Football's freak show of the January transfer window is over for another year... now let's get back to the football

Enzo Fernandez
Chelsea paid £106.8m for Enzo Fernandez in January 2023 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The circus has left town.

And for once not many tickets were bought for football’s freak show.

The January transfer window has ‘slammed shut’, the yellow ties have been put away for another six months and now all there is left to talk about is football.

Much to the disappointment of many, the Premier League spending in January was down to its lowest point since 2012 (outside of Covid).

In total the 20 Premier League clubs spent a combined £100m on transfers - down from the astronomically high £715m spent 12 months ago and 11 Premier League clubs did not spend a penny on permanent transfers. 

Timo Werner

Tottenham added Timo Werner to their squad on loan in January (Image credit: Getty Images)

In fact that collective figure is less than the £106.8m Chelsea splashed on Enzo Fernandez last January.

For a number of reasons it seems clubs were being more frugal with their money and maybe realising that there is not great value to be had in the mid-season window and that more bad business is done than good.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and Virgil van Dijk, Luis Suarez, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic are a handful of examples of excellent signings made in January over the years. But for every Van Dijk there are about 50 moves that have not worked out or not proved value for money.

The problem with the January window is that it is more about media hype and less about actual football.

With the way the media landscape is currently, every news outlet, social media accounts and YouTuber drives up the hype in search of views and clicks. And much like decent January signings there are a handful of good journalists who put in the work and are accurate with their reporting. But there is a lot of nonsense pumped out by unreliable outlets and charlatans who drive up hype for their own means and that ultimately leads to disappointment among some fans.

Kalvin Phillips

West Ham snapped up England midfielder Kalvin Phillips on loan from Manchester City (Image credit: Getty Images)

And for what? So that one set of fans can have bragging rights over another for ‘winning the transfer window’ whatever that means. The last time I checked the winners and losers in football were still decided on the pitch - but the January window provides an unnecessary distraction in helping portray this idea that spending the most money is what leads to success. If that was the case then Chelsea would have won the league by now, but they are nowhere near the conversation for title winners this term despite all the money they have spent.

And all this is happening in the backdrop of a cost of living crisis in this country.

I do genuinely believe that there are some fans who care more about who a club signs and where a certain player might move to rather than what actually happens on the pitch. And that is a sad indictment of where football and society is.

Here is an insider tip from someone who has spent two decades working in the media; If you ever see a headline with a question mark at the end of it then the story is almost certainly being overhyped and the answer to that question is always ‘no’.

Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra

Manchester United signed Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in January 2006 and both proved to be successes at the club  (Image credit: Alamy)

It has felt over the years that some outlets - especially Sky Sports - have tried to turn Transfer Deadline Day into football’s equivalent of Draft Day in American sports and drive the hype with countdown clocks and spendometers on the screen.

But for once it seems like Premier League clubs were being sensible and seeing the repercussions of falling foul of the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules and not overreaching by getting caught up in the hype.

Now we are out of the window and the clubs know what players they have at their disposal between now and May, we will see who the best managers are on the training pitch and the ones who can get the best out of their players.

We have an exciting title race at the top of the table with Liverpool and Manchester City battling for the title. Lower down the teams currently in the bottom three are all fighting for their lives with plenty of teams can still get dragged into it, but whatever happens between now and the end of the season, club owners can rest easy knowing that their chequebook can remain closed and there will be no bad business done.

The circus has left town, now let’s get back to the football.

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