Window Shopping, Window Flopping

by , February 8, 2010

Another transfer window slams shut. The cheque book sits untouched on Nigel Doughty’s desk. And after the summer’s spree, that’s perhaps unsurprising. Nicky Shorey’s loan to Fulham is frustrating. Martin O’Neill was clearly content to see him playing elsewhere for the rest of the season, but if Shorey harbours an ambition to represent his country again, Fulham may offer a better option. It will be interesting to see how frequently he starts for Roy Hodgson’s side.

The January window certainly creates a kerfuffle, gives the papers (and me, obviously) something to write about, and doubtless leads to panic buying from managers knowing this is their last chance to add missing pieces to the puzzle or offload deadwood before the season’s end.

It often seems to me that in 35 years of following Forest, our transfer dealings have included an unhealthy proportion of miss-hits. Maybe supporters of other clubs feel the same? Now I can sleep soundly at night because we haven’t just bought Ade Akinbiyi for £3m, I decided I should put together a team of eleven new signings who for one reason or another ended up being a disappointment. You may have your own you wish to suggest…

1) Marco Pascolo – Switzerland produces few world-class footballers. Roger Federer and loads of skiers aside, it hasn’t produced many world-class anything sports-wise. Dave Bassett clearly thought he knew something we didn’t. A couple of early-season flaps from Pascolo, and Harry was on the blower to Lurch before you could say “Crazy Gang”. Poor Marco’s probably now a cheesemaker or cuckoo clock engineer, or in some other suitably stereotype-satisfying profession.

2) Ian Butterworth – in fairness, an able enough defender. If only he had arrived on his own. Double signings are less common these days, and from the first time Psycho dumped a terrified right winger into the lower tier of the Executive Stand, it was clear who was going to be Eric and who was Ernie.

3) Neil Lennon – a good idea on paper. A club on the slide with lots of promising youngsters seeks a veteran enforcer and proven leader to kick-start the resurrection. Wise to check first that they can still be arsed.

4) Willie Young – when Kenny Burns was crowned Sportswriters’ Player of the Year in 1978, Brian Clough’s reputation for rehabilitating troublesome characters was matchless. Sometimes he tried a bit too hard though. Stan Bowles, for instance. Anyone recall Charlie George’s curious month on loan? If you Google “Professional Foul”, you (probably) get a You-Tube clip of the 1980 FA Cup Final, Big Willie’s cynical lunge taking down Paul Allen as the Hammers’ child prodigy bears in on goal. Clough sold Burns to Leeds in 1981 and bought Young, who scored on his debut at Swansea, then was crap. Good bit of business there.

5) Einar-Jan Aas – really not his fault. He arrived as the European Cup winning squad was falling apart, like he’d stepped off a Viking longboat, all chiselled jaw and blond hair. Looked a class act, in the Beckenbauer mould. Stepped on the ball at Sunderland, injured himself and hardly ever played again. A personal disappointment for me, as he’d just signed my Junior Reds birthday card.

6) Neil Webb – signing an attacking midfielder is like having sex in a car with a stranger – exciting the first time, but try it twice and it just becomes awkward and predictable (insert favourite Stan Collymore joke).

7) Trevor Francis – an odd choice for me, really, as he remains probably the most gifted player I’ve ever seen in the Garibaldi. That turn of pace and the ability to conjure a goal from nothing. His impact was immense, his signing a statement of arrival for Forest and Clough. Hard to believe he stayed less than two full seasons (and was nearly always injured). We should’ve had more.

8) John Sheridan – I was ecstatic when we signed Sheridan from Leeds. A mercurial Irish-Mancunian, a cultured passer of the ball, he formed a midfield triangle with Asa Hartford and Gary Megson, players that Cloughie signed for no apparent reason other than to annoy them. His only start for Forest was in the League Cup against Huddersfield; he sliced open the visiting defence like a surgeon with a sixty yard ball along the deck, Bing Crosby running on to score. A week later he was lining up for a Sheffield Wednesday side winning 1-0 at the City Ground. Nice work, Brian.

9) Peter Ward – Peter Taylor sometimes got it wrong too. He courted Ward for a long time, having already signed him for Brighton, and when the pint-sized striker finally arrived to much fanfare, he managed to make Justin Fashanu and Ian Wallace look good.

10) Andrew Cole – I could’ve just about picked a whole team of strikers. As with Lennon, a great gamble if it pays off and you get twenty goals in a season’s worth of promotion-clinching cameos. Otherwise…this is why Colin Calderwood will probably never be a great manager.

11) Jean-Claude Darchville – I like to think we invented the trend of poorly-equipped, newly-promoted sides looking hopelessly out of their depth in the Premier League. It’s August 1998. Pierre van Hooijdonk knows we’re doomed and goes on strike. We’ve signed an obscure Frenchman to partner him up front, with the pace of a Marseille-bound TGV. Unfortunately, he has the ball control to match. Six months later Ron Atkinson is at the helm and Man United are sticking eight past us at the City Ground. Curiously, Darcheville turned up at Glasgow Rangers a couple of years ago, adequate ball control presumably less of an advantage in the SPL.

Not exactly a Fantasy Football XI…