O'Neill on Town's transfer frustrations, rejecting 'multi-million pound' offers for key men and the importance of promotion
PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 February 2020
© Copyright Stephen Waller
General manager of football operations, Lee O'Neill, discusses Town's lack of business during the January window and why bids for young players were rejected.
O'Neill on... deadline day at Ipswich Town
"It was quiet in as much as we didn't have any players coming in but we were also trying to work on another plan to get some of our younger players out to specific clubs to allow them to get some game time and the experiences we're not able to provide at this moment in time.
"Longer-term that's important to the development of the club and the players and we were working on things. It's a bit like a domino effect. In general the market was quite slow for the whole month and we were active in areas. Unfortunately we didn't get to where we would like to with one or two of the deals."
O'Neill on... a lack of incomings
"We were at the table with some players, we were. We had a criteria of the players we'd like to try and bring in, in terms of them being actively fit at the moment and ready to go. We had been in previous situations where we brought players in who hadn't played a lot of football, so if we brought anybody in they had to at least be at the level we've already got if not better.
"We slimmed down what we were looking at but we did a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure we were at the table for the players we were trying to get. It was an incredibly difficult month in general.
"We have a big squad and we have players coming back from injury so we need an opportunity to see where they're at."
O'Neill on... dangers of bringing in players on loan
"Loans have their strengths and they have their weaknesses because you are developing other people's players. Some of those situations where you take players on loan from bigger clubs have their own restrictions on what they want that player to do.
"There are no guarantees about who's going to play every week, which goes for our own players too. Some of the bigger clubs want those guarantees or there are (financial) penalties put in place which makes it a gamble for us in many ways."
O'Neill on... whether Town received offers for their players
"We did. It's unfair for me to comment on names of players or the clubs involved.
"I said earlier in the window that my phone has been busy but I expected that because we have some very good players at the football club. There were a lot of enquiries and general feeling around the younger players in particular, but, linking back to our long-term objectives, we have to try and hold on to those players and develop them.
"Hopefully they are enjoying the experiences they are getting around the first-team or in the first-team but, as part of Marcus and the club's objectives, those players are really important for us. ]
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"We will always have interest because we have talent coming through. Hopefully they believe in what we're trying to do and stick with us.
"It's been well highlighted in the press that there are offers in for our young players but Marcus believes, like Paul does, that they have to have a pathway and that we believe in them."
O'Neill on... why bids were rejected
"I would definitely say there were offers in the (multi-million pound deals) bracket but they weren't what we were expecting.
"If you look at the market in this window, which was a little slow, there are fees being paid a lot higher than the offers we received. Marcus won't be bullied into accepting offers he doesn't deem acceptable for the football club and fundamentally it's about trying to keep the nucleus of teams together to then go on and build for the future.
"It was easy for us to sell players in this window, let's put it that way, but we didn't. One of our plans was to try and keep the squad together.
"You'll have seen that in this league some of the teams in and around the top have lost their better players in this window and we've tried to keep hold of them which is a positive from the club's point of view.
"What I will say, going into that is that it's part of a plan for the longer term. It's not going to happen overnight and you're not going to get all of those (young) players on the pitch at the same straight away so we have to keep believing in it and keep giving them the opportunities."
O'Neill on... offers for Town's fringe players
"There were offers because clubs do their homework, realise what we've got or see they're not playing and then make enquiries.
"We talk about having some strength in depth and having competition for places, which we feel we've got and also have a couple of players coming back from injury who will add strength to that squad.
"The interest wasn't just in our younger players. In general we've had a squad there was a lot of interest in."
O'Neill on... whether Town need promotion to keep their best young players
"It's a really big time for us. For a lot of those young players they've never been in this situation before, at the top of the table and challenging for a championship.
"Whether they're in the squad or out on the pitch playing, or just part of the training during the week leading up to the game, they're all important aspects and things they've never done before.
"Whether they've broken into the side this season or last season, they're gaining a lot of good experiences which will hopefully stand them in good stead going forward.
"At the end of the day bigger clubs look at us and see we're not in the league where we should be, we all know that. They will look at our squad and try to pick players off.
"It's important for us to stick together and get through this and hopefully get back to where it needs to be. That will put us in better stead in terms of both the transfer markets and keeping out younger players."