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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
A hommage to Super Mario
This week Mario Balotelli caused a fuss by trying (and failing) to score with an audacious back heel. Although having an argument with your manager isn’t best advised, I don’t get why everyone went mad. It was a friendly. It’s where you try things out. If he had scored then I’m sure people would have been saying how clever it was!
Anyway, I don’t really want to dwell on thhat, but I figured it could set up this week’s highlight reel quite well. So here are the top 5 backheel goals I have seen. I know I may have missed some obvious ones but nevertheless here’s my pick of the bunch. If you have any other suggestions of ones I have missed or ones you think should be considered, why not let me know!
5) Thierry Henry Vs Charlton
Jonathan Fortune probably thought he had done enough. Tight on Henry, back to goal, nowhere to turn, the only thing Henry could do to score would be… oh wait, he did it.
4) Djimi Traore Vs Liverpool?!
Bit of a cheeky one, but as own goals and back heels go, this is one of the best. Poor Djimi got his feet in one hell of a mess, performed a lovely pirouette, and sadly for the full back it’s probably what he’s most remembered for.
3) Gianfranco Zola Vs Norwich
The little wizard did some outstanding things whilst he was at Stamford Bridge, and this one’s up there. The jury’s still out on whether Graeme Le Saux whipped in a great cross or just duffed it, but what followed was a magic piece of improvisation from the pint-sized Italian. Reaction and execution – perfection.
2) Corridon Vs Porto
To be honest prior to seeing the goal on Champions League Weekly one night, I had no idea wh this guy was. And I’m not sure what he became. Rafa Van der Vaart scored a similar one in his Ajax days, but this one was from the edge of the area, and the audacity for him to perform a flying overhead kick gets him second spot in my book. Bien joue!
1) Matty Burrows Vs Portadown
In my book it deserved to win the Puskas Award last year for goal of the year. Either way, amazing tekkers from Burrows scoring from a cross, with his back to goal, from 18 yards out. And to top it off it was the winner in the 92nd minute. Glentoran’s never had it so good.