With the January transfer window now shut manager Keith Curle looked back during his weekly press conference on what had been a hectic final day of activity.
“It would have been nice to have got the business done on 1 January but, because of the options clubs and players get during the window, everybody seems to wait until the last couple of days, and then it’s frantic,” he said.
“There can be so many different variations which can affect things. You get unexpected moves for players going out, and then there has to be a reaction to replace skill sets, if not like-for-like, then to give you different options.
“We got caught up in that this year with Sam Cosgrove going, and that meant we needed other options up front. Fortunately we had a number of targets and it was then a case of finding the one that suited us.
“You then find that it isn’t something you can get done just because you like a player. There’s still work to be done to get it over the line once you’ve identified the target you want and found out that he might be interested.”
Speaking more about how the Cosgrove move developed he told us: “Somebody has identified potential in Sam from the limited game time he’s had here.
“He was then contacted and the attraction of going to the SPL has turned his head that way. Sam’s agent will have sold the deal to him as well, and we then had conversations where we were told he wasn’t going to sign another contract here.
“We aren’t in the habit of standing in people’s way and we don’t want to keep players around us who aren’t fully in focus with the job we need to do. He would have known that his future lies elsewhere, had he stayed here, and you could then lose the level of commitment and determination you need in a combative centre forward when he’s thinking about something else.
“These things do happen, and he’s a young lad who has seen the opportunity to go and play in Europe. I think when we spoke to Aberdeen they had just come back from a squad break in Dubai. A club of their stature is always going to be a tempting proposition for a young man.”
“I know that there had been interest in Sam from Ipswich and other clubs who had been watching his progression,” he continued. “I tried to speak to his representatives to say look, he’s just started his career and there will be other teams who will also identify his talent.
“I didn’t think they needed to jump at the first person who came along, but their minds were set on signing for Aberdeen. That’s when the club has to make the decision on what the best thing is to do. We did that jointly and that’s why we decided to get the deal done now.”
On taking things close to the wire with the signing of winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce, he said: “It was enjoyable on Wednesday night, with 17 minutes to go, to see Sarah McKnight and Nigel Clibbens working under pressure to get a deal lodged.
“We’d been working on getting a player to a conclusion and then it was over to them and a case of – there you go, make it happen. I have to say, they did very well.
“They had to speak to the other club, the player and his representative, and this all had to be done in a very short space of time. They were there and available to do that job for us and they stayed at the club until it was completed. It was nice to see them work and produce the goods under pressure.”
“I went to bed on Wednesday night, just after 11pm, mentally exhausted,” he revealed. “I then woke up at about 3am thinking about who I was going to put in the team. I had an hour of working through that and I was thinking to myself – this is excellent, this is what we need.
“We now have permutations and variations and there is real quality throughout the squad. I know where I can get the best out of each player within the formations I want to use. Last season we went for a few players who were projects for the longer-term, but this time round we’ve gone for players who are one or two steps closer to the first team. I think it gives us a solid foundation.”
Having secured three last-day deals we wondered if he had come to close to concluding more business before the 11pm cut-off time.
“We were close to a couple of other moves, but we were turned down by some and I had to make decisions on others,” he said. “We didn’t miss out on any deals due to finances, but we did find that with some players their starting point was first division wages.
“We can’t compete with that, and you also find that some representatives chance their arm as well and ask for a little bit more. I don’t want greedy people; I want hungry people around me.”
And as for players going the other way, he commented: “There weren’t any phone calls on the day. There was interest in one of the players going out to a Conference team, and there was a bid put into the football club in the early stages of the week for another player.
“We told him about that, but he decided he wanted to stay here and help us to fight for a place in the play-offs. That’s the type of response you want.
“If we do have players here who want to take a loan move going forward their option will be to go to the National League. There was interest from a couple of clubs in Mark [Ellis] but there was nothing that suited him at this particular time. I think it was Tranmere who said they were potentially going to look somewhere else.”
And with the new additions already embedding themselves in the squad, he told us: “I have to manage the group because I know there will be some disappointed players come 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
“I’ll deal with that by making myself available. If anybody has anything to ask, they can come and see me. I had a conversation with all of the players today [Thursday] and I told them that what I need now is a total buy-in from everybody.
“If they aren’t in the eleven, or the eighteen, I don’t want them to get off the bus, because they could be right back in it the following week. All players want to play and all of them here now have attributes they will feel make them worthy of being involved. That’s exactly the competitive environment we want.”
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