United manager Keith Curle spoke about the August transfer window at his Friday press conference revealing first that he had turned down a last-ditch ‘cheeky bid’ for one of his first team regulars.
“I had a phone call from an agent yesterday who said he was representing a League One club,” he said. “He wanted to know if I would transfer one of my players in exchange for one of their players. He explained that their player wasn’t one of their top fourteen performers so I politely declined his offer. To be honest I think he was out on a fishing trip.
“When an offer like that comes in I always speak to the player concerned and tell him that there has been contact. In this case I also told him that I thought the offer wasn’t what I would expect, or even begin to consider.
“The player’s response was to tell me that he’s happy here and he doesn’t want to go because he’s enjoying his football. If his response had been that he would prefer to leave then you have to be realistic and act on it to get the best deal possible for the club you can.
“Having said that, if the best deal possible is to receive a player I don’t even want in return then the deal won’t happen anyway. I like and respect the players I have in the building at the moment because they’re here to do specific jobs. I’m not going to let them go on a whim or because of an agent’s fishing expedition.
“The pleasing thing is that we aren’t in a position where we have to move players on to bring others in. There’s an availability of funds and I’ll use them when the deal and timing is right.”
On whether or not he was disappointed not to have secured any incoming signings on deadline day, he said: “I looked on with interest at the day’s activities and it’s like all the monsters are coming out to play.
“Agents who I’ve never heard of before – they call themselves intermediaries now – are suddenly calling you up and trying to broker deals on behalf of clubs and players. I don’t like that, and because it’s a transfer window you find that the player’s expectations go up as well.
“The demands of players, clubs and these intermediaries become astronomical and sometimes it’s good to be able to sit back and say – that’s not for me. An example is asking to take a player out on loan and the club asks for a contribution which is more than what the actual wage is, simply because they’re going to be playing games. I don’t see how that works at all.
“There are other players who would rather stay in their environment and play under-23 football because they think that gives them a better chance of getting into their first team. When you’re looking at him being at a club which has just bought another player in his position, and there was already a squad of 28 there anyway, I’m not sure that’s good thinking either. Those players will realise in weeks to come that they’re now stuck without first team football, at least until January.”
“We had a couple of other situations which came close,” he told us. “We were outbid on loan deals by a couple of clubs who have paid, in my opinion, a sum which is more than what the player is worth. I don’t go further than my valuation because any deals I do have to be of value to our club, and not to anyone else’s advantage or gain.
“Other than that there wasn’t anybody out there who I felt was going to add anything to our group. Losing out within our own market place shows how people do panic at this time of year. On deadline day you can go out and fill the changing room if you’re that way inclined, but all you’d be doing is adding training numbers rather than improving the squad dynamics.
“I’d rather bide my time and get the quality I need because I know we have a competitive squad with good players who are pushing each other. Others are coming back from injury and adding to our options as well, so we’re in a good place.
“Obviously we don’t know what challenges we’ll face over the coming months but we feel we’re capable of covering most eventualities. We’re slightly different to a team like Mansfield, who have a squad of 30 plus players, but we still have 24 names who can do any job we ask them to do, in a number of styles and formations.”
Looking ahead to the January transfer window, he said: “There’s a little bit of room for manoeuvre and, like I said, there are lots of different permutations of what could happen between now and then.
“Players can lose form or, on the flip side, they can play out of their skin and end up being a target for other clubs. If that happens it means there’s other work that has to be done and we’ll try to make sure we’re prepared for it.”
One player who was spotted by eagle-eyed Blues fans at various locations in the city yesterday was former-QPR, Crystal Palace and Rangers defender Clint Hill.
“Clint is a player I’ve known and worked with before,” he commented. “I was part of the scouting team which took him to Crystal Palace after myself and Neil Warnock saw him playing at left back for Stoke City reserves.
“I think his move to Palace probably kick started his career again. He’s a player I’ve got a lot of time for and he’s one of those who is out of contract. He’s come up to have a look at ourselves and for us to find out if he’s still the Clint Hill I know.
“He’s trained with us for a couple of days this week and he’s pencilled in for another couple of days next week. It’s a case of us finding out whether he’s still got the dynamics I think could benefit us.
“There are other factors in terms of him being away from his family while he was up at Rangers, the commute, the location and the training schedule. He’s in a position where he’s got other offers so he wants a little bit of time to make sure the decisions he makes are the right ones for him.
“He also wants to make sure he’s still able to perform at a level he’s happy with because he’s very professional in what he does. People might think he hasn’t got legs any more because of his age but he didn’t have legs ten years ago! Joking aside he’s a very good player so we’ll see how that pans out.
“The free agent route is one we can still take because some players had their contracts terminated. What we do now is look at who was made available and then for us to identify if they have the attributes we need. First and foremost are the immediate needs we have rather than what is available.”
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