Malky’s January Fire Sale

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What is critical……is to eliminate problem personalities – or what he calls the “s—-” – from the dressing room. It’s not just the 11 who play, If you have half a dozen s—- around you’ve no chance. You can’t win. They’ll contaminate the rest of them and bring the whole club down. They’ll be negative everywhere, getting in to good lads and bringing them down to their level. If you walk in and see one or two s—- then you’re watching them, watching who they talk to and what they are doing. They suck as much energy out of you as anything.”

These revealing Harry Redknapp quotes come from an article on the Daily Telegraph site on the key to survival in the Premier League.

Malky Mackay would be wise to listen to Redknapp’s words. He will be aware of what happened to his predecessor at Wigan. He has the January transfer window as a means of moving some of those elements on.

Mackay hardly had a positive arrival at the club and has yet to stamp his mark on the style of play. What we saw on Saturday against Norwich was players going through the motions. A spiritless and gutless performance. It is not the first of that type that we have seen this season, but one expects a new manager to inject new energy and change the style of play. Why has Mackay not had more effect on the performances up to this point? What can we expect any changes over the coming weeks?

Mackay has now been in charge for three matches. His record is D1 L2. The 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough was the best performance of the three, not only in the result but in the way the team played. Mackay had brought in the “old guard”, only two players signed by Uwe Rosler making the starting lineup. Not surprisingly there was more cohesion and the team played with more spirit than of late. He continued to rely on the old guard in the losses to Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich, but the response was poor.

It could be said that Mackay has used his most experienced players in a time of crisis. The conspiracy theorist will say that he has given players who undermined Rosler the chance to show their mettle. Interestingly the lineup against Norwich included nine players who were born or raised in the British Isles. Moreover the two from overseas- Figueroa and Fortune- have been in England for a long time.

The upcoming game at Watford will surely provide an indication of Mackay’s future plans. Given the continuation of poor results he is not in a position where he can continue with the old guard. Confidence is low and even good players are looking poor at the moment. However, Mackay clearly has to shuffle his pack since the players he has used so far have largely let him down.

Mackay recently mentioned ten players being out of contract for Latics at the end of the season, suggesting they will be trying to impress him enough to be offered a new contract. However, the reality is that likes of Ali Al-Habsi, Shaun Maloney and Ivan Ramis are likely to be lured by other clubs who can offer them better deals. Most of those players are in their late twenties or in their thirties and will demand relatively high salaries, which Latics will find hard to afford with a drop of £9m in parachute payments next season.

It is not only the out of contract players who could depart in January. Dave Whelan has always said that any player can go if the price is right, but the realities of an unsuccessful season and an upcoming drop in revenues could well mean that players go at bargain prices.

One of the reasons cited for Rosler’s lack of success this season was that his squad was too large, leading to too much squad rotation and dissatisfied players who were not getting playing time. Mackay has already acknowledged that the squad is large. However, stats from the transfermarkt site suggest that Latics’ squad is around average size for the division. Its average age of 27.6 years is the second highest behind the squad of Millwall at 28.9 years.

However, this is not to suggest the squad is not too large. Too many clubs in the Championship are spending well over what they should be on player salaries, given the revenues they are receiving. Whelan will be keen to cut down the squad to a financially more manageable size, probably around 23-24 players.

We can expect a fire sale in January. If what ‘Arry was referring to has been the case at Latics then it might take until February for the passion to return to Latics’ play.

Let’s hope this is not the case.

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