Sunday 13 May 2012: the end of the Premier League season. Or Saturday 19 May 2012 for Chelsea in the Champions League final. Saturday 18 August 2012: the start of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
Premier League sides have had 3 months to prepare their teams for the start of the new season. Yes, there has been a 3-week European Championship in between. And no I don’t believe the Olympic football tournament should have had much, if any interference on Premier League transfer duty.
Yet, yesterday there appeared to be a number of Premier League teams that weren’t prepared for the start of the new season. And with 13 days of the transfer window remaining, clubs are still trying to seal deals for new players.
The transfer window official opened on 1 July; 49 days prior to kick off of the new season. And let’s be honest, deals happen in June anyway. I cannot find a reason why so many clubs came into the new season under-prepared.
Here’s what I mean:
Robin van Persie and Alex Song have been sold days either side of their opening day of the season. That’s their top scorer and highest provider of assists being sold around the start of the new season. Arsene Wenger has done a decent job adding to his strike force; signing Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and bringing back Nicklas Bendtner with plenty of time to settle his team in. He also claims to have sufficient replacements for Song; Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby. But could the sales not have happened sooner?
This one so far appears to be more on the player than the club, but Clint Dempsey requested a move away from Craven Cottage just hours before their opening day kick off with Norwich City on Saturday. To give manager Martin Jol credit, he’s handled the situation well in dropping the player. Fulham were emphatic 5-0 victors yesterday. They do travel to Manchester United next weekend and could do with selling last season’s top goalscorer before then.
When Brendan Rodgers arrived at Liverpool he declared that Andy Carroll was not in his plans. Not only does the £35 million striker remain at the club, he made a substitute appearance yesterday in a desperate attempt to reduce the 3-0 deficit at West Brom. It didn’t happen. Liverpool now have 13 days either to flog their big centre forward or Rodgers to win back his trust and find a way to fit him into the team.
Despite unlimited finances, manager Roberto Mancini has told the media that he is unhappy not to have made many signings this summer. Jack Rodwell is the only one so far. Perhaps this is just the Italians annoying antics. They still have players to sell though.
Queens Park Rangers
Based on yesterday’s performance and based on paper (the teamsheet I look at), I’d be surprised if Mark Hughes and Queens Park Rangers don’t bring in another defender or two before the deadline shuts. I was expecting QPR to open the cheque book over the summer and have been underwhelmed by their signings. Fabio, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha started at the back for Mark Hughes’ side yesterday. That simply isn’t Premier League quality. I don’t see Jose Bosingwa improving that. Ryan Nelson maybe, but with the finances available I was expecting a much better defence stating at Loftus Road.
Louis Saha was brought in on Thursday, just two days before Sunderland’s trip to the Emirates Stadium. Martin O’Neill has been trying to bring in Steven Fletcher from Wolves in recent weeks and is still trying to bring the aerial threat to the Stadium of Light. O’Neill has admitted he wants movement in the transfer window from Sunderland and even today they’re reported to be in negotiations with Manchester City for Adam Johnson.
Whilst Tottenham have tried to cover for Ledley King at centre back with the signing of Jan Vertonghen and the recall of Steven Caulker, but there’s a lack of strikers on the team sheet. Last season Spurs had Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roman Pavlyuchenko (until February) and Louis Saha on their books. Now they Defoe and a bunch of youngsters. Perhaps Giovani dos Santos will get some action this season? Daniel Levy is having ever ongoing talks about the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City. On the other side, it appears Luka Modric will be leaving, but could this not have been agreed earlier to give the manager some money and time to put a team together? Levy has a reputation for dramatic late deals.
On a positive side, Swansea City looked like they made some good deals in the summer. After failing to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, they replaced him with Spaniard Michu for £2 million. After scoring 15 goals in La Liga for Rayo Vallecano last season, Swansea tied the deal up on 20 July. 10 days prior to that, the Welsh side had wrapped up centre back Chico from Genoa for the same price. He had a solid debut in their 5-0 thrashing at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion both looked settled yesterday. I have no comments about Aston Villa, West Ham, Reading or Stoke but we’ll see if they make any more deals before the transfer deadline.
I understand clubs miss out on plenty of their transfer targets, some players make late announcements that they want to leave and some deals take time to wrap up, but I find it crazy the number of clubs that can enter a season not fully prepared.