Kevin Doyle
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Kevin Doyle on the January transfer window, Wolves’ striker pursuit and Dele Alli’s future

| 15.01.2021

We’ve been chatting with our football ambassador Kevin Doyle to discuss all things January transfer window, from the importance on keeping a squad together, to the future of those fringe players looking for a move.

There’s plenty more to come too, looking at the business needing to be done at the top of the table, as well as his thoughts on the talent in the Championship.

With the Premier League looking incredibly tight this season at both ends of the table, do you think it’s more important for those battling at the top of the league to add to their squads in January, or those fighting for survival?

A good window is as important as it is to have good people making those decisions. Doing nothing in the transfer window could be as big a decision as spending a lot of money and signings someone. When a team does nothing, it obviously won’t make the headlines and there’ll be nothing spoken about, but it could turn out to be the best decision they’ve ever made in terms of not unsettling the squad.

At the top of the table, I would say, you’re at the top for a reason. For example, if you’re Liverpool, and you’re one of those players from the last couple of years, you’ve won the Champions League, you’ve won the Premier League, you’d be asking why do you need to sign someone to replace me, I’ve done a job up to here and even if I’m not in the best of form right now, I’ve been loyal and proven my quality. These are all reasons that might go through a player’s head if they sign someone in their position and then it can upset the harmony in the dressing room.

All of those things are taken into account, that’s why there are so many people working on potential transfers behind the scenes, making the tough decisions. They’re not just signing someone for the sake of signing someone, or because they have some extra money in the bank, or because the press and fans are saying they need to sign someone. You’ve got these people making the decisions, usually a transfer committee now at clubs, to put all of these arguments together and come up with a decision.

I would say, typically, it’s more panic stations at the bottom of the table. Those clubs would be trying anything to get out of it, and it’s worth taking the risk where as if you’re fighting at the top of the table, sometimes it’s better to just sit still with what you have and accept that you might struggle with an injury or two, but you’re keeping the harmony in the dressing room which could be all important.

On the other side of the argument, you could say it’s always great to add another face into the dressing room. From my perspective, it was always nice to see new people, you’re with the same squad for a long time in a season, you’re together an awful lot and that’s probably got even more with the circumstances we’re currently dealing with where teams have to spend a lot of time together in their group, their bubble.

So it’s nice to see a new face, even on the training ground, someone different to talk to, to look at and to see in training just to mix things up, and the opposite to what I was saying with upsetting someone, it gets current players on their toes with clubs always looking to improve.

It just has to be the right person with the right personality for the fit of the club. That’s equally as important, because someone might be a fantastic player but a disruptive influencer, it only takes one or two negative voices to bring down a whole squad. So usually, all of that comes into it, and the higher up the table you are, the better the players are you’ll be signings. The players Liverpool and Manchester United will be trying to sign, usually, you’ve weeded out the bad eggs and the bad personalities and you’re only reaching the top because they’ve got the best individuals, with a positive influence off the pitch as well as on it.

It’s always tough decisions that have to be made, but there are some fantastic people deciding. They’ve made their careers these scouts and Directors of Football on their decision making. Liverpool, more than anyone, we’ve seen Virgil van Dijk, what a signing he’s turned out to be, because it was questioned a lot when they signed him, the amount of money they paid for him, whether he was good enough.

In fairness, Liverpool’s signings over the past few years have been fantastic and they have a more modern way of signing players. It was also questioned a lot, when their American owners took over and how they go about signing players by looking at their stats and looking so deeply into every signing they make and how it will affect others within the team. It’s worked for Liverpool and you feel others are steadily trying to copy that, and rightly so because it’s been highly successful.

Your former club Wolves were dealt a heavy blow, losing Raul Jimenez through his horrific injury. Do you think they need to bring in another striker to fill his void, or would you give those already at the club time to prove they can help?

I definitely think it’s worth bringing another number nine in, a proper centre forward. I’ve seen Wolves a fair bit recently since Jimenez has been injured and they’re definitely missing his presence up front.

Daniel Podence is a very good player, but not as a number nine. Fabio Silva is still very young, and physically he doesn’t look ready for the demands of the Premier League yet. He looks very skilful and he does have great ability, but he doesn’t look like a player that’s going to play 90 minutes and take constant knocks and bangs.

The way Wolves play, you need someone that plays the way Jimenez plays. He scored goals for them, and plenty of important goals too, but he’s more than that, he’s such a good player bringing the team up the pitch, holding the ball up, linking play, a real physical number nine which they’re definitely missing at the moment.

It’s difficult though, because who do you sign? You need someone who’s good enough to do the job but when Jimenez comes back, you’ll have a player you’ve probably spent a good bit of money on who’s there and wanting to play. Talking of harmony within the squad again, it’s such a difficult position to be in, and it’s a difficult person to find because everyone wants a centre forward usually as well.

There might be a lot of competition but Diego Costa, to me, looks on paper like he would be able to do that type of job. He’s been a really fantastic player over the years, and he’s that physical number nine hold up player, a bit like Jimenez.

Similar in their role but a different type of player, so he could do it on a short term basis as he’s older and coming to the end of his career as well, he’d know his role and know it wasn’t a long term thing, so from the outside, I’ve spoken about him before talking about Wolves and getting a centre forward in, and he’s the one that pops up and has been spoken about a good bit. It does look like it would be a good fit, and it would suit the situation. He’s a loveable rogue isn’t he?

With the current climate, do you think we’re due to see a relatively quiet window, or could we still expect a few headline transfers such as Dele Alli to PSG?

I think so yeah. Although the Dele Alli one, why would Tottenham keep him now because Mourinho obviously doesn’t fancy him, the way he’s not playing.

It’s going to be more or less fringe players for whatever reason, falling out with managers, clubs looking to get some money, like Tottenham, they’re always looking to bring in money especially since they’ve got a big stadium to pay for and they can’t get anyone in it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Dele Alli moves on.

I just can’t see a big money signing this January, I think everyone’s going to be cagey unless there are bargains out there, or clubs need to get some capital in, but I don’t see a lot of big transfers.

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Drew Goodsell

Drew is a journalism graduate of UEL where he worked as a Business Editor for the university news website. He is a Chelsea fan, but closely follows American sports, being an avid fan of the New York based Knicks (NBA) and Giants (NFL).