Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: January transfer window has entered silly season

You can divide football's January transfer window into a few different and contrasting sections.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 9:00 am
Jordan Hugill applauds the Preston fans at the final whistle

The first part is all quite exciting as trading is allowed to start after a four-month hibernation.

After that early burst it is into the silly season with all kinds of rumours doing the rounds and Twitter bursting at the seams with links and speculation.

Then there is the trolley dash of the last few days as the market really goes into overdrive – in the manner of school kids doing homework on the bus after having all weekend to do it.

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I would reason that we are slap bang in the throes of the silly season at the moment.

The rumour which linked Preston striker Jordan Hugill to Turkish club Besiktas drew me to that conclusion this week.

While you never say never in life, I cannot picture Hugill pushing his way through a mob of fanatical Besiktas supporters as he arrives to a hero’s welcome at Istanbul Ataturk airport.

I suppose the rumour was a nice change to being linked with Leeds or Bristol City.

For the record, the Hugill to Besiktas rumour emerged on a website in Turkey.

I ran it through Google translate – other website search engines are available I hasten to add – and pretty swiftly consigned it to the rubbish bin.

Hugill was always going to be the PNE player to have the spotlight of speculation shone on him this month.

That was as the result of the events of the summer window which culminated in an £8m bid from Reading which North End rejected and the transfer request the striker handed in.

When the bidding gets as high as that in August, the interest is unlikely to have ceased four months on in January unless there has been a dramatic drop in form.

That, in my book, is not an accusation which can be aimed at Hugill.

He might not have hit the heights in every game since the August window shut but that hasn’t been for the want of trying.

The front man has scored 10 goals this season, seven of those since September.

His first after the window shut was at Birmingham City, the opponents for North End this weekend – another on Saturday would be most welcome.

Alex Neil has played Hugill in every league game he’s been available for and sees him as the spearhead for the attack.

Yet for some, the striker is an easy target for a spot of stick.

He didn’t have his best game at Millwall last week, in line with the other North End attacking players who started at the Den.

On Twitter afterwards, a handful of tweets appeared claiming that Hugill had headed for the tunnel at the end without applauding the travelling PNE supporters.

Such stories can often grow legs and fortunately the photographer used by the Post at the game captured a picture of him clapping the away end.

That was backed up by a number of fans, some of who pointed out that Hugill was actually the first to go over to applaud.

Maybe the uneasy truce between some supporters and Hugill is down to the transfer request in August.

That wasn’t his finest hour and there needed to be some making-up.

I would reason that 21 games since the close of the August window, very often fighting a lone battle against two centre-backs, is enough to cut him some slack.

He’s unlikely ever going to be a 25-goal-a-season striker but he has a vital role in the team, one it seems other managers would love him to do at their club.

We will see what the rest of the window brings and I do think the PNE squad would be better for having Hugill in it come February 1.

Moving the subject back to last week’s visit to the Den and you could not help but be impressed by the size of North End’s away following.

For 1,483 to make the trip so soon after the expense of Christmas, was excellent.

That number might even have been higher but I did overhear a couple of North End fans on the train home saying they opted for a day on the London beer rather than venturing to Bermondsey!

The numbers travelling to away matches have been very decent all season.

And with some of the longer trips now out of the way, I can only see more fans hitting the road as Preston aim to stay in the play-off chasing pack.

Tickets have been selling very well for the FA Cup game at Sheffield United next week.

Lowering prices for a game between two clubs from the same division who met just a month or so ago, was extremely sensible.

Meanwhile, I almost threw the remote at the TV during Chelsea’s FA Cup tie with Norwich this week.

It was nothing to do with VAR, more the daft comment from pundit Jermaine Jenas that Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata had ‘every right to go down’ after going to ground like a sack of spuds.

Can we please get away from this notion that any contact in the box should lead to a penalty?

That is not the rule and the sooner pundits and the like understand that, the better.