No bargains in January? Jelavic & Cisse signings teach likes of Manchester United & Arsenal a valuable lesson

The Premier League's two longest-serving managers have been amongst those most vociferously opposing the winter window but it has reaped reward for several this season
By Matt Scott

Sir Alex Ferguson was indifferent ("I don't know why people go on about it"), Arsene Wenger went on the offensive ("I am for scrapping it") but David Moyes and Alan Pardew spotted an opportunity.

The January transfer window has polarised opinion since its introduction nine seasons ago but the myth that there is no value in the winter market is exactly that, a myth.

Moyes snapped up £5.5 million Nikica Jelavic from Rangers at the start of the year and the Croatian is now Everton's top scorer after just 15 appearances, firing the Toffees to seventh in the league and just a game away from finishing above Liverpool for the first time in seven years.

Standing between Jelavic & co and that feat are Newcastle, Sunday's visitors to Goodison Park, who themselves picked up a bargain in the January sales.

Papiss Cisse arrived on Tyneside in a £10m deal, becoming the latest to wear the Magpies' No.9 jersey, and what has followed has been one of the most spectacular and prolific introductions to English football in recent memory.

In 12 starts and one substitute appearance, Cisse has netted 13 times including match-winning strikes against Aston Villa (on debut) and Norwich as well as decisive doubles to beat West Brom, Liverpool, Swansea and, most spectacularly, Chelsea.

Jelavic, a master of the first-time finish, was a vital addition to a Toffees side struggling for goals (the fact that Leighton Baines was the club's top scorer when he arrived says a lot), and their surge up the table, past their neighbours, has been largely thanks to an added proficiency up top.

Cisse's impact has even more meaning with the Magpies still dreaming of Champions League football next season, the Senegalese striker has eased the early-season burden on previously-prolific Demba Ba and his outrageous, dipping, swerving strike at Stamford Bridge will live long in the memory.

So with the talent clearly available, how did other clubs, with better resources and bigger reputations fare? The answer: not all that well.

Despite their managers' protestations against the January window, both Arsenal and Manchester United required bolstering in the winter.

The Gunners needed a quality back-up for the firing, but often fragile, Robin van Persie, while Sir Alex's side were desperately short in midfield due to injury and illness.

Thierry Henry returned to north London for a whirlwind stay that saw him fail to leave a lasting impression on the season, scoring twice in seven games before jetting back to New York.

United went down a similar route, with Sir Alex coaxing Paul Scholes out of retirement. The master composer, reinstated to his podium once more to orchestrate the Old Trafford midfield.

Scholes' return, on a personal level, has been an undoubted success with the midfielder combining classically clinical passing with his best goal-scoring campaign since 2006-07 but he will not be around for long.

Wenger and Sir Alex may scout the banks of the Tyne and Mersey for transfer inspiration, but it is not the only place they should look.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was another who arrived in the Premier League during the winter who has gone on to exceed all expectations at Swansea.
6/5 Everton are 6/5 with Sportingbet to beat Newcastle on Sunday.

The Icelandic midfielder has helped the Swans maintain their comfortable mid-table position with seven goals in 17 games and the former Reading man is now attracting reported interest from Old Trafford and could be a £10m heir to the Scholes throne.

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp also went for experience in January as he drafted in Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha at Tottenham while allowing Steven Pienaar to leave for Everton, but to disastrous effect.

While the South African has superbly teamed with Jelavic at Goodison Park, Spurs have gained little from the Frenchman and New Zealander, at the same time looking disjointed and stuttering throughout Aaron Lennon's absence from the right wing, a position that Pienaar could have filled with ease.

Past winters have seen over-inflated fees leading to unnecessary and unwanted pressure being heaped on upon the shoulders of a player ill-equipped to handle the expectation.

But this year has proved that for every Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll, there's a Cisse or Jelavic to show immediate impacts and good value can be found in the colder months.

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