For some reason, Alan Pardew had nothing but escargot and frogs’ legs on his mind this summer, making three signings from Ligue 1, not to mention taking Gabriel Obertan off of Manchester United and signing the French-speaking Demba Ba from West Ham. Not that there’s anything wrong with an afflux francais (yeah, I went there), just a bit odd. The players are all looking comfortable in their new surroundings however, with Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveux featuring well for the Magpies. The Toon also wrapped up the sensational signing of Italian starlet, Davide Santon, to replace the departed Jose Enrique. The youngster has fallen on hard times in the last two years but admittedly, I was still taken aback when I heard the Premier League outfit were close to signing the defender from Inter.
B – The Tynesiders balanced their books well this summer, selling practically as much as they spent. However, fans are calling for more of the £35m acquired from the Andy Carroll sale to be spent as promised, and I’m afraid I’d have to side with them.
As Premier League new boys, Paul Lambert’s side were always going to have to improve their squad from the one that came second in last year’s Championship. The club were being linked with a few big names in Germany, including Bayern Munich’s Miroslav Klose, however nothing materialised there, despite Lambert’s links from his Bundesliga days. Instead, the Canaries settle somewhere closer to their weight class and poached the likes of Bradley Johnson and Steve Morison, who stood out for Leeds and Millwall respectively in last year’s Championship campaign. The club also wrapped up the savvy loan signings of Ritchie de Laet and Kyle Naughton, two youngsters keen to stake their claims for parent clubs Manchester United and Tottenham. On a tight budget, Paul Lambert did well to boost his squad as well as get rid of a few unwanted wage packets.
C+ – Norwich have added some needed depth to their squad, but I worry if they’re decision to stick with lower league stars will hit them hard in the top flight.
Queens Park Rangers
Neil Warnock is seen by some as the ‘Marmite of managers’ (and yes, I have patented that term). You either love him or hate him. I indeed fall on the more amicable side of critics who believe that managers like Neil are a dying breed, combining good managerial prowess with an admirable media relationship. The manager had a hard task on his hands, dealing for some time with the lowest budget of any Premier League side. However, after the takeover of the club by Tony Fernandes, some much needed money was injected into transfers and the names started rolling to Loftus Road. The West London side eventually finished with twelve signings, six of which came in the last five days of the window. The club still spent relatively small, but brought in plenty of players with top flight experience.
A+ – The work conducted with the funds available was nothing short of miraculous. The free signing of Joey Barton was magnificent and this side should stay up with renewed depth. Holding on to Adel Taarabt is also a minor victory.
Tony Pulis really did leave it to the last minute during this transfer window, completing the majority of his signings on deadline day. The club sealed the free signings of defensive pair, Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson, both of whom have international experience and can be invaluable on their day; it’s simply of case of finding that day. The Potters wrapped up the late signings of attackers, Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch and however much I try and see the value in these deals, I’m not on the same level as Tony Pulis. I realise Bryan Ruiz is untested in the Premier League, but when you consider he’s arriving at Fulham, who are competing for the same spots as Stoke, for the same amount of money, you need to ask questions. Peter Crouch’s best days are behind him and his price tag of around £11m seems awfully bloated to me. Wilson Palacios is another exaggerated transfer in my opinion. Three-year age difference or no, if Scott Parker is going to Tottenham for £5m, the Honduran simply cannot be worth £8m. Extortion comes to mind.
C – Despite the big money that’s been spent, I feel it’s been spent badly. The club could have signed much younger, better players that the teams on the same level as them are signing. The door’s open for me to be proven wrong.
A similar story to QPR, Sunderland went for quantity this summer, signing a total of twelve players. That isn’t to say quality didn’t come as part of the deal too however, as I feel it very much did. The £18m sale of Jordan Henderson funded a huge chunk of Steve Bruce’s purchases, and the Wearsiders have been playing with the dough all summer. Unlike most clubs, Sunderland actually did most of their spending right at the start of the transfer window, signing eight players by the end of July. They certainly covered their bases too, getting Conor Wickham and Nicklas Bendtner in attack, Craig Gardner and Sebastian Larsson in midfield, and Manchester United duo Wes Brown and John O’Shea bolstered the defence. The club also managed to get rid of some fringe players, making for an altogether successful summer.
A+ – The Black Cats are right there alongside Rangers with numbers brought in as Ellis Short continues a good working relationship with chairman, Niall Quinn.
As the first Welsh side to compete in the Premier League, Swansea have added pressure on their shoulders to make it a successful debut campaign with the big boys. Brendan Rodgers had decent funds at his disposal it seems, as the club spent somewhere close to £11m this summer. The signing of the Championship’s top scorer last season, Danny Graham, can only be a good one, but the test of time will tell if he’s ready to cut it at the top. The Swans needed to sign a goalkeeper after Dorus de Vries left for Wolves on a free transfer, however signing three might have been excessive. Of the three, Michel Vorm seems to be starting and is in good form so far, keeping two clean sheets thus far. Steven Caulker is a promising youngster from Tottenham and will be fighting to prove a valuable for Harry Redknapp. The club let a lot of players leave the club ready for the new season, a necessary sacrifice for the new boys’ finances to survive.
B – The Swans look to be lacking an attacking finish so far this season, and will be one of my voted to see the drop.
Harry Redknapp has always been one to conduct a bit of hush-hush business right at the tail end of a transfer window, but this summer wasn’t quite as exciting. The club were with the world’s upper echelon in the Champions League last year, and transfers were certainly needed if they wanted to remain there. The loan signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City could definitely prove to be a great deal, as the Togolese striker has proven his potential for great football in the Premier League. After a summer of speculation, Spurs also got their man in the form of a £5m Scott Parker deal, which I feel is incredibly good business. Also, Brad Friedel is a proven keeper at this level, and despite being 40 year-old, will provide great competition for Heurelho Gomes, and undoubtedly beat the Brazilian to the No-1 spot at times. However, the North London club’s best business was squeezing almost £20m out of Stoke City for Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios. Daniel Levy deserves a medal for that deal.
B – Would have received a better deal for spending and selling so efficiently, however given the club’s recent history, they should be spending more to stick with the top four.
West Bromwich Albion
Roy Hodgson has been noted for his abilities to spend well on low budget before, and he’s kept up that reputation this summer. The only money that the Liverpool evictee spent in this window was on Shane Long, who is proving a thrilling prospect so far. The club also brought back the Hungarian maestro and fan favourite, Zoltan Gera, after a spell at Fulham. For me though, the Baggies’ best signing could be the one that’s not even their player. The club secured the services of Birmingham City keeper, Ben Foster, as the Blues were keen to get at least a portion of the player’s wages off of their bill. Spending nothing on an international stopper who has at times proved his potential for greatness is smart to say the least. Despite the error which cost the Baggies’ a point against Stoke, I remain faithful in Foster, and think he will prove more than valuable at the Hawthorns.
B+ – The West Midlands club balanced the books well this window, getting rid of thirteen players in total. With Hodgson at the helm, they club can hope to finish above mid-table.
Wigan are another team to have had an unremarkable transfer window, and it speaks volumes that their most expensive acquisition was goalkeeper, Ali Al-Habsi. Roberto Martinez did magnificently to pull off Premier League survival last season and is looking good at the start of the season, currently enjoying an unbeaten run. However, the Latics were fortunate that their first three games were all against promoted opposition, and the ‘easy times’ are surely soon to come crashing down around their ears. The loss of Charles N’Zogbia could very well have a huge impact on the team, as the Frenchman was responsible for much of their attacking flair. Despite the low funds, Martinez did well to pull in Chelsea youngster Patrick Van Aanholt on loan, who says he hopes to emulate Tom Cleverley’s luck at the club.
D – Fans at the DW Stadium won’t be jumping for joy any time soon with transfer windows like these. Another familiar case of low finances for Roberto Martinez to cope with, as he has done before.
And finally, we have Mick McCarthy’s Wolverhampton Wanderers. The West Midlands outfit seemed to be another case of fixing what needed fixing and nothing but that. Midfielder, Jamie O’Hara was brought in for £5m early on in the window, impressing whilst on loan from Tottenham last season. Dorus de Vries also took the switch to Wolves on a free transfer, and will definitely provide stiff competition for Wayne Hennessey, after Marcus Hahnemann left the club. For me, Roger Johnson is McCarthy’s brightest signing, starring for Birmingham City last year with an iron fist…and foot…and head. The Molineux outfit did well to shirk off some unwanted players and didn’t spend big enough that they’ll be in the debt f the season’s a failure.
B – If there was any criticism I could make, it would be that Wolves simply needed to sign more, but they have a massive squad, so it simply wasn’t necessary.