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Rating every club’s transfer window
Window closed and a bit of time for reflection, thought it might be time to review the transfer business of the Premier League teams. All subjective and likely to be proven wrong, but hey ho. Also tried to judge based on expectations. In two parts as this got longer than expected.
AFC Bournemouth – C –
Didn’t lose anyone key, Ake might be a bit expensive, but him and Begovic are sounds transfers. Not sure about Defoe, think this could finally be the year he considers retiring. Personally feel they needed more with everyone else investing further, especially in the middle of the park. Nothing significant in the outgoings
Arsenal – B –
Hard one to judge. 2 very good players in, 1 average out (Ox for 40m) and one good one gone (Sir Szczesny). Ozil and Sanchez staying, if p***ed off. Decent amount of deadwood gone. I don’t think this has been a disaster for Arsenal, but the Sanchez saga was a bit ridiculous. Still have Wenger.
Brighton – B –
Decent investment across the board, will be interested to see if Izquierdo can bring the goals they need and whether Izzy Brown can push up to Prem level. No significant outgoings, all in all a decent window and having a “real go at it”
Burnley – C
I like bringing in Chris Wood (goals) and Cork (solid experienced midfielder). Selling Gray was good business but losing Keane will hurt. Did ok and still have decent core but will struggle more this year I think
Chelsea – B +
Depth was the name of the game, sort of managed this. They swapped Costa + Matic for Morata + Bakayoko, not bad swap. Added defensive depth and Drinkwater will be a decent benchwarmer. Think the loan machine is ridiculous but it appears to be working. Didn’t get a lot of their main targets though.
Crystal Palace – C +
Beefed up the defense with Riedewald (no defender starts well in a new league gennerally) and Sakho. Loftus Cheek is a solid signing. No significant outgoings. Can’t help but feel they haven’t done enough here, so it falls on De Boer to make it work.
Everton – B +
Where do we start? Sigurdson + Keane + Pickford are some of my favourite signings this window and they have added elsewhere too. Losing Lukaku was huge and would have been fine if they had replaced him with a top striker, they didn’t. Now they have 4+ creative attacking players but nobody to finish them. Ramirez has to learn the League, and fast.
Huddersfield – A –
Mounie and Ince should provide goals, depth has been added across the team and they have got some positive momentum already. No significant outgoings. Honestly really impressed and should have enough to stay up.
Leicester – B
Harry Maguire was very good and I expect Iheanacho to find his feet. Danny Drinkwater was a good engine in midfield but think they have decent depth there anyway. Also kept Mahrez, not bad at all
Liverpool – A
Salah and Robertson both add to the squad and improve their left side, I can only imagine Ox is there to cover Coutinho (well kept) when he goes in January and can play in the Champions League in his ‘favoured’ attacking midfield role. They won’t miss any of the players who left. Good window.
If this gets posted will crack on with Part 2 for tomorrow morning but I should really do some work now…
Rob A (Maguire my favourite out of that lot) AFC
Palace have cocked it
I’ve been off for a week, and now the dust has settled on the transfer window, I’ve donned a fez and before you know it, you’ll be back in the shop. Let’s open with a big hit:
Crystal Palace are f###ed.
I know I say this a lot, but it does look like the club are in serious trouble, and ultimately, it’s calling Steve Parish into question.
As a fan of the club, there are very few top flight chairmen who can match Parish. However, he is in danger of appearing out of his depth as confusing messages are being broadcast. He made the call to appoint Frank de Boer, in order to implement a possession-based system, despite having a group of players he knew wouldn’t be able to cope with it. In this respect, he backed the manager/system over the players. However, by making it clear there wouldn’t be a lot of money for de Boer to spend, and therefore forcing him to work with the current crop of players, he backed them over the manager/system. There’s a manager with a clear playing style, and players who aren’t compatible with it, forced into an unhappy union that doesn’t look set to end well.
Appointing Dougie Freedman as Director of Football was a good PR move, but it came incredibly late, given that Freedman has been out of work for some time. The signing of Mamadou Sakho was the #1 priority for most fans, but it took the entire summer to finalise it because Palace were fruitlessly haggling over a player they needed to buy far more than Liverpool needed to sell. Ultimately, the saving was about £4m – not pennies, but not a huge amount in Premier League football terms, and Sakho may have made a bit of a difference to the opening three games. Tim Fosu-Mensah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have also looked very good since arriving on loan.
At times, it feels like Palace, or at least their leadership, are out of step with the rest of the league. Parish said there wasn’t a lot of money for de Boer to spend, which seems a bit harsh when he was more than happy for Alan Pardew to spend over £50m in the summer, for Sam Allardyce to then spend £30m in January getting the club out of Pardew’s mess, and at a time when so many other clubs either broke their individual or cumulative records for spending. This doesn’t mean all clubs should join the stampede, just that the timing was a little unusual.
There is a huge sense of frustration with all things to do with the club at the moment. Between de Boer, Freedman, Parish and the players, a real statement of intent is needed. Parish, ultimately, by way of his decisions, needs to prove to everyone he is a Premier League-calibre chairman, and by extension, that Crystal Palace are a Premier League-calibre club.
Arsenal are ultimate ‘IF’ club
There is a famous Greek saying which I was taught by friend growing up in North London, and its translation with added hand gestures is: If, IF, IF my grandmother had balls she’d be my grandad!
I cannot think of a more accurate summation of Arsenal football club. If they’d signed Lemar. If Wenger had stepped down this summer/two summers ago/10 years ago. If we’d not sold to Kroenke, if if if. Our last decade is a series of if statements, all of which are hypotheticals. The only if statement I can bear to stomach is ‘if we fans do a co-ordinated boycott of the club will we see change.’ I’m guessing not. Too many people, earning too much money to give a toss.
John Matrix AFC
This Arsenal not in Wenger’s image
Johniec@m, whilst I’d agree that teams often take on the characteristics of their manager, I’d argue that the problem with Arsenal is that none of Wenger’s recent teams have been made in his image.
Wenger is a hilariously stubborn, determined and clever. He might look like a chemistry teacher but he’s tougher than old boots, he’s scared of nobody. He’s obsessed with blending economy and aesthetics. He’s a man so mentally strong that not only did he blaze his own trail though the very murky world of football, he’s also able to completely ignore the world and his wife telling him he’s wrong.
His recent failings are, I think, better described as an inability to mould the team into his image. A stubborn, determined, clever, fearless team that never know they’re done… does that really sound like the recent Arsenal teams to you?
Some Mailbox answers
A ‘black Rooney’ would probably have also got the same coverage really. Using Sterling as the example was pretty poor given he’s acted like a serial brat on a few previous occasions, which is why he has received the level of media scrutiny that he has, rather than it being because he’s black. Would Danny Rose have been any more sensationalised than Rooney was? Doubt it tbh.
Spot on with regards to the Wenger point. Unfortunately, his time has come. He’s simply not reinvented himself, pushed his teams or forced them to be more ‘afraid’ of him as he should (by afraid, read SAF type respect). Arsenal have the personnel to be a good team, and the club itself is well established as having it’s core philosophy of playing football the right way. I’m not sure Wenger is key to keeping that intact anymore. Imagine Simeone was their manager. I could see them instantly becoming a more gritty side, who you’d expect to finish in the top 4 without a question.
Quite like the concept of Wilshere going to Milan and benefiting from their Milan Lab department. Barkley going to Atletico on the other hand…as good as the idea is, I just don’t think Barkley has the football brain to succeed there. Undoubtedly talented on the ball, but can he develop his tactical awareness to fully realise that potential? Not sure, and I think Atletico would be too big a step for him.
International football is so boring when it’s England, but that France performance vs Holland was a nice reminder that all hope isn’t lost with international footy!
Keep FFP, says a Man City fan
Wow! I can’t believe I, a City fan, am saying this to a United fan but let’s not ‘do away’ with FFP. To clarify, I agree with the concept of FFP, but it needs to be fixed not scrapped!
Football is on the precipice of becoming a total farce. What remaining respect clubs still have for FFP is the only thing holding it together. Why?
Take away FFP and it’s game over for clubs like Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and their European equivalents unless they find a multi-billionaire. Clubs trying to ‘break in’ without serious backing will go bankrupt (and history has shown there are plenty of clubs who’s owners would take the risk without FFP holding them back) At that point the European super league would be best for all parties.
Wages would skyrocket even more and every elite player would be aiming to play for a Super-rich club where wages would be set well beyond other clubs means. There will be more tantrums, entourages, agents, and the whole contract/transfers system will crash as players realise they will get their way if they make enough trouble. (This is already a serious danger. This summer had an unprecedented level of players behaving badly and getting their way.)
I could theorise a handful of other reasons but to summarise, my gut tells me that telling the likes of City and PSG to do what they please would be a disaster for the game as we know it.
On a personal level I have accepted that a large injection of cash has been needed to make City competitive. I can live with the fact that it hasn’t come from City’s own bank account for reasons I will not expand on now. However I have come to appreciate the reins of FFP. I do not want my club to keep throwing money around until we win the septuple. I want to see the academy graduates get in the team. I want City to become self-sufficient enough to survive on its income. I want the club to need periods of transition rather than us being able to go out and buy anyone as soon as a chink in our armour appears. I know, this is probably not going to all happen, but lets not kill it. FFP is our kryptonite and without it supporting my club would be a hollow thing.
Only PL fans should be allowed to support England
Can I venture a controversial theory about England’s repeated failure? I won’t flatter myself that I’m the first person to think of this, but it wasn’t on Jonny’s list of things we’re not allowed to say any more.
In summary, the fans are small time football fans, and they create a weird atmosphere the players aren’t used to.
One thing you always see at an England game are St George’s Crosses bearing the names of English football teams. But how often are Man Utd and Liverpool among those names? No, you’ll see Northampton Town, Shrewsbury, Rotherham. These fans are not used to attending elite level football matches, and perhaps they don’t react to the state of play in the way England’s players are used to in Premier League games.
It certainly doesn’t sound the same as the atmosphere at a big league match. If you listen to the crowd at a Manchester Derby, you’ll hear two sets of fans chanting at one another throughout the match; you’ll hear them bellowing at a big tackle or a decision they don’t like. And probably more importantly, you’ll hear them suddenly raise the volume just because their team need it at a critical phase of the game. It’s absolutely electrifying at times.
Listen to the crowd at an England group game and you’ll hear the tedious strains of The Great Escape farted out of a trumpet, along with some chants that the players don’t recognise, and eventually the fans turning on the players.
Want to improve England’s performances? Only sell tickets to season ticket holders at a Premier League club.
Neil Creasey, Ivory Towers
Spread your wings, England players
Read your 55 things we say about England thing this morning. All good stuff.
One thing I have always said, and I am in the minority (but I like that), is that a problem we may have is not with all those foreigners coming over here, it’s that our own boys don’t go over there.
Think about it. Some of the best players that have ever played the game, especially in recent years, leave their own country and play abroad. Often over here. Then represent their country proudly and win the World Cup or Euros or Copa America or whatever.
Perhaps the reason why these players are so good is that not only do they learn the culture and style of their own domestic game but they also add on top of this, other countries culture and style, making them a better all round player and a better all round human being.
Let me give you two modern day examples:
Let’s also use the FA 4 corner model of developing players. Technical; Physical; Psychological; Social.
Cristiano Ronaldo – grows up in Portugal. Learns the technical side of the game, learns all the ins and outs of his countries football culture, socially and psychologically.
Goes to England. Learns the physical, end to end all out action side of the game. Learns Socially the complete difference with his fellow players and also the manager and the press. Becomes a much stronger Psychologically.
Goes to Real Madrid in Spain. Again, different culture, similar to Portugal but still different. Real Madrid is a different culture in itself. Technically outstanding. Physical specimen. Psychologically dominant. Socially superb.
A World class player moulded by the different countries and their domestic football as well as the culture of the countries themselves. Each has their own challenges to overcome.
Ronaldo is the extreme example of what can be achieved when you leave your own backyard and see the world.
This is, in my opinion, a key factor in why England fail at major worldwide tournaments. Their players just aren’t developed enough.
An example of what a domestic player can achieve is Gareth Bale. He was a truly wonderful player at Spurs. But look at him now. He is an absolute beast of a player who can take Wales to the Semi-Final of the Euros.
Technically great. Physically he has got better at Madrid. Psychologically much stronger now than when he left. Socially almost a different person.
Where as England were dumped out of the Euros by Iceland. A nation who shouldn’t really be on the same pitch never mind knock them out. Who is Iceland’s star player? Gylfi Sigurdsson. A player who has left his domestic land and developed abroad in England. Thier are hundreds of other examples.
So to conclude this seminar. If England want to have a truly world-class team, then don’t you dare blame the foreigners coming over here, blame the English players for not going over there!!!
Get out of your own domestic safety net and grow as a player somewhere else. Grow as a man in another country. Learn another way of playing. Develop yourself in each of those 4 corners I mention.
Imagine an England XI with 2 players playing in Spain, 1 in Italy, 2 from Germany, 1 in France and the rest from Man Utd, Liverpool etc. Imagine how good you eould expect that team would be….
The Ginger Pirlo