Many Charlton fans spent January anxiously watching how new owners East Street Investments were faring in the transfer window. There was a view that the outcome would give a clear indication of ESI's ambition as well as their financial clout.
At the meet and greet with fans at The Valley on January 24th Chairman Matt Southall was at pains to stress that he was keen to build the club gradually and sustainably. He emphasised that the club would not pay over the odds and that deals would only be done on his terms. He dropped a big hint when he mentioned that players coming back from injury felt like new signings. It felt like an exercise in expectation management.
The following week his obvious relish at wheeling and dealing was made clear through his Twitter account. Expectations rose again and the phrase "marquee signing" was bandied about.
The final outcome was the arrival on loan of four players - Andre Green, Aiden McGeady, Matt Smith and David Davis. Only time will tell how much impact they individually have on the campaign but, at the very least, they fulfil Lee Bowyer's stated objective of getting more bodies through the dressing room door. Unless there is a repeat of the horrendous Autumn run of injuries there should be no need for him to be having to bank on untried youngsters who should at best be making short substitute appearances as they start their careers.
However, as Charlton fans know only too well, a transfer window is not only about incomings. Karlan Grant, Ricky Holmes, Yann Kermorgant and Dale Stevens spring all too readily to mind. There was nothing the club could do about the loss of Conor Gallagher but they were in control of the future of Lyle Taylor. Every Charlton fan breathed a sigh of relief at 11pm last Friday when it became clear that the temptation to cash in had been resisted and that he would be our player until the end of the season. His importance on the pitch is obvious but ESI's determination to keep him was also a very welcome sign that the club is owned once again by people who understand the game, the fans and the market a little better than our previous owner did.
There were no doubt plenty of targets and negotiations which came to nothing but the final outcome of the window looks positive and should give supporters a spring in rheir step.
It is evident that Charlton would have signed Marcus Maddison* on a contract if he had accepted the terms offered, but it is the case that in many ways it is sensible not to make permanent signings in January. The players brought in on loan are primarily here to ensure that the club stays in The Championship and there is now a greater degree of confidence about achieving that.
But, looking a little further ahead, it is quite possible that the squad kicking off next season will not include Lyle Taylor, Johnny Williams or Josh Cullen. At the moment we need to concentrate on the next sixteen games but the thought of yet another rebuilding job in the Summer is daunting. We trust that Steve Gallen is already making plans but it would be such a boost to everyone if those plans didn't have to include replacements for at least two of those three.
Matt Southall's thoughts on the window can be seen here:
*A fascinating and candid presentation from Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony on his club's window dealings - including what happened with Maddison can be seen here: