I didn’t go to Doncaster. I was supposed to be going, but decided I couldn’t afford it. That’s not to say I’m destitute or particularly struggling. It’s just that some things have changed since we started planning the trip and I haven’t got bags of cash lying around.
At a push, I could have found the money. I’d have needed to go without something else further down the line, sell something in eBay or lend some cash. But I could do it and probably would have if the right opportunity came along or the game was too good to miss out on (sorry, Nicky Maynard’s debut as a late sub doesn’t cut it for me on that front).
I know some of us are worse off than that, but none of us has a bottomless pit of cash to call on and, more pertinently, most of us have to work within budgets and we need to adjust them as situations change. Most of us can push the boat out occasionally, or find the cash if we absolutely have to, but the bottom line is that we have to manage our finances carefully and to a plan.
All that seems reasonable, right? So why should a football club be any different?
Pretty much everywhere I go at the moment, someone seems to be asking where has all the money gone? Why are we skint? Why aren’t we buying strikers? Why are we offloading people?
The questions may seem rational, but the tone is almost universally one of conspiracy, the underlying assumption seems to be that something is up, that someone isn’t telling us something. How else can Uwe Rosler be telling us that he’s nothing in his budget and might need to get rid before he can bring anyone in, when Jonathan Jackson has spent most of the season telling us that there’s cash available and we don’t need to sell to buy?
The answer is simple though, things have changed. Not necessarily with our cash flow, but with our plans on the pitch.
Latics started the season with a plan to bounce back to the Premier League straight away. We had an over confident chairman and a manager who had bullshitted him into believing he was up to the task. We also had a European campaign to get through, without embarrassing ourselves or English football and our financial plan was set accordingly.
Now we’re out of the Europa League and the race for automatic promotion is a distant dream. The talk is about competing for a place off place this year and going hard for promotion next. So if our playing plans have changed, surely it makes sense for our financial ones to as well?
As a club, we pretty much know what our income and expenditure will be (transfers aside) for the rest of the season. We know that we’ve paid off Owen Coyle but that he filled the squad up and can assume we have the wage bill to match. Because of this, Uwe will know that he’s not got much he can do in the transfer market.
Or at least can’t do anything without affecting what he can do in the summer. Because, we’ll already know what next year’s budget is and I dare say that he could dip into that, if the mythical “right opportunity” presented itself. I think, by and large, that Rosler knew that when he took over and I also think that it makes a great deal of sense.
It might have been different had we still been in Europe, looking likely for promotion or (whisper it) relegation candidates. In those circumstances, signings could tip the balance, making the difference to the outcome to our season. They’re not likely to now and whilst there is some logic in bringing in players now to acclimatise the clichés are right, buyers don’t usually get value in January so there’s even more logic in waiting until summer.
And the reverse applies for selling players. If buying clubs don’t get value then selling ones must. If there are players we’ll be looking to move on in the summer (or who’ll be moving themselves on at the end of their contracts) then why not look to do it now. It might only bring in a few hundred grand here and there, but it all helps maximise what money is available for next year and every little bit helps.
So when, over the next week, the likes of Jean and Ramis or even Mcmanaman and Al Habsi are linked with (or get) their moves, and all you see coming in are young lads on loan, don’t panic, flap or moan. Just think to the summer. The club have already.
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