“I think what is important is the delight of everybody when Andy walked through the door.
“I think it made us all feel that little bit better when you have got a £35m centre-forward… He is a quality centre-forward and he is our number one.” (BBC)
These were the words of Sam Allardyce, a man who was clearly eager to heap praise on his new talisman in the wake of their impressive victory against Fulham. The arrival of Andy Carroll at West Ham was certainly one of the highlights of the latter stages of this summer’s transfer window. In my opinion the pair going together like eel pie and mash, a move that will be savoured by local fans and serve to inflict a queasy, unnerving feeling in the stomach of any teams yet to visit East London this season.
The 3-0 scoreline on Saturday hardly flattered a rejuvenated West Ham team, who strutted about like a group of school kids after realising the biggest bully in the playground was now on their side. The fans were evidently buoyed by the news and created an electric atmosphere, perhaps simply as a result of not having to watch Carlton Cole for once. Nevertheless Carroll’s impact was instantaneous and has inspired me to search football’s recent history to discover whether any other high-profile signings produced the same effect.
When Robinho was greeted by the grey skies of Manchester back in August 2008, he was a symbol of the club’s ambition to install City as one of the countries modern superpowers. His status as the fabled ‘Madrid Galactico’ coupled with his 32 million pound price tag sparked hysteria amongst fans, especially as the player had been expected to become the last addition to Roman Abramovich’s portfolio. His debut – ironically against Chelsea – was capped with a goal and even though the game ended in a 3-1 defeat, it failed to diffuse the excitement at the club who had captured the interest of a nation.
Sadly, Robinho became disillusioned with life in the ‘Rainy City’ and soon found his career stuttering to a halt, despite the best efforts of manager Mark Hughes. His transfer to AC Milan in 2010 put an end to his fairytale-come-nightmare stint in English football but it didn’t prevent the club from seeking other high-profile South American targets. The signing of Carlos Tevez from rivals Manchester United has been dubbed brilliant and then catastrophic more times than I care to remember, but the club really struck gold with pint-sized Sergio Aguero, whose incredible first season in the league ended rather aptly with the goal that won Manchester City their first title in 44 years.
Speaking of Carlos Tevez, it’s easy to forget that once upon time he was an aspiring youngster who arrived at West Ham in 2006 amongst a strange blend of excitement and confusion. However, the temperamental Argentine failed to inspire a similar reaction to that of Andy Carroll, in fact after his debut as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, the Hammers suffered eight consecutive defeats.
Tevez didn’t find the back of the net until March, an incredible 20 games into his West Ham career. However this goal effectively hailed his arrival as he won the hearts of those close to the club with an exuberant celebration in amongst a throng of delirious fans. Despite the fact that The Hammers still suffered defeat that day (4-3 to Tottenham) they would go on a run that saw them lose only twice in their remaining fixtures. The final game of the season featured the inspired 1-0 victory at Old Trafford that ensured their stay in the division and I don’t to remind you who got the winning goal.
Other names worth mentioning include Afonso Alves, Middlebrough’s record transfer signing who arrived at the Riverside after running riot in the Dutch Eredivisie. The striker did his best to contradict every stereotype of the typical Brazilian footballer with a series of slow, sluggish and impotent performances. His four goals in 31 appearances during his first full season helped send Gareth Southgate and co tumbling out of the Premier League.
Rafael van der Vaart on the other hand popped up on 31 August 2010 as one of the bargain buys of the decade. Despite not carrying the same inflated transfer fee as some of the aforementioned names in this article, his global reputation still invited the same giddy reaction from supporters. His career at White Hart Lane began with three goals in four Premier League matches and his experience on the European circuit would help Spurs reach the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
The purchase of a new player can certainly transform the fortunes of a team, much in the same way that a change in the managerial hot seat often does. Their arrival can often inspire their team-mates to new heights as competition for places in the starting line-up intensifies. However, it doesn’t always go plan, as evident from the disappointing start to the careers of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll since their big money moves. With this still fresh in people’s mind and the new Financial Fair Play regulations slowly taking hold, does this mean we are destined for a less exciting future on the transfer front?
Have you ever witnessed your team transformed thanks to big name signing? Perhaps you’re eagerly awaiting the home debut of a recent purchase from transfer deadline day? Leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter @theunusedsub