A Summer Summary

Posted by Garstonite on September 6, 2006, 06:05:04 PM

A summery, if you will, of where the "big four" clubs stand after the summer's transfer activity.

Chelsea

In:

Andriy Shevchenko £30.8m, Jon Obi Mikel £16m, Khalid Boulahrouz £7m, Ashley Cole £5m (+ William Gallas), Salomon Kalou £3.5m (Initial fee), Michael Ballack Free, Ben Sahar £.32m.

Total: £62.62m

Out:

Eidur Gudjohnsen £8.2m, Robert Huth £6m, Damien Duff £5m, Assier Del Horno £4.8m, Jiri Jarosik undisclosed, William Gallas for A. Cole, Hernan Crespo Free, Glen Johnson Loan.

Total: £24m

Net spend: £38.62

A huge alteration to their transfer policy saw superstar signings Shevchenko and Ballack walk through the door. Luring Michael Ballack to Stamford Bridge whilst out-of-contract is very smart business by Chelsea and whilst his wage-bill may constitute to a large amount, but with their money, that will be of little concern. If he assists in taking the goal-scoring burden off Frank Lampard, he’ll have earned every penny, from Mourinho’s point of view.

Andriy Shevchenko has scored wherever he has gone and has consistently found the net in a very defensively structured league. So far, he has been cursed, as every time he has got himself on to the score-sheet, Chelsea have gone on to lose the game! But there is no doubting he can be a success. Already he has adapted to the English game well, demonstrating his predatory instincts. Can he form a partnership with Drogba, though? Both strikers have spent the last few years playing as the fulcrum of every attack their respective sides and may struggle to link-up.

In Salomon Kalou, they have one of the most generous footballers in the world. Very direct and tricky when in possession, Shevchenko should be able to complete the moves he starts regularly. At the back, Boulahrouz is a player I admire and will provide good cover if Carvalho or Terry are ever out. It is doubtful we will see too much of Obi Mikel, despite his fee, this season, but he is a prime example of the young players Mourinho is trying to develop at the club and a lack of impact this term won't worry Mourinho too much.

Strong points: Goals come from all areas of the park. John Terry pretty much guarantees them around 5 goals from centre back, whilst Lampard has scored at the rate of a top-class centre forward for the past two years. Up front, they have all different kinds of attributes at their disposal: pace, strength, skill and, most importantly, goals. And their first-choice defence looks as solid as ever.

Can often rely on individual brilliance to win games they don’t deserve to win.

Potential weaknesses: Despite the arrival of Dutchman Khalid Boulahrouz, Mourinho has unwillingly lost William Gallas and Robert Huth. Their lack of cover at centre back, along with the reliance on players who are not used to the English style of play and over concentration on Europe could cost them and their squad will be pushed to the limits.

They can also have their fingers crossed that Petr Cech stays fit, because whilst his back-up Carlo Cudicini is one of the best shot-stoppers in the game, his inability to handle crosses into the box cost them the points against Middlesbrough.

Manchester United

In:

Michael Carrick £18.6m, Tomas Kuszcak Loan (£2m when made permanent).

Total: £19.1m

Out:

Jon Obi Mikel £12m, Ruud van Nistelrooy £11m, Jon Spector £.5m, Sylvan Ebanks Blake £.2m, Quinton Fortune Free, Liam Miller, Tim Howard and Ben Foster All loan.

Total: £23.6m

Net spend: £-4.5m

A strange summer at Manchester United: whilst it is very gratifying to make a profit, it may well come at a severe cost.

Despite a brilliant start to the season, there is no denying the fact that they have failed to sort out long-term problems. The sale of Ruud van Nistelrooy – who scored 20+ league goals in four out of the five seasons he was at Old Trafford – could be one they regret heavily. Having said that, Wayne Rooney looks eager enough to net twenty or above league goals, for the first time in his career, whilst Louis Saha, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Alan Smith can all lead the front line for Ferguson.

Michael Carrick, their only summer signing, whilst being a very good prospect, isn’t the tough-tackling, destructive midfielder that they are begging for. Ferguson lined up Alan Smith for this role, but he can’t play to the standards that Roy Keane did.

The failed attempt to lure Mahamadou Diarra and reported interests in the likes of Mascherano and Gatusso, show Ferguson’s intent and, ultimately, frustration.

Strong points: Genuine pace throughout their side, particularly on the wings where they supply their front-men with excellent service. They have a very good defence, with plenty of cover. Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo have shown no signs of their over-hyped ‘bust-up’ effecting their play and the two youngsters put in sterling performances, that  proved to be too strong for a shocked Fulham side on the opening weekend of the league campaign.

Can often rely on individual brilliance to win games they don’t deserve to win.

Potential weaknesses: No dominating figure in the centre of the park could stop their more creative players having an influence on games. Too much expectation on a striker who hasn’t kicked a ball for three years and despite a very talented midfield, nobody can really guarantee them 8-15 goals a season, which is something they haven’t had for a while.

Arsenal

In:

William Gallas (part-exchange for Cole), Tomas Rosicky £6.8m, Fran Merida Free, Julio Baptista Loan


Total: £6.8m

Out:

Ashley Cole (£5m plus William Gallas), Pascal Cygan £2m, Robert Pires Free, Sol Campbell Free, Jose Antonio Reyes Loan, Dennis Bergkamp Retired

Total: £7m

Net Spend: -£0.2m

Like Manchester United, Arsenal missed their talisman last season. If Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were entering their prime in the respective teams, they would both be entirely different propositions. As it stands, especially in Arsenal’s case, teams try to ‘bully’ them out of the game. Sides like Everton, Blackburn and Bolton beat them, as they couldn’t handle their physical approach. Again like Manchester United, they have failed to find their man this summer.

Wenger will be hoping Gilberto Silva performs to the standard he did in their Champions League run last season, whilst Julio Baptista and William Gallas can give them the belligerence they lacked last term.

In Gallas, they have a fantastic replacement for Sol Campbell and in Baptista, they have a player who allows them to mix up their rather predictable, but still often effective, style of play. Their other major summer signing, Tomas Rosicky, could prove to be a key buy for Wenger: during the past two seasons, as age had advanced on the likes of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, they relied too heavily on Henry to score them their goals. Who know, we may see an even better Thierry Henry without the responsibility or burden on his shoulders.

Strong points: World-class centre-forward, who has signed a new contract - has the ability to drag them out of tricky situations with important goals. Enthusiastic youngsters like Fabregas and Walcott desperate to make their mark. More variation added to their play, with a bustling centre-forward added. They have an abundance of attacking quality with the likes of Adebayor and van Persie seemingly second-choice.

Potential weaknesses: A very young and inexperienced squad. Started the season poorly and may struggle to adapt their style of play onto a bigger pitch surface. Missing a midfield general and don’t have any senior wingers to bring the best out of Baptista.

So, that brings me to us.

Liverpool

In:

Dirk Kuyt £9m, Craig Bellamy £6m, Jermaine Pennant £6.7m, Mark Gonzalez £3.5m, Gabriel Paletta £2m, Fabio Aurelio Free.

Total : £27.2m

Out :

Fernando Morientes £3m, Jan Kromkamp £1.7m, Djimi Traore £2m, Neil Mellor £.5m, Bruno Cheyrou Undisclosed, Antonio Barragan £.7m, Dietmar Hamann Free, Chris Kirkland, Djibril Cisse, Scott Carson, Antony Le Tallec, Florent Sinama Pongolle All loan.

£8.58m

Net Spend: £18.62m

In yet another season of transition for Liverpool, the chief desire was to bolster our forward line that fired more blanks than the TA last season.

As one fast-paced striker left for France, another arrived in the shape of Bellamy. In the Welshman, we have a player with great hunger. A self-proclaimed Liverpool fan, he will hopefully use this opportunity to turn over a new leaf. With the intricacy to go along with his speed, Bellamy seems to be the perfect man for two crucial circumstances we often find ourselves in: i) the ability to break down sides when they park a bus in front of the goal, ii) the ability to punish sides on the break.

Dirk Kuyt, whose track record in the Erevidese is simply stunning, again brings something different to the frontline. With very good upper body strength and agility to match, fans are already making comparisons with Liverpool great Kevin Keegan. Here’s to hoping he is as successful and takes to the Premiership like fish to water.

Mark Gonzalez and Jermaine Pennant, like Craig Bellamy offer the side a lot of pace. Peter Crouch’s goal against Maccabi Haifa in Kiev, assisted by Pennant, is precisely the kind of goal that we severely lacked last season and it is both a relief and a joyous time that we have finally got chalk-on-their-boots players back playing on the Anfield turf. Fantastic.

Lastly, we have also managed to further bolster our back-line, luring a player alikened to Roberto Ayala, in Gabriel Paletta. Daniel Agger has put in some top-class displays in the absence of the injured Jamie Carragher, too. At right-back, we have been left short, as needing the money from Kromkamp's sale means that the Lucas Meal Deal couldn’t be completed in time.

Strong points: The best central midfielder on the planet, genuine width, a hell of a lot more pace and a solid defence to act as a platform to work from. If, last season, we missed Hyypia or Carragher, we would have sincerely struggled, with our only back-up being Djimi Traore, so far this season, Agger has shown he can be relied upon.

Potential Weaknesses: Rotation policy has its advantages, but I feel we need to find two front men and stick with them barring injuries and suspensions. We also must find the right balance. The inability to beat the big sides has also cost us dearly in the past and it is something we must definitely put right this season, particularly at Anfield.

© Garstonite 2006

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