Transfer Summary part 2

So, here’s the rundown of the next five clubs and what business they conducted in the transfer window. That’s Everton, Fulham, Liverpool and the two Manchesters. Enjoy…

Everton

Um, I don’t know if the Toffees ever get the invite to the transfer market, as admitted by Bill Kenwright in the summer. I feel for David Moyes. I think he’s a great manager and what he’s achieved at Everton is fantastic, and that is also thanks to the fact the Board have given him so much time. They do deserve a break. Only two players came through the doors at Goodison this summer, and predictably they were loans. Royston Drenthe from Real Madrid will provide cover for Leighton Baines, and also gives an option on the wing too. He had a promising start to his career which prompted the move to the Spanish capital but has yet to make the desired impact on the big stage. At Everton he will no doubt get the games and the support of the manager, but he will have to work hard as his lack of match practice could be a potential stumbling block. Denis Stracqualursi (just copied and pasted) was the next through the door. I’m afraid I don’t know much about the Argentine so if anyone does please feel free to comment, but according to his Wikipedia page, he scored freely in Argentina and even a hatrick against Boca Juniors in April. Could potentially provide the goals Everton need, just depends whether he’s a Tevez or a Veron. The biggest story surrounding Everton in the transfer window is Mikel Arteta’s departure. I can understand Everton fans’ anger at the timing of the deal, and I’m sure if the shoe was on the other foot and Arsenal had lost Fabregas or Nasri at the last minute they would be just as upset. I thought Moyes was very thoughtful on his assessment of the situation and the lure of CL football being too much. Bit of a kick in the teeth though that the player took a big pay cut to leave, especially given Everton’s finances. Other departures included promising striker James Vaughan to Norwich, and Yakubu, the forgotten man of football (and to my surprise is only 28!), who went to Blackburn, which I know I failed to mention before. The Vaughan one I was surprised about as he had a good spell at Crystal Palace last year, and I don’t think Yakubu is a major loss as he hasn’t quite cut the mustard recently. Jermaine Beckford also left for Leicester, a step down which suits all parties. He was a great goalscorer in the Football League, and despite netting a few in the PL, never looked as dangerous as when he was at Leeds. He can revive his career, and Everton get a profit. As for Everton, their lack of strikers is their biggest flaw and a lot of their season may depend on how fit Saha can stay. They have a good spine in Jagielka, Neville and Fellaini, but I think they may be struggling. I would love to be proved wrong, but I think the lower half will do them this year.

Fulham

After Mark Hughes’ bizarre resignation at the end of the year, Fulham fans were probably quite happy to see lovable vampire Martin Jol take the reins, given his successful spell at Spurs; followed by a bizarre replacement. For the Whites it was a summer of slimming as they rid the squad of a lot of players, most notably Zoltan Gera, Diomansy Kamara and Jonathan Greening. No major sales though which will please the folk down at Craven Cottage. And first in was Premiership favourite John Arne Riise from Roma. Not a bad signing if he can recapture his Liverpool form, and Jol has done well to bring in someone with Premiership experience. Marcel Gecov has been brought in to bolster the midfield and was followed by Macedonian Pajtim Kasami from Palermo. Jol kept with his Italian theme bringing in Grygera from Juventus, who I think will add experience to the Fulham backline. On a free transfer as well it’s no risk and a good move. The attack was the last thing to be strengthened. Bobby Zamora is coming back to form, Andy Johnson benefitted from a good pre-season and Europa League campaign early on, and Moussa Dembele looks like an exciting prospect. However, Jol swooped to bring in Orlando Sa from Porto, but more notably Bryan Ruiz was the big money buy costing 10.6m from FC Twente. Fulham managed to hold off a last minute bid from Newcastle to land their man and they will be hoping to get a good return on their investment. The Costa Rican is an exciting prospect and can play up top, on the wing and behind the strikers. I think he could easily be a player who could play in the Champions League, so I think this is a great signing for Fulham. I believe Jol has strengthened sufficiently and has everything in place to ensure Premiership safety and maybe have a little Cup run this year.

Liverpool

Right now it gets serious. The Reds were big spenders in January, thanks to a large sum received for Fernando Torres, although one might feel they perhaps overspent on Andy Carroll, especially when you consider Luis Suarez cost 10m less. And they came under criticism once more for overspending again at the start of the summer, spending 20m on Jordan Henderson. I feel for Henderson, it’s not his fault that fee was paid. Yes, it’s excessive but he never asked for it. It was what Liverpool were willing to pay, he just has to get on with playing. I was never overly impressed with his performances for Sunderland, he seemed a bit inconsistent, but he is one for the future, and Kenny is obviously investing in this, and we all know Kenny loves to invest money… a lot… ask Blackburn and Newcastle… and just look at his Liverpool track record. But his next move was shrewd business, nabbing Charlie Adam from Blackpool for 7m.There’s no doubting Adam’s ability and he will get goals and create chances, albeit after lashing wasteful 70 yard Hollywood passes all over the place.But great business nonetheless, and possibly one of the best buys of the summer. Adam was followed to Anfield by solid back up keeper Alexander Doni, and Aston Villa’s player of the year Stewart Downing. Whilst I think Ashley Young is a better investment, I think Downing will suit Liverpool well and his supply from the flanks is perfect for Carroll and Suarez to latch onto. Maybe not worth the large transfer fee but again, we live in an over-inflated market, and I have been very impressed with the start of his Reds career, as has Fabio Capello. At this stage I was wondering what Kenny was doing, as I felt the place Liverpool needed to strengthen the most was at the back where Liverpool are sometimes prone to leaking the odd goal or two. But Kenny came through, and I think 6m for Jose Enrique is fantastic business once again. He’s straight out of the EPL and a quality player to boot and fitted straight in. That being said I think Kenny could have strengthened in central defence. Although exciting Uruguayan prospect Seb Coates has come in I can’t help but feel he missed out on a Scott Dann type of player; someone they were linked with. Craig Bellamy is a good back up for the money, but I don’t see him getting many games ahead of Carroll and Suarez if Liverpool only play one up top, unless he gets put on the wing which is an option, although the boyo had a problem with Mancini for doing that. There were a few notable leavers/failures at Anfield this summer, notably Poulsen, Aquilani, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Jovanovic and even Joe Cole in his surprise move to Lille, although I think he might actually do quite well there; the French league is incredibly slow and dull and he will relish the space and poor opposition. Raul Meireles was the shock departure at the end, especially considering he was one of Liverpool’s better players at the end of last season during Kenny’s revitalisation. And he started this season well, changing the game completely at the Emirates to unlock Arsenal single-handedly. And the fee of 12m is very low considering the price of other players, but I suppose if a player wants to leave you take what you can. I see Liverpool in a very healthy position and whilst I don’t think they will get near the top of the table like some do, I think they are a good bet for CL qualification and will be battling hard with both North London outfits for the privilege.

Manchester City

I’m aware this post is quite long already and I have just seen whose next, so I’ll try keep it short. 23 players left City in the summer, and no, wantaway Carlos Tevez was not one of them. Notable departures were Given, Vieira through retirement, Adebayor – a strange one as I think he will genuinely strengthen one of City’s rivals, German flop Jerome Boateng, Santa Cruz and SWP. I was surprised Adam Johnson didn’t get loaned out, but maybe City will use him more this term. Players in: Savic and Clichy add depth to the squad although I don’t think strengthen it at all. Mancini also brought in back up goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, which will make Stuart Taylor rest a bit easier knowing he’s still not going to get a game. Then the three big signings. Sergio Aguero was a great buy, yes expensive, but I am very happy to see him on these shores. His debut against Swansea was a blistering thirty minutes introduction, and I think he will only get better and better. Combine that with on form Edin Dzeko and City are a dangerous prospect who can get goals from anywhere. It doesn’t look good for ‘I hate Manchester’ campaigners Tevez and Balotelli as they may find appearances hard to come by. But for great strikers you need great service, and as if David Silva, Yaya Toure, James Milner etc weren’t enough, Samir Nasri was poached from North London for good measure. A great signing by Mancini bringing in proven Premiership class, even if he did drag out the negotiations in a Barcelona-esque fashion, and well overpaid for a player in the last year of contract, but it’s City – what about money? Funny as well to see a player who stated last summer that players ‘only join City for money’ only to arrive and say it was nothing to do with his triple salary. Granted, if a competitor of my work offered me 3 times my salary I would jump at the chance, but these are footballers, they are paid too much as it is. Three times my salary is life changing, not so much for a footballer. Then came a potentially good bit of business in Owen Hargreaves. If he’s fit he’s great cover and experience. Plus he’s used to dealing with prima donna’s and divas so Balotelli etc will be a doddle for him. He won’t play every week but is a good player to get on a free, although you do wonder why United didn’t offer him anything but did to Michael Owen. But he was free, although I’m surprised City didn’t try and offer someone, anyone, a few million… just because they could. It surprised me to find that since the PL started, City are the second biggest spenders, only a measly 60m off Chelsea, and bare in mind they spent a good few years out of the top division. Compare that to other, more successful teams, and City fans will find it hard to say they are not wasteful and haven’t been a main contributor to the business that is ruining football. Also, averaged out, City pay over 800k per point in the EPL, more than double any other team in history. And they say money can’t buy success… well I suppose it hasn’t… yet. I think that will change soon, maybe not this year but I see City challenging for the title and going strong in the CL and cup comps to boot. The Blue Moon is rising at present.

Manchester United

Ah boring Manchester United. Strolled to an uninspiring Premiership crown last term, made it to the CL final, the best club in the country, still marching on…blah, blah, blah. Then when it comes to the transfer window, Sir Alex gets all his business done and dusted early doors. Where’s your sense of adventure?! In all seriousness, it wasn’t quite that dull, and it was a reshaping at Old Trafford this summer. They lost Van Der Sar and Scholes to retirement; possibly two of the best players of our generation. SAF also trimmed a lot of deadwood this summer, namely O’Shea, Brown, Obertan and Bebe, who unfortunately broke his leg on moving to Besiktas. Despite being heavily linked all summer with Dutch sensation Wesley Sneijder it never quite materialised, and to be honest, the other 19 teams in the Premier League, probably breathed a massive sigh of relief. That would have been unfair. They did welcome Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck back from loan spells and both have started the season very well, which is a great prospect for the national side. I personally look forward to seeing Cleverley team up with Jack WIlshere in midfield, once the latter gets fit. As for the actual signings, SAF spent big, but well in my opinion. Phil Jones was a good buy, one for the future and seems to have settled well, and I think both he and Smalling will push Vidic and Rio this season. Ashley Young was a great buy too. Again maybe a lot for a player in the last year of his contract, but he has more than proved his worth already. Was a hot prospect at Watford, a promising player at Villa, and I think SAF may be the key to unlocking the full potential of the winger. David De Gea was the other signing of the summer with huge gloves to fill. I think he will come good in the future, even if he has done his best to cock it up at the start of his United career (seriously Shane Long’s goal? The Titanic went down quicker). A solid recruitment phase by SAF and as ever United will be strong, just ask Arsenal, and challenging for the title. Potentially my tip to win it, and will do well in CL as well, as they predictably got an easy group. Improved enough to match Barca? Hah! Nowhere near! Messi, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Fabregas, Sanchez….. have you seen who they’ve got?!

So that’s the latest round up. Tune in soon for Newcastle, Norwich, QPR, Stoke and Sunderland…

Transfer summary part 1

So the transfer window has shut, all deals have been done, and now managers have to play with what they’ve got. But after a summer of gossip and speculation, now what do we talk about? Well we can start by talking about the deals that have been done. So here’s my round up team-by-team of the Premiership’s transfers, in alphabetical order, starting with the first five.

Arsenal

Oh what a place to start! One of the busiest clubs in the last few days, perhaps brought on by the humiliation received at Old Trafford on Sunday. Many Arsenal fans claim it was a blessing in disguise, but sorry, no 8-2 thrashing is a blessing! The summer started well, business was done quickly for Jenkinson, Gervinho and then Oxlade-Chamberlain, however Arsenal were then stunted by the embarrassing Barcelona negotiations followed by Man City’s equally embarrassing drawn out negotiations for Cesc and Nasri. This hurt Arsenal as it meant they had to wait a while for the money for reinvestment, plus they have lost arguably their best 2 players. Clichy and Eboue also left the club, but given the amount of mistakes between them, Arsenal will probably be happy to have received some money for the woeful pair. Then came the panic buys. Park Ju Young from Monaco was a funny one as he was on his way to a second medical at Lille when he was ‘kidnapped’, and it remains to be seen whether the South Korea captain can produce the goods at the top level. Andre Santos seems a good buy, cost less than what Clichy was sold for, has more international experience and has CL exp too, and can play higher up the pitch. Mertesacker was the much needed signing, and at 6’6 is a giant. Questions over his pace remain, but he did keep Rooney, Defoe et al bay in Germany’s demolition of England last term. Also experienced, his partnership with Vermaelen, with the confident Szczesny behind may rid Arsenal of their set piece weakness, finally. The last two are hit and miss really. There’s no doubting Yossi Benayoun’s talent, but is he really going to be the creative player they need or will he just drift in and out of games like Arshavin and Rosicky? Arteta is an exciting signing and an absolute steal IF he can find his form of two years ago. It remains to be seen but it certainly looks more positive for Arsenal now… if only because Nicklaus Bendtner has finally left! They will certainly be in a better position now and I think CL qualification is still a realistic target, but lord knows, Arsenal need to kickstart their season.

Aston Villa

The summer didn’t start brilliantly for Villa with the surprise announcement that Alex McLeish would cross the Birmingham border to manage the club, which was not met well by fans. Which is a fair shout, given he relegated Villa’s blue rivals twice, most recently last year, despite cup success. And considering the money at St Andrews and the players, it was a pretty impressive feat to do so. It was followed by 2 of Villa’s best players in Young and Downing leaving the club, although it must be said, given the fees, Villa definitely came out of the deals well. Then McLeish pulled off a cracking signing in Shay Given. Arguably one of the best of the summer, and the big Irishman more than showed this straight away with a cracking debut against Fulham on day one. Charles N’Zogbia was next in, and given he was half the price of Downing, for effectively the same player, it is again a great example of good business for Villa. The only other players through the welcome doors at Villa Park were seasoned underachievers Jermaine Jenas and Alan Hutton both from Spurs. I thnk the move could be good for Hutton as the right back played well under McLeish at both Rangers and for Scotland, which is what prompted interest from down south. However he has never really done it at Spurs and with Harry’s impatience, which almost saw him sell Gareth Bale a few years ago, Hutton never stood a chance, never getting consistent football. With Luke Young leaving for new riches at Loftus Road, Hutton will have the confidence of his manager, and a regular spot to try and find his form again. Jermaine Jenas joins on loan, with the chance to try and find the promise which almost lead to moves to Inter Milan and Real Madrid, apparently. Although for Jenas I think actually playing again consistently would be a good start. Could be a good move for him, but given how he spectacularly fell off the face of the earth, he will have to work hard to get back to his best. All in all, I don’t think even McLeish could get this side relegated, and a good run of form could see Villa pushing into the top half this year.

Blackburn Rovers

Ah the Venky’s! After a fantastically appalling advert was released featuring many of the first team, one wonders what exactly their vision of running a football club is. Sack a proven manager last year when he wasn’t doing too bad. Put a complete tool in his place, and watch as the club make bids for Ronaldinho and other high profile names, only to narrowly avoid relegation on the last day. On to the summer and they again punched above their weight, launching a bid for Spain legend Raul, which was laughed off, and then spent the summer chasing no-name players, despite the club’s ‘riches’. Phil Jones was the big name to leave, but one can hardly blame him, and he was followed by a string of squad players. I personally think Steve Kean should have followed them out the door, and the longer they keep him the worse it will be for Blackburn. He did raid Aberdeen and Dundee Utd for Anderson and Goodwillie, but that’s hardly going to set the world alight, and it also remains to be seen if Vukcevic and Petrovic can play at this level. To me it seems like Kean would be more suited to managing an SPL team, where Scottish talent and unknown players are the only option, but given the financial backing, he hasn’t realised that proven talent is probably what is needed so that another Kalinic doesn’t happen. But then came Scott Dann, easily Blackburn’s best signing, and given that they held off Arsenal to keep Chris Samba as well, they now have a solid, no-nonsense, centre back pairing. However, with Kean still in charge and given the rest of the squad, I still have Blackburn to go down or flirt with relegation for most of the year. Could change with a new manager and better signings in January, but looking ahead that far already is never a good sign.

Bolton Wanderers

What they kept Gary Cahill? Score! I do have a lot of love for Owen Coyle and I think he’s had another great summer. Not just because of the Gary Cahill thing, although that is huge, for now. No doubt Bolton will be hoping he doesn’t get injured before January as that will be the only time they will get any money for him now. But Coyle also has Bolton playing good football; they walked through QPR, and put in a good show against City too. In the transfer market Bolton trimmed the deadwood from the wage bill, although may have felt a bit disappointed that they lost Johan Elmander to Galatasaray given the Swede was finally showing real promise in the top flight. A striker seemed to be top of Coyle’s wishlist, especially with Daniel Sturridge ending his successful loan spell at the end of the last campaign. And Coyle has attempted to fill the void with 3 new strikers. Tuncay has experience at this level and can still put in a shift, although one would argue he’s not going to get you bags of goals. David N’Gog could turn out to be a good signing given that he won’t have the pressure on him like he had at Liverpool and will play more consistently. Only time will tell how good a signing that will turn out to be. And Gael Kakuta from Chelsea looks like a good player and maybe Coyle can do for him what he did for Jack Wilshere a few years ago. Despite these signings I still feel Bolton are slightly weaker up top than last season. Elsewhere Coyle raided former club Burnley for Chris Eagles and Ty Mears. Eagles could be a good signing as he has been a big fish in a small pond for a while at Burnley, however one feels for Mears given that he broke his leg before the campaign even begun. Dedryck Boyata on loan from City will help to mature the player who showed a lot of promise when thrown in at the deep end last year, and Reo Coker and Darren Pratley make up Coyle’s signings. The former, like Jermaine Jenas, showed great promise early in his career and I hope he can find that form at Bolton, although I think his time has passed. As for Pratley, he was a key player at Swansea so it remains to be seen if he can make the step up, although his pace is questionable. I don’t see Bolton going anywhere near relegation this year, and back Coyle to put in another successful campaign, looking solid in mid table.

Chelsea

A solid first transfer window for Villas Boas, who was a great signing himself at the start of the summer. Chelsea trimmed a lot of squad players and reserves, and I was happy to see Michael Mancienne move to Hamburg to get more football, maybe because I always like to see English players play abroad, and the Bundesliga is a good place to develop. Yuri Zhirkov was the other notable departure although I don’t think he’ll be missed, and there’s no sympathy for a player going to money-rich Anzhi in Russia! On the buying front Villas Boas was very quiet to begin with, then came through with some absolute gems. Young goalkeeper Thibault Courtois seems a good buy for the future, and immediately loaning him out to replace David De Gea at Atletico Madrid is a great move to build up his experience. Oriol Romeu was next in from Barcelona and this youngster seems a bargain at just over 4m. However Barcelona, as they did with Bojan at Roma, have put a buy back clause in should Romeu turn out to be a little star – shrewd business. Then comes the big boys. Romelu Lukaku has been courted by the top clubs for years with Chelsea at the head of the crowd. And they got their man for around 18m if reports are correct. Dubbed as the next Drogba, Lukaku is very physical and will prove a real handful in years to come. Chelsea may have wanted to loan him out this year given that Torres, Anelka, Drogba, Sturridge and Kalou are all at the club, but I look forward to seeing him at some point, if not just what to see what the fuss is about! Then came one of the best buys in my opinion this summer. We all thought Juan Mata was destined for the Emirates a month ago, and seeing him make his debut, Arsenal fans may be a bit gutted the club didn’t stump up the 23m to buy the Spanish starlet. He will be great for years to come and one couldn’t help but feel Chelsea had turned their attentions away from Luka Modric when this guy came in. Great player, good price. Funny I should mention Modric, and one really should feel for the little Croatian, given that Chelsea unsettled him all summer, put him well out of favour with Tottenham, put him in a bad mental state, and then just ignored the playmaker when it mattered. He must be wondering what’s going on. Oh to be Luka today! And Chelsea seemed to dwell on the Modric talk all day yesterday, before launching successive bids for Raul Meireles until in the eleventh hour the player handed in a transfer request and the deal was done. Easy! At 12m it is very good business again, and although Liverpool fans have been bleating on about how they don’t need him, in their heart of hearts they will miss him. Meireles was the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal when he came on at the Emirates the other week, and I’m surprised Kenny let him go for that fee, especially considering what the Reds have paid on players this summer. I think Chelsea have certainly strengthened, if just in depth, and will probably relish the hype around the two Manchester clubs as they may be able to sneak in to take the title. Either way they will definitely occupy the top of the table for me.

Well that’s the first 5 teams rounded up. Stay tuned as the next lot will follow shortly…