Transfer Summary Part 4


And so, we have reached the end of the line, and the final five are up for inspection. They are Swansea, Spurs WBA, Wigan and Wolves. And don’t forget to get in touch if you have any views on any of the transfer activity of the summer.

Swansea City

It’s always interesting to see what the new boys get up to, especially those that have not been in the Premiership, and as discussed yesterday, you can either spend sensibly and gamble a bit, or invest heavily at bigger risk, but bring in experienced talent. I think Swansea were forced to think of the safer option and take the gamble that their free-flowing football would find enough purpose to see off enough teams for enough points to stay up. The summer didn’t start too well as they lost Dorus de Vries on a free to Wolves. The Dutchman has been with Swansea through their rise through the divisions, and has been responsible for some match winning displays. This immediately weakened the team in my eyes, but having replacement Michel Vorm arrive from Utrecht, I wouldn’t be too disheartened as he has put in some excellent displays, and earnt what could be a valuable point for the Swans against Wigan. Darren Pratley was another key player Swansea wouldn’t have wanted to lose, although the player has a better chance of progression at Bolton; but the Jacks will miss the industrious midfielder’s presence in the team. Ma-Kalambay, van der Gun and Pintado were amongst the others that left the club, but none that would be of great loss. So, following Vorm, who were the other players brought in to strengthen? Well strengthen’s a strong word, but Brendan Rodgers has made some acquisitions. It looks like fourth or fifth time’s a charm for Wayne Routledge in the Premiership, as the Swans became the latest club to take a gamble on the winger who has always shown promise but never really delivered outside the Championship. I don’t think he’s good enough to dislodge Nathan Dyer, but he could always go on the other flank. Rodgers looked outside the Premiership when recruiting Jose Moreira from Benfica and Gerhard Tremmel from Red Bull Salzburg, so it remains to be seen how they adapt to life on these shores, although in Moreira’s case in particular, I don’t see him replacing the current player in his position. Leroy Lita was next in, hardly the player who will score you loads of goals to keep you up, which is a shame given his early promise shown in the England youth setup. He may compliment Scott Sinclair, so we’ll wait and see. No one was really brought in that gives me great confidence in Swansea to be honest, which it pains me to say, as I saw a lot of them in the Championship and they really do play good football. My only fear is they go at team’s too much and get opened up. They did run rings around Man City in the first half of their first game, but lost it at the end. I remember Nigel Worthington’s Norwich side a few years ago were applauded for having a go at teams, but inevitably got ripped apart and crashed out of the league on the last day thanks to a 6-0 thrashing by Fulham. And last year we had Blackpool, who became everyone’s second favourite team because of how they attacked sides, but even they couldn’t stay up. I fear for Swansea, but hope they don’t suffer the same fate.

Tottenham Hotspur

Right let me get it out of the way. Luka Modric. There I said it. We all know the saga, and Spurs have done well to keep the little magician, although only time will tell if it is detrimental to keep a player who is not happy. So let’s move on. All in all, Harry Redknapp loaned out 10 players during the summer, the most notable being massive underachievers Jermaine Jenas and David Bentley booted out on a quest to try find some form to match the hype. In Bentley’s case I think this is doable at West Ham, but the jury’s still out on Jenas at Villa. As for players out, Jamie O’Hara was first having spent the season at Wolves, the deal was made permanent. Great move for the player and his new club, as O’Hara has always played his best football away from White Hart Lane. Johnathan Woodgate also left on a free, which was a sad sight, but Harry has given the aging defender a lot of patience and it wasn’t worth a new deal. One wonders what will happen with Ledley ‘I can’t train and can barely play’ King when his time comes. Alan Hutton and Robbie Keane fell foul to the famous Harry Redknapp disease of “once you fall out of favour, you’re dead to me” which struck Darren Bent quite badly in recent years, and almost forced Gareth Bale out, an egg on face moment if ever there was one for ‘Arry. I think Hutton will do well at his new club, and I believe Keane will too although I imagine he’s just playing for his retirement now in LA. The last two out the door were Crouch and Palacios to Stoke. No surprise a midfielder left, due to Spurs’ over abundance of players in the centre, although I am surprised it wasn’t Niko Kranjcar; maybe he likes the Tottenham bench after all. Crouch was a surprise, as with Keane leaving also it only left newboy Adebayor, injury-prone Defoe, and great but out-of-favour Pavlyuchenko. Maybe the Russian will get the chance he deserves?!The lack of strike options is made even more obvious now that van der Vaart has been ruled out for 6 weeks with injury. Not good times for Tottenham who were also shown lacking in the transfer market as they failed to sign Gary Cahill; a player they are crying out for as a decent partner for Michael Dawson at the back, especially if something happens to Gallas. I never realised until writing this, just how little money Tottenham spent in the summer: almost none. Brad Friedel was brought in on a free at the start, which is good cover for calamity Gomes but hardly building for the future, then came Adebayor and Iago Falque on loan. I’m dubious as to the effect Falque can have, but I think Adebayor is a great signing on loan. Yes he can be a bit of a diva, but the man has bags of talent and knows where the goal is in this league. He’s big, quick and skilful and I predict he will be a great success for Spurs this year. And one great signing was followed by another, and it was hardly a surprise, as Scott Parker was welcomed for 5m. A good buy, and a player that will add experience and quality to a Tottenham midfield that can sometimes be wanting. I have no doubt players like Tom Huddlestone can learn a lot from the England man. I think Spurs will push for CL as they did last year, and if Adebayor gets firing and the little Croat finds his head, then that is definitely possible. If not, I can see Arsenal and Liverpool having too much for them. Oh, and pause for thought, but could this be Harry Redknapp’s last hurrah for Spurs given that Fabio Capello will be replaced after Euro 2012? Hmm…

West Bromwich Albion

I never really understood why Di Matteo wasn’t given a little bit longer last season, but then Roy Hodgson came in and did a great job. Plus, a side famous for yo-yoing managed to stay up and I think this season could be a season of cementing their place in the league. They shipped out a lot of players, although no one of great impact, so one would think they have enough to do just that. They managed to keep Peter Odemwingie too, which will be a great boost for the Hawthorns faithful. Scott Carson left for pastures new in Turkey, but in fairness has never recovered from that Wembley nightmare against Croatia. And his replacement is a good one in Ben Foster. I remember a few years ago hearing Man Utd fans bang on about how good this lad was, and he was England’s and their number one, yet when he went to Birmingham and was relegated with them last year he automatically became crap. Oh how fickle fans can be, but I think Foster will get a chance to rebuild his reputation at WBA and its a good buy for all. This summer also saw the return of old hero Zoltan Gera after he was released by Fulham. I don’t think he will have the same impact he had the first time round, but Woy did work with him at Craven Cottage, and he must have seen something there to bring him back. No doubting the best signing for West Brom this summer was Shane Long. Courted by many, WBA finally managed to wrap up the deal at the start of the season and he had instant impact against Man Utd, although he may wish to thank David De Gea for that one. I think Long will get goals for WBA though, and along with Peter Odemwingie I think they will score enough to stay in the top flight. Fans may feel slightly disappointed that the club didn’t manage to sign Owen Hargreaves when it looked like a deal was going to be done before Hargreaves went awol. But then the lure of Man City may have proved too much and for a player that can’t handle playing week in week out, warming the bench at Man City for a tidy pay packet would be my choice too. All in all, I think West Brom will stay up, top half may be beyond them, but cementing Premiership football for a third successive season is the main aim.

Wigan Athletic

Not a lot happened at Wigan in the summer really. Their manager was tipped for the Aston Villa job and whilst some may commend his loyalty to stay with Wigan and Dave Whelan, the man who gave him his chance, I think he may rue the missed opportunity given that there is only so far you can take Wigan as it is a dorment club and staying up is the only objective every year. Things were made even worse when they lost their best player. Again, well played to Dave Whelan who stayed strong on his valuation of the player and received a good fee for Charles N’Zogbia, but the money wasn’t quite invested in a suitable replacement and this has no doubt weakened a side that were struggling to stay up anyway. The most optimistic Wigan fan will point to young talent Victor Moses and the fact he had such a good preseason, but I don’t think he’s quite a match winner yet and is too inconsistent to rely on. I think he may turn out to be one of Wigan’s better players, along with the likes of Ben Watson, and Wigan have done well to keep the talents of Hugo Rodallega at the club. I also think Ali Al Habsi was a good buy having impressed on loan last season, and Shaun Maloney may be a good acquisition but I worry for any player making the move down south, as seen with the likes of Barry Ferguson who never quite found the same form he showed in the SPL. I don’t think Wigan are any stronger this year and they only just stayed up last time out. I think those at the DW Stadium will be bracing themselves for another long hard season which will end in a relegation dog fight, which they may not win…

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves are on of those clubs that don’t spend outside their limits and have ensured a bit of stability. In Mick McCarthy they have a manager that’s seen it all before and in Jed Moxey they have a chairman who offers a lot of support. And despite shipping out a few players on loan and releasing some others, there are a few bits of business they have done which has been quietly impressive. The signing of Dorus De Vries gives good back up following the release of Marcus Hahnemann, but I don’t see the Dutchman getting many games if Wayne Hennessey’s form can be maintained; although that’s not a bad thing for Wolves. Jamie O’Hara is great business given his influence on the side, and whilst it may not seem like a new signing given that he was at Molineux last season on loan, its a good signing either way. The signing that impressed me most though is that of Roger Johnson from Birmingham. Having risen from his days at Cardiff, Johnson had a good year last year along with Scott Dann, and was tipped to be on Liverpool’s radar. To McCarthy’s credit too, he wrapped up the business very quickly and without too much hoo-hah, and he will be a great addition to the Wolves backline. As predicted, not a lot of business at Wolves this summer, but like other teams they have done well to hold onto their prized assets such as Kevin Doyle who was on a few clubs’ radar this summer. I think they have strengthened compared to last year but may possibly be dragged into a relegation battle, but there appears to be enough squads in the league weaker than them, so I think they might stay up. And given the way the club is run, this would be a good thing.

So there’s the round up of the 20 Premier League teams and their business, and I know as well as anyone that it can all change, and predictions now can mean nothing, but hey, it’s fun, and all for the love of the game.


Transfer Summary Part 3

So, part 3. Today’s installment picks up 2 of the three promoted teams in Norwich and QPR, as well as the controversy at Newcastle, the busy-ness at Sunderland, and some solid signings at Stoke. Enjoy…

Newcastle United

Well, well, well. What do you say? Where do you start? Some good signings were made. Some good players were sold. And, well some positions were just missed out on. Pardew started the summer well, trimming the squad of ageing flops Sol Campbell and Shefki Kuqi, and bringing in a host of French speaking talent. Yohan Cabaye was first from Lille, although his pre-season was stunted by his inability to enter the US. In fact, while we re on that topic, it seems stupid that Newcastle should plan a trip to the states (where they are not exactly as well known as the Manchesters, Liverpools, and Chelseas of the world) when 3 of their players are banned from entering; Barton and Ranger being the other two forced to tour with the reserves. Then, in true Mike ‘businessman’ Ashley style, two free transfers were brought in. Demba Ba was first having impressed at West Ham, although he is hardly the goalscorer the club need, and Pardew seems reluctant to play him. There was also Sylvain Marveaux from Rennes, and although he is a young talent, one still remains dubious to how he can cope at the top level. At the same time, the club lost Wayne Routledge to Swansea; not a major loss as he has always been a player more suited to the Championship. But they also ‘cashed’ in on skipper Kevin Nolan. The lynch pin of the team, and surely the man to find them goals since the sale of Andy Carroll, but off he went to East London for 4m, a good buy for Big Sam. Equally surprising was the low figure accepted for left back Jose Enrique, given that he was in demand, and was one of the better players at St James’. There was also the famous Joey Barton saga, in which the midfielder mouthed off on Twitter and slagged off the way the club was run, to then find himself being offered on a free transfer. Despite being a quality footballer, it was rather embarrassing for Our Joe that no one came in for him, even though he was being given away. Eventually, a cash rich QPR trumped up the money to get Barton to Loftus Road in what is a great signing for the R’s, although maybe not a forward step for Joey; he was probably hoping, in vain, that a top 6 team would come after him, but when you come with that much baggage it can be difficult. So Newcastle’s three best players left for a combined total of 10m, with no real replacements brought in. But then some good business from Pardew seemed to turn the tide. Gabriel Obertan was brought in from United for only 3m and he looked every bit worth it in the first game of the season, injecting some excitement into an otherwise dull Newcastle side. I think he could prove to be a very good signing, and Pardew will give him more games which should see him grow in confidence. Another good signing was Davide Santon, touted the ‘next Maldini’, although one would wonder why Inter let the next Maldini leave for only 6m. However I think this has the potential to be a great signing for Pardew as, like Obertan, he is young and will feed off the confidence of playing week in week out; just look what it did for Enrique. And then, the moment we had all been waiting for: not much had been spent this summer, Andy Carroll was to be replaced, and the 35m from that sale was still readily untouched. But whilst Arsenal, Chelsea, QPR etc all brought in the business on Deadline Day, St James’ Park seemed eerily quiet, well except from young goalkeeper Rob Elliot from Charlton. Even their local rivals managed to bring in a new striker, one which I think, would have done alright for the Toon Army, and was surprised they didn’t move for, especially given that Bendtner would be top dog at Newcastle, a position his ego cries out for. To sum up, a weird summer for the Magpies. I think Pardew invested well in youth, but didn’t back it up with proven quality, letting a lot of that leave in the summer. His credentials should keep the club up, but I feel this was the season for Newcastle to push on, especially given the Andy Carroll money which was promised back into the club. In a word, disappointing.

Norwich City

So the Canaries are the first promoted side to be scrutinised. I have to admit I was impressed and surprised at Paul Lambert’s side last year, securing their second successive promotion, and it would be nice to see them top it off by staying up. Looking at the transfers, it’s a bit of a gamble. There were no major departures this summer for Norwich, which is a good thing, and they adequately made way for the inevitable signings. The first through the door was Steve Morison from Millwall, a good signing, and one hopes he can make the step up to the top level. Ritchie De Laet has been round the houses on many loans, despite rarely playing for his parent club, Man United, and I think he has enough games in him to be a consistent player for Norwich. Likewise, James Vaughan has benefited from playing on a weekly basis, so his signature from Everton could be a good move, and I’m eager to see how he performs, given the hype around him a few years ago. Bradley Johnson is another good player who performed well in the Championship for Leeds, but I fear Lambert has brought in too many players without experience at the top level, and Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington from Brighton and Huddersfield don’t exactly correct that. I understand Norwich are working on a budget and they would do well to follow the footsteps of clubs like WBA and Wolves who have never spent outside their limits, and although have yo-yoed, they do have a strong foothold in the Premiership, with the ability to bounce back straight away. The loan signing of Kyle Naughton will do good for all parties involved, as a promising youngster gets a chance, Norwich can benefit from his potential, and Spurs benefit from having their player play Premiership football on a regular basis. Daniel Ayala was the only other player through the door at Carrow Road, and if I was pushed into saying whether I felt Nrwich had done enough to stay up, I would say no. A look at what the other promoted teams have done in the transfer market suggests they are in the worst position, and I think it will be one or two of those three to go down. However, had you asked me at the start of last season if Norwich would be in the Premiership I would also have said no, so best of luck to Paul Lambert…

Queens Park Rangers

And so to the next promoted club, and the one which held the most intrigue, given the financial backing. After a difficult end to the season, in which the club were almost punished for the signing of midfielder Faurlin over to years ago, QPR were finally crowned Championship winners. But despite their billionaire owners they did show a reluctance at the start of the transfer window. They started with a host of free transfers. Jay Bothroyd was a good signing given his form last year that earnt him an England call up, and he will be eager to prove himself in the Premiership to keep Fabio Capello interested. Kieron Dyer was the second through the door, and maybe 8 years ago this would have been exciting. But for a player who has played only a handful of games in the last three years, one can’t help but think it is a waste of money, even if the transfer was free and he is on a pay to play. And in true Kieron Dyer fashion, he broke his foot 5 minutes into his debut. Good business! Welshman Danny Gabbidon was also picked up on a free, and could provide a good back up for Neil Warnock’s men and also pass on his experience to youngsters like Matthew Connolly. DJ Campbell was the first player in to warrant a transfer fee, and I this was good business by Warnock. Although he’s not going to bag 20 goals a season, and he got relegated with Blackpool last term, Campbell was one of the bright stars of the Tangerines line up last year along with Charlie Adam and David Vaughan, and did manage to find the net on a number of occasions. After this, it looked like business had finished for QPR. Neil Warnock, who hardly had the board’s support at the start of the summer, if speculation is believed, was also not given any money to spend, and it looked like QPR were done. Enter Tony Fernandes. The billionaire tycoon took control and immediate did everything in his power to get fan appreciation. He dropped ticket prices, which had rocketed to a staggering 60 pounds a ticket, and dropped season ticket prices, also giving fans a rebate. Then he set about giving Warnock money to play with, allowing the side to pick up Joey Barton’s wages, Luke Young from Villa, Armand Traore from Arsenal and Shaun Wright-Phillips from City. Jason Puncheon was added on loan from Southampton, and Fernandes ended his spree on Deadline Day with the capture of West Ham and Sunderland reject Anton Ferdinand. Seeing this little flurry of action has done a lot more to instil confidence in a side that leaked 4 goals on the opening day against Bolton, with Young, Traore and Ferdinand strengthening at the back, Barton and SWP bolstering in the middle, coupled with Bothroyd and Campbell’s presence up top. I had worried for QPR’s safety, but given their investment in the squad, I feel they should have enough to stay up, and have signed good players with good experience at the top level.

Stoke City

Not a lot of business done at the Brittannia this summer, but some very good business. All the right things to see from club very much in ascendancy. Following an impressive season last year, in which Stoke made the FA Cup final and qualified for the Europa League, all eyes turned to Tony Pulis to see what the Welshman could do in the transfer market. Stoke has transformed the careers of players like Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington, and given a new life to talents such as Rob Huth, and have fully deserved everything that has come their way. Seasoned veterans Abdoulaye Faye and Eidur Gudjohnson were allowed to leave the club on frees this summer, and were followed out by only 6 others, of which, none will lessen the strength of the squad. In all Pulis only pulled in 5 players in the window, but 5 which greatly improve an already resilient squad. Matthew Upson and Jonathan Woodgate were brought in and add a great deal of strength and experience to an already strong back line. Granted Upson had a bad season last year, but all at West Ham bar Scott Parker come under that headline, and on a free it isn’t much of a risk. Woodgate likewise is low risk as he was also free, having been released by Spurs. Although massively injury prone, there is no doubting his quality, and like the Hargreaves deal for Man City, it could turn out to be great business, or just an unfortunate fail. Either way, the two definitely strengthen Pulis’ squad. The other three came in right at the end of transfer window, which may have been Pulis’ doing, as he is a self-confessed fan of the drama. Cameron Jerome is a good back up option to get in, and Stoke fans will hope his inconsistency times itself well with Kenwyn Jones’ so that at least one of them is firing at different times. Wilson Palacios is a cracking signing to bolster the midfield. He was great at Wigan, which prompted the move to Spurs, a side which seems full of top quality players yet still seems to underachieve. I think the move will rejuvenate Palacios having spent a long time on the sidelines. Finally, 10m seems a lot for Peter Crouch, but I do think this is a good move for Stoke, and shows they are serious about progressing as a club and have shown the most ambition out of most the clubs that have been promoted in the last few years. Say what you want abut the lanky giant, but Crouch gets goals wherever he is, just look at his England record. I think Stoke will benefit from the Europa League this year too, whilst not getting to the late stages I think they may surprise a few people. They certainly surprised me in the qualifier with how comfortably they performed at that level. As for the PL, I think Stoke will look at the top half as realistic, and potentially look at getting close to the Europa League contenders, but it would be a big shock if they get higher than 8th.


First of all, congratulations to Sunderland for keeping Steve Bruce, the management equivalent of a traveller, although Niall Quinn and co seem to have tied down their man, for a little while anyway. Jokes aside, it has been a very busy time at the Stadium of Light this summer. A total of 12 players left the club this summer, notably David Hely, Steed Malbranque, the afore-mentioned Ferdinnd and Jordan Henderson. Despite Henderson being a great talent for the future, 20m for a player who is far from the finished article, still won’t be massively impactful this year given his inconsistency last year, and will end up leaving for a top club anyway if he is that good, is great business by Bruce. As for acquisitions, the big Geordie made 11 of them. Connor Wickham was first, slightly expensive at over 8m for a player with no top level experience. He is tipped to be a big talent though so I’m very keen to see him, and given the resources at Sunderland, it could turn out to be a very good buy, but I doubt that he will impact this much this year. Craig Gardner was a solid buy from relegated Birmingham and Ahmed Elmohamady arrived too for a modest 2m. Both are good buys as they replace players who had potential but never quite delivered for the Mackems. Sebastian Larsson was a good signing, as a free agent, and arguably recovers the initial loss of losing Henderson to Liverpool, given his distribution, although in the long run doesn’t have as much potential as Henders. Youn keeper Westwood from Coventry was also a good signing, and may see more chance than you think given Craig Gordon’s loss of form at the club. Then came the raidning of the bins at Old Trafford as John O’Shea and Wes Brown were brought in. In fairness, although lacking in talent to dislodge any of the current United team, I think the pair could do well. Brown will be looking to rediscover his form of a few yeqrs ago when he was getting games; something he will get at Sunderland, and let’s be honest he won’t be worse than Anton Ferdinand! As for O’Shea, the lad is the ultimate Jack of all trades, master of none, but can still put in a solid cover shift. David Vaughan was a good signing from Blackpool, who seemed to lose all their best players this summer, and Nicky Bendtner was the only other significant addition, signing on loan from Arsenal. I doubt the Gunners will miss Bendtner, having grown tired of his heavy touch and negative attitude, but may be hurt that he has insisted he will not return to the club. I think Wenger would have wanted him to get regular PL games with a boss he worked very well with at Birmingham and then come back in form with Arsenal. But, as Arsenal fans know so well, this is not something you can bank on with Bendtner, and I don’t think he will be the man to rifle in the goals for Sunderland; but a very useful addition nonetheless. I think Bruce has added well and hasn’t really lost too much. Midtable beckons for Sunderland, and dare I say it, they might just get higher than the Toon Army. Cue debate.

Tune in for the next and last addition of the PL transfer summary with the remaining clubs.


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.


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.


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…