It’s the final countdown! No, we’re not talking about that most infamous of 1980s epic stadium rock tracks from Europe, we’re talking about the closing of the transfer window.
With only ten days to go until it slams shut at midnight on August 31, clubs will be keen to get their purchases through it and avoid getting their fingers trapped as it comes crashing down.
“What business?” GMF hears you ask. Well, that really is the question; after an intriguing opening weekend to the Premier League, it looks as though the division’s most prominent clubs still need a bit of fine-tuning and could do with a new face or two.
It wasn’t only the performances that signalled a need for further buying, but certain moves in the market – or a lack of it – have left holes here and there, which will need to be addressed.
GMF has cast an eye over the respective fortunes of certain clubs to identify the cracks that need repairing, or the ropey patches that could do with a touch up to make them look more presentable.
Roberto Mancini has been making thinly veiled digs at the Citizens’ sporting director Brian Marwood over the past few weeks due to the club’s lack of movement in the window.
While it is easy to brush off Mancini’s protestations as unjustified due to his glittering squad of stars, his craving for additions should not simply labelled as transfer gluttony. Alan Hansen, a man who won everything there is to win in club football, insisted that champions always need to evolve their squads and not making big improvements was essentially like standing still while your rivals motored on.
City came back from 2-1 down to defeat newly-promoted Southampton on Sunday and a slightly worrying lack of organisation at the back was exposed, though this is to be expected to some extent at the beginning of a season. However, the lack of quality cover for captain Vincent Kopany is obviously concerning Mancini, as his pursuit of Liverpool’s Daniel Agger shows.
Reports suggest Kolo Toure has fallen out with the Italian over a lack of opportunities in the coming season, while they have a number of strikers that are free to leave if deals can be struck – City have reportedly resolved not to splash out until some of those surplus to requirements are moved on.
Jack Rodwell of Everton has been added to compensate for the expected departure of Nigel de Jong, but another defensive recruit and a top striker, especially now Sergio Aguero has picked up a knee injury, are probably needed if they are to make a successful defence of the title.
Losing 1-0 at Everton was a troubling start to the season for Sir Alex Ferguson and he admitted his team lacked sharpness in front of goal, despite the £24million addition of Robin van Persie on Friday. Many commentators suggested attack was not necessarily the area United needed to reinforce quite so expensively.
One indifferent game does not mean Van Persie will be a failure at Old Trafford but it highlighted the need for him to be given time to get to full fitness and settle in with his new colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Red Devils’ defence did look a little suspect at times and Ferguson could be forced to move into the market for cover in the middle. Michael Carrick was deployed as a partner to Nemanja Vidic at Goodison Park due to injuries ruling out Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand.
Antonio Valencia slotted in manfully at right-back, but cannot be considered a long-term option there, while it would appear that Ferguson does not entirely trust Rafael. Cover at left-back looks to have been acquired in the form of Vitesse Arnhem’s Alex Buttner, which is a sensible move.
A more comfortable holding midfielder may be required as well, what with Darren Fletcher’s fitness still uncertain and Paul Scholes’ mobility becoming a slight issue, despite his obvious class.
Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester United was a spanner in the works for Arsene Wenger’s side, as it meant losing the man that saved their bacon almost every time it needed saving last season. Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud were drafted in as replacements, but the possible departures of Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh mean room for another challenger for the attacking positions could be available.
A 0-0 draw with Sunderland exhibited a worrying lack of guile in the final third against ultra-defensive sides, while Giroud’s failure to take the best chance of the game late on had people thinking of their former captain. However, attack is, as ever, unlikely to be the Gunners’ biggest problem.
Alex Song’s move to Barcelona meant another key name from the starting line-up had been let go, leaving a distinct lack of combative midfielders in the squad at Emirates Stadium. Nuri Sahin of Real Madrid seems to be on the brink of a season-long loan switch, though a player who is more comfortable sitting in front of the defence is probably the sensible addition – Mikel Arteta did a sound job on Saturday, but it is clearly not his preferred position.
Of all the six biggest sides in the Premier League, Roberto di Matteo’s looked the most settled and secure with one another, though this does not mean they do not need further recruitment.
Eden Hazard has been lauded for his display against Wigan – getting an assist for the opener and winning the penalty for the second – but the defending allowing him to do so was truly atrocious.
The Blues were also guilty of a bit of shoddy play at the back and the expected arrival of Cesar Azpilicueta should add some of the required depth and extra competition in the right-back position. This would allow to Di Matteo to rotate between Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz, John Terry and Gary Cahill in the middle.
Chelsea have a whole host of midfielders and do not really need another unless one of them leaves, but striking option are looking a little limited. Fernando Torres is obviously going to be the main man in the centre-forward berth, but the departures of Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba mean senior names to lead the line are lacking. Romelu Lukaku will have a year with West Brom to find his feet in the Premier League and Daniel Sturridge has so far proved uninspiring when granted his ever-insisted wish to play there.
Another experienced name in that position seems to be the only real issue Di Matteo needs to address in a squad that looks to be well-stocked for the season.
Reds fans craving some let up from the horrors of last season were disappointed against West Brom, where a wonder-goal and two penalty decisions put paid to thoughts of strong start to the campaign under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
The Anfield club have already made strides in the transfer market by resisting Manchester City’s overtures for Daniel Agger, as well as tying down the futures of Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan missed a number of chances at The Hawthorns and Andy Carroll destined to remain on the bench, but for an injury to Joe Cole, reinforced the idea that Rodgers is after a replacement for the England international, while Suarez’s profligacy suggested they need a pure finisher in the side.
Quality is also an issue for Liverpool, as many of the new signings have failed to live up to sizeable price tags and have been unable to improve the side in any discernable way.
Reports have suggested Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is willing to let Michael Dawson and Tom Huddleston leave this summer, which, added to Sebastien Bassong’s move to Norwich City, leave the White Hart Lane Club short in defence – Ledley King retired earlier this summer and William Gallas’ fitness is a constant issue.
Luka Modric’s seemingly inevitable departure makes midfield creativity a concern and the Portuguese would be foolish not to sign a replacement soon to fill the considerable void that will be left by the Croatia international.
However, strikers are the biggest headache the new Tottenham manager has to deal with, as he currently only has two if them. Jermain Defoe scored in their 2-1 loss to Newcastle United, but struggles for consistency and young Harry Kane is just far too inexperienced to make the needed difference.
Emmanuel Adebayor was a 17-goal success there last season, Brazil striker Leandro Damiao has been mooted as a possible option and Fernando Llorente has been linked with a bid from Daniel Levy – ten days is not a lot of time, Spurs need one of them fast or Villas-Boas risks a similar fate to the one he endured at Chelsea.
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