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Club News

MANAGER: It provides a challenge

Paul Simpson's thoughts on transfer windows

2 September 2023

Club News

MANAGER: It provides a challenge

Paul Simpson's thoughts on transfer windows

2 September 2023

The rules, guidelines and regulations surrounding the transfer window are clear, but it doesn’t change the fact that the enforced deadlines can lead to some frustrating and anxious days as clubs battle to secure the signings they feel they need to cover a half-season of action.

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And as managers and recruitment staff work within the boundaries, it’s hard to find many who are fans of a format that can lead to a sense of feeling rushed or panicked.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” manager Paul Simpson said. “You look at the top end of football and what the Saudi league is doing, I read today there’s talk of £118m for Salah then £1.5m a week, which is outrageous.

“I’m talking about how do League One clubs afford what they’re doing, but where is that money coming from? It makes it all really difficult.

“It’s difficult for us anyway because we’re working on a tight budget, and I knew that when I came in. We pulled up trees last year when we didn’t think we were going to, and we’re delighted to be where we are.

“Now we’ve got an even bigger challenge. We enquired about a player recently and we were told by his agent that he had three other League One clubs who were prepared to offer him double what we’re talking about as a maximum wage here, because of the financial fair play and the rules that are in place.

“We’re fighting against that and we’re fighting to try and compete, so I’ll say it again, it isn’t easy and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

“We’ve just got to keep working as hard as we have been and hope that something drops for us, whether that’s another player or a little bit of luck on the grass. Whatever it might be, we’ll keep working to try and achieve that.”

When it comes to the players, it can force them into situations where they either rush a move or choose to wait, and end up spending most of the time on the bench or in the stands as a result.

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“Without a doubt, we could see that type of thing, and we might even be in that situation with players we’ve got in our club who don’t want to go out on loan, but they might not play a game,” he commented.

“I’m a big believer as a footballer you play football, that’s the way I see it. I had to make decisions through my career where I wasn’t playing at one level and somebody from the level below wanted to take me, and I went because I’m a big believer that you have to play football if you want to be a proper footballer.

“That’s changed now, it’s not the same. That could happen, I can’t influence that or do anything about it. I’ll keep working with the players we’ve got until something changes, and I’m really happy with the way the players are working.

“They’re coming in and doing their job as we would expect them to, I’m watching them on a match day and they’re putting everything into it and trying their best to achieve something.

“Sadly it just hasn’t happened so far in terms of winning games, but they’re really fine margins. Last week was a fine margin where we got punished for an error, Oxford away was a fine margin, and we’re doing lots of good things.

“You get judged in both 18-yard boxes and we’ve let ourselves down in both boxes, which is why we’re sitting where we are.”

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With him having spoken about the difficulties posed by this particular transfer window at his weekly press conference, he said: “I think what happened last season, even before the end of the season we were starting to make enquiries about players, but we couldn’t go the full tilt because we didn’t know if it was League One or Two.

“We didn’t know what the budget was going to be, we didn’t know where we were going to be. Then when you do get promoted you start looking at a different level of player, especially when Kristian Dennis and Omari Patrick left, it opens up another window that you’ve got to try and fill.

“I still think those were the right decisions. The biggest thing for me is the jump in finances that’s gone on, maybe with being League One but maybe the market as well. It’s just gone absolutely crazy.

“I know the Saudi league and the money they’re talking seems a million miles from where we are, but I don’t know whether that’s made everybody a bit crazy with the finances, it’s gone through the roof.

“We’re in that market where we know what we can afford, we know what we can afford to pay, so we’re looking, and they’re coming up with ridiculous figures. So it’s really frustrating.

“Thankfully we’re sat in a position where the directors are prepared to go and put the money forward for it, hopefully they stick with us and they keep doing that.”

Does it unsettle the players as all of this is going on?

“I’m not picking that up if I’m honest,” he told us. “I’m not seeing that, I’m seeing a group of players who keep coming in and trying to do things properly and work hard.

“I expect that, they’re professionals, so as long as they keep doing that there’s no issue from me. We’ve just got to keep talking, encouraging, working with them, and then I’ve got to try and pick the right group for Saturday.

“Everybody has an opinion, but I’ve got to do what I think is right. If we lose, everybody questions it after the game, but I’ve got to pick it before the game and I hope I get it right.”

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