Every club has them. The transfers that got away, the kind of ones you think back now and ask, how did we not get the deal over the line?
In this series I have picked out a few, some of them we will be happy to have missed out on, others will leave you wishing and thinking only what if.
PLAYER IN QUESTION: Tony Cottee
DATE OF INTEREST: April 1988
Rangers player-manager Graeme Souness was on the lookout for a striker to bolster his attack, after a disappointing season. One in which Celtic had wrestled the championship back from Ibrox. Souness felt that a lack of goals was a big issue, and so set his sights on a poacher.
There were no better penalty box strikers back in 1988 than Tony Cottee. He had formed a formidable partnership with Frank Mcavennie in 1986, helping West Ham finish third. Cottee winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award also that season.
The following season saw “Macca’s” form drop significantly, but Cottee’s did not, bagging an impressive haul of 23 league goals, a figure that would turn out to be Cottee’s higest ever ruturn. All this despite West Ham finishing 15th overall.
The following season saw his strike partner sold to Celtic, and despite this and the hammers struggles, Cottee scored a still decent return of 13 league goals.
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The reasons for this transfer not going through are simple, Rangers’ refusel to meet West Ham’s valuation, so when Everton did agree to pay the 2.2 million fee, Cottee was off to Merseyside, as the most expensive British player. It was a title he would hold only for a month with another player Rangers and Souness were interested in, Ian Rush’s transfer back to Liverpool.
I’ve no doubt that Cottee would have done well up here, but his replacements in the Rangers team did not do too bad a job. If we had Cottee, McCoist might have been out the door in the summer of 1988, or maybe we would have never seen Maurice Johnston grace the light blue and break the trend for so long of moves from across the city.
In the end it worked out well for all parties involved I feel.