It’s well known that the January transfer window is a difficult one to deal in, which is why Paul Severn believes we should have a little patience…


Darren Pratley and Peter Whittingham may have never worn the Garibaldi red of Nottingham Forest, but both players are engrained in our story. The January transfer window has become a time of frustration for Forest fans, where hope seems to grind to a shuddering and disappointing halt.

But does it need to be like this? Billy Davies is certainly a manager who attaches great importance to the January transfer window. He has clearly indicated in press conferences that the plan this season was to remain in the chasing pack before bringing in added “firepower” for the final push. There is no doubt that there are some examples of this working — Southampton bought Billy Sharp in the 2012 transfer window and his nine goals in 15 appearances were a massive boost in their successful promotion challenge. That is the kind of impact Davies is counting on.

However, Forest fans should know from experience that it is very tough to strengthen in this window. The market tends to revolve around players who are out of favour and/or out of form, or foreign players desperate for a shot at the Premier League. Davies in his last spell called for “stellar” signings, however, this ploy failed when ambitious deals for Pratley and Whittingham were quickly scuppered after an ill-advised radio interview by Mark Arthur. The same tactic failed again last August when Forest could not sign Middlesbrough’s best player, Grant Leadbitter.

So Forest are now perhaps dealing with the reality of this window – chasing foreign and out of favour forwards and this is where we need to be very careful. The ‘panic buy’ is part of football folklore. Every club has made them and they are costly. When Forest paid big wages to sign Ismael Miller and Matt Derbyshire I was concerned that neither had a record of sustained goalscoring. Both had had flashes of success, but had bounced around different clubs on loan, in and out of the team, and had never compiled a truly outstanding goalscoring season. These are the types of deals we desperately need to avoid this window. Saddling the club with these contracts financially affect every transfer window and negotiations for years to come.

Fans should not be pushing for any old signing so they can cheer behind a poor, bedraggled Sky Sports News reporter standing outside the ticket office. Deals should be made for good professionals who can help the club for years to come – like we did with Eric Lichaj, Henri Lansbury and Greg Halford (all summer signings incidentally). It should also be remembered that any new signing may need time to settle – as we have seen with Algerian Djamel Abdoun and youngster Jamie Paterson. In January it is even harder to do deals when the stakes are higher. Adaptation time is nearly zero with no pre-season or friendlies to hone fitness and tactical integration to the side.

One common complaint about Forest’s transfer dealings is the lack of experienced senior figures – such as a director of football or a chief executive. It is certainly true that most major clubs have these figures in place. However, much like transfers, we must make sure we get the right figures. These executives cost a lot of money and we know that life was no easier in the transfer market when we had Arthur, supported by David Pleat. Even though Davies’ advisor Jim Price is not the figure many want involved with the club, we certainly don’t want to bring in a Peter Ridsdale or Gianni Paladini either. Even if you have world-class contacts, it remains very easy to blow millions on the likes of Erik Lamela at Tottenham. In the meantime it seems that Fawaz Al Hasawi wants to try to do the without such figures, and the way some clubs waste money, you can perhaps understand why. He wants to spend his money and run his club more directly. Time will tell whether he is successful, but executives may not be the answer to all our problems.

Forest have severely restricted the amount of media access to the club. Through the short press conferences after matches and the gentle interviews with favoured media representative Natalie Jackson, it is hard for fans to understand in detail the club’s plans, the budget and how they plan to handle Financial Fair Play rules. This has, in my opinion, added to the frenzied speculation that accompanies deadline day. Some fans think we may sign Jordan Rhodes, others say we have no money. We simply do not know the reality.

But this does not mean that we should create a silly, juvenile and negative atmosphere come January 31st if we don’t get all the signings we need. Everybody wants to see Sky Sports News announce an exciting new signing at 11:50pm, but we should remember that no signing is sometimes better than the wrong signing – not just for this season, but the following seasons too. There’s nothing to be gained from berating the club at this stage of the season.

It goes without saying that abusing Al Hasawi is totally out of order. Forest fans should have learnt from bitter experience that even the richest of men have a point at which they will pull the plug. That sadly happened with Nigel Doughty and it must not happen again. Doughty quit Twitter and then Forest after abuse and we are seeing the first signs that Al Hasawi is getting irritated with some of the comments he is receiving. These owners give their own money to pay the wages of the failed signings that fans clamoured for in the past. We expect our club to be run prudently, so everybody, no matter what their views, needs to play their part and ensure only the very best additions are made to what is already an excellent squad. We need to show patience and maturity to ensure that this transfer window is successful for Nottingham Forest’s future – and not just for Jim White’s circus in the Sky Sports News studio.

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Image: Courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom/

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