Wednesday night will mean it has been seven days since the summer transfer window came to a climactic close, and now is the time to step back and breathe it in. In the heat of the excitement, any transfer can seem like a season-changing commodity, so after a weekend of Euro 2012 qualifying drama, it’s appropriate to see who were the big spenders, who got their value for money, as well as those who just, well, didn’t spend. Each of the twenty top flight teams will also receive a window grade between ‘E’ and ‘A+’ with the latter being a hugely successful summer, and the former meaning your club really need to hope things improve in January.
The North London big boys were involved in the big money speculation from the get-go this summer, just not in the way fans wanted. After a two-year chase, Barcelona finally managed to get their gilded mitts on the want-away Cesc Fabregas. This and the soon to follow sale of Samir Nasri left most Gunners fans in a state of depression, unsatisfied with the sole acquisitions of Gervinho and the unproved Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, the club did react (in a way) to the 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford, bringing in Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos, although untested at this level, the two certainly are. Deadline swoops for midfielders Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun could prove smart business however, in true Wenger fashion, the club didn’t quite clinch any talismanic, big-money transfers the supporters are crying out for.
B – Although recovering well in the eleventh hour (literally), time will tell whether the club has recovered from the loss of their two European superstars which, personally, I doubt they have.
Villa started the window off similarly to Arsenal in that they were always playing the chasing game after selling Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, arguably their two best players, to Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively. Alex McCleish didn’t take too long in filling one of the midfield gaps with Wigan star, Charles N’Zogbia, but the Frenchman hasn’t looked overly impressive in the early stages of the season. However, the Villans do currently have the bragging rights of an unbeaten campaign so far, more than partly due to a stout defence, and the trademark consistency of Shay Given. Given is without a doubt the savviest business that McCleish completed this summer, for a meagre £3m. The stopper may be 35 years-old, but rotting on the Manchester City bench is no place for a keeper of this quality.
B- – The Birmingham side will have to rely on their striker’s abilities a lot this winter, after losing the supply line of their star wingers, at least the club made some profit out of this summer, and have a herd of young players champing at the bit for a starting place.
Rovers have hard time since the Venkys takeover last year, not least of which was the embarrassment of featuring in a television ad for the chicken company of which must have yielded some snide pitch remarks from the opposition. The club scrapped their way to Premier League survival last season, but are looking as if they may be ready to take a step further down if early form is anything to go on. The club’s most recent fixture against Everton pretty much summed up the team at the moment: ‘A for effort but the talent just isn’t there’. Two missed penalties and Everton stealing a spot kick at the death might make Steve Kean a bookies’ favourite to get the sack soon. The defensive loss of Phil Jones to Manchester United is telling thus far.
C – In the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, money sometimes can make you happy and this club hasn’t spent well enough. Scott Dann is a smart buy, but this summer’s positive for Rovers was getting a lot of players OFF of the wage bill.
Bolton’s greatest triumph this summer was holding on to Gary Cahill. The talismanic defender is hitting prime form in recent days and has made his way into the England starting XI as a result. If Tottenham or Arsenal managed a last minute swoop for the centre-back, Wanderers may have found themselves in freefall, anxious to get to January so they could spend their £17m. The club held on to the ace and brought in David N’Gog and two former charges of Coyle’s from Burnley, Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles. Owen Coyle is a great manager to have at the helm of any club and also squeezed the free transfers of Nigel Reo-Coker and Darren Pratley, as well as loan signings on Dedryck Boyata and Gael Kakuta. One word to sum up the Trotters’ summer: value.
B+ – Although, they may not be bagging any superstars anytime soon, Owen Coyle has done magnificently with the money at his disposal. The team have been unlucky not to snatch more points, with sterling performances against QPR and Manchester City.
It’s nigh impossible for Chelsea to have a particularly bad transfer window, unless Abramovich throws the teddy out of the pram or is hitting a spot of bother in the stock markets. After the £50m so far waste that was Fernando Torres, you couldn’t have held it against Roman to want to keep hold of his loot this summer; however the Russian oil tycoon decided to splurge regardless. The old saying goes that ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ but the London club have the fortune of being just about as far from beggars as one can be. Accordingly, the club dipped into their pockets to bring in big name youngsters Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata. The Blues also completed a last ditch move for Raul Meireles, adding some needed flair to a stagnant Chelsea attack. Just what the doctor ordered.
B+ – Chelsea may have spent big, but the expensive crop of strikers keeps them from a better grade. Time will tell how much their new Belgian sensation actually plays this season, but the £70m spent this summer is garish, given how little they’ve sold. Financial Fair Play beckoning much?
What can you say. You can do nothing but feel the pain of David Moyes, who has stuck with the Toffees for nine years and see little reward. The problem with this Merseyside outfit is singular and simple; they have no money. The Scot’s main objective this transfer window was damage limitation and to keep a hold of as many of his players as possible. Spending a total of £0, the Scot completed the loan signings of Denis Stracqualursi, Royston Denthe and Eric Dier. The prospect of having the top scorer of last season Argentine top division is exciting, but a shade off of the quality fans are hoping to see.
E – If I could give the manager an ‘A for effort’, I certainly would. The loss of Mikel Arteta was cataclysmic for Moyes, and sets the pace for a battle of a season.
The Cottagers were discreetly busy this summer, with new manager, Martin Jol, bringing in a host of young talent early on. The club an impressive three deadline day deals, including the big name signing of Brian Ruiz. Defenders John Arne Riise and Zdenek Grygera both bring a wealth of experience from Serie A, and Riise could prove a valuable asset having already starred in the Premier League with Liverpool. The club have also done well to offload any fringe players/wages and giving David Stockdale more first team experience with a loan spell at Ipswich Town can only help his advancement. £10.6m Ruiz is certainly the name which lights up the eyes of Fulham fans at the moment, but fellow striker Orlando Sa could also be a clever purchase as a free. Fulham have a very admirable transfer policy, buying but not spending out of their reach and as a result they’re in the Europa League. See where good behaviour gets you?
B+ – Despite a shifty start to the season, Jol has done well to cover his bases and sign a variety of positions. The squad shows depth, but only as the season progresses will we find out if it’s enough to succeed in a European campaign also.
John W. Henry and New England Sports Ventures have now continued their 100% record of spending over £50m in every transfer window, while the club has been under their ownership. The Reds made major steps in the right direction with their signings this summer, and the performances so far this season tell a story. A late smash and grab against Arsenal and an emphatic victory over Bolton have highlighted the talents of Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. Not to mention the players already at Kenny Dalglish’s article appear revitalised, but that’s not for this article. Shifting unnecessary weight is also essential these days, and the Merseysiders have been very successful in that respect also, getting rid of Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole for a season.
A – Spent big in general terms, but also sold to recoup some of the finances. Signed a good spread of players and now have one of the best squads in the league.
City are almost expected to spend big now, and even people who don’t want the club to succeed love to see a huge money transfer occur at the Etihad Stadium, regardless of how disgusting the figures get. The club did not disappoint in their usual standards, and were the biggest spenders this summer, just pipping Chelsea to that ‘honour’. Of course, the £38m signing of Sergio Aguero makes up a lot of this amount, but it’s exciting nonetheless. The problem with Manchester City is that they buy rather high and sell not so high, recovering barely a third of what they spent this summer through sales. They also bought quite specifically, with two strikers, one attacking midfielder and one defender.
B+ – The club has plenty of prime players, but a lack of youth may come back to haunt them in future years. Hopefully, FFP may tempt the club to start buying cheaper and younger.
Supporters of the club were disappointed when the Red Devils didn’t spend big in January, due to Sir Alex Ferguson deeming as ‘no value in the market’. Thankfully though in the next six months, the market’s stocks must have shot through the roof because United found it appropriate to plunge over £50m into summer transfers. The manager covered his bases well, signing a goalkeeper to replace the retired Edwin van der Sar, a centre-back to cover the ailing Rio Ferdinand, and a winger to eventually swap in for the aging Ryan Giggs. David de Gea and Phil Jones both have at least seven years before they hit their prime, and Ashley Young is a senior figure in the Old Trafford changing room, leading the attack with England compatriot, Wayne Rooney. The club also managed to shed some excess baggage such as John O’Shea and Wes Brown, as well as farm out a batch of youngsters from the thriving academy.
A- – The manager has operated on a basis of ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ and has acted with due care in replacing what is broke. The champions are just beaten by rivals Liverpool based on team balance in regards to selling.