Through the Looking Glass, Darkly: Our Look at the January Window for our teams

After the Festive period, fans of the EPL get to see a rather quiet rush of activity as the January window runs its course.  The Staff here at Four Five Two herein present their look at how their teams fared.  Who got the post-Christmas White Elephant, and who got a stocking full of shit?

The collective reaction of most footy fans this January (credit: Ed Colver, found via reptilianmemory.blogspot.com)

Aston Villa

In: Robbie Keane (2 month “Donovan Loan,” LA Galaxy), Enda Stevens (recalled from post-purchase loan, Shamrock Rovers)

Out: Shane Lowry (Millwall), Elliott Parish  (Cardiff), Nathan Delfouneso (28-day loan, Leicester), Fabian Delph (28 day loan, Leeds),  Habib Beye (released)

Villa had a fairly quiet window, which was always going to be the case.  Alex McLeish himself was rather sanguine, stating that he “understands financial stability.” However, he might have done well to shuffle the cards and wage bill a bit, and maybe try to get something for some of the higher-earning players with contracts winding down, like Habib Beye (still part of Doncaster’s ridiculous loan experiment)(Habib Beye has apparently been released by the club as of today) Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar.

That said, he’s culled two prospects that didn’t have long-term futures, and loaned out two of his reserves that do, to make some room for the incoming transfers.  Enda Stevens arrived at the club after being purchased in the Summer and then loaned back to play Europa League football with his old club, Shamrock Rovers, and Robbie Keane joins for a top-flight tour like his Galaxy colleague Landon Donovan did with Everton.  So far, the reported £500,000 layout for Keane’s loan fee and wages have been well repaid, with the Irish vagabond accounting for two goals and an assist in three appearances.   Stevens has yet to feature in the Villa side, though one might guess his time will come soon given the form of first-choice left back Stephen Warnock.

All in all, it’s a solid C of a window.  Nothing amazing, but nothing detrimental, either.

-Keith

Everton

In: Landon Donovan (2 month loan, Galazy) , Darron Gibson (2 million pounds, ManU), Steven Pienaar (6 month loan, Spurs), and Nikica Jelavic (5.5 million pounds, Rangers)

Out: Louis Saha (6 month loan, Spurs), Bilyaletdinov (5 million pounds, Spartak Moscow)

January was one of the more busy transfer windows in recent years for Everton, as 6 different players made the move to or from Goodison Park. David Moyes did well to move Russian winger Bilyaletdinov after he never did quite settle into EPL life. Although the club only recouped 50% of the original transfer fee, any money is welcome in these troubled times.

The biggest shock of the window though was Louis Saha making the move to White Hart Lane. Saha, whose contract runs out this summer, was coveted by Spurs boss ‘Arry Redknapp, who apparently missed the memo that Saha has only scored 2 times in 20 appearances this season and has a tendency to miss sitters. Although this was only a loan move, Moyes will be glad to have moved Saha’s wages in order to make room for some new players.

Everton also brought in two lesser known players, but both can provide the type of impact Moyes is looking for. Gibson has already made several starts for Everton and looks fairly comfortable, even helping out his former team this week by scoring the winning goal to beat Manchester City. Jelavic has a good scoring record with Rangers, where he netted 36 goals in 55 matches. Moyes will be looking for him to replicate his success in a team where the leading scorer is Leighton Baines who has converted 4 penalty kicks.

The big name on everyone’s mind, though, is Steven Pienaar. The South African left Goodison Park 12 months ago, and since then has had injury problems as well as being relegated to the bench by ‘Arry. While Evertonians were excited by the move, Pienaar has not had a good run of form since before the World Cup, almost 18 months ago.

Overall, I would say this is the best that Everton fans could hope for from the transfer window. The club has removed two players with high wages and brought in two classic David Moyes players permanently, along with two loan players who can provide some fantastic creativity. With the improved form over the past few games plus some new attacking options, Everton should be able to challenge for a top 7 finish through the rest of the season

-Brian

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

In: Louis Saha (Free, Everton), Yago Falque (Undisclosed, Juventus), Ryan Nelsen probably (Free, Released by Blackburn)

Out: Roman Pavlyuchenko (5 million, Lokomotiv Moscow), Vedran Corluka (Loan with buy option, Bayer Leverkeusen), Sebastien Bassong (Loan, Wolves), Steven Pienaar (Loan, Everton), Yago Falque (Loan, Southampton), Bunch of other kids out on loan to various championship sides

In typical Spurs fashion, all of the club’s business was conducted in the very last hour of the transfer window. In recent Spurs fashion, star names swirled through the rumor mill, only for the club to sign none of them and instead bring in some aging veterans on cut price deals. The knee-jerk reaction from Spurs fans everywhere was one of panic and horror. But I think we’re actually in pretty good shape.

Yes, we probably need a star striker at some point, but January is not the time to buy him (See Torres, Fernando). Pavlyuchenko has been rotting on the bench and has been agitating for a move. He was never good enough and Russia was eager to buy him. Perfect. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Roman. Louis Saha is old and injury prone and certainly past his best. But he came here for free and he’ll be happy to sit on the bench for lower wages than Pav was on. He’s an experienced player and can do a job when he’s needed. Which hopefully isn’t very often.

Bassong has also been agitating for a move and also isn’t good enough. He’ll get plenty of minutes at Wolves and will put himself in the shop window for a purchase in the summer. Ryan Nelsen hasn’t played football in like a year, but when he did play he was class. And his New Zealand side were the only undefeated team in the 2010 World Cup. He’s free, experienced cover, and a leader in the dressing room. At his age should be happy to sit on the bench ready to step in as needed. Which hopefully isn’t very often.

Falque we already had on loan and he obviously did enough to impress us that we decided to keep him. He’s now cutting his teeth at high-flying Southampton in the Championship where he’ll get acclimated to English football and hopefully be ready to contribute to the first team in a year or so. A bunch of our other kids like Harry Kane, Tom Carroll, and Andros Townsend are all playing regularly at decent Championship sides gaining experience. Yay for that. Pienaar and Corluka weren’t seeing the field at Spurs any time soon and they’ll both start regularly for their new clubs. Either they do well enough to earn themselves a move or they keep themselves in shape for another year on the bench back home.

All in all, we cleared out some fringe players and brought in some experienced backups. Our first team is good enough to beat anyone on our day, and we’re sitting comfortably in third place. We have enough to keep up our halfhearted title challenge and hold off the teams below us. I’m content with our transfer dealings. Even if we had bought Leandro Damiao or Fernando Llorente for 30 gazillion pounds, they wouldn’t have made us any more likely to overhaul that 5 point gap at the top of the table.

But this summer better be big.

– The Lorber

Obviously the January window is not the time to make anything resembling affordable buys, so I don’t begrudge the team for not making a huge splash. Right now Spurs are trying to secure an automatic Champions League spot, make an FA Cup run, and potentially make a title shout. We could use an absolutely top drawer striker, but that’s probably out of price range, at least in January. Credit where credit’s due, the team tried to sign Loic Remy from Marsielle for about 18 million euros and got turned down. It would probably take more than that to get Llorente or Damiao or someone we really want, so fine, save that for the summer. We also tried to get Krasic from Juventus on loan with an option to buy, which I’m fine with cause I wouldn’t buy him outright either. Apparently Krasic wanted a permanent move, which is nice and I hope he enjoys Juve’s bench for the rest of the season.

While I’m not wild about getting Saha or Nelsen, they do fill important roles this team: they are decent players who, if healthy, can solidify our squad and more importantly, won’t mind sitting on the bench for a bit. The problem with bringing in a CB like Samba is that I’m sure he would expect to start right away and I’d guess he’d be 3rd in the pecking order right now. Saha as a replacement for Pavluchenko is fine as long as he can stay healthy (which he has so far this year). That said, his scoring record has been dreadful lately. That said, I’m guessing Saha will be motivated enough to put in some effort, which will automatically make him an upgrade on Pav. So I’m with Lorber here, this is fine for now, but we better spend some frigging money on a real striker for next season.

-Skipjack

Manchester United 

In: Paul Scholes (retirement); Frédéric Veseli (Manchester City)

Out: Darron Gibson (Everton); Frederico Macheda (QPR, 6-month loan); Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover 96); Ravel Morrison (West Ham)

The good: Relative to my expectations, Scholes has had a dream return. Gibson wasn’t getting any games, so he was sold to Everton and he immediately scored a winner against City – good for him, and good for us. Macheda insists that he wants to fight for a place in the squad, and another loan spell (in England this time) will be good for him. I think he sees that Berbatov and Owen’s days in Manchester are numbered, and is confident enough to fight with Welbeck and Hernandez. Good on him – that mindset will do him well, and is quite refreshing compared to…

The bad: Ravel Morrison. He’s one of the best players to come through the United academy in the last decade, but his attitude, off-the-field issues, and wage demands became too much for Ferguson, who hung on as long as he could. It’s a shame, really, but maybe Big Sam will be able to kick some sense into him. Veseli is a cheap, risk-free pickup, but was a third-choice City reserve defender and stands almost no chance of even seeing the bench. Curious move.

For some time now, Sir Alex Ferguson’s favorite transfer window phrase has been “there’s no value in the market,” which we all know is just code for “the Glazers’ purse is empty.” Fans (myself included) have demanded signings, but Ferguson has stuck to his guns, ensuring us that he would not overspend and that the current squad was good enough. And you know what, I think it is. City clearly don’t have the mindset to win it, as Mancini still claims that they need more players. Tottenham’s squad is a bit thin for me, Chelsea are collapsing, Liverpool are still shit, and Arsenal are Arsenal.

United’s most important moves will be signing their own players off the training table. They have faced an Arsenal-esque injury crisis this season, as Scholes (who has only been around for 3 weeks) is the only first-team regular who hasn’t missed a single game through injury. That said, we’re level on points at the top, and Wayne Rooney, Nani, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Rio Ferdinand, and Phil Jones could all be available again for this Sunday’s visit to Stamford Bridge.

In Fergie we trust.

– MP

Liverpool FC

The folks over at Fenway Sports Group must be to0 used to baseball, since all they really did was try to straight up trade Andy Carroll to Manchester City for the disgruntled Carlos Tevez.

This attempt failed (predictably) so the Reds decided to pack up the rest of their Fleer Ultras and head home.

Here are the blockbuster moves that actually occurred:

In: Danny Ward (Wales U-19 keeper from Conference National side Wrexham FC)

Out: Danny Wilson (20-year old Scottish International, loaned to Blackpool)

In other news, Andy Carroll does continue to transfer french fries from the box to his mouth. And Luis Suarez has been traded to the Republican Party for a racist to be named later.

– Orr

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6 responses to “Through the Looking Glass, Darkly: Our Look at the January Window for our teams

  1. Newcastle United –

    In: Papiss Demba Cisse (striker, Freiburg around 9 mil)
    Out: Alan Smith, James Tavernier (loan, both to MK Dons)

    The Good: Cisse is pull by Alain Pardeux, AKA Pardiola. Cisse scored at a rate of a goal every two matches in the Bundesliga. Should team up well with Senegal teammate Demba Ba, despite the poor showing at ACON. Two Dembas > One Demba. Also good: Managed to hang on to Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Cheick Tiote…despite the (reported) sniffing about of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U. Compared to last January, this was a good window and continues the good run of scouting form NUFC showed in the summer.

    Bad: Didn’t add depth to the back four. NUFC really needed to add a competent CB in the window to help cover for the loss of Steven Taylor to injury. Not doing so leaves them rather thin, especially when pushing for a European spot. If Fabricio Coloccini goes down with an injury, its James Perch time. Oof.

    Mike Ashley has recently announced a revamp of the youth system, promising at least 15 mil to use towards scouting, signing, and developing new, young talent. A few of the youth squad members were recently told they wont have a future at the club, so there are spots available. Names like Anthony Knockaert and Wilifred Zaha were knocked around during the window and will likely be targets this summer. Hide yo kids.

  2. I was surprised that Pardiola wasn’t in for another center-half given all of the injuries and how that has affected Newcastle since the winter.

  3. Pardew went for it on Mariappa from Watford, but the Wasps wouldnt budge on price. I think they wanted 2.5 mil and NUFC offered 1.5.

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