The time to buy and sell is over, the window is shut, and as the fans get used to their new (or same old) squads, it’s time to appraise the bargains and rip-offs of the transfer window, in the second installment of the Transfer Tavern end of window report.
Your club wasn’t mentioned in part 1? Fear not, they may well appear below and if you’re outrageously unlucky and they’re not there, they will most certainly appear in the forthcoming third and final assessment of the top flight’s shrewdness in the January transfer market.
This time it’s the turn of Arsenal, Birmingham, Everton, West Ham, Man City, Wigan and Fulham.
Best wheeling: Sending out the young guns on loan – After the success of Jack Wilshere in his loan to Bolton last season, Wenger has continued the trend by shipping 9 young players (including hot prospects Henri Lansbury and Aaron Ramsey) out to Championship and foreign clubs.
The Arsenal manager’s success in bringing through and signing young players is well-documented and the club will no doubt benefit in future from the experience currently being earned. Also – no need to sell, no (relevant) selling done.
Worst dealing: Predictably-sensible decision not to buy – They don’t necessarily need any new players, as Wenger has a very good team that is up there fighting for the league, but the much-discussed prospect of Chamberlain arriving from Southampton would have been an exhilarating addition to Arsenal’s squad.
Best wheeling: Bringing in David Bentley – After a successful time at Blackburn, the wide-man’s travails at Tottenham were frustrating and demoralising. Rarely played and untrusted by Harry Redknapp, Alex McLeish has given Bentley the brand new start he so desperately needed. If he tones down his reputation as a big time Charlie, his crosses could provide the ammunition for Blues’ misfiring strikers that will keep Birmingham in the Premier League. Martins and Davies are also positive additions.
Worst dealing: Missing out on Robbie Keane – Confusion reigned as Birmingham claimed talks had failed to secure the Irishman, while the player himself said it was just a Blues ‘publicity stunt’. Whatever happened, Birmingham’s failure to secure the experience and quality of the Spurs man, combined with losing out to fellow strugglers West Ham, could prove to be costly.
Best wheeling: Getting £3m for Steven Pienaar – If a player will not sign a new deal, it’s the club’s job to get the best price for him it can before his contract runs out; and Everton have done well in forcing Tottenham to stump up £3m for a player they could have got for free in 5 months.
Worst dealing: Losing Yakubu and James Vaughan – Considering the fact that Jermaine Beckford and Louis Saha have scored just 10 goals between them in all competitions this season, getting rid of two forwards seems a bizarre choice. Strength in depth is not a luxury Everton have and these departures surely do not help their cause.
Best wheeling: Signing Robbie Keane – The experienced Irishman, still only 30, was cutting an increasingly disheartened figure at White Hart Lane. Keane hadn’t featured at Spurs for a long while and his desire just to play was clear. The pillars of morality, Davids Gold and Sullivan offered the Dubliner a quick way out down the road, which he gratefully took. Keane offers the sort of creative touch and work-rate that should serve the Hammers very well in their battle to survive. His signing looks to be paying dividends already, with a debut goal against Blackpool.
Worst dealing: Bringing in Paul McCallum – OK, he’s only 17 and it’s possible he’ll become a quality player, but signing anyone from Dulwich Hamlet, of the Isthmian League Division One (seven divisions below the Irons), is an amusingly bizarre decision for a club of West Ham’s stature.
Best wheeling: Dzeko – It doesn’t really count as wheeling, £30m is an awful lot of money, but because we’re dealing with City, the very notion of securing a bargain goes out of the window – selling clubs won’t allow it, and City have no real restrictions on paying up. The point is, the Bosnian hitman arrives in the Premier League with an excellent goal-scoring record internationally and in the Bundesliga, and the rangey striker has many years ahead of him, at 24.
Worst dealing: Failing to sell some strikers – Does any club really need nine strikers on the books? Having Craig Bellamy, Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor and Felipe Caicedo all out on loan and Carlos Tevez, new boy Edin Dzeko, youngster Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely, Mario Balotelli and Jo in the first-team squad is an extraordinary situation. The combined cost to City of those on loan alone, if you will, was an eye-watering £61.7m, but with their bountiful riches City presumably could not care less about farming those players out on loan deals.
Best wheeling: Bringing in Adrian Rodriguez on a free – In the relegation zone and with the joint-worst goal difference in the Premier League, a centre-back is just what the Latics needed. The 23-year old Spaniard comes with Primera Liga experience and should help plug the particularly leaky hole in Wigan’s ailing defense. Extra point for keeping Charles N’Zogbia – holding off the advances of the enigmatic Frenchman’s former club, Newcastle, could prove to be an important factor in Wigan’s efforts to remain in the top flight.
Worst dealing: Failing to bring in more players – Wigan have one of the least robust squads in the league, with a dearth of quality in most positions. Even though large funds were obviously unavailable to the manager, the shrewd loan signings of Ian Holloway up the road in Blackpool beg the question, will Wigan be relegated due to Martinez’s passive role in the January transfer window?
Best wheeling: Bolstering the attacking options – With the additions of Gael Kakuta and Eidur Gudjohnsen (why did he ever join Stoke?), Mark Hughes has significantly increased the Cottagers’ goal threat. Shorn of the, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, talismanic Bobby Zamora for most of the season and with Andy Johnson finding his feet after an extended period out, these two marksmen should add some much needed firepower to the front line, where only Clint Dempsey has impressed this term.
Worst dealing: Failure to acquire SWP – Sick of professional bench-warming, Shaun Wright-Phillips would no doubt have relished the chance to play regularly again and despite his many critics, the diminutive winger can produce under the right manager. Mark Hughes was unlucky that Adam Johnson’s injury forced Roberto Mancini to retain the services of Wright-Phillips.
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