There has been much discussion of Manchester United's departed or injured defenders, but far less of Michael Carrick. Will his return to fitness cause notable improvement?
Arsenal fans have been sucked back into believing Wenger can bring the glory years back after beating Borussia Dortmund. Plus, more on Liverpool's worrying decline...
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A Pithy Assessment
Man United get Falcao.
Liverpool get Balotelli.
Arsenal get Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal don't challenge for the title. And it was ever thus.
Mike, LFC, London
Welbeck: Better Than Nothing...
Even though I am disappointed by the lack of firepower in terms of pure forwards and wished for a blockbuster striker like a Cavani or a Falcao (also that Messi guy would have been fine), getting Welbeck is better than nothing.
I know his scoring record isn't good at all, but he's still 23 (and hopefully will further develop while at Arsenal) and was a key component in a good Manchester United side (compared to the shadow that has been playing for a year or so) a couple years back and Wenger - for all his faults - may get the best out of him.
While the quality and quantity of the squad is one problem (especially if there are many injuries), I think that the main problem in the team has more to do with a serious lack of urgency. Judging by the first few games of the season, the performances were annoyingly sluggish in a way that has nothing to do with available quality.
In trying to create chances, I feel that the attacking players were very sloppy in terms of attacking passes (creating very few chances in long intervals which even Aaron Ramsey was a culprit), were too predictable, lost the ball too easily, and when they did lose the ball, did not really fight hard enough to get it back (perhaps with the exception of Sanchez). They lost 50-50s in situations where they shouldn't.
The defensive players -while very talented - are prone to lapses of concentration in key areas. Whether or not it is complacency (since ending the great drought) is difficult to say, but perhaps Arsenal's best signing (one that doesn't require wages or transfer fees) would either be the "hair-dryer" or a straightforward criticism from Wenger ( instead of complaining of how the game was "physically demanding" or the opposition played well, or how "we lacked sharpness" due to a Euro tie, he has just say directly that "we were poor, lazy, etc. and there is no excuse for that", or both (just like what Mourinho did and what Ferguson was famous for).
The performances with the available resources need to improve quickly, because the performance in the Leicester City and Everton games were as follows: " Congratulations to Arsenal for getting a point, hard luck Leicester/Everton on dropping 2 points".
Ahmed, Egyptian Gunner
...Or, He'll Be Excellent...
I wonder how any sane Gooner could be anything other than ecstatic regarding our purchase of Danny Welbeck. Here is a footballer who has all the technical ability to succeed as a World Class forward and lacks only one vital trait - composure. Who better to guide him than Arsene Wenger?
At one point he was ahead of Daniel Sturridge in the England set up and Sturridge bagged 21 league goals last season! Wenger will give the youngster all the time in the world to work on his weaknesses and challenge himself further as a player, and with Ozil and Sanchez feeding him, while Ramsey and Walcott take some of the goal-scoring burden off him, I believe he will revel in his role at Arsenal. He has Premier League experience, and he is versatile, and can swap positions with Sanchez and Walcott in leading the line. He is quick, agile, and is up for a challenge. His best games for Man Utd was against Real Madrid over both legs, so he is not one to shy away from a challenge.
I do hope our home supporters give him time and patience to shine. Let's not put the fact that he was from Man Utd skew our view of him; he was a born and bred Mancunian, gave them their all, and they got shot of him for some exotic flavour. If anything, we should savour the opportunity to develop him further and rub it in when he starts banging them in! The manner of his transfer, pulling an Odemwingie (a trend I predict we shall see more and more of), should endear him to us. He displayed initiative, drive, and confidence, and fabulously, he took the long drive because he couldn't stand the idea of moving to Spurs. Brilliant!
The fact that Man Utd were reluctant to sell him to us tells us all we need to know. A young Danny Welbeck, to me, had flashes of Thierry Henry. Yaya Sanogo is actually a very similar player, but with better technique and physics, and with much less experience. I can see a friendly rivalry burgeoning between the two. In Sanchez they both have a great role model in terms of skill, hard work, and commitment. And with Wenger as a coach, we might have pulled off the dark horse transfer of the summer window!
Yusuf Bulama (I don't work for Danny Welbeck), AFC, Nigeria
...Or He'll Be Rubbish (And Wenger Has Lost It)
I'm sitting here this morning dumbfounded, blinking at Danny Welbeck's mug staring back at me on the Arsenal website. I'd heard the rumours last night before I reconciled with the fact that we aren't signing a defender or a midfielder and went to sleep. The fact that this window started so well and looked so promising makes the disappointment with Wenger and the club sting even more.
For the best part of the past month the manager has gone on about how he doesn't need a striker and is in fact open to a move for a defender and maybe even a defensive midfielder should the opportunity arise. So what has he done since then? He's signed a striker who can't even be strictly considered as an improvement on what we have. No mention of a centre-back. Not even a whisper regarding a defensive midfielder. So according to Wenger, he's gone ahead and authorized the signing of a player who, till yesterday, he didn't need.
Are we to infer from what has played out over the past two weeks that Thomas Vermaelen was let go of with no solid plan to replace him? I'm sure most will remember that the signing of Debuchy was delayed till Newcastle confirmed the signing of Janmaat. Is it unfair to ask why a club that intends to challenge on four fronts, are currently holders of the FA Cup, have oodles of cash to spend and Champions League football and a genuine challenge for the most challenging league title in the world to offer to players cannot be as decisive as last year's 10th placed team?
There is of course the old refrain that none of this is as simple as it seems. That complications behind the scenes can scuttle plans to reinforce. To this I have only one reply - Chelsea. They've shown us that it is, in fact, simple. Having recognized the deficiencies in the squad they have remedied them swiftly and with minimal fuss. Dodgy agents, selfish players and stubborn sellers are the problems of the mid-table fodder. Unfortunately that's where I see Arsenal heading this season with United having significantly strengthened. Last year, the squeezing through of the Ozil deal hinted at a lack of any comprehensible plan which was glossed over by the fact that the Arsenal faithful had a shiny new toy to fawn over. Will the reaction to this failure be as kind considering the dodgy start to the season? I hope not.
I've always been quite reluctant to join the Wenger Out brigade and I don't think I have yet. But I can now say that I understand where they are coming from. The man needs to stop acting like he knows something that no one else does because it's quite apparent that he doesn't.
A Very Sad Spurs Fan
What an awful deadline day.
I woke up on Monday morning full of optimism, imagining we were, as in years past, going to be predators hunting out bargains to light up the Lane, our chairman bullying deals out of his peers.
Instead of that however we are predators no longer. We have become the prey, pushing out would be club legend Sandro (my favourite player in all of football), for a paltry less-than-Cleverley-would-be amount, while underperforming deadwood like Dembele, Lennon, Kyle Naughton and the rancidly complacent Paulinho remain. Stambouli just looks like yet another example of the club buying more players - rather than better players.
On top of that our main target of Welbeck has been snapped up by Arsenal, whose squad now looks way ahead of ours, when just a couple of seasons ago we were arguably stronger, a man for man match at the least. Now it is like 2002 all over again.
I saw someone describe this as "The opposite of the feeling when we signed Van Der Vaart". Seeing Sandro in a QPR shirt... it's going to be painful...
Cascade tears! Cascade! Fall like the league place of the club in the season to come! Oh cruel waters, douse my cheeks and wash away any stubborn stains of foolish optimism.
But United Supporters Are Happy
As is the popularity of schadenfreude these days Manchester United's poor start seems to have made us somewhat of a laughing stock to rival fans. Ok, go on, have your laugh right now while you can because you won't have the opportunity for much longer. Bringing in so many new players in a short time was never going to produce great football straight away as the players will naturally take time to work up to full fitness and make an impact. Some people also seem to be forgetting that our new signings have hardly set foot on the field. Rojo, Shaw, Blind and Falcao haven't even played a competitive match while Herrera and Di Maria have yet to play a full 90 minutes.
Another thing I don't really get is the popular assertion that we have a gaping hole in the centre of midfield. While we don't have a huge selection of options I think Carrick, Herrera and Blind (no he's not going to be played left back unless in an emergency) are all solid first choice options to play in the two central positions until January when we are likely to go after Strootman.
"Yeah but you don't have any good central defenders!" - Well there's Rojo who was signed with the intention of playing centrally and when, as will inevitably happen in my opinion, we switch to four at the back and need one other first choice then there's only one of Jones, Evans, Smalling and Blackett that needs to be playing well in order to fill it.
Falcao is a great signing and a necessary one given RVP's impending surgery, sorry Danny but your erratic finishing doesn't even compare.
Blind The Key Man
Hopefully our attacker heavy squad means United can now go back to a more traditional back four, allowing another attacker instead of an ineffective third centre back.
Despite all the money spent it looks like 14 million pound Daley Blind is a key man, the only man it seems that can provide some cover from midfield for the fragile defence. With attack attack attack the new philosophy may hark back to the old philosophy but Blind looks vital to providing the much needed balance.
Parmjeet Dayal, Gravesend
True, If You Ignore Blind, Di Maria, Mata And Herrera
QPR has a better central midfield than Manchester United.
Loans, Loans, Loans
On the last day alone we had Falcao, Hernandez, Richards Negredo et al, who are going on season-long loans, either with options to buy, or with purchase guarantees at the end of the loan period.
I don't know the intricacies of FFP, but it seems this is the method clubs have found to circumvent it - essentially defer their transfer spend for a year in the case of the teams loaning people in, and seeing a drop in wage bill for those loaning players out.
While this is an effective way to secure the services of the players you want for this season, it may have a destabilising long term effect. If Falcao gets a serious injury next May, are Monaco obliged to take back a player who will miss most of the following season? If a club has a compulsory purchase clause, does that not seriously limit their spend the following year? If there is an optional clause, does that mean a player may have an average season, return to his parent club, and then be immediately sold elsewhere? There are many more permutations, which I won't list in the interest of a certain level of brevity.
In short, does the new trend for loans mean that teams are using a very short term financial and squad building strategy? Does it mean we will see a much more dynamic movement of players between clubs in future? Is FFP changing the nature of transfers and player ownership more than we thought?
Mike, MUFC, Bath
Glad that Van Gaal sorted out that "imbalanced" United squad.
Joe (Falcao better like long balls from Tyler Blackett) MUFC
A Long One On Lost Transfer Worth
I don't normally find myself agreeing with John Nicholson, but I have to say I totally agree with him with regards to transfer fees, and what they mean, if anything. The laissez faire attitude of the football authorities is partially to blame. I'm not some crazed communist by any stretch of the imagination, but the pursuit of money, at the expense of everything else has removed any romantic notion I may have had about football, the premier league especially. If you've not already realised, the clubs, players, and agents couldn't give a toss what you think, they don't care about your 'traditions', the only think they care about is lining their pockets with as much sweet sweet cash as possible. There are so many painfully average footballers having huge fees paid for them, along with huge wages, that I don't even know if its sad or funny anymore. Does even Ross McCormack think he's worth 11m? What does worth even mean?
I realise money has always talked in football, and that inflation etc means the value of 10m now and 10 years ago are not the same, and I realise as a Blackburn fan that the club I support today is largely built on pots of cash courtesy of Jack Walker, but when Newcastle paid 15m (1996) for Shearer, he had just scored 30+ goals in 3 consecutive seasons, and given the number of goals he scored for them I don't think the Geordies would mind me saying they probably got value for money.
Step forward Stewart Downing. He's one of my seemingly irrational, but perfectly logical football hates. I have nothing against the guy personally, but he could play football from now until the end of recorded time and not be worth the 20m Liverpool paid. If I was chairman, and my manager said to me, I want him, reckon we can get him for 20m, I'd give him his P45, and tell him to get the hell out of my office. Likewise, and I'm not picking on Sunderland here, but, Jozy Altidore (8m), Steven Fletcher (12m) and Danny Graham (5m), is an absolute horror show for the best part of 25m. You could burn that cash in a pile in your garden more effectively. Did anyone, anywhere, think that any of that motley crew would bag 20+ goals? 15? You'd be pushed for 10, and we've not even started on wages. All managers have flops, but it must be incredibly depressing to spend tens of millions a transfer window, and never improve, in some cases actually regress.
Money has warped football beyond all recognition in the last 5-10 years. Part of the problem if the big clubs hoovering up talent before it has had time to properly develop. When Damien Duff left for Chelsea he was 23/24 but he had time to develop as a player at Blackburn, at the time he was one of the best wingers in the league. He went for a lot of money, but we at least got to see him play a bit before he was swiped. Phil Jones went to United for 16m, at 18 years old, on the back of 35 professional games. It's impossible to mention him in public now without someone commenting on how utterly crap he is, but he did actually look pretty good once. Instead of staying and learning his trade (we could really have done with a half decent defender at some stage over the last 3/4 years) he got snapped up, and he could easily end up on the scrap heap at Sunderland (sorry...) in 3 years time, having achieved the square root of sweet f-a. Career, wasted. Granted he'll have made more cash than 99.9% of the population ever will but is life supposed to be about that? I am certain, had he stayed, he could have helped us to avoid the drop, he'd have been more respected than he is currently, and importantly, he'd be a better player. But hey, what do I know?
This has impacted on competitiveness in the league as well. I can confidently predict, that in the next 5 years, no team other than United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool will win the title. I'd go as far as to say we can predict, with a reasonable degree of certainty this will be the case for the foreseeable future, maybe 10 years. 20? Teams have always had eras of dominance, but this has become more pronounced, by a small elite clique, whose whose teams now resemble the teams of superstars we used to assemble on pro evo after a night out on the piss - 'yeah I'll have Falcao and Van Persie up top, Rooney in behind, Di Maria on the wing...'. All the rest get their players poached as soon as they start displaying any talent whatsoever, and all your left with is the dross those teams don't want, or have chewed up and spat out.
Still, at least we don't live in Spain or Scotland...
Tom, Tottington, BRFC
Six defenders. Six.
He Only Buys Twice
Harry Redknapp has brought in Sandro (again) and Krancjar (AGAIN!). He even went in for Defoe.
Genuine question: in his long managerial career, what percentage of Redknapp's signings have only been signed by him ONCE?
Imagine Harry not thinking you're good enough to buy twice? The shame.
Brilliant Blog Names List
As promised, here is the list of fantastically named footballers from the Summer Transfer Blog, in no particular order:
Bobson Bawling, who was the inspiration for the list
Dr. Dick Titball (Non-playing staff and resident molecular biology expert)
Bryan Verboom (my personal favourite)
Roberto Acquafresca (probably Italian)
All mentioned on the blog this summer. Would probably make a very poor team though, with a molecular biology expert as manager... At least Mason Springthorpe is a goalkeeper.