Patience is a virtue - Reflections of a transfer window at Doncaster Rovers
Good things come to those who wait.
If one phrase was to sum up the month of January for those associated with Doncaster Rovers, that one is pretty much on the money.
It was a month that called for a good deal of patience from supporters. And there were certainly times when patience appeared to be stretched to breaking point.
Yet through a growing furore, as anger and frustration pervaded along with one or two wild conspiracy theories, there was only ever an air of calm from the Keepmoat.
Though there may have been some clumsily worded answers from the gaffer early in the window, Darren Moore sought to reassure all that everything was well in hand.
In the end, he proved that the faith should have been there all along.
And now, one thing is irrefutable - Doncaster Rovers saw out January with a much stronger squad than they saw it in.
It could easily have started differently. A loan deal was agreed with Norwich City for Adam Idah, who would play himself out of the move with his hat trick in the FA Cup.
His trifecta against Preston North End demonstrated the quality of players Rovers were lining up.
But it also meant Rovers had other ducks needing to be got in row, and Moore calmly went about doing that.
He was a man with a plan, a huge blueprint of what he wanted in a squad and a long list of potential components to build it from. There were ones he was willing to wait for, and he did just that – all while fighting off relentless questions about what exactly was happening.
What should not be underestimated is the importance of keeping the foundations in place, of sustaining the good work that Moore had overseen in the first half of the campaign.
Extending the loans of Seny Dieng and Ben Sheaf should not have been taken as a mere formality. Doing so ensured Rovers would be able to call upon two key components from the first half of the campaign.
And then there was the tying down job. Securing Tom Anderson to a long term deal, following in the footsteps of Ben Whiteman, was a vitally important step and a real declaration of intent from the Rovers hierarchy.
Anderson’s new contract, coming on January 1, arguably stands up as the best piece of business Rovers carried out this month.
That Whiteman remains a Rovers player despite ever-growing interest is another major achievement for the club.
And Kieran Sadlier too. While the contract situation of the club’s top scorer remains unresolved, he will be part of the squad for the rest of the season at least, along with his goalscoring and creativity.
Few would have thought that there was capacity for trimming within the squad, but it was proven that smart slicing would leave Rovers stronger.
Alfie May’s departure to Cheltenham Town saw a good servant moved on due to lack of first team opportunities. Ian Lawlor too departs on a well-structured loan in a bid for regular match action.
No disrespect to either man, but Rovers are not likely to feel their absence too much in the coming months.
A flurry of activity in the final few days of the window has left Rovers in a position of strength in the area of the squad where, in numbers terms at least, they were the weakest.
The days of relying on options with limited ability to fill gaps are over.
Devante Cole will bring a level of physicality and presence Rovers have not had throughout the season. He also brings a good deal of potential that has too rarely been tapped through his career.
In Fejiri Okenabirhie, Rovers have a striker that has proven himself as a goalscorer at League One level. Sixteen goals in a side that escaped the drop on the final day of the season is nothing to sniff at.
Rovers have been crying out for someone to stick the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis and the softly spoken striker may be the answer to the calls.
And there is the young potential of loan signings Jacob Ramsey and Jason Lokilo, adding a fresh injection of enthusiasm and explosive talent to the squad.
Ramsey is incredibly highly-rated at Aston Villa and should deliver another spark of creativity. Lokilo possesses the same sort of attributes that made Mallik Wilks a hit at Rovers last season.
January may have been a month where, for plenty, levels of faith were tested like never before, where managing concerns and worries became increasingly difficult with each passing day.
But as the 11pm bells chimed on Friday night, the mood had transformed into one of excitement and optimism for what might come over the next few months.
Good things come to those who wait.