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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Transfer Window Musings

Right I have looked at the transfer window's comings and goings and have decided to pitch into this.

This is George's fault as he told me I need to blog on football! Ok so I am going to write this as someone who isn't going to look up facts and figures on each footballer but just comment on the overall business.

So this is opinion and basically made up.

Works for the tabloids....

Arsenal - still look lightweight up top even after their dealings, how they are hoping for Giroud and Podolski to find their feet quickly. However they do seem more defensive savvy (Steve Bould may be their best signing/appointment) so having trimmed their squad down they might be ok. That said a lot of their junk went out on loans with a view to permanent deals so they may still be left with players Arsene doesn't want/need. They may be ok providing the aforementioned find some form and they don't have too many injuries this season.

Aston Villa - I think they will struggle again this season. Although I can't see them being as bad as last season - no one could be - but signing Championship players 'to give them a chance' just seems a bad policy. Especially with the release of some more seasoned players as well. Lambert is clearly a very good manager and has a long term game plan, I just hope for Villa's sake it works this season or they may be in trouble.

Chelsea - their early business was very good - Hazard already looks incredible - however I still don't see how Victor Moses will fit in (maybe to start taking over from Lampard?). The signings of Oscar and Cesar Azpilicueta will be very interesting to. Their movement on the last day seems to have been to loan out squad players to keep them ticking over/get first team experience. They may be better for having a more settled squad with a few key pieces filling in. That said can they keep up their impressive start or will DiMatteo struggle to build on this like he struggled as West Brom. Time will tell but I feel they will be contenders this season.

Everton - I think David Moyles is finally getting the hang of the transfer market, he picks up relative bargins who can fit into the system he has and so don't disrupt his first team. He has also managed to get Everton playing from the beginning of the season. Getting a bit of money for Jack Rodwell was very shrewd as was using that to bring in several players to increase the strength of a small squad. Providing form and injuries stay the same/away Everton should be pushing top four this season.

Fulham - A curious final day for Fulham, the way they have started the season they seemed to be settled and playing some very good football under Martin Jol (a criminally underrated manager IMO). The purchase of Berbatov is a good piece of business as will be Richardson. Dempsey had to go although £6m seems a little bit on the cheap side to me. However I think Dembele might be a player they will miss more as he started the season in fine form and has been improving since he was bought by them. Will Jol keep the squad settled with 4 new faces on the deadline day coming in? I think so and I think they will be comfortable mid-table. I would like to see them punching for Europa cup places but I worry that too many of their players may have off-days and so consistency will be an issue.

Liverpool - Oh dear! They got rid of Charlie Adam (very poor never should have been bought) and Andy Carroll (doesn't fit with Rogers plans it seems) but failed to bring anyone else in really. Liverpool's squad is pretty strong and Rogers' ethos is very good. However they still struggle with the profligacy of last year. Unless that is sorted - and sharpish - they will struggle again this season. I don't think they are top 4 contenders. Despite how well they played against Man City last week (remember it is the games against lower teams they threw points away in last season). Adding the pressure is Everton's blistering start to the season. One of my best mates is a Liverpool fan and he is worried, makes me worry for them.

Man City - Richard Wright?! Scott Sinclair?! Nastasic and Garcia may prove to be shrewd pieces of business but do Wright and Sinclair truly belong there? Are they good enough for the richest team on the planet. The clear out of squad players had to happen which will make them slightly more manageable. However the biggest worry for Man City fans should be Mancini's recent 'tactics'. It felt last week at Liverpool like he was trying to make a point to the chairman that he needed centreback cover. I think providing Mancini picks his best 11 in the best formation and stops trying to either make a point/be stubborn/be smart then they will be in the top two again. However if he keeps trying to do the above he may find results start to dry up. Also for Joe Harts sake he needs to pick a stable backline that is strong to allow Hart to continue to develop and not be so exposed. The more exposed he looks the worse he looks, especially under the high ball, and that is a worry from an England perspective.

Man United - Kagawa looks amazing and the signing of RVP is very clever and between them I can see them getting plenty of goals. I still think United could have done with some midfield and defensive cover but then they have a huge injury list still with some of those players starting to filter back in (Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling and Young are still all out). Glad Berbatov has gone off to get first team football. Generally United look strong my big concern is with the form on Rooney. I personally (controversy ahead) think they should have sold him a while ago. On his day Rooney is destructive however too often he is not on his day and the ball bounces off him, he is ill disciplined tactically and well discipline wise and never looks like scoring. At the moment he looks off the pace and rusty - and will be worse when he comes back from his injury lay off. I don't think a team like United need someone who blows so hot and cold. I also think England shouldn't have taken him in the summer and felt we looked a better 'team' without him. Though looking at my trophy cabinet and comparing it to what Sir Alex has won in his time shows that he probably knows more about professional football than I do.

Newcastle - a tidy transfer window, Pardew (as much as I don't like him) has shown to be astute in transfer dealings although his scouts should get lots of acclaim (which they have so I won't say anymore). The important think for Newcastle was to keep their key players, which they did so job was a good one. I think they will push the top quarter of the table and may sneak a Europa place this season.

Norwich - again a worry, some good signings and held on to some key players however are they good enough to hang in the premiership. Last season they took people by surprise will they do the same this season? That said I rate Chris Hughton very highly and I think they will be ok again this season - perhaps not as good as last season though - mainly though because there are worse teams below them.

QPR - speaking of worse teams. Oh boy. The ins at QPR are mental. 12 players bought in this summer. 12! While Mark Hughes has shipped out a lot of players to trim his squad down that's still a whole new team bought in. The have got rid of twitter's Joey Barton (and get extra points for getting him out of the country) though it is only on loan at the moment. I struggle to see QPR gelling to become anything remotely like team for a while. I hope for Sparky's sake they do and they survive well. I just don't see it though. I see them being a shambles for a while to come and then it may be too late. In part my worry is based on them seeming to panic buy. Time will tell and some purchases - Park, Granero, Cesar, Mbia - seem very good but will it work out? The next few weeks might give us an idea but I think not.

Reading - a tidy transfer window adding to a squad that is greater than the sum of its parts. Last season Reading got promotion on the back of an amazing run. Will they replicate that this season? I don't see it I think they will struggle and prove to be too lightweight. However I think there may prove to be worse teams in the Prem than Reading and they may survive by default of not being the worst team. If they click and keep their heads up they will issue out a few shock results. I just hope they get enough momentum to survive on their own merits.

Southampton - again very tidy kept hold of their best players while strengthening within their means. As with Reading I hope they have enough in tank to stay up. Southampton played without fear against Man City in the first game of the season but need to get their tactics and personnel right from the start of matches otherwise they may find themselves out of matches by half time. Ramirez is a surprise signing and hopefully it will pay off for them. I think like Reading they will stay up but only because others are going down.

Stoke - Stoke are the Prem's stuck record. The mantra of if it aint broke don't fix it seems to ring out at the Britannia. As does the retort of if you ask Stoke fans they would take being mid-table and a Premiership fixture. To that mind the purchase of Charlie Adam makes some sense. Edu is a good signing though I am not convinced about Nzonzi. I think Stoke will bully their way to mid-table safety again this season.

Sunderland - Interesting buys Fletcher, Johnson and Rose will prove to be useful additions and getting Saha and Cuellar on frees is a win-win as far as I can see. The trimming of the squad also needed to be done following Steve Bruce's homage to Mark Hughes. I think Sunderland's biggest boon for this season is having a full preseason under Martin O'Neil. I think a top half finish has to be expected maybe with a home victory over Newcastle.

Swansea - Swansea's transfer dealings was a success when Michael Laudrup signed on as their manger. I have to admit I was not keen to have Swansea in the Prem purely based on them being a Welsh team. However I have to say they are a well run club with a good footballing philosophy and I should never have had those thoughts. Laudrup is a shrewd operator and a very good manager and their signings in the window showcase their insistence on not over paying and getting players who will play their way. They will miss Scott Sinclair I feel although Hernandez and Sung-Yeung should fill that gap. Oh and we can't forget Michu who may just be the signing of the season! (especially for my dream team) I think Swansea will be more than comfortable in the Prem and will bloody a fair few noses - not just those of the teams around them. All in all a very good Summer for the club.

Tottenham - AVB has shed lots of squad/old/broken/unwated/want away players. While some loses - Modric and VDV - will be felt more than others -Saha, Pineaar, Button - I feel AVB has bought well and Levy has ensured the bank has not been broke. Dembele looks an amazing player, Lloris is within the 3 best keepers in the world (not giving into hyperbole and including Hart in the list), Dempsey is a proven Prem goal scorer and Adebayor was a must to make permanent (£5m is a steal). All in a very tidy summer for Spurs and I think they will be pushing the top 6 again, however I feel the Champs League places might be a stretch to far at this stage. I just hope AVB gets enough time to really put his stamp on the club.

West Brom - signing Foster was a must getting Lukaku was a boon, Popov may prove to be a shrewd signing. Some free signings and lots of loans mean we have actually made money this summer. Again the key this summer was keeping our important players which was accomplished and also finding a new manager. In Steve Clarke we have a very well respected coach who seems ready to make the step up. I think we will be comfortable again this season I just hope we can sort Olsson's contract out soon. Other than that I am not saying anymore about the Baggies so I don't curse us. Oh and it's nice to have Zoltan Gera back for us. Welcome back we've missed you (I know he signed last season but he was out injured).

West Ham - see QPR accept where I like Sparky - purely from his playing days - I have no sentimentality for 'Big' Sam. I also don't like the way he blames his players publicly - just lacks class IMO. Another team that has bought in shed loads of players I hope Benayoun gets lots of playing time (criminally underrated I feel) and having balls pinged into him means Carroll will start to score regularly again. I think that 'the Allardyce' method will get them to survive a la Stoke - but with less elan - as much as I don't like it. However I think the survival will only be accomplished at the last minute as they look a little weak/slow/old at the back so will struggle to keep clean sheets at this level. What fills me with dread is the self congratulation 'big' Sam will give himself when they stay up by a goal on the last day.

Wigan - some interesting signings, however I think Wigan are too lightweight. I think this is the season where lack of serious investment, lack of interest from the locals and lack of being bothered for 3/4 of a season by the team will catch up with them. Sorry Wigan but I can't even be bothered to look up a few players as I don't think its worth my time. Goodbye Wigan we won't miss you.

So there it is, my long review of the transfers/teams chances. I still feel the transfer window should close before the season starts although I understand why it doesn't.

Anyway enjoy don't slate me too much these are just my opinions.

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