HARTLEPOOL United fans aren’t used to such high drama in the January transfer window.
Last night’s sale of star defender Jack Baldwin to Peterborough United for £500,000 was announced moments before the 11pm deadline.
While it was well-known Baldwin was being courted by several clubs, including Championship and Premier League clubs such as North East neighbours Sunderland, his move to the League One side did come as a surprise. a huge surprise.
Pools fans will no doubt still be coming to terms with it this morning over their cornflakes and thoughts will quickly turn to how on earth they intend to replace him.
Currently, Colin Cooper has just two recognised central defenders to turn to, 36-year-old Sam Collins and on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess.
God forbid either of those two get injured.
The timing of last night’s sale meant there was no chance of a permanent replacement coming in, so Cooper and Co will be desperately searching the loan market for a short-term replacement. That is a must.
Whether the club eventually reinvests the initial £500,000 transfer fee remains to be seen but Pools should be flattered clubs want to pay such substantial fees for their players.
Fans never like to see their best players sold off but business wise it makes sense. He was signed on a free and the club has made a £500,000 profit, although there is a niggling feeling he is worth more than that, given his huge potential.
But it seems he also wanted to make the move himself.
His sale follows the permanent January signing of striker Marlon Harewood and loan recruits, Luke Williams (Middlesbrough) and Jack Barmby (Man United).
Cooper said himself he hoped to keep his squad intact and went on the record saying the club doesn’t have to sell its players yet clearly the substantial six-figure bid from Posh was too tempting.
Coupled with Essex-born Baldwin’s interest in the move, it would appear in the best interest of all parties.
Pools got a canny transfer fee for once – perhaps learning from failing to cash in on the likes of James Brown and Gary Liddle in the past – while Baldwin progresses his career.
Many fans will have thought he could do better than League One Peterborough, me included, because he does seem destined for the top.
For a lad of just 20, he is mature beyond his years, has a crunching tackle, calmness in possession and great vision.
He is also a natural born leader and can score the odd goal as well, so the party that has done best out of the deal is undoubtedly Peterborough United.
Hopefully Pools have inserted a sell-on clause because if he continues his rate of progression there is no reason why he can’t ply his trade in the Premier League one day.
Having spoken to Jack on several occasions, he always came across as a well-mannered, well-spoken, all-round top bloke and we can only wish him all the best for his future career.
It has been a pleasure watching those crunching tackles and Pools – although not financially – will be poorer without Baldwin.
All the best, Jack.
– RICHARD MENNEAR