Tuesday, January 25, 2011

English Premier League: Bent Transfers In England

Football's versions of the January sales - inflated prices and manager's traipsing far and wide with the desperation of a father searching for a Buzz Lightyear toy on Christmas Eve.

Regular English Premier League guest blogger, Mark Briggs, is back with a look at the moves and speculation as Kenny Dalglish looks to revitalise Liverpool, Charlie Adam and Blackpool face up to a parting of the ways and a calm and collected Aston Villa are in no way panicked into a big money move for Darren Bent. And Scottish managers take control:

With December now behind us, and festive waistlines deflating quicker than English confidence in Wayne Rooney, it's time to look at the stage of the season where the games become mere fodder and filler compared to the noble art of transfer speculation.

Last month we saw Chelsea slip and recover. Aston Villa moved from saying “we’re not worried” to “we’re in a fight no doubt about it” in a week or two. It looks like we’ve got a proper title race, with Manchester City confirming they are contenders.

Arsenal look like they are going to give it all they have to win something this season. Yet despite seeming progress, they are currently 0-1 down to Ipswich in the Carling Cup, needed a last minute penalty and a replay to see off Leeds in the FA Cup and face Barcelona in the Champions League. Things may not look so rosy in a month.

But they’ve played well enough to have the chairman asking where they left the key to the trophy cabinet, despite being on the third goalkeeper of the year.

The Manchester teams are in good little battle of their own, with the blue half splashing the cash on Dzeko and having a bit of a clear out of players who didn’t quite make the grade.

Alan Pardew rode in on a white horse and with promised to play “sexy football”… No, wait. Getting my managers confused, that was Kenny Dalglish way back when, or was it that bloke now in charge in Chechnya?

I am too young to remember with any detail the last Anfield reign of King Kenny but (despite some mediocre results) he has already given Liverpool a sense of belief. They don’t have a good squad and are not challenging for trophies but a feeling has been created that this is now a temporary state of affairs, whereas a few weeks ago it seemed inevitable. They will need more players to come in this month, and they need quality, but optimism is on the rise.

An interesting little side note brought to my attention the other day: There are currently more managers working in the English Premier League from Glasgow than from the whole of England. (Ferguson, Dalglish, Moyes, McLeish, Kean and Coyle vs Redknapp, Bruce, Holloway and Pardew)

Blackpool look to be facing up to the inevitability of their success, the realisation that they aren’t big enough to hold on to your truly good players. So how much is Charlie Adam worth? And, more importantly, when to let him go? Now at an inflated price, at the end of the season after hopefully staying in the Premiership, or for free in 18 months? Pros and cons to all. Tough job being a football manager.

The big news, about six months after losing Martin O’Neil because of lack of investment, Aston Villa have been forced to shell out £24million for Darren Bent because they can't score goals and might go down. Worth the trade? Tough job being a football chairman.

It's staying interesting people!

Will blog again once the transfer sagas are done and dusted to try and make sense of the prices, winners and losers.

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