Whatever managers and recruitment staff might want you to think about the careful planning and nuance which goes into making a signing, an emergency throws all that out of the window.
Manchester United reached that point in January. After Bournemouth turned down their offer for striker Joshua King, the Red Devils went cap in hand to Shanghai Shenhua, eventually striking a loan agreement for Odion Ighalo.
The signing of the Nigerian forward was seen as the perfect illustration of the Old Trafford club’s dramatic fall from grace. But Ighalo, whose previous Premier League experience amounted to 18 months at Watford, has defied all expectations.
Four goals in eight appearances before the 2019/20 campaign was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted United to extend his loan until January 2021.
But the Nigerian international isn’t the first shock emergency striking signing. Here are five more…
Braithwaite made his big move to the Camp Nou from Leganés – the side he’d joined from Boro 12 months earlier – in February. Barça were granted permission by LaLiga to sign the forward outside of the transfer window after a long-term injury suffered by Ousmane Dembélé.
It was a little-known rule in Spain’s top-flight which enabled the already well-equipped Barça to raid a smaller club, who were unable to sign a replacement themselves.
Given Braithwaite’s somewhat unusual route to the Catalan giants, scepticism was rife. He was not helped by a less-than-convincing display of ball juggling at his rather underwhelming unveiling either. COVID-19 means he’s only made three appearances for the Blaugrana.
Shefki Kuqi to Newcastle United
Magpies supporters have plenty of reasons to dislike Mike Ashley. His lack of investment in the playing squad and pitiful levels of ambition are chief among them.
Carroll had been the first No.9 since Alan Shearer who did the shirt justice and had Geordie blood. With the cash burning a hole in Newcastle’s metaphorical pocket, surely the Magpies had a plan?
They did. Thirty-four-year-old free agent Kuqi, last seen playing for Swansea City in the Championship. Even the Finn was surprised, saying: “I got a phone call from my agent last week who said there might be a possibility to go there [Newcastle] and when I heard this I was over the moon. In the beginning, it was hard to believe, but in the end, it all came true.”
Roy Essandoh to Wycombe Wanderers
This is arguably the standard against which all other emergency striker signings are measured. Fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers desperately needed a forward ahead of their 2001 FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City.
So the then-Chairboys boss Lawrie Sanchez did the only sensible thing. He advertised for a fit, non-cup tied striker on Teletext – ask your parents, kids. Essandoh’s agent saw the appeal and got in touch with Sanchez.
The rest is written into FA Cup folklore. Essandoh, who had been playing for Rushden & Diamonds earlier that season, came off the bench with 14 minutes remaining. He duly scored a last-gasp headed winner to send Wycombe into the semis. It was his only goal for Wanderers and he was released at the end of the season.
Essandoh played for 11 more sides before retiring in 2012, saving his best spells for Gravesend & Northfleet and Bishop’s Stortford.
Andy Booth to Tottenham Hotspur
A Huddersfield Town legend who scored 137 league goals across two spells, Booth was a fine player. He just wasn’t a Tottenham player.
In January 2001, the Yorkshireman – at that point playing in Division One for Sheffield Wednesday – got his big (emergency) move. It was a case of who you know rather than what you know. David Pleat, the manager who took him from Huddersfield to Wednesday in 1996, was now director of football at Spurs.
With Les Ferdinand, Stefan Iversen and Chris Armstrong all injured, Pleat offered his old charge the chance to partner Sergei Rebrov up front. Booth made four appearances for the North Londoners before returning to Wednesday.
Speaking in 2018, Booth said of his time in the capital: “I must admit when I wasn’t playing or training I didn’t get much chance to come back up to Yorkshire so I was a bit of a tourist.
“After the games on Saturday I’d go into London with my wife and we’d experience the nightlife with Les Ferdinand getting us guest lists passes in all the places.”
Les Ferdinand to Watford
Searching ‘Les Ferdinand Watford’ in Getty Images is telling. All bar one of the results are of the striker playing golf at The Grove.
Ahead of the 2005/06 season, Ferdinand signed non-contract forms with the Hornets, ostensibly to offer an emergency striking alternative. However, speaking to the Watford Observer earlier this year, Ferdinand set the record straight.
“It was more with the intention of detraining myself out of football,” he said. “I had been in football all my life and what most players find is that all of a sudden you wake up and there is nothing. And I just thought to myself this was an opportunity to wean yourself off football.
Ferdinand retired before the season got underway – despite the best attempts of manager Aidy Boothroyd, which goes a long way to explaining why centre-back Jay DeMerit was deployed up front in one league game.