With fortunes on the pitch improving, you’d be excused for thinking we’d be let off from our helping of relegation threat fuelled transfer speculation. Things may have been a little bit slower than in previous Januaries, but the gossip columns are still more than happy to waste their ink on wild speculation as to where the [cough] war-chest will be going.
There are no signs that the bank is about to be broken, but as January rolls on, the focus of Bruce’s shopping is becoming clearer. Of course we’ve already got a midfielder in and a defender out and, with Scharner now settling into a place in the back four, that’s basically a straight swap. Will it make the squad stronger? I’ve not seen enough of Palacios to really comment, but I retain my concerns about Scharner in any position.
Then again, it may not be long before I can put those concerns to one side for good. Fulham have made a bid for the Austrian and with potential replacements in the mix it surely won’t take much more than the rumoured £3m first offer to tempt Steve Bruce. Whether the cottagers are the big club that Scharner has always dreamed of is another matter.
Also lined up for a move away (allegedly) is Jason Koumas, it hardly seems five minutes since he turfed up at the JJB, but the papers have him out of favour with Bruce and both Blackburn and Sunderland preparing to test our naivety with bids significantly less than the club paid for the mardest looking player to pull on a Latics shirt since… no scrub that, the mardest looking player ever to pull on a Latics shirt.
Every team selection seems to push Koumas further down the reckoning at Latics and whilst it has to be said that a) we spent too much money on him to not give him a proper chance and b) Latics will struggle to get another player in with his ability, if the manager isn’t a fan then there’s little point hanging on to him.
It will come as a surprise to some, but there has also been a fair bit of interest in Denny Landzaat. Both Feyenoord and Ajax have shown an interest with the Dutchman responding with a polite ‘I’m flattered but I get paid more, erm want to prove myself in England’.
Things are moving fairly quickly on the signings front, when I started to type this article on Tuesday we had Palacios on board, but nothing else seemed that solid. We’ve now signed a left back on a prove yourself loan and another seems on the verge of joining.
The first player is Maynor Figueroa on loan from the same club that we’ve signed Palacios from. He’s been on trial at Latics since before Christmas and the cynic in me had been saying that this was little more a tactic in our pursuit of his mucker. It now appears not and if his international clearance comes through in time he’s a possibility for Sunday.
The other player will be a little more familiar; he spent a season with Spurs a couple of years back and the majority of this summer being touted as the replacement for Leighton Baines. With a fee agreed and the player having his dinner at Rigaletto’s it seems only a matter of time before Eric Edman becomes the next in our line of extremely successful Scandinavian imports.
You have to assume that two left backs are enough and the any interest we may have had in Hibs’ David Murphy has fallen by the wayside, but is Kevin Kilbane worried? Possibly not, but if he’s hoping that the new signings will allow him back on to the left side of midfield, he could find Oliver Kapo in his way.
Surely he’d be the last of the old boy connections from Brum, however the story goes that the French wide man is out of Alex McLeish’s plans and available for offers and Bruce appears to see him as a replacement for Koumas.
The most interesting thing about the transfer window thus far is the lack of links to strikers. Ignoring the link to Carlos ‘ten goal’ Tenario the only solid story points to Leroy Lita. Again he’s another player out of favour at his current club but one that showed plenty of potential over the course of last season and is an interesting prospect. That said with Darren Bent and Jermaine Defoe allegedly being pushed out at Spurs, a bit more money could get us a bit more proven ability, if either of them could be enticed over the Watford Gap.
Back to the back line and there are two names in the frame at centre half. Belgian, Daniel van Buyten from Bayern and a Croatian by the name of Cech playing for Porto are the players in question. Although the interest is probably genuine (they are both decent players from what I can see) there are other clubs in the chase that are, perhaps, more attractive than Latics. Then again, do we really want to be interested in the same defenders as Newcastle?
I think that’s your lot, a heavy duty list, all of which is likely to cost a couple of quid or so. Even if half those players come on board, this January could be a real test of a couple of age old Latics myths. Paul Jewell kept his squad tiny, but was that through preference or an imposed policy? He also never really dug into the chairman’s pockets, are they too deep or did he just like it that way.
Bruce appears to be a bit of a shopper, how much the club back him will tell us exactly how different things will be under his management.
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