Tide and Time and Transfer Windows

Posted on February 1, 2011

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Great finish. In the words of that great philosopher Martin Lawrence : “Shit just got real”. So much so that I didn’t even notice that Carlos Vela went out on loan to Arsenal a couple of days before the deadline. A quick round-up of my transfer window coverage:

Of the five players I said wouldn’t leave their clubs, I’m going to be optimistic and point out that 3 are still with their clubs. In my defence, the reason I doubted Adebayor would leave was his ridiculous wages, which do seem to have stymied a permanent transfer. And I’ll hold my hands up and say I didn’t see the Carroll offer coming in, given that my brain generally sticks to things that don’t seem insane. I also listed 5 players I expected to move, of whom 2 have (Santa Cruz and Keane), and 5 that I was unsure of, 3 of whom have (Tuncay, Ireland, Vela). Tragic. So it looks like I averaged 2.3 regardless of my picks, with the indecision clearly being my most perceptive state.And even Keane didn’t go to the club I expected.

Elsewhere, Chelsea didn’t listen to my advice and spent an obscene £70 million directly off the back of announcing an umm…£70 million loss for last year, ensuring that they’ll retain the ‘billionaire’s hobby’ tag that they were in serious danger of getting past. Blackburn on the other hand, made the right decision and dispatched El-Hadj Diouf on loan to the cold north (although that might just be to avoid confusion with the club’s other Diouf). And Bolton did in fact give some support to Owen Coyle, bringing in David Wheater and the loan of Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge, while not selling Cahill, Elmander or indeed anyone .

(Just as an aside, how incredibly screwed up are Chelsea’s finances right now? In the 12 months to June 2010 they spent all of about £25 million on players, most of whom were Yuri Zhirkov. Meaning they lost £45 million after that despite doing the double and making it to the knockout stages of the Champion’s League. This season, despite dropping the wage bill a bit by setting free Michael Ballack and Joe Cole, they had already set themselves back almost £20 million in summer transfers even if you include the money recouped by selling Carvalho and Stoch. They’ve more tripled their outlay on players when they weren’t close to having their expenses in order before that. Good thing there’s the oligarch to fall back on.)

But who are the winners and losers of the January transfer window? Let’s see…

Winners

Sales of Chelsea Torres bobbleheads expected to be inflated. Image via dontthink.feel

Fernando Torres – The tricky thing about writing a piece like this is that it’s easy to end up looking foolish. The observations need to be unobvious and still come true, but if you go too far out on a ledge, you’ll end up doing something stupid like predict that Andy Carroll will stay at Newcastle. But Torres just has to make this list. He’s had a mediocre season by his regular standards, while actually remaining fit for a whole season so far. So naturally he’s been rewarded with becoming the biggest UK transfer by a sizable margin. It’ll be interesting to see how he does, now that he has a big number to live up to and actual competition for his position, but ‘Nando now has Champion’s League football and the prospect of actually winning something to look forward to again, and that’s more than enough to designate him a transfer window winner.

Blackpool – Kept Charlie Adam, even if it was a matter of minutes according to Harry Redknapp (God knows why he would think that another midfielder in his top heavy side would be the way to go) and quite a few deals on deadline day, including a season loan of Rangers’ James Beattie. For all the talk about Adam’s value, it really was a matter of pure economics. Being in the Premier League is estimated to be worth about £40 million (Source: Deloitte). If Adam is deemed to make more than 10-15% difference in the team’s survival (comfortably, as anyone who’s seen the team this season will attest) then the £4-6 million bids didn’t offer Blackpool value. I’m sure he was just screwing with people, but when Alex Ferguson suggested £10 million, I don’t think he was too far from the mark.  The Seasiders are on 28 points from 23 games, If they take all 3 off West Ham tomorrow, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t still in the top flight next season.

The Fans – The LMA hates it, Owen Coyle hates it, the fans love it. Yes football is a business, and as we’ve seen this week, a massively bloated one. But the January deadline is pure excitement. Football is supposed to be about entertainment, and it is a highlight of the year for many. I’m not convinced that the transfer window system is particularly fair, or for that matter, legal. But it is a great time of year. Hell, what would football fans have to do in the Summer if not for the window?

Losers

Wigan – Their one new face in the relegation battle is former Kilmarnock striker Conor Sammon.

This is Conor Sammon

That picture above is his current Wikipedia page. For all its inaccuracies, there are some things you can tell from a Wikipedia page. Great footballers are sizing up their opponents on a pitch. Good ones have pictures of them in action, even if the banner image makes them look ridiculous. Even mediocre ones have pictures of them somewhere near a football (even if apparently missing a neck).  But no footballer has ever had a picture of himself is a silly hat as his Wikipedia image and gone on to great things. The best that can be said for Wigan’s window is that they didn’t sell their top players, but they were struggling before January, and I don’t see any great improvement on what was there then.

Nicolas Anelka – Going on 32, now the Euro 2000 cup winner has to compete for a slot with a World Cup 2010 winner. He’s the club’s top scorer this season, but it’d be a surprise if he was picked ahead of Drogba on a regular basis. And with the long term ban handed down on his international career, it might be the end of the road for Anelka unless he’s willing to make do at a smaller club. Not to be starting on his Chelsea obituary already, but I’d be willing to be that Newcastle might be interested in his services come the summer.

West Ham – I can’t put this any better than Daniel at Off The Post, so I’ll just quote him

West Ham are dreadful all over the pitch. And yet in this window they have signed Demba Ba and Robbie Keane. This adds to Carlton Cole, Benni McCarthy, Freddie Sears, Frank Nouble, Zavon Hines, Freddie Piquionne and Victor Obinna. Nine strikers plus Scotty Parker stick? Unless they win a few games 3-2, you fear for the Hammers.

Well done to the club for keeping Scott Parker and for bringing in Robbie Keane. But they have managed to expend their resources on further unbalancing a club that already had a distinct lack of quality in defence and midfield. It’s a ridiculous situation that Rob Green has managed to rehabilitate his image even though West Brom are the only team to have shipped more goals. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but I still don’t see the Hammers staying up.

Louise Redknapp interviews her father-in-law H...

Image via Wikipedia

Harry Redknapp – I could quote Off The Post again and regurgitate his note that Tottenham are two bad performances against AC Milan away from being in a worse position than where they were last season. Pienaar joined but Rossi, Llorente, Forlan, Aguero, Carroll, Adam and even Phil Neville didn’t. Even allowing for some of these to be complete press fabrications, that’s a lot of rebuffs. There’s a long time between now and the summer and for all their attacking riches, Spurs aren’t the strongest side defensively. Woodgate is short of match fitness, King is always injured again, as is Kaboul, and Dawson is temporarily suspended. And I’ve yet to meet a Spurs fan convinced that Gomes is a player for a club with top 4 aspirations. The six points between them and 4th place is starting to look like an awfully long way.

Also, the wallet thing.

Then there’s Arsenal, who didn’t buy at all during the window. That could go either way to such an extent that I wouldn’t want to guess at putting them into the winners/losers categories. Other than the centre defence issue, he has a great squad with a number of alternatives if injuries occur. But that one niggling flaw could be all the difference between champion and runner up. It’s admirable to resist the calls to invest if you’re happy with what you have at your disposal (even if it’s probably easier when you have a bit of job security).

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