turn of the new year, and with the club flirting with a relegation scrap in 17th place at the announcement of his appointment, Solskjaer has since turned to his former clubs and familiar faces to help push Cardiff up the table. By signing Jo Inge Berget and Mats Moller Daehli from Molde, and Fabio and Zaha from Manchester United, not only shows signs of intent with the quality he has brought in, but familiar faces who know his managing style and way of working should aid the rest of the squad to adapt and move forward. Despite three defeats at the start of his reign, a vital three points at home against Norwich should give Cardiff the confidence they need to move on up the table. Cardiff need to be careful though, too much change too quickly could have the opposite effect because the players will need time to learn how to play together, but it is a strong sign of intent for the rest of the season to avoid a relegation battle.
FULHAM signed six players on transfer deadline day, and like Cardiff, Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen had to piece together a squad capable of retaining their Premier League status. Picking up fringe players from their rivals in promising star Lewis Holtby, and experienced defender John Heitinga, should prove astute signings because of the quality they offer, and the players will be aiming to prove a point to their parent clubs that they can still cut it in the league. Fulham also weren’t afraid to splash the cash, and record signing Konstantinos Mitroglou from Olympiakos should help add much needed firepower into a team that has lacked goals from strikers this season. Offloading high earners in Dimitar Berbatov, Philippe Senderos and Bryan Ruiz should help reduce the wage bill. Like Cardiff though, Fulham will need to be patient and let the players gel together, and that patience will be tested after a 3-0 home loss to Southampton.
WEST HAM certainly made a statement of intent late on in the transfer window. After Sam Allardyce received the backing of the board, he has been allowed to spend some money and recruit some extra quality into a squad that was lacking confidence and beginning to become stretched. Two Italian players with big reputations – Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello from AC Milan and AS Roma respectively – adds that extra bit of quality and knowledge to kill off games that West Ham have been lacking so far this season. The team needed firepower, so the recruitment of Borriello was an important one, despite letting fringe player Modibo Maiga leave the club on loan. Allardyce then, should be happy with the likes of Carlton Cole, Andy Carroll and Marco Borriello to call upon to find him points. Life after the transfer window is looking bright for West Ham, winning 2-0 at home to Swansea.
WEST BROM did not have the transfer window that they hoped for. The departure of Shane Long to league rivals Hull was a surprise, as Long is a player who on his day can be a real asset. The sole bit of business that they conducted brought in a replacement striker in Thievy Bifouma from Espanyol on loan. But being a player untested at this level, West Brom will be hoping he is an instant hit. In a window where new manager Pepe Mel struggled for new recruits, a rumoured last ditch attempt to sign Wes Hoolahan from Norwich City will perhaps be one to rue. Being a creative midfielder, he could have been just what the doctor ordered to gets their strikers firing. One thing Pepe Mel will be happy about though, is that he didn’t lose controversial striker Nicolas Anelka.
NORWICH also had a quiet transfer window. Norwich are a team who have been flirting with the prospect of relegation this season, in the most part only being one bad result away from finding themselves right in the mix of a relegation scrap. Manager Chris Hughton has looked to Premier League experience through a familiar face in Jonas Gutierrez, and ex-Everton defender Joseph Yobo. Whilst the experience could prove very useful and necessary, no doubt fans would have expected a little bit of money to be spent on a quality creative midfielder to get their strikers firing. They did though, manage to retain the services of want-away midfielder Wes Hoolahan, but having a player in your squad who is not happy can be dangerous to team morale and might affect his performances if called upon to play.