The transfer window has closed and most Crystal Palace fans were disappointed by the outcome.
I’ve had some interesting conversations during the past 24 hours with people who are so blindly loyal in their support of Parish, Alexander and Freedman that they simply make no sense whatsoever!
For example, one person said to me “We needed a strike and we got one so why are you moaning?” The implication being that we needed a striker so any striker would do, box ticked, job done! If that were true we could have saved ourselves a few million and kept Freddie Ladapo at the club instead of letting him got to Southend.
He’s a striker, box ticked, job done!
However, I am not in agreement with all of the criticism that has been sent Steve Parish’s way since 23.00 last night.
We failed in our efforts to sign Frederik Rønnow, a goalkeeper for Brøndby… again! In my opinion, had we signed him he wouldn’t have gone into the first team before next season.
In fact, I struggle to see any of our signings being anything more than bench warmers this season because it will take time for them to get match fit and adapt to the extra physicality and quality of the Premier League.
Setting my stall out
Let me start by repeating some things that I have said time and time again over the past 35 days or so, just so there are no misunderstandings.
- I did not expect Parish to spend £30m-£40m on players this January.
- I did not expect Parish to sign big name players for stupidly high wages.
- I did not expect Parish to fanny around and insult other clubs with derisory offers for their players.
- I did not expect Parish to leave everything to the last minute only to run out of time to do deals.
- I did not expect Parish to miss out on signings but say ‘at least we have money for the summer now!’
- I did expect us to get in players who are good prospects for the future.
- I did expect us to strengthen the squad with players who could go straight into the first team.
- I did expect us to sign players who were match fit when signing.
- I did expect us to be sensible and not spend beyond our means.
My view on our signings
|Date of birth: 13 February 1996 (age 21)||Nationality: Swedish|
|Height: 1.78m (5 ft 10 in)||Position: Midfield|
This signing has to go down as one of the strangest signings by Crystal Palace since the infamous Clive Allen/Kenny Sansom swap deal in 1980.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, in the summer of 1980 Arsenal signed Clive Allen from Q.P.R. for £1m to become the first teenager to transfer for a million pounds. A month later, without playing a game for Arsenal he transferred to Crystal Palace in a straight swap for Kenny Sansom.
According to the Swedish Football Federation website, Erdal Rakip signed for Benfica on 19 January 2018, at least that was when his registration was lodged by the club. He left his previous club, Malmö FF at the end of his contract on 31 December 2017.
On 22 January 2018 Rakip signed for Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season with Palace having the option to make the deal permanent for £10m! Something sticks with this deal!
Rakip last played a competitive game on 5 November 2017 when the Swedish season ended. Even if he has been ‘keeping himself fit’ it isn’t the same as competitive training with players and a ball so Rakip will not be up to speed until late February/early March.
I’ve said it before, the Swedish top division is roughly on par with the lower end of the Championship. The standard isn’t great because bigger leagues pick off the best players. Malmö FF has won the Swedish title in 4 out of the last 5 seasons, last season they were head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Will Rakip be able to adapt to a better division and a team that isn’t winning games easily?
On a different note, the Swedish senior team isn’t difficult to get into and they are in need of players to breakthrough. As Rakip has played for a team that has won the league 4 times in the last 5 years why hasn’t he been called up to the senior squad?
Can you imagine an English player playing for Manchester City, United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham and not getting a call-up? Dele Alli was called up within his first 20 games for Tottenham and Marcus Rashford was called up before he played 15 first team games for Manchester United.
Do we think the England squad is easier to get in to than the Swedish squad?
Speaking to friends who know more about Swedish football than I do they say Rakip is a ‘brat’ who thinks he is a better player than he is and they were surprised Benfica signed him. They were even more surprised we signed him 3 days later!
My verdict: Rakip could be one for the future, but as things stand it isn’t our future. I don’t think he’ll be more than a 2nd half substitute in games unless we have an injury crisis.
|Date of birth: 17 February 1994 (age 23)||Nationality: Polish|
|Height: 1.92m (6 ft 4 in)||Position: Defence|
|Lechia Dzierżoniów||2011-12||III liga||9||1||–||–|
I’m always suspicious of deals that involve players who sign for ‘undisclosed’ fees. There’s just something about it that seems shady to me.
That said, I have to admit I don’t know much about Jach or Polish football. That said Jach is a tall physical defender who has been capped by his country at senior level.
Jach should be closer to match fitness than Rakip because the Polish season mirrors the English league though they had a winter break between 17 December and 17 January.
Like Rakip, it will take Jach a bit of time to adjust to the English league and get up to match fitness. I don’t expect him to feature as a match starter this season unless injuries force our hand.
My verdict: Like Rakip, Jach is one for the future and won’t be competing for a first-team place this season.
|Date of birth: 5 December 1995 (age 22)||Nationality: Norwegian|
|Height: 1.94m (6 ft 4½ in)||Position: Striker|
The signing of Alexander Sørloth is another curious transfer. Sørloth signed for Midtjylland in the summer of 2017 for £300,000 from Dutch club Groningen. Just 7 months later Palace paid an initial fee of £8.8, possibly rising to £16.5m with add-ons. The transfer was described as ‘crazy’ in Danish sports papers, not in a good way!
The Danish top flight also isn’t the strongest league in the world, in fact, it is on par with the Swedish top flight. The Dutch top flight is a more challenging league and there Sørloth seemed to struggle only scoring 3 goals in 25 games during the 2016-17 season.
Much like Rakip, Sørloth has not played since 11 December when the Danish league started their winter break, he was scheduled to play again on 9 February so he’ll need to get match fit and adapt to the Premier League.
I’m in no way writing the player off and he too could be one for the future. Sørloth has more chance of getting game time this season than Rakip or Jach and might even start a game because he is one of two fit strikers we have at the club.
My verdict: I expect Sørloth to be on the bench this season and be an impact substitute in the 2nd half.
Inconsistent transfer policy
So what happened? Did Parish/Freedman/Alexander panic at the lack of progress in signing a striker and ended up paying over the odds to sign Sørloth?
We all want these three signings to be a success and if they are we’ll end up paying £16.2m more for Sørloth than he cost 7 months ago and £10m for Rakip who cost £0 just 2 weeks ago.
It just doesn’t make sense that we’d penny pinch when it came to signing a keeper for £8m yet we seem to be happy to throw money around for players who we could have got for a hell of a lot weeks ago.
I just do not see the logic in our transfer policy.
That said, I do applaud that we have got in 3 players who might go on to be decent players for the club in the future, I just wish we’d have got in one or two who could make a difference to the team now as we are battling relegation.