Tag Archives: Transfers

Sign Him Up

The flood of activity in the transfer market is gathering pace. Speculation, anticipation and a sense of optimism emanates round the football community. Eager fans wait impatiently like children on Christmas Eve, looking for clues wherever they can and speculating wildly. Who will be the clubs next signing? ‘Is this bloke from Djibouti going to be the answer to our defensive frailties’? ‘Is it true that the lad from Italy we’ve got on trial once played for Milan?’ ‘Apparently that Danish winger has supported us since he was seven; his parents brought him over to visit the Macclesfield silk museum on holiday. That’s exactly what we need, some real passion for the club’.

New signings usually come swathed in a blanket of praise and promise; their achievements are dressed up, like a neatly wrapped present. Nobody intentionally signs a bad player. Unless you’re Gary Neville rocking up at Anfield or El Hadj Diouf just about anywhere the chances are you will be given a fresh start and a clean slate. This is a time for optimism after all. ‘There is every chance that the ‘goal-scoring midfielder’ we’ve signed from Preston didn’t score a single goal last season because he was played out-of-position’. ‘Sure the new centre back was at the heart of the worst defense in the football league last season but I wouldn’t read too much into it’.

Gary Neville - Popular

Of course, once the season kicks off this buoyancy will quickly fade for most of us as we realise the Djiboutian full back is as adept at defending as the French Ardennes and the goal-scoring midfielder has a shot on him like Rory Milroy. If the team is not performing the honeymoon period for a new signing is not a long one. The first to feel the pressure are the strikers, just ask Fernando Torrez. They are usually the most lauded of the new recruits and have the misfortune of being expected to score some goals. Often this does not happen. Often the 30-a-season goal machine you were promised is in fact Thomas Brolin or Bosko Balaban .If this happens then you have bagged yourself an anti-hero, a goal-scoring flop. Do not fret, they will come good, if not on the pitch then certainly down at the pub as part of a brilliant anecdote. I think you will find a lot more fun can be had reminiscing about shit strikers than the good ones.

I take great pleasure recalling the potent threat caused by Danny Cademateri (7 in 91) and the clinical finisher that was Dean Saunders (3 in 44) during their time at Valley Parade. Bradford City has oodles of these menacing forwards littered throughout their recent history. Who could forget Eddie Johnston (7 in 64) or John McGinley (3 in 18)? It must be noted that although these may have arrived with a degree of expectation, thankfully none of them came with a huge transfer fee attached.

Goal Machine

Spare a thought, if you can these days, for Man City Fans. Brazilian Jo arrived in 2008 for a fee of around £6m, potentially rising to £18m with added bonuses; one would suspect this facility will not be being upheld. So far He has scored one league goal in three years. Since 2006 Man City have excelled in second-rate strikers, Corradi, Bianchi, Samaras , Bojinov, Caicaido, Benjani Santa Cruz and Dzeko all failed fantastically in sky blue. Between them they managed a miserly 32 goals in 216 games, one every 6.75 games, frightening. In transfer fees alone that’s over £3m per goal, double that with wages. People may be quick to point out mitigating factors but that is to be as deluded as you were when you believed they would be the answer to all your problems. Man City are the champions of Europe when it comes to shit signings.

Bianchi - Rubbish

However, as bad as the Eastlands contingent was, none of them flopped quite spectacularly enough. From a purely financial point of view Shevchenko puts them all in the shade. His spell at Chelsea cost the club over £50m during which time he managed only nine goals, hardly a shrewd piece of business. This is not really about money though; do Chelsea fans really care about their outgoings? Probably not, the same goes for Man City. He may have failed to match expectations but he just wasn’t bad enough for me. Nine goals, that’s prolific.

Back in 2001 John Gregory paid £5.8m for Croatian goal machine Bosko Balaban, beating off competition from Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina. He played nine times for Aston Villa failing to score once. Swiftly loaned back to Dynamo Zagreb he rediscovered his form bagging 15 in 24 games. This prompted Villa to recall the player. Back in Birmingham with expectations riding high once more the Croat got back to work, or rather didn’t. He was accused of laziness and excluded from training. He never played again and having picked up his 20,000-a-week for two and a half years left the club for free. He scored 47 times in 83 games for his next club and has been on fire ever since. He is the most expensive Premier League striker never to score.

Runner Up, Gary Neville Tache -a-Like Competition 2001

As far as disappointments go Balaban is hard to beat. Never-the-less, given his record elsewhere it is unfair to condemn Gregory’s decision to sign him. Graeme Souness on the other hand has a lot to answer for. In 1996 he received a phone call from George Weah asking him to take a look at his cousin Ali Dia. Dia, he claimed, was a Senegal international and former Paris Saint-Germain player. The Southampton manager, believing this to be true gave him a one month contract and put him straight into the first team squad. At a time when foreign players were still a rarity in England, saint’s fans will have been eager to see their new man in action. They did not have to wait long, 32 minutes in and Matt Le Tissier came off injured. On strode the Southampton number 33, the new George Weah. What followed was probably the worst individual performance in Premier League history.

Dia bumbled around the Dell for the next 21 minutes producing a display that was not matched for inept ability until Dwain Chambers tried his hand at Rugby League. Realising he had made a grave error of judgment Souness hauled him off shortly after half time, never to be seen again. The phone call it turned out was not from George Weah at all, but from the player’s agent. He had of course never played for Paris Saint Germain, or his country and was in fact a bit-part player for Blythe Spartans who had recently failed a trial at Rotherham United. The most shocking thing about this is that he actually had an agent, a good one it seems as well.

Football is not really about winning or losing, it’s about stuff like this. Ask a Southampton fan what position they finished in the league that year or what the score was that day and they probably won’t remember. Ask them about Ali Dia and your certain to provoke a wry smile. Every club has one and maybe yours is lining one up as we speak. Long live the shit signings.

The Story Of Transfer Deadline Day

Transfer deadline day: sports greatest soap opera. More twists, turns, drama and sub-plots than an anniversary special, and almost as ridiculous. It is probably the most exciting yet repulsive day on the football calendar. For every jubilant fan, drooling over their new messiah, another sits dejected and mournful at the loss of their hero. Of course there will be the more uninspiring signings along the way, but today always looked set to be a big one.

It had all the right ingredients; big names, big asking prices and most importantly big holes to fill. The move everyone was waiting for was of course Fernando Torres; would he go to Chelsea and what would happen in the ensuing merry-go-round? Elsewhere Spurs seemed to be looking at every half-decent striker in Europe, Blackpool where sweating on the future of Charlie Adam and Man City where reportedly in the market for a left winger.

Predictably the day started slowly, gossip and signings trickled in slowly yet failed to inspire. All was quiet at Anfield. Then it picked up all of a sudden. At around half-ten rumors began to circulate that both Tottenham and Liverpool where preparing bids for Andy Carroll. Did this mean Liverpool had agreed a deal for a Torres departure? Had the Suarez deal fallen through? Kenny Dalglish tells the press “We’ve not brought anyone in as a replacement for anyone else. Movement is part and parcel of football but the most important people at Liverpool Football Club are the ones who want to be here.” A mixed message considering Torres had his transfer request turned down on Friday.

We were about to witness a huge statement of intent from the Liverpool board as almost as soon as the rumours had surfaced, news came in that Newcastle had turned down an astonishing £30m bid from Liverpool for Andy Carroll. Thirty million for Andy Carroll. Put that in perspective, it is the same amount Barcelona paid for David Villa in the summer. It is more than Rooney, Drogba, Tevez and indeed Torres. If Newcastle were holding out for more it was a risky tactic.

Elsewhere Tottenham’s hopes of capturing Aguero are quashed as he signs a new deal at Athletico Madrid. Apparently Spurs are now chasing Aguero’s teammate Diego Forlan but it is looking desperate for them now. Blackpool confirm the signing of Andy Reid, just as Manchester United emerge as favorites in the chase for Charlie Adam. The Tangerines however where playing hard-ball, apparently they were now refusing to take calls from Liverpool now.

Back to the big story and the plot thickens. Liverpool have made a second bid of £35m which we are told meets Newcastle’s valuation, Carroll is also keen it is said. The deal is on, or is it? We still have no idea what is going on with the Torrez deal or how it affected this one plus Luis Suarez is yet to put pen to paper. Liverpool could end the day with the best strike-force in the premiership, but then again they might end up with David Ngog. It also emerges that the second bid is also rejected by Newcastle, unbelievable stuff. Defiant Liverpool are however keen on their man, and inevitably a fee is agreed after the striker hands in a transfer request. Carroll is now on his way to Liverpool, as is Charlie Adam by all accounts in an incredible turnaround of events. The deals are far from complete yet though.

The Spurs striker search is now officially called off as Harry Redknapp announces there is “no chance” of the club signing a striker tonight, nor any chance of Peter Crouch leaving for Newcastle as Andy Carroll’s replacement. “This comes after reports Tottenham made a late bid to hijack the Carroll deal as well as approaching Villarreal forward Guiseppi Rossi. Disappointing news for those in search of drama as Spurs are usually good value for money on transfer day (unlike Andy Carroll (sorry couldn’t help it)). Mind you I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear from them again, late bid for Torres?

Well that would be impossible now as news comes in that Chelsea have had a £50m offer accepted and the Spaniard is on his way to London for talks. Not sure how Reds fans are supposed to be feeling now but it’s not long before they can breathe a sigh of relief. The first piece of the Liverpool jigsaw is complete, Luis Suarez has finally signed. One piece that will definitely be missing however is Charlie Adam after reported talks break down. Another big development, overshadowed up to now by all the madness, is that Chelsea are now very close to capturing David Luiz. That would take their days spend up to a staggering £70m, and we thought their big spending days were over.

It’s getting late now, less than an hour to go and there is still no confirmation that the Torres, Carroll or Luiz deals have been finalized. This is classic deadline day stuff but we are yet to see an out of the blue, last minute development. Step up Tottenham Hotspur, we knew we had not seen the last of them, first a cheeky bid for Phil Neville is rejected, and then news breaks that Spurs are rushing through an eleventh-hour deal for…you guessed it, Charlie Adam. Terrible news for Blackpool fans with only minutes left to spare now. It’s 10:56 when the breaking news arrives; Andy Carroll has signed a five-and-a-half year deal with Liverpool. Still no news on Torres, what’s going on? One, two, three minutes go by and then right on the hour an official announcement from Chelsea, Torrez and Luiz have both completed their deals. Carroll’s record domestic transfer fee stood for all of four minutes.

Obviously there where countless other deals, no-deals, rumours and hear-say during the course of the day but ultimately everyone was, and will be talking about Liverpool. It appears they have re-found that big club mentality, we certainly would not have seen such bullish authority in the market this time last year. It’s also worth noting that none of the top three got involved today. Obviously they are happy with their squads and rightly so, but could this mean the second half of the season is about to take a different course?

Without doubt the biggest winners of the day where Blackpool, a truly heroic effort to keep hold of Adam, he will keep them up and that is priceless. The biggest losers? It’s a toss-up between Newcastle and David Ngog, neither look likely to get a sniff up front for the remainder of the season.