THERE cannot be many Southampton fans who deem last summer's transfer window an unsuccessful venture, but when it comes to 2014/15's winter window in January, that month or so of business activity now looks much more of a mixed bag.
Undoubtedly, the best bit of business was making Ryan Bertrand's superb loan spell at St Mary's from Chelsea a permanent deal; where there was perhaps a sense of underwhelm after a poor six months at Aston Villa last season when Bertrand was unveiled, the news that the England international was making his South Coast stay a permanent one for a relative snip at £10m was met with real clamour.
Yet the jury is still out on the pair that joined Ronald Koeman's new-look squad in the winter months, Eljero Elia and Filip Djuričić. The duo joined from Werder Bremen and Benfica respectively, and whilst both have had poor experiences in the German Bundesliga this campaign, after Elia was frozen out at Werder and Djuricic's unsuccessful loan spell at Mainz 05, there was positive noises when they both signed until the end of the season.
But both moves have been similar in that whilst it's clear that both players have talent, neither has shown it on a consistent basis. Elia was the matchwinner in the 2-1 away win at Newcastle in January, but bar his brace at St James Park, the 28 year old's contribution has been minimal to say the least, and the Dutchman's performances, bar the 1-0 win against QPR, showed just why Werder were pretty eager to get his salary off the wage bill at the Weserstadion.
Even the presence of countryman Dušan Tadić has helped Djuričić make a mark on the Saints team this season.
It doesn't say much for Djuričić though, that at least Elia has been a regular in the team since his arrival in January. Djuričić has been virtually invisible since arriving, with only a good game against Crystal Palace to really show just why he was highly rated enough to convince Portuguese giants Benfica to shell out €6m to prize him from Heerenveen in the Eredivisie.
Even then, he only lasted 78 minutes against the Eagles, with the Serbian playing over 20 minutes just once in the five appearances he has made whilst in the Red and White stripes of Southampton. His latest appearance, in the 1-0 defeat at Everton, was for just eight minutes, and he was an unused sub in the 2-0 win against Hull last weekend.
The Southampton fanbase was particularly confused as to why another striker was not recruited during the January window, particularly with Graziano Pellè in poor form and Shane Long not in great nick either in front of goal, and the frustrations from that will have been exasperated by the disappointment of both Elia and Djuričić so far. There are agreed fees set, but Djuričić's €10m price tag looks insultingly steep, and whilst Elia's €4m tag reflects the product rather more realistically, it reflects a club eager to sell and not an unmissable bargain.
Saturday's game against Stoke signals the homeward sprint towards the season's finish line, and with just six games of their six-month auditions left, both of Koeman's latest additions to the squad will seriously need to pull their fingers out if they want to go into the summer window with a clear idea of where they will be playing their football next season, otherwise it'll be back to a state of limbo at their parent clubs, and an uncertain summer once more.