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.