Keith Curle on transfer window activityWith the arrival of Gary Liddle, and the departures of Russell Penn, Derek Asamoah, Kevin Wright and David Atkinson, making it a busy January transfer window so far, manager Keith Curle admitted today that there is still more work to be done as he continues to reshuffle his pack.
“It’s still ongoing,” he said. “My job at the moment is to be creative, but that’s the same across the club. Everybody who is in a position to bring money into the football club is under the microscope. Whether it’s commercial, finance, media, retail, or whatever, their departments are being asked if they’re doing enough to help to funnel money towards the football department.
“As a club we know we need to put out the best team possible to maintain the success we’re trying to bring to this club. My part in that is to juggle the squad I have, which on occasions will mean reducing the numbers as and where I see fit, and as and when I’m able to.”
“Obviously I have to keep one eye on the fact we still have 20 league games to play and we could face illness, injury, suspension or loss of form, and I need to be able to use a number of options and formations if that is the case,” he told us. “Ideally I’d have 26 or 27 in the dressing room and at the drop of a hat I could play any of them in the starting eleven.
“That isn’t the case for us, and we’re actually in a position where some of the youth team players are going to be given an opportunity to shine. We’ll have Jordan Holt and Cameron Salkeld with us for the Accrington trip and they could find themselves involved in the match day squad.
“A lot of people at this time of year start to focus on what they haven’t got. My staff and I are more focused on what we have got in the building because we have some good players here and they are appreciated.”
Speaking about the close work he’s doing with the club through this transfer window, he said: “We’re in a situation where we’re financed by the chairman, but I don’t want to have keep knocking on his door. He’s been absolutely fantastic and he’s backed me every time I’ve knocked on his door.
“He’s helped me out every time I’ve spoken to him, but I’ve got to know exactly where that limit is as well. It isn’t a bottomless pit but he’s a caring businessman who spends a lot of time and money on this club. That’s why I need to try to balance the books at the same time as putting together a very competitive team.
“Another part of my job is to try and make sure the Chairman doesn’t have to put money in. He has had to put some money in because of the timings of the deals. Penn and Atkinson have gone, and there’s a deal potentially pending for Patrick Brough [Salford City until the end of the season] but for us to get Gary Liddle in when we did it meant we did have a shortfall.
“It isn’t just as easy as putting money in and taking money out, because when you put money in it’s gone. It’s not a nice conversation when I have to go knocking on the chairman’s door to say I need more money, but sometimes it’s a conversation I need to have. Sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate, but that’s very easy for me to say because it isn’t my money.
“I have a lot of respect for the chairman because he travels with us and he sees what we’re trying to do. He’s noticed a massive difference in the footballing department and he is very keen for us to be successful.”
“It’s a work in progress but we have got a little bit of money available,” he added. “We’re trying to shop in the right areas with short, medium and long term views in mind. We have a couple of holes to plug because of the injury situation but I’m seeing this as a challenge, and I’m enjoying it.
“There have been no bids at this stage to take anyone the other way, but there have been enquiries from one or two to test our arm on the availability of some players – that has been with loan moves in mind. Anybody who does go out will do so because it suits me, the player and the football club.”
Speaking about the five players [Gillespie, Grainger, Joyce, Kennedy, Raynes] who have been offered new deals recently, he said: “It’s all with Nigel Clibbens. I trust the players and I know the negotiations will be done in the right manner.
“We want the players to stay and that’s why they’ve been offered these deals. I think there’s a pathway to success for these lads because I feel they’ve been part of the platform for what we’ve done so far.”
And on the reported interest in Cardiff City striker Rhys Healey, he told us: “He’s got more chance of going to Plymouth than he has of coming here, to be honest.
“It could be that the situation changes, because Plymouth have had that financial windfall and they may decide to look elsewhere, and that could mean we might become a potential suitor for him again. I’ve spoken to Neil [Warnock] about him, because he’s a player I like the look of, and he has some very good attributes.
“With all of the players I’m looking at I’m looking for quality rather than quantity. I could go and fill that changing room with players who would be available to come to the football club for very little contribution to their parent club.
“I could probably go and get 40 players who would jump at the opportunity. But in my mind I inherited a football club that had a changing room full of players who were not of a lot of interest to any other teams. I’m trying to bring in quality and I don’t shy away from that.
“Sometimes, because of my demands on the players I want to bring in, I have to forfeit something which, at a football club our size, is numbers. I’d rather have quality than quantity. Players like Gary Liddle, Mark Ellis and Jason Kennedy can play in a number of positions, so we have got a little bit of flexibility in our squad.
“I have short, medium and long term policies. Whether I’m able to bring in the players on the long term list can depend on the finances this season. I’m looking for good players so if I can bring in a player that I think will add to us long term, excellent. All of the players I’m looking at are affiliated to other football clubs so it has to be right for the club, the player and for myself as well.”