Monthly Archives: June 2011

Transfer Season – Part III

So, after a 13 day absence my internet is re-working, my degree is completed and I’m back in business. I’m 2 parts through my 4 part transfer saga and looking to wrap it up before any more movements. 

Further news, the list of Premier League free agents was publicised today, with a few big names out of a club; Lee Bowyer, Patrick Vieria, Seb Larsson, Nigel Reo-Coker, Owen Hargreaves, Jonathon Woodgate, Mathew Upson make up just some of the names who could have clubs, particularly bottom-half vying for their signatures.  

West Bromich Albion; (last season, 11th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available – £25M
Highlighted positions; Utility men, CF, CB, LB, CM.

Despite finishing the season as one of the form teams, Hodgson will be under no illusions, WBA’s priority next season is to stay in the Premier League. Personally, I am a massive fan of Chris Brunt, I genuinely believe his ability of passing, technique and accuracy is of a level of Charlie Adam, however perhaps slightly behind when compared directly. I feel they need a ball winner in CM to compliment him, Hodgson could look back to Fulham or steal from the twelve CM’s at Liverpool. Ideally, perhaps someone like Guy Moussi at Forest could be a steal, or Craig Conway of Dundee United could be suitable along side if WBA could out-bid Glasgow Rangers. My steal for WBA, and appears a non-brainer, Emilie Heskey. Peter Odemwingie made my Alt-TOTY (below) with 15 goals, a link up man link Heskey could see him score more and with Heskey seemingly out-of-favour a smaller club may help him get back on track. Finally, and raiding the free-transfers once more, Matthew Upson would provide experience and cover should he be acquired.  
If I was Roy Hodgson, I would sign; Upson, Heskey, Moussi, Reo-Coker.

Newcastle United; (last season, 12th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available; Available? £40/50M, what will probably be given? £15M.
Highlighted Positions; CM, CF, CB, STR.

My opinion of Newcastle United has changed the most dramatically in the time between the initial planning of this blog and the transfers/movement that have happened since. The in-ability to keep Kevin Nolan to a Championship club is nothing short of embarrassing, you must wonder what he knew about the club that made him lose the faith in their continued growth. More, the expected departure of Joey Barton is leaving their mid-field looking rather bare, and without that core ‘fight’ which allowed them to pull out key results last season, particularly away to Arsenal and their home Dowd-assisted recovery from 4 goals. Newcastle simply must keep a hold of Cheik Tiote, had a fantastic debut season, they need a complimentary CM too, with a bit of creation. Perhaps signing Mark Noble, or Barry Ferguson could aid their midfield cause. They need experience and composure, in my opinion. Ben Arfa will provide flair going forward so a CF and an out-and-out striker are needed to put the goals away; Demba Ba looks prime to join the Magpies but someone quicker to play off him could be the ultimate compliment. Jay Bothroyd is a free-agent and Cameron Jerome has a price on his head. Matthew Upson at such availablity is at least worth an enquiry too.
If I was Alan Pardew, I would sign; Ba, Upson, Ferguson, Bothroyd. And Mike Ashley wouldn’t even need to dig deep into his gambling money…

Stoke City; (last season, 13th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available; £25M
Highlighted Positions; Full backs, CF, CM.
Stoke City finishing 13th is perhaps a poor reflection of them as a team, and their campaign as a whole, with the FA Cup final as an obvious distraction, and never looking a contender for relegation, one can forgive them for ‘taking their foot off the pedal’. That said, I think they are an incredibly balanced side, with no real weakness. However their over-all quality and additions of real class is what needs to be addressed to carry them forward. I can see the re-addition of John Carew on a permanent basis being very likely and I expect them to chase two established full backs as like for like replacements as well as acquiring a solid CM performer. Nigel Reo-Coker could be thrown into the frame, as well as pickings from the recently relegated; Ferguson, Vaughan, Bowyer, Gardner, Noble. I think another CF could be beneficial to help them all round, but someone a bit different from their usual ‘big/strong’ frame. Dj Campbell perhaps, free agent – Jay Bothroyd, or a lower-league raid.
As much as it pains an Arsenal fan to say, Stoke are making great strides to shake off their anti-football label, the FA Cup run has played a huge part aswell as the signings of more natural footballers like Carew, Jones, and the two wide men.
If I was Tony Pulis, I would sign; Ferguson, Bothroyd, Bougherra, Upson, Nigel Reo-Coker, Carew (massive strengthening).

Bolton Wanderers; (last season, 14th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available;
Highlighted positions; STR, CDM, CAM – Replacement for Cahill if sold.
Bolton, similar to Stoke are a side who can be forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal late in campaign. After the smashing at Wembley in the hands of The Potters, Bolton found themselves deflated and with nothing left to play for. As a side, they’re relatively well-balanced. Stand out players being; Cahill, Holden, Davies. They essentially just need a bit of class around with some effective passers to work with Holden’s technical abilities. Joey Barton at Newcastle is seeking the exit and Owen Coyle could have the man-management skills to bring out the best in him. An audacious bit to steal Stan Petrov from Aston Villa is another option they could look at, but it would take a lot to prize him off his captaincy, Jonny Evans has slipped down the pecking order and Liverpool have a silly number of CM players. Manchester City look to be the favourites to sign Gary Cahill, but the out of favour Nedum Onuoha could be involved in some deal, also the inclusion of any of their strikers would also be beneficial to them. City currently have over 8 out-and-out strikers and would be looking to trim the squad for the new season. A Scottish raid of David Goodwillie could be cost-effective and welcomed by the young Terror’s player.
Additionally, one cannot rule out Coyle’s ability to enroll students to what must say is the greatest finishing school in the country; Wilshere, Sturridge so who next? Carlos Vela, Henri Lansbury, Jay Spearing, Josh McEachren could all possibly enter the fray.
If I was Owen Coyle, I would sign; Vela, Upson, Goodwillie, Evans, Barton. As well as a proven striker, a big bid for Shane Long could be hard for Reading to turn down.

Blackburn Rovers; (Last season, 15th)
Expected Transfer Budget Available – £25-30
highlighted positions; RB, CF, CM, CB,
I really fear for the future of Rovers, they escaped relegation when really Robbie Keane (West Ham) and Manchester United should have put them in trouble in fixtures 36 & 37 of the season. They didn’t, and fortunate Rovers live on. Roque Santa Cruz has returned to Man City, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Chris Samba  are looking to move on, and transfer speculation for incoming players is quiet. Blackburn simply have too much to do, with a manager who isn’t good enough and not enough funds to make it possible. The Venky’s are wealthy, but they’re not the Indian monetary force of Tata. If they are to make a healthy account of themselves, they must strengthen the positions mentioned above. RB, Salgado is far too old, every week he’s skinned by anyone with a hint of pace, Alan Hutton is available after a breakdown in relationship with Harry Redknapp at Spurs and Kyle Naughton could be available as a youth investment or as a loan alternative to purchase. CB looks like Upson could most realistically move here, the set up is the most similar to how he is used to playing, but the likely success of WBA is the major competition.  If Robbie Keane puts his ego aside, and Celtic do not review their interest he could be a key addition to the side, as well as a lower league raid or moves for an out-of-for striker. Roque Santa Cruz will probably return but ultimately it won’t be enough.
If I was Steve Kean, I would run a mile. But If forced to stay, I would sign; Alan Hutton, Upson, Roque Santa Cruz, and enquire about Kevin Thomson.

Will be back soon with my conclusion to my transfer preview, hopefully my internet issues are a thing of the past but I do appreciate the enquiries I got from my readers on twitter about when the next one will be!

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And of course post below or on twitter with your thoughts on part 3!

Over and out.


A brief Play-Off Final rant. One for the Royals.

Sorry to break up the transfer embargo with Play-Off-Final nonsense, but, I keep getting into arguments with people about it. So I just want to give a reference that explains my points as to why Swansea had it so easy due to Phil Dowd’s style of officiating. And no, I wasn’t just slating Swansea, congrats to them, I just felt they got rub of the green in all 3 play-off matches. Oh, and briefly why I don’t like Dobbie.

Swansea’s play; dominating, control the ball, technical, through balls, incisive passing.

Reading’s play; pressing, when they get the ball, be direct, channels out the Kebe or long to well, Long.

My point is, you could tell the only chance Reading had, was if they stopped Swansea having the ability to outplay them, as Swansea were the technically better side. To do that; it’s all about early tackles, firm tackles, getting ‘stuck in’. Phil Dowd stopped that from happening.

As Phil Dowd went on a one-man quest to book the Reading back line, he took away their ability to press and be more aggressive. Rightly or wrongly. Andy Griffin makes a firm, fair tackle, and is booked – I couldn’t see why. Borini then goes in late on Federici (booked) then theatrically throws himself to the ground when confronted by Khizanishvili (god love google – spelling, but lets call him ZK), to me, Dowd quickly got word in his ear that he shouldn’t have booked ZK, hense why he was perhaps wrongly saved from the walk at the penalty incident. However, had ZK and AG not been on bookings, I think the CM would have been crunched in the build up to the pen, and they’d of took a fair booking then – This is my point.

However, in the bookings to the back line, your 2nd goal was made possible, because as Dobbie turns, he’s allowed to do so because the defenders have dropped deeper, and became less aggressive – Something I think was a tactical change because…….. Dowd kept booking people for nothing challenges! – Therefore….

Dowd booking people = less aggressive defenders = Suits Swansea’s style of play more.

Reading only pulled their goals back because at 3-0, they didn’t care about being booked, were getting desperate. Swansea couldn’t handle the fight they had and looked nervy.

As for Dobbie, I seen him asking for people to be booked on 4 different occasions, I don’t like that.

However, Swansea are a very good football side! And I much prefer them to Cardiff. A very good backing story too rags to riches and they have a brilliant football philosophy. Perhaps too close to Barcelona for my likely with the antics of Dobbie, though.

So yes, there you go Swans and Royals. A disappointing season finale by poor reffing. I think this is further evidence for a promotion/relegation system in Football League/Premier League.

Just a rant, but it’s been annoying me for a while. Reading were unfairly treated. AND, everyone who knows me, and my blog knows I have no loyalty to either side. Just a mere neutral.

Best of luck to both clubs though.

Over and out.

Transfer Season – Part II

So, on to part two. I did initially plan on making this into a 20 team bonanza, but after the initial section on club 1, I realised it just wasn’t feasible. Plus, this way it makes it easier to look at a club individually, passing through the teams that aren’t so traditionally active in the transfer period.

Back to work.

With the United, Chelsea, City,& Arsenal and Liverpool covered (below) on to the next batch of hopefuls.

First up,  Tottenham Hotspur; (last season, 5th)
Expected transfer budget available – £40M, potentially more should they lose a star player.
Highlighted positions; GK, RM, CF – Don’t lose anyone irreplaceable.
A mixed season for Tottenham in the 2010 campaign seen a flying Champions League debut, crashing out of both domestic cup competitions and securing the Europa League on the final day. For Spurs, any other year that’s not a bad season, but after tasting success in the CL, they’re expectation levels are sky-high, many fans were disappointed with how the year ended. In terms of signings, they desperately need a GK, Ben Foster or Robert Green could be a suitable replacement for the calamitous Gomes, and could come at an affordable price. A right midfielder is also needed in my opinion, someone who can provide effective cover for Lennon/Bale if needed or can compete with them for a starting position as both have a habit of going missing a times. (Yes, Bale too. He’s good but over-rated – will explain in another post!). Finally, they could do with a talisman CF, someone who will come in for a big fee, but score them 20 goals a season. If anyone is able to bring in a superstar at a shock price it’s probably Harry Redknapp. But whatever you do, do not call him a “Wheeler Dealer”. Any players lost will need replacing, but Modric, Bale and Dawson (three key players at the club) are the 3 they really should fight to keep above all.
If I was Harry Redknapp, I would sign; Scott Parker, Ben Foster, N’Zogbia, and maybe enter the race for Adebayor’s signature for a rotation of quality. 
(Prediction; 4th)

Everton; (last season – 7th)
Expected transfer budget available; £10M + sell to buy.
Highlighted positions; CF, RB, Wingers.
If the season started in January then my god, Everton would be the Barca of Britain, but why is it their early season form seems to let them down? And why do they seem to pick up horrendous long-term injuries to so many first team-ers? Though, I have to hand it to David Moyes, the job he does there with so little money – Just imagine what he could do with a bigger budget? As for transfers, I think he needs more quality at CF, someone who makes those cute runs off the shoulder of the CB, and someone decent on either foot. Problem with Everton is that their looking to the lower leagues, as their finances are so limited they can’t compete with the bigger sides for stars. Championship seems to be a trusted hunting ground, or the mid-table foreign sides. They also could do with a better RB, I think Heitinga is good for the bigger games, but his lack of pace is worrying, they need a quicker player in there that can come in against quicker wide men, Alan Hutton and Kyle Naughton are very realistic candidates. Finally, some natural width, when Landon Donovan was their he had a terrific time, and maybe prizing him away from the MLS could be beneficial, or stealing relegated/championship talent like Bentley, Larrson, O’Neil.
If I was David Moyes, I would sign; Craig Mackail-Smith, Seb Larrson, Alan Hutton, Robbie Keane.
(Prediction; 7th (but a good cup run, fancy them for the League Cup actually))

Fulham; (last season – 8th)
Expected transfer budget available; £10-15M
Highlighted positions; CM, LM, Full-backs.
With Mark Hughes resigning as I’m writing this, not only do Fulham need more players, but a manager too. But I shall continue.
Fulham will want a side strong, rigid and can hold a decent back line, Brede Hangeland brings a similar strength to Samba in his Blackburn side, but I think the next manager would look for a quicker player along side, with a better tackle. And I think a large percentage of his budget could be spent there, someone like Madjid Bougherra at Glasgow Rangers or perhaps swoop for Ashley Williams of Swansea or Luke Chambers of Nottingham Forest. All would make an excellent edition. I feel they create a lot through the middle, with Dempsey able to link up with the front players, but a natural wide man would give them that other option. Loan deals may be the best option here, or a lower-league swoop, names like Chris Burke, Vladimir Wiess or loaning Gabriel Obertan from Manchester United. Finally, their problems at full-back, the right purchase here could lead to their wide-men problems being solved too, I would like them to enter the Alan Hutton race, or try for Celtic’s player of the year Emilio Izaguirre, or again, go for the lower leagues with Chris Gunter.
If I was the next Fulham Manager, I would sign; Emilio Izaguirre, Madjid Bougherra, and enquire Shakhtar’s Jadson. Loan deal for Obertan could be effective, too.
(Prediction; 13th)

Aston Villa; (last season – 9th)
Expected transfer budget available; £15-20M
Highlighted positions; LB, CM, GK.
After a very mixed campaign the season ended on a relatively decent note, with wins against Liverpool and Arsenal. Since then, manager Houllier has stepped down leaving a vacant position (which looks to be filled by Mark Hughes, having resigned from his Fulham post this afternoon), the next man in will need to sort out this team because on paper they are far better than 2010/2011 has suggested. Brad Friedel looks to be gone so a goalkeeper is a priority, either Old Firm keeper comes with bags of quality or the media have reported interest in Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster. The central midfield isn’t that weak, but needs strengthened and a more level head; Mark Noble, Jordan Henderson, Thomas Hitzlsperger, David Vaughan, Scott Brown, would all bring that. They also have a left-back position which needs addressed, Emilio Izaguirre seems a popular name for this level of club, and Fabio Coentrao could be possible for the right fee. Wayne Bridge has been out-of-form in recent times, but the right manager could bring him back to his best. Finally, with Ashley Young and/or Stuart Downing set to leave Villa Park, can Marc Albrighton fill their shoes? I think he can, but with help on the other flank.
If I was the next Villa Manager, I would sign; Craig Gordon, Mark Noble, Emilio Izaguirre, Matt Jarvis/Jermaine Pennant + maybe enter the Craig Mackail-Smith race, his inability to give up could lead to chances created for the clinical Darren Bent. Could be a busy window for the Villans.
(Prediction; 9th.)

Sunderland; (last season – 10th)
Expected transfer budget available; £18-23M
Highlighted positions; STR, CB, Full Backs, Width.
Injuries destroyed Sunderland’s end of season push as their entire front line were on the sidelines, the departure of Darren Bent seen an immediate decline in goals but Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck seemed equipped when fit. Season over and it looks like Sunderland won’t be seeing Welbeck again, and are in the hunt for the CF that would work well with Gyan, for that they’ll need an intelligent footballer, age isn’t really a problem because Gyan will do the running, but the link up will need to be smart; Robbie Keane, Miroslav Klose, Demba Ba would be the perfect candidates. Alternatively, Sunderland tend to buy well abroad, Sessengon a perfect example of quality. So the clear out’s at Monaco and Deportivo could be a bargain hunt for The Black Cats – Expect something. Titus Bramble has had a good season but can be left exposed, and his defensive partnerships are often edgy when pressed or countered. A stronger back line could be partially financed by the sale of Craig Gordon. Alan Hutton had a successful loan spell on Wear-side and would be ideal, a CB like Scott Dann or Roger Johnson would bring a solidity too. Natural width seems called for by the fans, personally I think playing through the middle suits them, but a player with the ability to find space on the wings and cut in could work well with Gyan/Sessengon. And I think I have the perfect answer…… 
If I was Steve Bruce, I would sign; Gabby Agbonlahor, Roger Johnson, Demba Ba, Alan Hutton.
(Prediction; 12th.)

That’s all for part II, next time I’ll be going through West Brom-Newcastle-Stoke-Bolton-Blackburn in what I think will be the most interesting one yet. I’m trying to get them done on a fairly quick basis as I don’t want to space them between another blog post and I want to write an article shaming Sepp ‘Sith-Lord’ Blatter fairly soon. Also, I don’t want clubs to make transfers before I’ve predicted things, like Norwich City have so nicely done with the signing of James Vaughan!

As always, let me know what you guys think below or on twitter/facebook! 

Over and out.

Transfer Season – Part I.

Not blogged in a while, to which I can only apologise as my end of university exam preparation has been taking up my free time. Not to worry, all’s good now and I have a brilliant patch in my life between education and full-time employment. That in mind however, was nice to see my blog surpass the 10,000 mark this week, not bad for a blog operating for less than 3 weeks.

Back to business.

The domestic transfer window officially opened today, with the international (the really fun one) transfer window opening on July 1st. So, with my not-so-expert overview, I would like to cast an opinion over the perspective budgets, targets and areas that need strengthened from team to team. And if I’m feeling particularly bold I may even predict an end of season finish for May 2012.

So, 20 teams all with very different definitions of success. Lets start with the reigning champions and make our way down to the newly promoted sides;

Manchester United; (last season – 1st)
Estimated transfer budget available – £50-60M
Highlighted positions; GK, LM, CAM, CM
Manchester United have recently had the retirements of Van der Sar, Scholes and Neville to deal with, the rest of the squad are balanced but older than some, so a general re-building may occur in the next few seasons. Firstly, they need a new GK, Van der Sar needs to be replaced with similar quality, De Gea at Athletico is said to be a target but has rubbished speculation until after the U’21 Championships.
Their attacking forces can be bolstered too with quality Left and Centre attacking Midfielders; Bale, Modric, Nasri seem the names thrown around but I can’t see it happening, except maybe Modric. A distributor in midfield could also be key, with Hernandez and Rooney thriving on the shoulder ball.
If I was Sir Alex, I’d sign; Marc Steklenburg, Charlie Adam, Luka Modric. (Prediction 2nd)

Chelsea; (last season – 2nd)
Estimated transfer budget available – £70M+
Highlighted positions; RB, CF, CB, CDM. – Manager
Firstly, this constant management turnover needs to stop, owners of football clubs can not keep on changing things, it’s not good for the club. They need a chairman strong enough to challenge Abramovich.
For transfers, it’s looking likely Drogba will depart, but if the management is smart enough to see how Daniel Sturridge is progressing then a replacement may be under their noses. 50M man Fernando Torres is close to being back to form, but the bulking up he was made to do under Hodgson has ruined him. He needs to get back to being skinny so his pace can allow him to beat people and play a natural game. CDM, Essien is one of the finest at doing that job, but last season… He seemed to think he could play a more advanced role. He can’t. Never have a seen such a poor transformation.
CB, I think Terry is slowly getting ‘past it’, I don’t think he should have went to the 2010 World Cup, and I think he’s dying for pace more and more consistently now, however the English blood is needed in the spine of this side, and the RB position looks weak too.
If I was whoever the unfortunate man is next, I would sign; Gary Cahill, Darijo Srna, and keep Sturridge, as well as getting Essien back to his best role, CDM. (Prediction 5th)

Manchester City; (last season 3rd)
Estimated transfer budget – Budget? What budget?
Highlighted positions; CF, CM, RB.
My biggest problem with Manchester City, is that they have essentially based a team around a very bad player. Gareth Barry. And when you base a team around a bad player you can often miss out on the biggest prizes, hence why Manchester City were never really able to outclass the bigger sides in the division and had to park the bus and play for draws. Barry would need to be replaced with a more dynamic CM, and with money being no object, the realms of my selection went from Barcelona to Brighton. Furthermore, regardless of the Tevez affair, they still need just one more CF, maybe not needing to spend so much but Dzeko, Balotteli, Tevez needs one more. So keeping Adebayor or spending again, a player with something a little bit different, a supersub who can score vital goals. Finally, despite Richards nailing the RB spot last season, I feel he gets beat far too often and gets caught napping at set pieces. Would get rid of him, and put in a more experienced, better quality player.
If I was Roberto Mancini, I would sign; Miroslav Klose (he’s available, poised to sign for Lazio, steal him!), Maicon, Stuart Holden – Such potential, at 25 he would be a massive success in any side. Or for a bigger name, Charlie Adam could feature in this sides CM, too.  (Prediction 1st)

Arsenal, my beloved. The most frustrating team to support in the history of football. (last season, 4th. – The only team capable of finishing 4th in a 2 horse race).
Estimated transfer budget available – £50M, but will Wenger spend it?
Highlighted positions; STR, CB, LAM/Winger. Keep Nasri.
Arsenal seem to think the season lasts between Aug-Feb in recent years, since the departure of David Dein, Wenger has too much say in proceedings and not enough people to answer to for poor performance, slightly Blatter-esque in his ability to be essentially un-regulated. He needs a backbone, some players who will happily pick up 10 yellows a season and not think anything of it, he also needs quality wide men, when Walcott’s been injured we haven’t had the cover needed to back him up. And he need an out-and-out striker, Chamakh was the answer to our problems last year, between Aug-Dec he was banging in goals until Wenger bizarrely dropped him for RVP instead of incorporating both into the side which he promised. We need someone who will stay in the box and take 15 tap-ins a year. Samir Nasri simply has to stay too, not only because I foolishly purchased an Arsenal shirt for next season with his name & number on the back, but how pivotal he is to the side, it stops or reliability on the inconsistent Fabregas.  Finally, we need a CB. The return of Vermaelen should act as a new signing, but I would personally love to see an English, at least British signing to show some fight.
If I was Wenger, I would sign; Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Scott Parker. – And I’d get Vieira/Campbell back in some kind of coaching role. (Prediction 3rd)

Liverpool (last season 6th)
Estimated transfer budget available – £45M (partially gathered in sales)
Highlighted positions: CB, RB, LB, CM
Despite a horrific first half of a the campaign, Dalglish taking over seen Liverpool finish the year top of the form table, still however, they carry something of a frailty when being pressed back, their centre backs often are slow to make the tackle and easy to beat. They once again have found themselves reliant on a striker. It is open knowledge to seemingly everyone outside the club that they have never replaced Alonso, so for that reason I think they more than anyone NEED to sign Charlie Adam, though I do believe Chris Brunt at WBA is just as effective and would come at a significantly cheaper price. At CB, they are weak and Carragher’s legs are starting to leave him, Agger is quality but doesn’t seem to wear the badge anymore. Full backs, whilst I like Kelly at LB, I feel a stronger RB is needed as Johnson tends to play in midfield at times.
If I was Dalglish, I would sign; Charlie Adam – Break the bank to do so, Scott Dann, Kyle Naughton/Alan Hutton, as well as a winger, probably Ashley Young to give Carroll service. Maybe a swoop for Gabby Agbonlahor could be an effective signing for Liverpool too? (Prediction 6th)

Yes, yes, yes… Spurs finished above Liverpool, but as a Gooner it was way too fun to leave them out of part 1.

Let me know your suggestions and I’ll keep going with Spurs-Everton-Fulham-Aston Villa-Sunderland in part 2.

Over and out.