Liveblog: January transfer window

The January transfer window is open, and keeping up is a bit of a pain, so rather than trying to write a new post with every rumour, I’ll keep updating this post with bits and pieces.

1 February: Jonte angle


The rules around transfer windows are complex, and while Mick Brown might have problems operating a fax machine, he has had no problem finding an obscure sub-clause called ‘Oh screw it, it’s only Oxford’. This has allowed us to make our fifth signing of the window, outside the window. Bermudan Jonte Smith has joined in what the club called ‘a low-risk’ signing from Lewes. This is either code for ‘proven goalscorer at this level’ or ‘really very cheap’. Which could it be?

Anyway, he seems very happy to have joined, so we’re happy to have him.

31 January: The Vaughan identity?

This is the denouement of a month exhilarating rumour mongering, the thrilling climax of the January transfer window. That is, if drilling your eye-sockets brings you to a thrilling climax. OK, let’s go:

When James Vaughan was called by his agent this morning and was told ‘you’re going down’, he assumed, like us, he was signing for Oxford. It turns out he was going down to the south coast, missing the junction off the A34 with the big brown football sign on it and heading straight to Portsmouth.

Still, after rumours lasting, ooh, nearly seven minutes, it was confirmed that Jerome Sinclair has signed on loan from Watford. “That’s not Antoine Greizmann” said Oxford fans experiencing expectation hyper-inflation your average Venezuelan greengrocer would describe as a bit toppy.

The Ivo Pekalski saga is rapidly becoming Oxford United’s Brexit; KRob is demanding things he has no power to enforce or that Pekalski has any incentive to accept. KRob’s unicorn solution was to tell the Swede to GET ANOTHER CLUB by the 8th January or face ‘lots of running’. 22 solid days on from a red line so passable, it might have been defecated by UKIPs racist-in-chief Gerard Batten, Pekalski is sitting tight asking for money to leave, KRob’s response is to not give it him so he’s going to, um, pay him his salary until the end of the season instead. That’ll show him.

The prospect of KRob’s ‘wow’ signing grew considerably smaller as the transfer window’s witching hour crept unrelentingly closer. We were linked with Bermudan international Jonte Smith from *adjusts glasses and reads at arms length like your mum trying to focus on a Chinese takeaway menu* Lewes. Lewes are currently in the *turns page, turns page, turns page, turns page, scans down* Isthmian League, which for those of you who don’t know is in 1974. Now, before you start scoffing, Smith was a big money signing for Lewes. He was paid for using funds raised through the club’s PayPal account. Seriously.

Then, like a fat kid on a school cross-coutnry run, we gave up on Smith. Where did the rumour come from? We’re not sure, but we reckon Tiger’s involved, so we’re investigating the Bermuda Thai-angle (h/t Keith Harris on Twitter for the inspiration).

Then just as we were microwaving our Ovaltine, suffering man-buns, Batman! Ricky ‘Retirement’ Holmes becomes Ricky ‘Mobile’ Holmes. After posting one of those insufferable Twitter statements about how sorry he was to be leaving Oxford due to his crippling injuries, Ricky Holmes has taken his carefully sculptured beard and gippy back to Gillingham on loan.

And that’s it. No wait. Rather like going to a U2 concert only for them to do an encore of ill-considered homophobic country classics, we close with a story of blank bemusement. Jonathan Mitchell, who left at the start of the month, has gone to Shrewsbury. It’s been that kind of window, I guess.

30 January: He’s not the Messiah…


It was fantasy transfer window signing day on Tuesday when Danny Hylton was suddenly floated by one website and a million ambulance chasing Twitter accounts claiming to have the ‘inside gossip on everything EFL’.

I know I’m not the only one who would willfully entrap Hylton in my basement, spend several hours rutting up against his bare thigh before flaying him from head to foot and smothering his entrails all over my naked torso, but calls for his return feel like a crowd appeasing populist move which can only end badly. But then, I’m still scarred by the Nigel Jemson’s second – eighteen games, no goals – spell with the club.

So, if Hylton isn’t the saviour; what about James Vaughan was also briefly floated as a possible signing from Wigan?

Meanwhile, up in the cold wastelands, ex-loanee, mini-goal grabber Conor McAleny, who ignored our advances to choose Fleetwood Town in 2017, has been slung over to Kilmarnock in the SPL to while away the remaining months of the season.

In, Oh, I Forgot About Him news; Newcastle striker Elias Sorensen signed for Blackpool last week having briefly been courted by KRob.

January 28: Barrel scraping news

You know when you’re expecting a phone call and the phone doesn’t ring; so you pick it up to test if it’s working? Well, that was last week’s frenzied transfer news, a week that was so devoid of anything, we thought the something terrible had happened, like David Kemp delivering Brexit, or something.

Everyone’s second favourite Martinez; Damian/Emiliano, whose record of conceding 3 goals for every Oxford United game he played in is only bettered by the doyenne of butterfingers goalkeeping; Mike Salmon, has gone to injection moulded plastics Reading on loan from Arsenal.

Nicky Wroe; briefly of this parish and purveyor of an absolute zinger away to Wycombe in 2014, has signed for Boston United from Bradford Park Avenue for a fee of four Wagon Wheels and an Etch-a-Sketch.

And finally, Callum O’Dowda, at one point this month a target for Leeds, which got him a contract extension, is being linked to a ‘host’ of Premier League clubs according to a new article in the Bristol Post. The Post don’t go as far as naming any of them, of course. We’re pretty certain that the source of this rumour isn’t O’Dowda’s agent agitating for a panic-buy move to the big leagues, because that’s the sort of thing they’ve never done before.

January 19: Holmes under the hammer

The only bit of transfer news coming out of Saturday’s game against Portsmouth was that Ricky Holmes, the only player whose fitness is measured in minutes, is going back to Sheffield United. While dumping the man-bun maverick, Robinson also left the door open for him to come back at some point in the season. ‘Even though we’re not lovers anymore, I’m sure we can still be friends.’ said Robinson, who was always hopeless at dumping his girlfriends.

As a little bonus, who doesn’t love a bit of Toni Martinez news? He’s gone on loan to Lugo after West Ham recalled from Rayo Majadahonda. We are led to believe these are both football clubs in Spain.

January 18: Norman’s conquest

Football fans are well known for their calm objectivity. The announcement that Cameron Norman had signed for Walsall was met with predictable circumspection. I think we can all agree that there has been an absolute barrage of calls for Norman to be returned to the team to arrest our alarming decline. Not on Twitter, it seems, Norman before the announcement there hadn’t been a single mention of Norman by any Oxford fan since the turn of the year.

Meanwhile, Sam Smith has taken his shooting boots and a bucketful of blanks to Shrewsbury after being signed by Sam Ricketts.

January 17: Bought for Kashi

You know when your mum texts you asking for your bank details so she can transfer your birthday money? And you know how the amount drops every year because she’s forgotten that you’re not nine anymore, that everything is more expensive than she thinks it is and that she’s forgotten how much she gave you last year?

And you know, that despite all this as soon as you get the text you start a process in your brain where the amount jumps by multiples of five with every passing minute until you convince yourself that for reasons that defy logic, she’s about to transfer at least £10,000 into your account.

And you know the feeling when you see the £25 in your bank serving no purpose but to make you fractionally less poor than you were just a few minutes previously? And that you make plans to buy a new pair of trainers knowing you’ll use it for Findus Crispy Pancakes, a four-pack of lager then put the rest towards the £45 you need for your mum’s birthday present next month?

You know that feeling?

Well, Oxford United’s much anticipated quest for a proven goalscorer ready to propel the club out of the relegation zone and on a collision course with an unlikely tilt at the play-offs took a thrilling turn with the signing of Troyes defensive midfielder Ahmed Kashi on loan.

In alumni news; when you’ve captained a Manchester United team and watched the players in your charge become international stars and when your achievements are eclipsed by someone with the same name as you, you know you’ll eventually find yourself at Swindon Town. The man they call ‘The Sexy Simon Clist’, Danny Rose, has rocked up at the County Ground following his release from Portsmouth.

January 15: Robin Raglan

With all the tax avoiding and cock dangling going down this week, Charlie Raglan skipped over the fence end at the Kassam and headed down the A40 to Cheltenham. There, he’ll spend his time battling to keep the Robins in the great noiseless vortex of nothingness they’ve have always existed in until the end of the season. What with the ongoing daily tasks of finding internet connectivity and clean water, it’s a pretty exciting challenge.

Leeds (or, to use their full name Why is it Always Leeds?) are apparently interested in taking Callum O’Dowda from Bristol City because they’re struggling to get a deal for Swansea’s Daniel James over the line. Always nice to know you’re second choice.

We live in hope that there’s a sell-on clause in the O’Dowda deal which took him to Bristol in 2016, or more specifically, HMRC live in hope there’s a sell-on clause.

Meanwhile, we’ve made an enquiry about Elias Sorensen, a free scoring Under 23 from Sports Direct’s Newcastle United. Karl Robinson only went in for a pair of British Knights high-tops and a pair of Lonsdale tracksuit trousers.

January 14: One, two, three, four…

Toni Martinez, Toonii Martinez, Toni Martinezzzz Toni Martinezzzzz

What. A. Tune.

We’re not sure what’s happening to the fondly remembered loanee and hero of That Minute at Middlesborough, but we do have news of namesake Emiliano Martinez.

Who? You might justifiably say. Well, according to the Oxford United dementia sufferers’ best friend, Rage Online, Emiliano (or Damian, as he was known back then) spent 90 minutes on loan at the end of the 2012 season when he conceded three at Port Vale.

The man who puts the ‘eh?’ in L-eh?-gend is being considered for a loan move from Arsenal to Leeds.

January 11: Marginal news

The sword of Damocles hangs over Ivo Pekalski. Last week KRob donned a black hood, stripped to the waste and slathered grease over his curvaceous moobs threatening the Swede with ‘lots of running’ if he didn’t find a new club by Tuesday.

Well, it’s run time baby! No deal has been forthcoming although this website revealed he’s been training with Swedish League 1 side Lund.

Meanwhile, Charlie Raglan, who has been stuck in a box labelled ‘Never did much wrong – ignore anyway’ for the best part of two years is set to leave to make way for an unknown defensive midfielder.

January 11: Deal done!

In What The Actual Fudge? news, it turns out we’ve paid a handsome 5-figure sum for a player. Nice one KRob and Ti-Grrr!

So, is it a proven League One striker?

Well, no.

Which team does he play for?

Um. Oxford United.

Wait, WHAT? Is it one of those ‘triggering a clause in his contract because of appearances things’? How many games has he played for us?


Riiight, we’ve paid five figures for our own player who hasn’t played any games?

OK, FIFA – that’s F.I.To The Flippin’.A. have judged that we should pay a compensation fee to Peterhead for the development of Fiacre Kelleher who we signed not from Peterhead, of course, but from Celtic. No, I don’t know either.

Kelleher is most famous at Oxford for being the player whose publicity photo became an analogy of the club’s silence over rumours that Michael Appleton was leaving in 2017. Since then he’s played for Solihull Moors and is currently on loan, along with every other Oxford player you’d forgotten about, at Macclesfield

7 January: Sam Surridge on the radar

Karl Robinson loves nothing more on Sundays than roasting a lump of meat and 10 vegetables; not unlike his Saturdays. He sacrificed it all this weekend to watch Cottagers exposing themselves in front of disbelieving onlookers in West London. Kinky.

‘Karl, what were you doing at Fulham?’ asked a hack with a line of questioning so crafty it could have spent the afternoon fashioning a full-sized Jamie Mackie out of macramé.

Robinson confirmed he was looking at Oldham’s goalscorer Sam Surridge, who is on loan from Bournemouth. Or was, until he was recalled this afternoon.

Robinson sees Surridge as an obvious replacement for Sam Smith, just with more goals. And shots. And touches of the ball. More importantly, he can use Smith’s monographed training kit; it’s not like it ever got dirty.

4 January: Ivo given the heave-ho

Karl Robinson has given Ivo Pekalski until 8 January to find a new club. He’s had a nightmare since Pep Clotet signed him. You might argue that as he spent Christmas in Sweden rather than in a futile fight for first team football given half the chance he would happily to leave by Tuesday, if not before. Robbo’s punishment for not achieving what everyone wants is for Ivo to listen to Charlie Pride’s Crystal Chandeliers on a loop while receiving Chinese burns from Faz. No, sorry, misread that, the consequence for the professional athlete trying to regain his fitness is ‘lots of running’. Talk about bringing a sponge to a knife fight.

Little Armani Little and more-than-little Harvey Bradbury have gone back to Woking on loan. Malachi Napa, Karl Robinson’s ‘future of the club’, has returned from his loan spell with Macclesfield. Major news for those of us who didn’t know he was on loan at Macclesfield.

Oh, and Jake Wright, currently out injured at Sheffield United, isn’t going to Scunthorpe because he’s currently out injured at Sheffield United.

4 January: Carroll to Swindon

Canice Carroll, who joined Brentford in the summer, has gone on loan to plucky defeat monkeys Swindon Town. Carroll’s key role at Oxford was as a substitute providing good luck fist bumps to players at half-time. Swindon, looking to solidify their relegation credentials, could do with a bit of that.

3 January: McMahon to Scunthorpe

Tony McMahon has gone to Scunthorpe on loan. The Iron are making a decent fist of avoiding relegation also signing Adam Hammill – our nemesis in the JPT Final in 2016. While the McMahon move comes as no surprise, prepare yourself for a tsunami of criticism if they also confirm the signing of Jake Wright in the next few days.

1 January: Mitchell goes home

Our subs’ bench has been replaced with a trestle table table as the yard sale of the squad continues. Jonathan Mitchell, who came in as emergency cover for Simon Eastwood in August is going back to Frank ‘Lamps’ Lampard at Derby. Meanwhile, Jack Payne must have been a cat burglar in a previous life – he sees an open window and moves. The ex-Oxford assist-sausage is currently on loan at Bradford from Huddersfield, but is being linked with yet another move, this time to Luton or Peterborough.

1 January: Mark Sykes signs from Glenavon

Glenavon in the Irish Premier League have announced that we’ve signed their midfielder Mark Sykes who has played with Gavin Whyte in the Irish Under 21s. It seems he was heading for Port Vale, but, reassuringly we managed to outbid them. All this is subject to a medical and personal terms, whatever that actually means.

1 January: Jake Wright on the move?

More promotion squad alumni news; Jake ‘Jakey Wright, Wright, Wright’ Wright, captain of our promotion winning team in 2016 and more importantly voted Best Player of the First Ten Years of Oxblogger, has been linked with a move to Scunthorpe or Doncaster or Fleetwood, or maybe Barnsley. Which clears that up.

31 December: Kemar Roofe to Newcastle?

Not really related, but according to The Mirror Kemar Roofe has been targeted by Newcastle United. Whether Roofe will want to go from Leeds, who are top of the Championship and heading for promotion, to Newcastle, who are towards the bottom of the Premier League and maybe heading the other way, will depend on money, no doubt. I can’t find any references to sell-on fees we might be due, so it’s probably best to assume we’re not due a windfall.

29 December: Smith and McMahon to leave

A surprise to nobody is that Sam Smith is going back to Reading. Karl Robinson’s prize signing of the summer hasn’t really worked out, scoring a handful of goals in the Trophy that shall not be named, but little else. Tony McMahon, who has weighed in with a few assists here and there is heading back up north for personal reasons.

26 December: Jordan Graham on loan from Wolves

He’s been training with us for weeks, so nobody was shocked by Tiger’s ‘Christmas present’ announcing the signing of Jordan Graham on loan from Wolves. Graham had a brief spell with us in our promotion season, showing himself to be a classic Michael Appleton player. Since then, however, he’s managed just seven appearances in nearly four years due to injury. He could be the signing of the season or we may need to move Ricky Holmes on to make space in the physio’s room.

The rumour mill – just how accurate is it?

Like a polar bear relying on its fat deposits during a long frozen winter, football fans survive the summer by suckling on a teat of rumour. We are all naturally attracted to each whiff of a new signing, but just how accurate is it?
Well, I’ve decided to find out. Since the last day of the season up until last night, I’ve kept a note of every Twitter reference to a player rumoured or real, to be leaving or joining the club. For a rumour to be accurate, it must surface more than 24 hours before a signing is announced.
The reason for the 24-hour rule is to test truly how ‘in the know’ people are; lots of signings are done the day before they’re announced by which point the press will know, photos will have been taken and so on. It pretty much becomes common knowledge rather than a leak from an insider.
First, let’s look at current Oxford players who were rumoured to be leaving. First, there’s the ‘big two’; Callum O’Dowda was linked with Preston, Derby, Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday, while Kemar Roofe was linked with Ipswich, Cardiff, Leeds and Charlton. They were both been linked with Aston Villa, Wigan and Sheffield United. In total, fourteen rumours, two signings.
In addition, John Lundstram was linked with Brentford and Chris Maguire with Bradford. Danny Hylton’s move to Luton was completely out of the blue. Three rumours, no facts. Darn it.
We were linked with John Akinde (Barnet), Caolan Lavery (Sheffield Wednesday), Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough), Matt Taylor (Portsmouth), Jean Louis Akpa Akpro (Shrewsbury), Ryan Flynn and Paul Coutts (Sheffield United), Connor Sammon (Port Vale), Ryan Dow (Dundee United), George Williams (Barnsley), Gary Madine and Emile Heskey (Bolton), Luke Freeman (Bristol City), Ricky Holmes (Northampton Town), Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield), Toisant Rickets (Boluspor), Marvin Johnson (Motherwell), and Ryan Ledson (Everton).
That’s another eighteen rumours from which Marvin Johnson and Ryan Ledson signed.
Which brings us to our thirteen other signings; Simon Eastwood, Wes Thomas, Aaron Martin, Christian Ribeiro, Curtis Nelson, Joe Rothwell, Chris Maguire, Rob Hall, Kane Hemming, Tyler Roberts, Phil Edwards, Daniel Crowley and Charlie Raglan. Thomas was mentioned in pre-announcement rumours less than 24 hours before he signed and Roberts was spotted at the friendly against Brighton the day before he was announced, so neither count.

So, a whole transfer window; 45 rumoured and real moves, four satisfying the criteria of being a rumour that became real. That’s an 11% success rate. We can conclude, therefore, that the Twitter rumour mill is, 89% of the time, a pile of horseshit.

Live blog: The transfer window

For the first time ever, it looks like we’re in for a nervy transfer window with players that other teams might actually want to pay money for. That’s the price of success, I guess. You can see my initial verdict on our six most likely flight risks here, but to try and keep up with the possible comings and goings, I’m going to keep a rolling blog post here throughout January here.

25 January: Baldock returns to MK Dons

George Baldock being recalled by MK Dons strikes me as a pointlessly cynical move by Karl Robinson. Yes, they’re in a relegation fight and having access to good players is important, but apparently they have two good right backs already. Where does Baldock fit into that equation? It appears he is so crucial to Robinson’s plans, he’s so desperate to have him fit and available, that he’s allowed him to play for us against Blackburn on Saturday.

Perhaps Baldock will sail into their starting line-up igniting a breathtaking revival of their fortunes; in which case it was all worth it. Perhaps Baldock will sit on the bench where his form and fitness will ebb away and he’ll become the player that Robinson wanted shoved out of his plans in the first place. Can Baldock’s qualities even benefit MK Dons’ way of playing? It’ll take more than just a flying right-back to replicate our form. Maybe, just maybe, they’re planning to sell him or one of those currently in front of him. That would, at least, make some sense.

I don’t know, and care even less; it just seems a pointless thing to do. Is it just a sign that Robinson has lost his way and is just desperate to appear to be doing something because he’s under pressure? What a tool.

For Baldock he gains almost nothing from the move; he loses out on the opportunity of a crack at Wembley and promotion, of developing a profile that could take him into a Championship first team or even higher, of the high quality coaching he’s clearly had under Michael Appleton.

The hysteria around Baldock has grown in recent weeks. There’s been an odd cult of people expressing a homoerotic love for him. It’s one of those things that started as a joke and went viral, even though it wasn’t that funny in the first place; like most of Michael McIntyre’s career. As a result this morning’s announcement has been greeted with confirmation that the empire is on the verge of collapse.

But, in reality; while quality full-backs can certainly make you better, their absence doesn’t make you a bad team. Their primary role is to defend, the better players, like Baldock, can also act as an attacking threat. If you don’t have full-backs with an attacking threat, then you already have wingers to play that role.

13th January: George Baldock back to MK Dones?

We woke up to the news that George Baldock is not for sale and may even be heading back to MK Dons. Really? I haven’t heard the whole interview with the Dons manager Karl Robinson, but what I have heard of it appears to suggest that he was asked about Baldock by a local MK Dons journalist, probably off the back of our win over Swansea. Robinson said he wasn’t for sale and also implied he wasn’t wholly out of the picture despite good coverage in Baldock’s right-back position.

This is the equivalent of someone knocking on your door asking whether your house is for sale. You say no because a) it isn’t and b) by showing that it isn’t you maintain its value. That’s not quite the same as saying never, regardless of the price.

In terms of a possible recall, Robinson’s response seemed to be more ‘never say never’ than ‘it’s possible’. There are lots of scenarios by which Baldock might be recalled of which his form is only one. It could be that they have an injury crisis or receive a bid for one of their preferred right-backs. I still think the more likely scenario is that they will receive a bid from another team that they can’t refuse.

It’s called the media because they ‘mediate’ messages, it’s a filter which can change the meaning of a story. To me it looks like this is nothing more than a slight twist on an interview to make it more newsworthy.

4th January: Callum O’Dowda to Derby County

The Daily Mail have reported that Derby County are looking at Callum O’Dowda, for whom we’re apparently asking £1m. In terms of the rumour, I think it has credibility. As Michael Appleton has suggested, O’Dowda has potential to get into a Championship level squad and Derby are the right kind of club for a player like him.

The Mail suggests that Oxford ‘risk’ pricing themselves out of the deal. I’m not sure what the risk is. The club don’t seem to need to sell at the moment, so either we keep the player or we get someone to pay silly money, I can’t see what we’d be losing.

Who has set this valuation of O’Dowda? Is it just a lazy journalist assuming that a League 2 club will sell to anyone offering a cheque? Is it Derby? But why encourage others into the market? Is it Oxford? Darryl Eales has already said that he’d turn down a million pound bid if it damaged promotion (a possible source of that valuation, although Eales was talking about Kemar Roofe), or is it the O’Dowda ‘camp’?

I don’t doubt O’Dowda’s commitment to the club, but it would be wrong to ignore his ambition. He’s very media friendly, he markets himself well (see his professionally produced promotional video), and you don’t become subject to million pound speculation without hard work and focus. If it is him and people around him, it should be viewed as him being professional rather than mercenary. O’Dowda wants to be successful, when opportunity knocks, he’d be wrong not to investigate.

What now for James Constable?

For a short and very intense period on Wednesday night it seemed like James Constable was slipping from our grasp. The known affections of Luton and Swindon earlier in the window were joined by a serious and sustained approach by Bournemouth.

Luton’s approach would have been relatively easy to rebuff, the money they needed to offer needed to be substantial, they wouldn’t have had much scope to up any offer to the point of it becoming a no-brainer. Plus, the player himself would have to swallow the fact he would be dropping out of the League again.

Swindon’s approach, if there was any seriousness in that at all, was always going to be difficult. Constable would have to be stupid or incredibly arrogant to want to make the move in the first place – and I don’t believe he’s either. The club would have to deal with the fact they’ve sold a key asset to a rival and stare down the resulting the PR calamity.

Bournemouth – not a promotion rival – was a different kettle of fish altogether. The reported fee of £225,000 would have comfortably have paid for 2-3 players. As much as Constable represents the soul of the club, we are far from a one man team. His loss – though a blow – can be mitigated by Craddock and perhaps Smalley (who looks out of position, currently).

Apparently the deal broke down over Constable’s personal terms. He’s a ‘proven’ goalscorer which carries a high tariff. But, he’s also had experience of going to league clubs and being side lined like he was at Shrewsbury. He’s 27, so his next move is crucial. At Bournemouth he would have to prove himself. If it doesn’t work, the trapdoor could open once again and he may well see himself back in the Conference. From which it could take him some years to return back to the League.
He would want to be compensated for taking such a risk with his career, particularly when you consider what he’d be leaving. The sort of club that would be able to comfortably afford Constable at such a high price is likely to be at the top end of League 1 or the Championship. And for any club in that bracket; Constable, as opposed to an available Premier League striker on the slide, would represent a massive risk.

Meanwhile, at Oxford he has a barrel load of good will and a nice long contract. His aspirations to play higher up the league could be fulfilled at the club. So does he stick or twist?

There is clearly a market for him, which is good for the club, because come Christmas they can sit tight and wait for the bidding to start. For us, of course, it means that the New Year transfer window could be an even more painful affair.