Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Thoughts On The Transfer Window

1. Chelsea Won It

Chelsea had a net spend of just £8m this summer and yet somehow their squad looks considerably stronger than last season. How on earth PSG justified paying £50m for David Luiz is beyond me. Everton's £28m was a great deal for all parties. Chelsea got a sizeable fee for a player they didn't want and Everton paid a fair price for a player they did.

With regards to transfers in, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas together for the same price that United got Shaw and Herrera seems like an exceptional piece of business. Costa is one of the best strikers in the world and only reaching his prime now. Being played out of position at Barcelona seems to have made everyone forget just how good a playmaker Cesc Fabregas is. He's going to be a huge asset to Chelsea. Felipe Luis is a great replacement for the outgoing Ashley Cole. The only area where they look slightly short is in the centre of defence, where they will be slightly stretched in the event of any injury to Terry or Cahill. Everywhere else they have at least two players for every position, a luxury every manager would want.

Didier Drogba's return to the club gives them the option of using him as an impact sub. He can still do a job for them in the big games, was always a good man for them. Loic Remy, despite failing a medical at Liverpool, was brought in for a bargain £8m considering his ability. He'll provide some extra cover as Demba Ba did last year, another striker prone to failing the odd medical in his time.

Chelsea's financial shrewdness in this window goes some way towards making up for the umptienth transfer windows they would pay £100m at the drop of a hat and recoup nothing. The fact they've let £50m Fernando Torres go on a free after three and a half years is a throwback to the old, pre-FFP days.

2. Newcastle Show Signs of Life

I think Newcastle have quietly done very well out of this window. In the previous three, with Joe Kinnear overseeing recruitment, they failed to sign a single player on a permanent deal. Unsurprisingly, Kinnear got the axe just hours after the January window ended without a single arrival.

This summer they have brought in eight permanent signings and one on loan. Jack Colback, now an England squad member was a fantastic capture on a free from rivals Sunderland. The likes of Emmanuel Riviere and Remy Cabella both look like quality players while Ayoze Perez looks like a real star in the making. All of these are a testament to Newcastle's European scouting network which has now unearthed quite a bit of talent, particularly in France. Other clubs take note.

The new signings give the squad a fresher look and the attack a much sharper edge than last season. They are more than capable of finishing 8th this season however even a host of new signings and a much improved team is likely to endear Ashely or Pardew to the Toon anytime soon.

3. Wenger Negligent Again

Arsenal now head into the season with two first-team centre halves. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. That, for a club competing in four competitions this season, is absolutely ridiculous. That, and the centre of midfield is still a bit heavy on creativity but light on steel.

Arsenal sold Vermaelen to Barcelona and didn't but a replacement. Callum Chambers can play there but isn't a natural by any means. Surely, some extra back-up for the main two or even competition to keep them on their toes would have been a priority for any normal-thinking manager this summer, particularly given the 20 odd goals they shipped in big games last season. Instead Wenger opted to spend the bulk of his transfer budget on another attacking midfielder in Alexis and a replacement for the injured Giroud in Danny Welbeck.

Arsene Wenger has this obsession with flair players that shows no signs of relenting. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, all right up his street. Since Vieira has left he has not had a 'governor' in central midfield. Of the current crop, Flamini comes by far the closest to fitting this bill. Aaron Ramsey is a box-to-box and can't be counted on all the time for defensive duties. Mikel Arteta is not dynamic enough to be the enforcer they need and Jack Wilshire's bark is significantly worse than his bite.

Wenger has left holes at the back again and as we've seen countless times in the past, the quality of the Arsenal attack will not be enough to win them the title over the course of the season.

4. Tom Cleverley's Chance to Reinvent Himself

Much ridiculed at United, Tom Cleverley actually did quite well on loan at Wigan in 2011. Roberto Martinez, his manager then, was keen to bring him to Everton this summer but the deal could not happen and, despite missing the deadline, Tom Cleverley will play for Aston Villa this season.

We may see a new Cleverley at Villa

He showed plenty of promise early on at United. His performances at the start of the 2011/12 season has fans drooling over the next Scholes. However he missed most of that season due to injury and never ended up playing anywhere near the same level again. Man United fans can be pretty brutal towards their own players at times and Cleverley has come in for more flak than most over the past two years. Playing in a two man midfield, you have to be as outstanding as Yaya Toure or Fernandinho for City last season and Cleverley was miles from that level. It's not that he does a lot particularly wrong, he just should have much more of an impact on games for the position he's playing.

He may do so at Villa, in the middle of the park or perhaps even out wide. I think playing in a three man midfield would suit him. He's not good enough to play as one of two. Alongside Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood he could do well. Getting away from the scrutineering pressure of millions of United fans may do him the world of good too. Best of luck to him. He's not a bad lad.

5. The Premier League's Star Power

Plenty of big names have left the Premier League over the years. Last year it was Gareth Bale and this year it was Luis Suarez who departed these shores for warmer climate. This year however, a rake of big name arrivals means Suarez won't be missed too much.

Cesc Fabregas and Mario Balotelli have returned to England after spells back in their homeland. Didier Drogba is another returnee after two seasons away. Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao will all play in the Premier League for the first time this year. There was a time not so long ago players were hesitant to move to England from warmer climates but those days seem to be at an end. The weather hasn't changed so the deciding factor must be the higher wages on offer now in the Premier League.

While the Ronaldo's and Messi's of this world will always be drawn to Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Premier League has no several clubs who can attract stars out of the next bracket. Players will be drawn by the history and soul of Liverpool, or by the big money on offer at Chelsea and City. Or by United, who can offer both but no Champions League football until next season at least. It is good for the league to have so many stars in it. It will improve the overall quality, right across the board.

Of course the influx of massive foreign talent is dreadful for the England team but great for everyone else so who cares?

6. The Sky Sports News Circus Hits Town

One image we will all take away from Deadline Day was Sky reporter Darmesh Sheth's 'Talk to the hand' moment when referring to how far ahead this year's spending was ahead of last year. Absolute cringe-worthy television. Watch it here!

Transfer Deadline Day is basically Christmas for Sky Sports News, the absolute highlight of their year. They have taken it ridiculously over the top and it's now blown totally out of proportion. This does put added pressure on clubs to do business on the day. With Sky reporters camped outside their training ground, and everyone else rumoured to be doing something, it must be a nightmare for managers and chief executives alike. I'd almost sympathize with Wenger for taking the day off to go to a charity match in Rome, if his team didn't need more reinforcements.

Yellow on deadline day is apparently now a tradition

 Forget the actual football for a day. What really matters on September 1st is sightings of players at airports, rumours circulating wildly, club's rushing to get medical's done and paperwork submitted to the Premier League before the window "SLAMS SHUT" at 11pm.

I like transfer deadline day but it's fast becoming a bit of a guilty pleasure. Part of me feels as if football fans should care more about actual football than mindless gossip about which football was seen where, wearing what and looking like whatever. The same part of me cringes watching Jim White get ridiculously over-animated over a loan transfer between Southampton and Hull going through with just minutes to the deadline. It's unlikely to be a life-changing event for anyone, save the player.

But the other side of me totally loves the unpredictability of it all. It's here to stay, Can't fight it, might as well embrace it.

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