Leroy Rosenior: Experience will be the key to Bristol City's survival in the short run
THE transfer window is now in full swing and I thought it was very interesting to hear what Steve Lansdown had to say about the way Bristol City are looking at their recruitment policy these days.
Players predominantly under the age of 24 appear to be the way ahead, according to Steve, and I must say I did agree with some of the ideas and reasoning behind these plans.
You only have to look at Chelsea and the way they have approached the situations with Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to see that looking to youth is the way things are increasingly headed.
That is all very well and good, but the furore surrounding Lampard's impending departure suggests that sometimes a player can't solely be judged on their age alone.
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It is certainly the right way to look at things over the long-term, but the problem is, you have to balance that against what your immediate needs are sometimes.
I'm not suggesting that City should go out and throw money away on players that have seen better days or ones living on past reputation, but sometimes, particularly in the situation the club currently find themselves in, a short-term fix is required to stabilise things in order to allow those longer-term strategies to flourish.
Would I trust a team filled with players of 24 and under to come up with the goods in a relegation scrap? The short answer is: no. It is a very fine balance, but if a senior player is available, who can have a positive effect on and off the pitch, even in the short-term, then I'd say you have to sign him when you're scrapping to avoid the drop.
The younger players learn a lot from the older players in the way they train and prepare and experience and know-how is obviously vital in a relegation battle.
Another problem I see with the plan is this: are the best 20 or 21 year-olds going to want to come to Bristol City? It is a great policy on paper, but a difficult one to put into practice.
I can understand where Steve is coming from when you consider City have been haemorrhaging money in recent seasons.
Obviously, you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and ideally you want to be looking at signing players as an investment that you would like to see some sort of return on further down the line.
At this moment in time, however, I feel that City could certainly do with investing in a little bit of experience before the end of January.
I've seen the likes of Kyle McFadzean of Crawley, Scott Wooton of Manchester United and Liam Kelly from Kilmarnock linked with moves to Ashton Gate this week – good players no doubt, but the sort needed in the muck and bullets of a relegation battle? I'm not so sure.
One player I think probably would have been an astute purchase is Neil Danns. The Leicester midfielder showed enough in the few games he played before Christmas to suggest that he may have a positive impact on the rest of City's season, so it was a massive blow that he decided on a loan move to Huddersfield.
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward, meanwhile, also has his hands tied to a degree over at the Memorial Stadium. I think it has been well-documented that Rovers are not looking to implement a similar policy at the current time – I think that squad already has enough players under the age of 24!
John has already said several times that he is looking to add some experience and know-how to his ranks – although that is not going to be easy.
Having an ability to offer only short-term deals obviously leaves John at a slight disadvantage when in competition with other clubs for players because everyone on the market is going to be looking for as much security as possible.
Of course, loans are the other option, but as John has already said himself there is only five loan players you can play in any match-day squad. If John needs to bring in another four or five players, then, some of those are going to have to be on permanent contracts. John can try and sell the club to them by saying it is an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window or by guaranteeing some sort of extension should Rovers stay up at the end of the season – but it is still a gamble for a player to take.
I hope John can land the targets he is after and I also hope that he can get them in quickly. Ideally, John would have the time to wait until the end of the window when the bargaining power tends to shift from player to club.
Unfortunately, Rovers don't have the luxury of time on their side with three difficult games to come before the end of January ahead of a crucial game in the context of the relegation battle when Barnet arrive at the Memorial Stadium on a Friday night at the beginning of next month.