January transfer deadline day is always the ugly duckling of deadline days when compared to its summer equivalent.
You’ve heard all the cliches now: it’s a difficult market to buy in, clubs who are active tend to be struggling and transfer fees are often inflated with a hint of panic in the air.
All of those ring true, which makes Everton’s conservative approach to this month’s window all the more prudent. They may not have signed a single player, but that doesn’t mean the window wasn’t a success.
Marcel Brands is still looking to unravel the mess caused by two years of chaotic excess, starting by getting a grip on a spiralling wage bill and bringing an end to the club’s scattergun approach to transfers. We’ve all seen the reported wages currently being paid to players nowhere near the first-team squad, representing a shocking failure of fiscal management.
Persuading rival clubs to pay money for some of our over-paid flops was always going to be a challenge, so loan deals were always going to be more likely.
Cuco Martina is out of contract at the end of the season anyway, but presumably Feyenoord will cover the majority of his wages for the next six months. The same scenario applies to Oumar Niasse, who left to join Cardiff on loan. The deal includes the option to buy, though that is likely to rest on whether the Bluebirds can avoid relegation.
Yannick Bolasie shocked us all by opting to cut his loan at Aston Villa short and return to Finch Farm, very much like the unpopular kid gatecrashing a party. He was never going to get back into Marco Silva’s plans, so getting him out on loan again to Anderlecht must be considered a plus.
A trio of youngsters made loan moves to gain valuable experience - few could complain with deals for Anthony Evans, Callum Connolly and Beni Baningime to go with Mason Holgate and Kieran Dowell’s moves earlier in the window.
The one transfer that dominated the month though was one that never happened - Idrissa Gueye to PSG.
Everton are reportedly furious at the French champions behaviour during the window, as they attempted to unsettle Gueye and get him on the cheap.
Everton reportedly valued Gueye at £40m, though I imagine they would have done a deal in the region of £35m, making PSG’s initial bid of £21.5m all the more laughable.
The Toffees deserve credit for refusing to be bullied into accepting a bid below their asking price. Gueye certainly isn’t irreplaceable, there are plenty out there who feel the side have better balance without him, but the club isn’t going to let him go on the cheap either.
Then there is what Everton would do with the money - we need a striker, a midfielder and right-back, but are they available this month? And if so do they represent good value? The answer seems to be no. Having £30million sat in the bank with a Idrissa Gueye-shaped hole in the midfield is not ideal either.
All this was helped by Everton’s utterly average season to date. Out of both cups, nowhere near the top six but safe from relegation, the Toffees are not doing anything this season so there is no need panic.
All these scenarios would have been played out and considered by Brands - and I’m confident he has made the right call.
If is the very definition of a transition year and a necessary one if we are to dig ourselves out of the financial hole we got buried in by Steve Walsh and co.
I have every confidence that Brands’ plans for the summer are well advanced - the Dutchman did remarkably well to reshape the squad as much as he did last year, despite only joining the club in May. Who knows what he can do with a full year to prepare?
We’d all love to see big-money signings and deadline day excitement, but just as patience is needed with Marco on the pitch, patience is needed with Marcel off it.