To be honest, I’m not sure anyone (with the possible exception of Sky Sports News!) enjoys the January transfer window – but they seem to be more and more important to clubs, and a bad window can define the season.
You can see the debate now about whether a perceived weak January window undermined Forest’s chances of reaching the Championship play-offs.
Generally speaking, I think that any business done in the first half of a window is more likely to be successful and sensible.
The closer you get to the end of a window, the more likely it’ll be desperate, panicky and reckless.
This is the opposite of what’s portrayed on Sky.
What I always detested was the impression given that if your club fails to make a signing on the final day of a window that they are an embarrassment and that you – the fan – have been badly let down.
In truth, the opposite is true.
But sometimes, a club needs to sell players – and that was the case with the Reds in January 2012.
Often, a selling club can increase prices towards the end of the window – if they know that the buying club has that desperation about them.
Forest had to sell striker Patrick Bamford and defender Wes Morgan, according to then-manager Steve Cotterill.
“I’d had plenty of meetings with (Chairman) Frank Clark, (Chief Executive) Mark Arthur and (Finance Director) John Pelling in January.
“It was after Nigel Doughty had withdrawn from running the club.
“They all made it pretty clear that if we didn’t sell Wes and Patrick, we didn’t have enough money to get past the end of February.
“We sold Patrick for £1.5 million – it was a joke that’s all we got, to be honest. But they knew we had to sell.
“With Wes, Leicester had bid £500,000 and that had been on the table for much of January.
“But they came back in on the final day and doubled their bid, as I knew they would. I’d been telling Frank, Mark and John that for most of the month.
“But he was one of the best centre-backs in the Championship, so him going was a huge blow.
“Wes’ transfer was always going to happen though – Wes knew it, we knew it.
“But we couldn’t offer anyone new contracts – Wes was out of contract at the end of the season, as was Garath McCleary, and we weren’t able to offer anything.
“The situation was incredible, really.”
Forest were able to bring players in though, in January.
The loan deal for Greg Cunningham (from Manchester City) was extended – while Scott Wootton (Manchester United), Danny Higginbotham (Stoke) and Adlene Guedioura (Wolves) were all borrowed, with fellow Wolves player George Elokobi joining shortly afterwards.
“The squad was so unbalanced,” says Cotterill. “I wanted another striker in, but we had to use the loans we had left on defenders.
“Defensively, we were down to the bare bones (just before the January transfer window), and we were limping towards the window.
“We’d lost Wes for a few weeks, after getting injured at Crystal Palace in December, and that was a huge blow.
“But slowly, we started to get more of a rapport in defence – between Joel Lynch and Luke Chambers, with the experience of Higginbotham.
“The back four needed a revamp as it was quite light, and at the time it was really tough on them.”
Going to Forest from Portsmouth at such a difficult time for the club must have felt like Cotterill was jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
“I got a call from an agent, asking whether I’d be interested in becoming Forest manager.
“I was a bit wary at the time – so I said that if Forest go to Portsmouth and sort out compensation, I’d be very happy to talk. I wanted to do things the right way.
“That got sorted, so I went to meet Frank, Mark, John and (Director of Recruitment) Keith Burt on a Sunday evening in Nottingham, and we chatted things through.
“I’d had a tough 18 months or so at Portsmouth – we had two lots of administration, and three sets of owners.
“But we’d been doing pretty well considering what we had gone through. I was happy there, but really wasn’t sure what the future would hold.”
Despite all of the difficulties at the City Ground, Cotterill guided Forest from one point clear of the relegation zone – in October – to ten points clear by the end of the season. His old club, Pompey, were relegated.
But Cotterill was sacked in the Summer of 2012 by Forest’s new owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi. I’ll tell the story of that day in the next blog.
Photos: Dan Westwell