WHAT a surprise to see Blackpool going so well. With their budget and such a thin squad, nobody would have expected them to be top of the table at the end of August. The important thing for manager Paul Ince was to keep hold of his son, Tom.
It’s obviously great for the club, but I don’t see any harm in it for the lad himself – he’s good enough to get a move next year, so why not give his dad a season?
His goal against Watford last weekend just shows you what he can do. That was a hell of a win for Blackpool and I think Paul is finally maturing as a manager.
He came from the big time as a player but being at places like Macclesfield and MK Dons will have taught him so much. It’s good to see him going well.
TRANSFER WINDOW? I WAITED FOR THE LOANS
ALL the talk this week has been of deadline day signings, Mesut Ozil and the Gareth Bale saga. But for managers outside the Premier League, the real work starts when the transfer window shuts. Why? Because seven days later the Football League loan window opens and that’s when you can bag some top-class Premier League talent.
It works like this. Since 2010, Premier League sides have been allowed to name only a 25-man squad for each half of the season. But they don’t have to submit it until the window closes – in this case on Wednesday.
Basically, if you aren’t in the 25, you can’t play until January, so your only option is to go on loan. With no loan window in the Premier League, Football League managers get first pick.
That’s why deadline day is rarely so frantic in the Championship. You don’t want to use up all your money in the window – you have to keep a bit back in case there’s a bargain to be had. Even if you’ve got somebody in mind, the squad lists might throw up a name you never dreamed would be available.
The skill is to get to know as quickly as possible who has been left out of the 25. By Thursday it was all over the internet but I guarantee that managers in the Championship knew before that.
They’ve all got contacts with agents, former players, coaches and staff inside Premier League clubs. And if they can get advance warning, they can get a deal tied up before anyone else even knows the player is available.
Just look at Michael Kightly, who joined Burnley on a season-long loan on deadline day. He’s a player I tried to get two or three times for QPR, but Tony Pulis was never willing to let him go. It’s a fantastic signing for Sean Dyche and having worked with Kightly at Watford I’m sure he was tipped off that he wouldn’t be making the cut at Stoke.
Another that caught my eye was Stephen Dobbie at Palace. They only signed him this summer but he’s been left out. He’s won promotion from the Championship twice, so I’m sure there’ll be a scramble for him. Owen Garvan’s another.
Personally, I dreaded having to sign players and I always tried to sit out deadline day. I think there were only two occasions in my whole career when I was signing players at the death. It was always too much of a cattle market for me. Managers want to get players in as early as possible. But chairmen don’t want to pay someone for three months over the summer. That’s why you have this crazy scramble.
GREAT TO SEE BLADES ON WAY BACK
GREAT news for my old club Sheffield United, who I still support from afar. The chairman, Kevin McCabe has sold 50 per cent of his stake to what looks a fantastic partner in Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
By all accounts he has substantial wealth and the noises coming out of the club suggest he’s in it for the right reasons.
It’s been a long time coming. Even when I was manager there, I remember Kevin trying to get some investment in for quite a number of years. And we were in the Premier League, so you can imagine how tough it’s been in League One.
There aren’t many princes around and I should think quite a few other clubs wish they could find one.
Nobody will be more relieved than manager David Weir. He can’t buy anyone until January, but it’ll certainly improve the quality of loan players he can attract because he’ll be able to offer much better wages than before. Other than Wolves, I don’t see anybody else in that division being able to match them.
After so many bad years, it will give everybody at the club a massive lift. Added to that there will be some real investment in the team again. Hopefully it can be the springboard for them to get back where they belong.