Thursday, September 6, 2012

Transfer Window Winners and Losers

The dust has settled on the latest transfer window and now that we've got a week of post window fixtures to digest and an international break in which to do it, we can all get down to the serious business of asking ourselves what, exactly the fuck, just happened.

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I imagine the transfer window is like the best reality show ever spread out across a month of intrigue and backbiting. Long time relationships fracture and split; floozies make eyes at taken men from across the bar; alliances are broken while accusations fly; and when we hit the season finale, some teams are caught out and get voted off the island while others get a rose and an all expense paid trip to Hawaii with a dreamy bachelor. The rest survive for another episode. It's trashy and voyeuristic and I love it. 


1. Manchester United - I know Robin van Persie is prone to injury, going gray, and decidedly equine in his facial features, but he's showing no sign of coming down from the insane season he had last year and with Fat Wayne Rooney split open like an overcooked sausage, United is his team to run. All those questions about how RVP and FWR (Fat Wayne Rooney in case you missed it earlier) are going to play together have been rendered moot by Van Persie's goals and Rooney's disgustingly gashed disgusting thigh. Bold prediction: If RVP stays healthy, he may score more than he did last year. 

Shinji Kagawa also looks a really good bit of business and has been impressive in his first few matches. He strikes me a bit as a Japanese Luka Modric and if United can get their defensive midfield berth sorted out, he could have a very successful season running behind the front two...or just RVP. 

In the category of intangible wins and losses, RVP seemingly chose United over Manchester City. Only in the world of modern football could this be considered a win for the underdog, but given that Sheik Mansoor likely wipes his ass with gold leaf, RVP's choice is definitely a middle finger to The Man. 

2. Michael Owen - As with Owen Hargreaves last year, Michael Owen has landed on another Premier League payroll. Well played, Michael. Well played. He's pulled a Michael Owen Hargreaves. Mostly this consists of a dance routine to ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" to prove he's not injured.

3. Tottenham - I still think Andre Villas-Boas will find a way to screw this up, most likely by pissing off broad swaths of his own players, but Tottenham very quietly made some stellar moves in the transfer market. They offloaded old, dead or dying weight; loaned out young promising players who will get oodles of first team action with their new teams; and signed exciting, established players who are arguably in the prime of their careers. 

Offloaded: Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka, Ryan Nelsen, Louis Saha, Sebastien Bassong, David Bentley (It's only a loan, but seriously?!), and Giovani dos Santos

Cashed in on: Luka Modric, Steven Pienaar, and Rafael van der Vaart 

Loaned out: Danny Rose, Harry Kane, and John Bostock

Signed: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Vertonghen, Emmanuel Adebayor, Moussa Dembele, Clint Dempsey, and Hugo Lloris

Tell me how any of this is bad business? Except, obviously, the fact that Bentley was only sent out on loan. For my money, Spurs suddenly look scary good and if/when AVB, aka Euro Inspector Gadget, screws this up he may never manage at the top of the game again. 

4. Clint Dempsey - I don't know how the kid keeps pulling this stuff off. I'm guessing he has Tony Robbins on speed dial and is practicing some crazy Scientology positive self-talk routine. To pick up where my previous post about Clint Dempsey left off, Liverpool is in the bar slutting it up. Dempsey is in Dutch with Fulham. Sunderland looks like she's going to be the hottest option left at closing time. Dempsey doesn't bite even after Sunderland's fat friend Aston Villa makes a pass at him. By this point, Liverpool has left the bar and is dry humping Daniel Sturridge's leg outside in the parking lot. Sunderland and Aston Villa have gone home with men more in their league. Fulham is at home throwing Dempsey's clothes out on the lawn. The bartender has flipped on the lights and announced last call. Deuce takes one last pull on his beer, closes his tab, and then turns to walk out the door. That's when Tottenham comes barging into the bar looking like Kate Upton doing the Cat Daddy, points at Dempsey, and says, "You're coming home with me." Seriously, how does he pull this shit off?

5. West Ham - Everyone is going to point to the fact that their marquee signing, Andy Carroll -who would have thought those words would ever be written in that order again? - picked up a nasty hamstring injury and is out for at least six weeks. Fair play, but did you see how well he played in the first seventy odd minutes against Fulham? West Ham and Sam Allardyce suit his skill set perfectly and I suspect having Kevin Nolan, his best mate/babysitter, around will do wonders for his focus and peace of mind. The thing I'd be worried about, were I a West Ham fan, is what happens when, not if, Liverpool recall Carroll and his silly ponytail? Hopefully for West Ham, by the time that happens survival will be secure and they can coast in for the remainder of the season. The additional signings of Matt Jarvis and Yossi Benayoun will go a long way toward insuring that happens. Neither of these guys is going to set the world on fire, but they're smart, modest buys and Benayoun is an old crowd favorite who should excel away from the rarified air of the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea. 

6. Swansea - How a team loses Brendan Rodgers, Gylfi Sigurdson, and Scott Sinclair and plays football that is arguably even more eye pleasing and attacking than last year's vintage is beyond me. Granted, the season is young, but Michael Laudrup is pulling a Spanish Arsene Wenger and importing all sorts of young, exciting Iberian talent, and he's doing it for a steal. Chico, Michu, Jonathan de Guzman, and Pablo Hernandez have all arrived in Wales and their combined cost is something like 14 million pounds. To put that in perspective, Steven Fletcher alone cost Sunderland 14 million pounds. Steven Fletcher is not worth 14 million pounds and I'm guessing that by the end of the season Chico, Michu, de Guzman, and Hernandez are worth much, much more. 14 Million pounds for Steven Fletcher?! Steven Fletcher?! Jesus. 

7. Steven Fletcher - See above.

8. Dimitar Berbatov - Berbatov sneaks on to the Winner's List because he found a way around the log jam that is Manchester United's strike force and landed at a club where he will, in all likelihood, be the first name on the team sheet most matches. Additionally, Berbatov will be reunited with a manager who loves and values him and will allow him to move his collection of Sartre, Camus, and Marcel into the locker room, smoke his Gauloises on the sideline during training sessions, and sip espresso from an impossibly tiny cup at press conferences.  

9. Romelu Lukaku - Gets out from behind Fernando "Delicious Face" Torres. Can go Beast Mode at West Brom. 


Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal - I don't know what to make of these three sides and their efforts this transfer window. All three made notable acquisitions, lost important players, and pulled the trigger on some head scratchers. Of the three, I'm most inclined to worry about Arsenal simply because no one seems to have told Arsene Wenger that he still needs players across the back. Also, what the hell happened to the truckloads of cash that United and Barcelona dumped into Arsenal's coffers? If you sell your talisman, you've got to make a marquee signing...don't you? Anyone? 


1. Liverpool - Liverpool continues to fuck up everything it touches. Seriously. Liverpool is that kid from elementary school who had really thick glasses at far too young an age, two inhalers, and a perpetually runny nose. Your teacher would say something like, "If everyone has out his/her science textbook in ten seconds then we'll all play Heads Up Seven Up after the lesson!" Everyone scrambles to pull out his/her science book, shuts up, and sits attentive and ready for the lesson. Then the teacher says, "Almost, class! Maybe next time." Then everyone turns around and Liverpool is fumbling with his English book and dripping snot on the sleeve of his sweatshirt. The whole class moans in unison, "Liverpoooooool!" 

Not only did liverpool fail to address any of the issues they failed to address last transfer window, but they offloaded all of the failed answers to the issues they previously failed to address. Make sense? All that's important here is the word "fail." It's becoming synonymous with Liverpool no matter who takes the reins or puts on the shirt. The Clint Dempsey situation was epically bumbled and Liverpool seem to be the most blamable bumblers. How do you not sign a twenty goal scorer who is practically begging to play for you and costs seven million pounds less than Steven Fletcher? Liverpoooooool

2. Fulham - It pains me to write this, but The Cottagers may be in for a long season. I'm a huge Clint Dempsey fan, but I think he is and was replaceable, especially with signings like Berbatov and Mladen Petric providing more attacking play farther up the field. What worries me, and by "worries me" I mean scares the shit out of me, is who is going to replace Moussa Dembele? Martin Jol should get a Football Nobel for moving Dembele back into the midfield. He's an incredible combination of skill, grace, guile, power, vision, and speed and he's still just a kid. I get that when a club like Tottenham comes along and whips out the checkbook and you're a club like Fulham, you have a price, but it's not like no one saw this coming and it would have been nice to have a Plan B. Side note: Kieron Richardson is not Plan B.

3. Any Combination of Geoff Cameron, Charlie Adam, Steven N'Zonzi, and Maurice Edu - Stoke signed an entire team of midfielders in the transfer window, many of whom play essentially the same role, and they offloaded virtually none of the midfielders they already had who play essentially the same role as the guys they just signed...who play essentially the same role. Did I say that already? All four of the new guys are more than capable Stoke caliber players. Who wastes away on the bench?

4. QPR - The Hoops have an incredible team...if it were 2005. With the exception of Junior Hoilett, this is a side that is well past its sell by date. Robert Green, Andy Johnson, Jose Bosingwa, Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar, and Ryan Nelsen were all brought in this transfer window. Are any of these guys part of Mark Hughes' future plans for the club? Do his future plans for the club involve soft foods and sponge baths? Did Hughes have to see Robert Green play in person before he realized he was terrible? Maybe QPR is strapped for cash and they always have team dinners at the same place and maybe that place offers a seniors' discount. Otherwise, I'm flummoxed. Remember when Sparky said he left Fulham because they weren't ambitious enough? Hilarious.

5. Aston Villa - The Villains have to be relegation candidates now, don't they? They singed some good young players, but from where I'm sitting, they lack the established players needed to keep them from a relegation scrap come April. Alex McLeish has to be the most hated man in Birmingham. 

6. Wigan - Every year they make this list and every year they find a way make it not mean much. Roberto Martinez is managing a side of six pub players, a few Special Olympians, three nuns, an Orangutan, five trapeze artists, and one of those plastic silhouettes used to make a wall on the training pitch. And they still stay up every year. Greatest. Manager. Ever. 

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