The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO -

IT WILL be a quiet trans­fer dead­line day at Steve­nage this year. Our bud­get is spent and we have to try to move play­ers out to keep our books bal­anced, not in to fuel our cam­paign. Be­cause we fell short of round three in the FA Cup this year, our fi­nances aren’t as strong as we would like and our abil­ity in the trans­fer mar­ket is nil.

Else­where, the trans­fer dead­line keeps clubs very busy. It can feel like the last chance to turn round their for­tunes. As we pre­pared for our game against Ox­ford yes­ter­day, the news­reel just kept turn­ing. Track­ing the team that we might be play­ing against changed ev­ery day. First it was Joe Skarz in from Rother­ham. Then his ex-team mate Richard Brind­ley. And then an on/off saga in­volv­ing Ty­rone Bar­nett.

I signed Tim Sills in Jan­uary to lift us to the Con­fer­ence ti­tle. I signed Craig Reid in Jan­uary help lift us to pro­mo­tion from League 2. The right work in Jan­uary can cer­tainly pay div­i­dends.

The big BUT is that there are not nec­es­sar­ily great deals to be done in Jan­uary in the lower leagues. It is of­ten play­ers who are out of con­tract in June who are avail­able. They are look­ing for long term deals. So mak­ing Jan­uary sign­ings can of­ten be much more ex­pen­sive than mak­ing sum­mer sign­ings when free agent play­ers are in a much more pressed po­si­tion; the next month their in­come stops!

If your club doesn’t make sign­ings, don’t give up hope. It can be a sign that the manager is con­fi­dent in his squad. That he has seen green shoots of progress.

Back at the end of Novem­ber, we de­cided to in­crease our train­ing work­loads and we man­aged to win 16 points in seven games and move to the top of the six game form league. It wasn’t about chang­ing our play­ers over. It was about chang­ing their men­tal­ity and their foot­balling and phys­i­cal prow­ess.

The fi­nal three months of the sea­son are where prizes are won and lost. Con­ti­nu­ity can be as big a weapon as any in get­ting the job done.

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