Only a few teams really made an effort to change their fortunes with new additions over the transfer window that ended on January 31, and this year it was mainly the struggling sides in the BPL that garnered the most attention with their activities. The big clubs basically just tweaked with an addition here or subtraction there, while QPR brought in and let go about a half dozen of each. Here is a rundown of some of the moves I believe to be key.
I quite like what Martin Jol has done at Fulham. He’s really upped the talent Berbatov and company have to work with. Cameroonian international Eyong Enoh adds midfield steel, Urby Emanuelson gives them attacking flair from the left flank, and Bulgarian Stanislav Manolev gives them attacking flair from the right flank. Fulham also added Chris David, who is a highly rated 19-year-old Dutch striker. Fulham should easily avoid the drop with these additions.
Newcastle spent a small fortune to try and salvage their rather unfortunate campaign. I would expect they will rather easily stay up because of it. Money does matter. The first key signing was French international Mathieu Debuchy, which gives Newcastle a top class, if somewhat erratic, right back. The theme continued, as they also added a pair of newly capped French internationals, defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and box to box midfielder Moussa Sissoko. Obviously, the loss of Demba Ba for a relatively paltry seven million pounds will be tough to replace, and puts pressure on Papiss Cisse to be a consistent poacher for the Magpies.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers did very well with his two in and two out activity, in terms of the key moves they made. Joe Cole will enjoy going back to West Ham, and if he stays healthy (a big if) would be a relative loss. But Nuri Sahin neither impressed or enraged during his stay, so those two subtractions won’t make much difference. The two additions should. I think Daniel Sturridge is going to set up a nice understanding with Luis Suarez. It certainly looks that way so far. Sturridge is/was an underrated commodity, and he’ll enjoy the opportunity. Phillippe Coutinho looks a real gem, and at 20, and for 8.5 million pounds, I’d say a very shrewd buy. Liverpool definitely are a better team today, and if they are patient with Brendan Rodgers, I’ll bet this team will be top four in 2013-2014.
Poor Tony Fernandes. A man who seems to have his heart in the right place, and he’s losing a small fortune on the team he owns, Queen’s Park Rangers. But he has the right manager to try and keep them up in Harry Redknapp (even if he doesn’t play Canadian Junior Hoilett). So, with Harry in charge, it is spend, spend, and spend. And spend they did. Chris Samba for 12.5 million pounds. Loic Remy at eight million pounds. That should be enough for 17th place Harry.
Amongst the so-called title challengers, there were a few interesting moves. Manchester United bought highly rated Wilfried Zaha, and then promptly loaned him back to Crystal Palace until season end. As they don’t really need to do anything, great business. Manchester City finally sold Mario Balotelli (for a healthy 20 million pounds), and I think they will be a better side for it. A certain John Guidetti, in due time, may make them forget Mario, wacky antics aside. Arsenal brought in left back Nacho Monreal for eight million pounds, and he should fit in well and strengthen their left defensive flank, which has been suspect for a while. Chelsea adding Demba Ba for seven million pounds is a steal, as they sold Daniel Surridge for 10 million pounds shortly thereafter. Sturridge is good, but he isn’t Ba’s pedigree yet.
I fear a lack of activity by two clubs in particular, Aston Villa and Reading, will doom them to the drop out of the Barclay’s Premier League. Whomever joins them (potentially) remains to be seen. But I am quite sure it won’t be Newcastle, or Fulham. Queen’s Park Rangers, now that is a bigger question.