Ten multiple ‘raids’ which should warn Manchester United, including sackable Liverpool failure

Matt Stead
Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana of Liverpool, Everton players Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne, and Portmsouth's Harry Redknapp and Sean Davis
This way for plenty of chat about your Bruces, your Redknapps and your mid-table Spurs raiders

Before Manchester United definitely complete their Crystal Palace ‘triple raid’, Steve Bruce, Harry Redknapp and especially Spurs want a quiet word.

Sir Alex Ferguson has held apparently not so ‘secret talks’ over Manchester United signing Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise this summer. Those are the actions of a certain kind of mid-2000s Premiership club and they know it.


10) Stoke spending £16m on three Spurs players in summer 2011
Stoke embracing the advent of European competition by using those unlocked doors and new opportunities available to spend a club-record fee on Peter Crouch is an underrated aspect of the Pulisball era.

“These fantastic deals are a statement of this football club’s intent,” said then-chief executive Tony Scholes, looking upon the captures of Matthew Upson and Cameron Jerome with suitable pride.

Crouch was joined on deadline day by fellow Spurs fringeman Wilson Palacios, while the first signing Stoke made as a Europa League club was that of Jonathan Woodgate on a one-year, pay-as-you-play deal after his release by Harry Redknapp’s Champions League quarter-finalists.


9) West Ham spending £1.2m on three Wimbledon players in January 2004
The last transfer window in the history of Wimbledon F.C. was never going to be cause for particular celebration. But one vulture picked uncomfortably often at a club which spent the entire season being read its last rites.

Seven players jumped an already pretty much sunk ship in January 2004 and three happened to wash up on the shores of West Ham. Alan Pardew, sensitive soul that he is, offered some conciliatory thoughts: “In some ways we have done to them what Premier League clubs have done to us, but that is how it is, I’m afraid.”

Adam Nowland made the short move first, with captain Nigel Reo-Coker next. Jobi McAnuff acknowledged both his former teammates “singing the praises of everything at the club” as a reason to follow them.

The Hammers had actually started picking the Wimbledon carcass the previous summer, signing David Connolly for a knock-down fee. How generous of them to help the administrators with the clear-out.


8) Wigan spending £3.5m on three Birmingham players in summer 2008
Some managers prefer not to buy the same player twice. Sir Alex Ferguson rarely did and Arsene Wenger declared that “once you left the club there is no way back”, only making an exception in unique circumstances for Sol Campbell, Thierry Henry and Jens Lehmann.

Steve Bruce worked with 38 different players at two of his clubs, and Ahmed Elmohamady at three.

His first summer as Wigan manager was spent raiding the cupboards at Birmingham, who he left to join the Latics in mid-season. The Blues were relegated and Bruce picked up Olivier Kapo for £3.5m, as well as the released pair of Daniel De Ridder and Richard Kingson. They made 18 Premier League starts for the club between them and all left for nothing, long after Bruce had moved again to Sunderland.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Should Guehi, Eze or Olise make the jump to Manchester United? Join the debate here.


7) Portsmouth spending £7.5m on four Spurs players in January 2006
Now for some absolutely textbook Redknapping, the manager having timed his return to the club from a brief jaunt at Southampton perfectly for a relegation-dodging January transfer window.

Portsmouth were 18th when Redknapp reassumed the reins, with nine players persuaded to join their battle in the winter. Almost half of them made the long trip from Champions League-chasing Spurs, who had no real place for Noe Pamarot, Pedro Mendes or Sean Davis.

“I’ve never signed three from one club before all at once but these are top Premiership players and will be a massive asset to us,” Redknapp said of the combined £7.5m deal.

Wayne Routledge later made the same journey from north London on loan, while Michael Brown and Anthony Gardner were also targeted. Steffen Iversen even had a trial as Redknapp kindly helped his future employers trim down their squad.


6) West Ham spending £13m on three Newcastle players in summer 2007
While Scott Parker was an undoubted success, even through their relegation to the Championship four years later, the fortunes of the two Newcastle teammates who joined him at West Ham in the summer of 2007 can be summed up in the most simple of terms: Nolberto Solano played almost as much in his solitary season (1,363 minutes across 25 appearances) as Kieron Dyer did in four campaigns (1,514 minutes across 35 appearances).

Dyer can hardly be blamed; a double leg break less than a fortnight after his debut triggered the sort of injury issues which blighted the career of a player who was West Ham’s highest earner for a time.

In the same summer famous trophy dodger Dyer was finally released, Solano – signed as his emergency back-up – joined Hartlepool in League One.


5) Everton spending £45.2m on three Barcelona players in summer 2018
‘Barcelona should consider a way of formally honouring Everton this summer as the Premier League side have become a valued customer at the Camp Nou,’ Spanish outlet Marca wrote in August 2018.

Perhaps the most effective of all Barcelona’s financial levers was the fast one they pulled on Everton, who eventually parted with nearly £70m to sign three players the Catalans absolutely did not want anymore.

Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne were first through the door, followed by the loan of Andre Gomes which would be made permanent a year later. All three had their moments at Goodison Park but that lavish outlay certainly helped contribute to the economic black hole they are yet to escape.


4) Liverpool spending £49m on three Southampton players in summer 2014
There is, as ever, a hubristic Brendan Rodgers quote to encapsulate the situation:

“Southampton didn’t have to sell. Maybe their objectives have changed. I believe they were looking to be a Champions League club, and they were on course for that, but they obviously decided on a change of plan. I don’t have any sympathy for their situation. It’s just the way football works, it has always been the same. We signed three of their players because they play in a similar way to us and some of their players fit the profile we are looking for. Players will always want to compete at the highest level they can and therefore gravitate to the biggest clubs.”

Liverpool finished two points ahead of Southampton that season in sixth, having spent a small fortune on Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to improve a side which had challenged for the Premier League title the previous season.

The Reds themselves were two points behind Spurs, of whom Rodgers had recently pointed out that “you’d expect to be challenging for the league” after spending over £100m of a Gareth Bale-shaped windfall. Liverpool fared entirely worse with their Luis Suarez inheritance because there really is always a Brendan Rodgers quote.


3) Southampton spending £38.5m on four Manchester City players in summer 2022
In July 2022, Southampton appointed Manchester City’s Head of Academy Recruitment and Talent Management as their Head of Senior Recruitment. That same summer, Saints spent almost £40m on four Etihad prodigies who Joe Shields had helped identify and nurture.

Romeo Lavia, Gavin Bazunu, Samuel Edozie and Juan Larios had a combined three career first-team appearances between them but Southampton, having pivoted to a youth-focused transfer outlook, saw their potential and the Manchester City cheat code was activated again.

Pep Guardiola used that money to offset the arrival of Erling Haaland and Manuel Akanji, while Southampton were relegated but also made a ludicrous profit on Lavia alone by selling him to Chelsea, who Shields joined as Co-Director of Recruitment and Talent just three months after moving to the south coast and persuading his employers to sign a load of players he had worked with. It can be a strange business.


2) Rangers spending nothing on five Newcastle players in February 2015
With multi-club ownership the current trend among the elite, let it be known that Mike Ashley was an innovator of sorts. The beloved former Newcastle owner sought to expand his much-loved empire and broadened his horizons to accept the adulation of Rangers as a shareholder in 2014.

To keep a painfully long story inevitably involving Derek Llambias, Sports Direct and some controversial financial leveraging short, Newcastle exploited the lack of restrictions on Scottish clubs loaning players from outside the country to send five cast-offs further north in January 2015.

Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete and Haris Vuckic would come to be known as the Newcastle Five. Bigirimana and Mbabu did not play a single minute for Rangers. Both of Ferguson’s appearances were in losing efforts. Streete was substituted before half-time in his only game. Vuckic was the only one who made anything resembling an impact but his stay did not extend beyond the summer.


1) Sunderland spending £17m on three Spurs players in summer 2008
Spurs truly are the kings of having players targeted in multiple raids. Stoke and Portsmouth could not resist adding more than a sprinkle of that unique flavour to their squads, in much the same way as QPR felt compelled to sign Jermaine Jenas before borrowing Andros Townsend, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Tom Carroll, all in 2013.

Perhaps the ultimate example of the genre came in 2008, when Roy Keane sought to bolster a Sunderland side he had steered to safety by three points. His hunt for reinforcements led to a bizarrely Spurs-centric pursuit.

The Black Cats had a combined £23m bid for Teemu Tainio, Pascal Chimbonda, Steed Malbranque and Younes Kaboul accepted, only for Kaboul to drop out of the deal in favour of joining Redknapp’s Portsmouth – of sodding course – instead. Sunderland pushed ahead with signing the other three players for £17m.

Keane also targeted Darren Bent but he would not properly enter Sunderland’s orbit until the following year when Bruce took over, because he also had to be bloody involved somehow.

Either way, the next time Keane launches into a withering rant about Spursiness, let it be Micah Richards who reminds him whose players he once tried to build a relegation battle around.

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