CANVASS the opinions of most football managers and there will be unanimity regarding their loathing of transfer windows.
Rotherham United chief Paul Warne certainly brackets himself firmly among that number – with counterparts Chris Wilder and Tony Pulis also publicly making their feelings known they are no fans of the current system either.
Fans may lap up the drama and brinkmanship of the biannual event that is deadline day, which serves as a footballing soap opera, with Sky Sports’ presenter Jim White acting as an unofficial master of ceremonies, complete with his ubiquitous yellow tie.
But for managers behind closed doors attempting to orchestrate business, the sight of agents calling the shots, fees or terms suddenly increasing at the 11th hour and goalposts being metaphorically moved on a regular basis holds limited appeal.
For some, like Warne, it represents the tip of the iceberg regarding a window system which is inherently ‘flawed’ in his view.
Predominantly in the market for loan signings, Warne played a game of frustration which continued right up until the final few hours of the winter window, which ended unsuccessfully.
Prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, a route of salvation would have arrived in the shape of the emergency loan window, which allowed clubs in the EFL and National Leagues to sign players on deals ranging between 28 and 93 days in two periods outside of the regular transfer windows.
FIFA’s decision to scrap the system in a bid to protect the “sporting integrity of competitions”, has had a particularly profound effect on clubs like Rotherham.
Warne observed: “What happens now is that bigger teams just end up collecting players.
“In fairness to some of the clubs I spoke to, they have said: ‘I know he (a Millers target) is not playing, but if something happens down the line, he might play’.
“All the other clubs in the Championship are happy to carry a roster of 40 players. We cannot carry that many, no chance. It is not a criticism of the club, we are just not big enough for that.
“You speak to clubs and they do not want to let anyone go as they cannot get them back. In the old days, they would say: ‘have him, we have got a 24-hour call back – have him for a month and see how it is.’ Then you can try before you buy and it is a win-win.
“What also irritates me is if a player plays for his own team in the first few weeks of the season and then goes to another club on loan and comes back, he can only go back to the same club (on loan).
“With certain players (targets), I have also thought: ‘I would take him, he would be a great acquisition.’ But I will look and think: ‘He has already played for ‘x and y’ so he cannot play for another club.
“This system is built so the richest win. They can get anyone they like and outbid anyone and keep as many players as they want. I feel for teams who are even further down the food chain than us.”
On the Millers’ situation last month, he added: “At the start of the window, I wanted wingers and a striker because out of my four wingers, one had an injury, one got injured, one had a long-term injury and just one was fit.
“They are all nearly back now, so it is not such an issue now. But if I did sign a winger, when all my wingers would come back, they might be better than him and he would have come for nothing.
“Whereas I could have had him for just a month and he could have played. If he was excellent, I could have kept him. If not, he could have gone back.
“I had no intention of signing a left-back in the window. Everyone would say: ‘why are you signing one? Joe Mattock is your most consistent player?’
“But Joe could break his ankle tomorrow and then I have no chance of getting a left-back in. That could happen in any position and you have to wait for these windows.”
Deadline week proved particularly galling for the Millers chief, who had agreed a deal with a loan target and his manager, only for the club to have a subsequent change of heart.
Another loan target was off-limits until a surprise late phone call on deadline day resurrected the possibility of business, but the move failed to transpire.
It was a situation which was compounded by the Millers’ difficulties on the pitch in a January which saw them lose four successive games in all competitions after their win over Preston.
Warne said: “When I came into the window, I said if I kept my group together, I would be pretty happy. If I had kept my group together and we’d picked up two wins in January and we were six points off the relegation zone, most fans would think I’d have got it right or the best I could.
“It is just unfortunate that the transfer window has not been as successful as I would have wanted and that it ran side by side with not great results.
“It just increases the pressure on the team to win and the recruitment team and myself to bring players in. Whereas, if you had the situations independently, neither are a bigger deal. Together, they make this volcano erupt.”