Will Watt: Transfer troubles sound so familiar

Blackpool's Neil McDonald
Blackpool's Neil McDonald
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“The window closes at the end of January but the loan window opens a week after that, so we always have that.”

The words of Neil McDonald yesterday – and of just about every Blackpool manager for the last six years about this time in January.

It’s incredible just how similar the transfer troubles McDonald is having now are to those of the past. The big difference is this time I’m not sure there’s a way out.

In previous years, it’s mainly been down to Karl Oyston’s way of handling transfer negotiations, something he was quick enough to tell everyone about.

His one-man crusade against agents was something he’d boasted about in public as well as his habit of squeezing every last penny out of a deal.

In those days people wanted to come and play for Blackpool, with the Championship and at one point the lure of Ian Holloway as the bait.

Now there are very, very few reasons for a player to consider Bloomfield Road.

Believe it or not, it’s led to quite a major shift from chairman Oyston, who must be starting to worry about Pool’s lack recovery this season – at least I hope he is.

Pool signed two players last week, and were forced to double the wages of one of them and even pay his agent.

When I talk about doubling wages, it’s hardly breaking the bank – we are talking around £700 to £1,300 a week, not tens of thousands.

Still, it’s something Oyston would have been very reluctant to do in the past.

What it probably shows is there’s a tiny bit of a willingness to improve, which at least is a positive sign.

Sadly, signing players for £75,000 is hardly having a real go at promotion in a window which has seen Coventry sign former Liverpool and West Ham man Joe Cole.

What must be worrying Oyston is that now he’s paying agents, paying transfer fees and offering in some cases double wages, Pool are still struggling to attract players.

I’ listened to McDonald’s press conference yesterday (listen is all I can do due to my continued exclusion) and he sounded totally down in the dumps.

The fact he’s already talking about the loan window opening should send alarm bells, just weeks after he said he wanted “four or five” permanent signings.

Who knows what’s actually going on behind closed doors at Bloomfield Road or whether Oyston is making serious attempts to improve the club and its reputation? But, boy, does he need to.

The high horse isn’t something Blackpool’s chairman can sit on any more – Pool certainly are no longer the envy of the Football League.

So if Oyston seriously has no intentions of leaving, he needs to look at the deep-rooted problems which have caused this huge decline.

The team, the crowds, the results and surely the revenue are all set to show huge declines this year.

Manager McDonald has publicly admitted he’s had players point-blank refuse to even consider a move to Bloomfield Road and it’s time for Oyston to look in the mirror and ask why.

He needs a plan quickly, and if he has one it’s time he told his paying customers exactly what it is – that or actually put the club up for sale.

Oyston has his finger on the button of the life-support machine the club is currently on.

Another relegation and he may as well turn it off. Instead I’d urge him to find a cure quickly.