Plenty to ponder

Posted on December 6, 2009

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*Article originally appeared in When the Ball Moves

January. Thinking about January is kind of like wishing your life away. We all do it: fans, managers, players, pundits. As soon as we get round to mid-November all people can talk about is the month-after-next when this mystical window opens up and everybody gets the opportunity to overpay for overpaid prima donnas once more. Does anyone remember when this circus didn’t take place, and January was just the start of another year not that much different from the last, with only the failed attempt at a new year’s resolution to distinguish it?

An important January for us, though. For teams fighting to stay in this league, the opening of the transfer window offers an opportunity to bolster squads and bring in something new that could make a difference. Some sides have done it brilliantly, such as Portsmouth the other year, but plenty more have failed miserably. The signs seem to be that we will be dipping into the market, though not too heavily I wouldn’t have thought. A goalkeeper must be at the top of Coyle’s shopping list. That isn’t me being disrespectful to the Beast or Penny, but it seems to be something that most Burnley fans can agree on. Some meaningful competition for Jensen has to be a priority, to prevent him from becoming complacent.

Coyle must be in two minds over his next move. We really lack pace at the back, and Bikey had looked to be the solution. But since Bikey’s move into midfield to cover for the loss of Chris McCann and the, erm, lack of pace of Graham Alexander, we need some reinforcements back there. If Coyle thinks Bikey is more effective in midfield, and I have some doubts, then somebody faster to complement Caldwell/Carlisle is needed. It would be nice to get a look at one of the numerous other new defenders we bought in the summer (Edgar, Eckersley, Easton), but there must be some reason why they haven’t featured yet. It does seem, though, that every week we’re being taken apart back there, especially away, and something needs to done to address that. This issue goes both ways, however. If the decision is that Bikey should switch back to centre-half, then we are short in midfield. I’m not sure if too many people would have faith in Joey Gudjonsson playing from the start every week, and in McCann’s continuing absence somebody is needed to help out Alexander, whose long-term replacement still remains an issue. Somebody with Bikey’s athleticism but perhaps a better passer would be perfect. Second-guessing Coyle is always an error, so again I will not name and names and have faith in the manager to get the right man for the job.

Up front, it would be quite a surprise if David Nugent’s loan deal was not made a permanent one, though it would surely depend on how much Portsmouth are asking for him. He offers us something new, even if it is often from the bench, and his quality is much-needed in an attack that otherwise contains Steve Thompson, untested at this level, and the injured duo of Martin Paterson and Jay Rodriguez. My thinking is that Nugent will sign, as both the player himself, Coyle and Barry Kilby are on record saying that such an event is desirable. But I would hope that the manager has at least looked into the other options in the event that we are priced out of a move or Avram Grant decides that he wants Nugent to help Portsmouth’s own relegation battle.

In Coyle we have faith. The manager certainly has things to ponder. Last summer’s spending seemed to go fairly well, with some quality acquisitions that didn’t break the bank. If we can do that again, though on a slightly smaller scale in January, then we’ll have done well. The current squad has done remarkably well to get us where we are, and keep us steady now we are there, but a couple of quality reinforcements might make their job a lot easier in the second half of the season.

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Posted in: Sport