In couple of weeks we have seen numerous names being banded about by the media linked with our fine club. Some legitimate, others plucked from thin air. Two names we can be fairly sure Wanderers were in for however are left back, James Meridith and right back, Conor Mclaughlin. Each player was confirmed to be 'on the radar' of Wanderers by reputable sources and each name made sense. We needed fullbacks, these two are fullbacks.
If recent reports are correct, having already lost the race for Meridith to Millwall (having allegedly cooling our interest) we are set to lose the race for Mclaughlin to the exact same club if the media are to be believed.
Whilst we have signed a left and right back this window, I can't but help but see the symbolic nature of the failed attempts to sign these two players. Wanderers for years worked on a policy of signing 'names'. Players from clubs with a loftier stature than our own, as if playing for a big club made them more likely to be a better player. It was a legacy left by the previous administration that we frequently wound up with handsomely paid; noteable names, former 'big club' players and has-beens many of whom turned out to be utter rubbish. This is not to say that players from big clubs are de-facto 'bad'. Many young players slip through the nets at big clubs and go on to far exceed expectations. These types should be sought after as keenly as any. Yet some players will rely on their former clubs name to secure transfers, not their own personal qualities.
Whilst we went shopping for those has-beens, smartly managed teams were looking for young potential, players with consistently high performances and the best of the lower leagues. Teams who managed themselves like this (Burnley for example) now sit above us in the League and it is all because they paid attention to one universal rule, inertia.
Inertia, (the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion), is a powerful and under credited force in football. So many fates have been sealed and stories written because of the potent nature of this phenomena. It's why 1 relegation can often mean another shortly after. It's why one promotion can yield a surprisingly successful season afterwards. It’s why strikers who score, score more and it's why players in upwards trajectories in their careers are more likely to improve than player's going the opposite way. Of course it has been given many different names; form, hot streak and team spirit but it all boils down to the simple property of inertia.
So why focus on these two players? Meridith and Mclaughlin were both in the League 1 team of the year last year. Both have shown decent form in the seasons before this. Both were hungry and keen to make the step up and both would have brought that form, confidence and hunger to this team. They were exactly the type of signings we should be making. To have possibly lost out on both is not only a blow in terms of the quality they would have had but also a symbolic loss for the new...ish regime to signal their intent of making the smart moves.
It must be said it is positive to see attempts being made for such players. This in itself is a statement to me at least that they know the right type of player to be signing. It should also be added that the window, whilst no means young, is far from over and there are still, increasingly rarer, good signings to be made. Finally it is no slight on Andy Taylor and Mark Little at all. We all know the quality that Taylor will bring to this squad and you would have been hard pressed to find a fan who didn't want him back this year. Little I know...well little about and I think it's always important to greet new signings with an open mind and give them the chance to prove themselves.
Would you rather see talent making a step up or try and grab those that have been playing at a higher level? Let us know in the comment section below.