After a January transfer window that seemed to go on for decades, Jack takes a long at the winners and losers from the past month…
It’s not every day you are given the opportunity to sign a player of Juan Mata’s quality – especially not from one of your league rivals. But on January 24th, Manchester United did exactly that, signing the little Spanish maestro from Chelsea for a club record fee of £37.1 million. This can only be a good thing for United. The versatile attacking midfielder has never struggled to impress in the Premier League. He’s creative – a word you don’t associate with many players within United’s midfield at the moment, and he scores goals – something which Moyes’ men have struggled with when RVP and Rooney haven’t been there. A signing like this not only gives you a good player, but raises the whole squad (think Arsenal and Mesut Özil). I have no doubt that this will be a fantastic signing. They finally got rid of Anderson as well, he’s terrible…
When you’re languishing at the bottom of the table in the depths of the festive season, the January transfer window can give you a glimmer of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. Despite losing their talismanic centre forward, Dimitar Berbatov, to some Southern French cash machine on deadline day, the work done in the window by Rene Meulensteen and Shahid Khan will keep them up. The heavy investment of £12.4m in Konstantinos Mitroglou demonstrates a commitment to the cause, but also how highly rated the 25-year old Greek striker is. He has demonstrated his goal-scoring ability on the domestic, Champions League and International stage and I think he will do well.
In the signings of Lewis Holtby and William Kvist, Fulham have found two central midfielders who can pass the ball well, and who will look to create chances. Holtby particularly, has looked a very exciting, young prospect, but has had limited chances as he finds himself lost in a very large Spurs squad. Despite the loss of Philippe Senderos to Valencia, Fulham have signed a comparable, if not better centre back in John Heitinga on a free from Everton, and offloaded Adel Taarabt, who never looked interested in anything. Offload those who don’t care, and get in those who will – you’ll need that in a relegation battle.
Palace had a shambolic transfer window in the Summer, with Holloway bringing in about seventeen thousand players, with no real game plan and a sense of buying for the sake of buying. Tony Pulis has stabilised things on the pitch, and appears to have taken a much more considered approach to movements in the transfer market. In his time at Stoke he tried to buy players who fit into a pre-determined system, rather than just buy talent for the hell of it. Squad depth is important in the long run-in, and match-winning players are also key. Palace managed to secure both this January. Scott Dann has come in from Blackburn to back up what has recently been a very impressive Palace defence, but one lacking in numbers. Joe Ledley, from Celtic, in central midfield has impressed both in the SPL and on the international stage, and adds another option and a lot of experience for a man of 27 years. On deadline day, Palace also secured the loan signature of Tom Ince from Blackpool – the young Englishman is incredibly highly rated, and was being courted by half of the Premier League until the deadline, racking up one hell of a taxi bill in the process. Ince can score, create, and win games by himself – he could end up securing the points that keep Palace from the drop. They’ve done well.
Despite there not actually being much going on, Jim White and his motley yellow co-ordinated crew on Sky Sports News still ensured that many people tuned in before the window ‘SLAMMED SHUT’, to see if any of the yellow scrolling bars contained a poorly informed bit of speculation about their club. The January transfer window really is incredibly slow-moving, but the coverage moves a mile a minute – at some point it’ll all collapse in on itself, but for now it’s paying Jim’s bills…
In the 2007-08 season, Arsenal were flying high in first for most of the season, but dropped off at the end due in no small part to the injuries they sustained late on, and perhaps with a bit of squad strengthening they may have lasted. This season, they had another very good chance – sitting top for a long period, but I fear once again they may have let themselves down. Manchester City will be relentless, and you will need a squad comparable in depth to theirs to keep pace. Arsène Wenger has stated that there is money around the club now, so it begs the question, why not solidify the squad? Back-up for Giroud would’ve been nice…
Newcastle had a reasonable points tally by January, and in this season where competition for European places has spread points across a lot of clubs, with a bit of investment, it was not unreasonable to think that Newcastle could be challenging as well. However, losing a player of Yohan Cabaye’s quality is massive for a club like Newcastle. He is a fantastic midfielder who can do a bit of everything and will do well at PSG, but Newcastle have failed to reinvest the £20 million well, bringing in only Luuk de Jong on loan. They will struggle to keep pace with the big boys.
All the teams loitering towards the bottom of the table have been busy. We’ll have to wait and see who has actually bought well, but on the face of it, I feel Stoke City may have fallen a little short. John Guidetti (loan from Man City) and Stephen Ireland (free) were the only players brought in. Guidetti is young and highly rated, but is not going to change games by himself, and Ireland was already there, so very little has changed. It could be a long end to the season for Stoke fans.
Norwich could find themselves in a similar predicament to Stoke City in that everyone else around them has been reinforcing heavily. Jonas Guttierez is the only player they have brought in – not a bad signing, he won’t get many goals or assists, but he’ll run all day. I feel though, that Norwich could be sucked into trouble if their squad is depleted any more. The Canaries might not be singing come May.
Never have I seen a player more unhappy in his shirt-holdy-uppy photo than Emmanuel Frimpong after his move to Barnsley. His tweet after signing? ‘How am I gonna draw girls now?’ was promptly deleted, but reflects his high expectations of the club. This, the man who in 2012 said: ‘I’ll never leave Arsenal even if I’m released. I’ll beg on both knees to stay.’ Obviously, the club weren’t willing to pay him any longer, and the man’s got bills to pay (and birds to impress)…
Images courtesy of telegraph.co.uk