As the dust settles on a quiet final day of the transfer window, let’s take a look at the main winners and losers of the final day’s action.
Birmingham City – A busy deadline day for Birmingham say them acquire Alexander Hleb, Jean Beausejour and Martin Jiranek, to go along with their earlier purchases of Nikola Zigic, Ben Foster and Matt Derbyshire. But what was most pleasing, is that the club failed to be held to ransom by the demands of want away Wigan winger Charles N’Zogbia, who has yet failed to match his supposed price tag of around the £9m mark with either his consistent ability on the pitch or his commitment to any given club. As a side they look stronger and with more options all over the park and although another season of mid-table mediocrity beckons, this should be seen as a season to consolidate and build towards next year, and in that respect Alex McLeish’s charges remain right on track.
West Ham – If you’d have said by January that by September 1st the club would still retain the services of Messrs Parker, Upson, Cole and Green, you’d have been laughed out of most rooms around most of east London, but yet they all still remain at Upton Park despite the innumerable odds. West Ham look to be heading for a relegation battle this term by what we’ve seen so far, but retaining the aforementioned players above could well yet to prove more important than any transfer dealing that they have concluded this summer, especially in the case of Parker.
Manuel Almunia – Arsene Wenger remains a brilliant manager yet a stubborn old goat at the same time. Everyone knows that Arsenal need a new goalkeeper and that they are not likely to challenge for the title without one, that Almunia saves very little, inspires little confidence amongst his defence and is worth very little to anyone but Arsenal, yet he still remains as their number one man between the sticks. Mooted moves for the likes of Shay Given and more seriously Mark Schwarzer failed to materialise and so the Spaniard has been dealt the managerial equivalent of the dreaded vote of confidence. The fact no reinforcements were brought in is a massive bonus for Alumunia and he’s surely a winner in this situation.
Stoke City – Adding a little verve to their play could work wonders for the Potters. Gudjohnson, Pennant and Marc Wilson all arrived with only the unsettled duo of Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson departing. As I alluded to in an earlier article, these signings have to be seen as a real statement of intent and it would appear that Pulis is no longer content with just making up the numbers and with the league in such flux this season, now is the right time to strike.
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Tom Cleverley – The exciting young midfielder earned himself a season-long loan deal to Wigan despite Man Utd manager Alex Ferguson’s protestations earlier on in the window that Cleverley wasn’t going anywhere and would be involved in the first-team squad at Old Trafford instead this season after impressing in pre-season. But with the likelihood of playing time greatly increased by his loan move, Cleverley now has the chance to showcase his talents to a wider audience in the top flight after an excellent stint on loan at Watford last term. He’s certainly one to watch for the future.
David Bentley – The surprise £8m arrival of Rafael Van Der Vaart from Real Madrid has only served to push David Bentley even further down the pecking order at White Hart Lane. Quite why he hasn’t agitated for a move as yet is beyond me, as it’s abundantly clear that he doesn’t figure prominently in manager Harry Redknapp’s future plans. With Modric, Krancjar and now Van Der Vaart along with Lennon, Huddlestone and Palacios at the club, Bentley’s future looks bleak to say the least. The fact that he wasn’t even linked with anyone shows you just how far he’s come in the last 18 months and he’s now unequivocally the Premiership’s forgotten man.
Roque Santa Cruz – He was linked with moves to Fulham, Sunderland and Stoke earlier on in the window, but after a move to Serie A club Lazio fell through, he’s been forced to stay at Man City. The glumness of his statement: “Unfortunately, I have heard from the manager than he won’t be counting on me too much this season. I heard that a week before the season and I had time to see if I could arrange a move. But in the end the club were happy to keep me and they weren’t happy with anything that came through. Now I am looking forward to getting back into training and seeing if I have any opportunities to prove myself in the team” almost makes you feel sorry for him. Lazio are still rumoured to be favourites for him and are apparently looking to force through a deal in January when the window re-opens, but Santa Cruz is now left in limbo until then, and I’d be surprised if he made more than a handful of appearances in all competitions until then.
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Charles N’Zogbia – Excellent, just excellent. With player power taking a front seat in this transfer window, even more so than most, it’s nice to see a sulky so and so not get his way for once. N’Zogbia is one of those players’s with exceptional talent, but he’s not quite as good as he thinks he is. Whether it’s going on strike to force through a move to Birmingham, an insult to both Wigan and manager Roberto Martinez after they gave him a lifeline from his Newcastle nightmare, or touting himself around as potential Arsenal signing, even when they haven’t shown any interest in him, N’Zogbia sounds like a thoroughly unsavoury character. The likelihood is that he’s now going to be forced into an embarrassing comedown at his current club Wigan, until they decide that they want to sell him. He most certainly has value on the pitch, but off it, perhaps after this latest move he’ll put clubs off just that little bit more next time he gets itchy feet and for that he has only himself to blame.
Robbie Keane – For months it’s looked as if Keane would be nothing more than fourth choice striker at Spurs this season and as the season has got underway, that has proved to be just the case. He could do with a change of scenery that’s for sure and it comes as a surprise that no one has taken a punt on a player with proven Premiership experience. One saving grace though is that the club failed to bring in another striker, despite their best efforts all window. The brinkmanship practiced by Chairman Daniel Levy has cost the club dearly on building on last season’s excellent efforts, and although Keane remains most definitely the best fourth-choice striker in the league at any club, for the player, staying at Spurs can only be seen as a waste of time.
Shay Given/ Mark Schwarzer – To round off the theme of players that lost out on the final day of the transfer window are my final choices of Shay Given and Mark Schwarzer. I think a move to Arsenal for Shay Given will probably go down in the annuls of history as the most obvious transfer in history never to happen. Given is unfortunate in that he’s behind an excellent keeper’ Joe Hart at City, and doubly unfortunate that he seems to have been caught up in a goalkeeping merry-go-round that failed to get off the ground. Given had another option, joining up with former manager Mark Hughes at Fulham, with a loan move the most likely option. But this was largely dependent on Arsene Wenger moving for Mark Schwarzer again after he transfer listed himself earlier in the window. Only Wenger’s unfounded faith in current number one Almunia stopped Schwarzer and Given getting the moves they both desired and the football they so crave. Luckily for Schwarzer, he still has the option of staying at Fulham and will most definitely walk back in as first choice despite reserve keeper’ David Stockdale’s exceptional performances in his stead, but for Given, he faces the rather unusual situation of being one of the top five keepers in the league, but also one that is resigned to the bench week in, week out. It reminds me a lot of when Carlo Cudicini was at Chelsea and the club bought Petr Cech. Hopefully for Given, we will not see a serious waning of his goalkeeping prowess on a scale the same as Cudicini, as he contemplates his future while warming the bench at Eastlands.
Any players or clubs that people think I’ve missed out? Just post them below.
Written By James McManus