Monday, February 07, 2011

English Premier League: Goals For Sale

Cuts. The new age of austerity. Money too tight to mention.

Aye, right.

Not in the English Premier League this January transfer window.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa all spent big. And everyone of them threw cheques at attackers.

Money might have grotesquely disfigured football. But the essential simplicity of the game remains.

You have to score goals to compete. And you have to compete with massive money to score goals.

Mark Briggs has been hanging around Hadrian's Wall with his night vision binoculars to bring us a guest post on the comings and a-goings in the London Stock Exchange English Premier League:

What do we want? Goals! When do we want them? Now!

And we are prepared to pay for them!!

The January transfer window has a reputation as being a bit anti-climatic. All talk, no trousers. Damp squib. Any others? Pointless?

But not this year. The English Premier League is known as the most exciting league in the world and I think that is in no small part due to how much teams are willing to spend on strikers.

Firstly, and it almost seems to have snuck under the radar, Manchester City stumped up from of their vast reserve to buy in the ‘Bosnian Diamond,’ Edwin Dzeko.

After tallying 66 goals in 111 games for Wolfsburg he’s arrived at Eastlands to help out the one man attacking unit that is Carlos Tevez.

At a cost of £27million, he isn’t a gamble for City who don’t need balance books (yet). It does look like he will require City to change their tactics though, and play two up front. Maybe with a bit more attacking intent. We live in hope.

Villa were next up. Splashing £18million and rising on Darren Bent. Say what you want about him, he scores a lot of goals, where ever he’s been, however good his team.

At Tottenham, where a terrible miss and lack of interplay ultimately cost him, he is perceived to have failed, but scored at a healthy ratio. Villa need goals and they need them now, Darren saw something there which made him decide it was a good career move to drop around 10 league places. So the deal was done.

‘Crazy money!’ People cried. Little did they know what was coming on deadline day.

Torres £50m, Carroll £35m, Suarez £23m, plus David Luiz for another £25m. Big, big deals.

Liverpool could have waited to sign Carroll in the summer and maybe got a better deal. But in an interview with the Guardian John Henry (Liverpool’s new owner) said the team still had aims for this season, and Carroll would help them meet them.

He also, interestingly said the price of Torres was dependent on how much Newcastle wanted for Carroll. His negotiation tactic was he wanted Carroll plus £15million for Fernando Torres. I’d say (laying aside the mind boggling sums of money for a second) that’s a good deal.

Add in the sale of Babel and Liverpool are only £2.5million worse off, and probably have a better squad.

They failed with a last minute £14 million bid for Charlie Adam. He would add something to them, but is worth more than that to Blackpool who, in my opinion, need him to stay up. But he wont last till next season and, even if not to Liverpool, I think he’ll leave after being denied his big move.

So who has come out of this well?

I think everybody except Sunderland. They don’t have a replacement striker. And none are in sight. Yes, they have the money but players who cost that much might now want to play for Sunderland, no matter how high up the league they are at the moment. They need consistency at that level to draw in big names. Without their big player that may prove difficult.

You can repeat that last paragraph but read Newcastle instead of Sunderland.

Chelsea gave their team a lift, splashed some cash and said “we are contenders” and Liverpool can now think about who is coming in, not worrying about who is going out.

Did Arsenal need a centre-back? Tottenham another striker? Maybe.

This season has been damn good so far. Thrills, spills, big transfers.

Football is great again.

Now the trophies are up for grabs from here on in.

The Carling Cup must surely be Arsenal?

The Champions League is Barcelonas to lose?

The FA Cup is far too early to even guess. But, Chelsea?

The English Premier League?

Well, Manchester United are a good few points ahead and tend to get stronger in the spring.

I’m going with Manchester United, although I think it will be a proper title race, with Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City all hopeful of a late burst to the line.