Thursday, 3 February 2011

Silly Season

In the world of English football Monday was a bit crazy.  Chelsea spending £50million on a player who has only scored 9 goals in 26 games this season and seems riddled with injuries.  If you look at Fernando Torres's overall record he doesn't strike me as someone who is worth (even in the relative world of football) that amount of money.  In 249 games at Athletico Madrid he only scored 91 goals.  His record at Liverpool was much better, helped by his excellent first season of 33 goals in 46 appearances, but this is the only time he's scored more than 22 goals in a season.  For his country he has only scored 26 goals from 81 games, that is the same number of goals as Wayne Rooney has for England from just 67 caps.  When you throw in his potentially weak hamstrings this represents a massive risk on Chelsea's part but at the same time a massive statement of intent.

I can understand that purchase, but the subsequent purchase of Andy Carroll by Liverpool strikes me as massive panic buying.  It's the equivalent of having not much time left on your lunch break so haggling with a Camden noodle stall and ending up paying £100 for sweet and sour noodles.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive fan of the lad, he has huge potential and I hope he will be a massive player for England for years to come, but he is so unproven.  The sensible thing from Liverpools point of view was to accept that they had just lost their lead striker but had Suarez coming in (who I think is an excellent player and priced about right) so they wouldn't be much shorter up front, hold the money back and consider all of the available options in the summer.  That said, Liverpool have pretty much just swapped Torres and Babbel for Suarez and Carroll, I'm sure most of their fans would have settled for that at the start of January.

The transfer activity on the final day of the window overshadows the earlier bit money moves, I had almost forgotten about Man City signing Dzeko.  This is another interesting signing because I'm not sure he's the best fit for their team.  As a whole I think their style is too negative, personally I would have been looking to sign an attacking central midfielder as I think the forward line of Silva, Tevez and Johnson is as good as any in the league, they just lack other flair players.  He will probably score a lot of goals for them, but I wonder if this was the best use of their money - they do have a lot of it to waste though.

As interesting as these transfers are, I think the best move was Darren Bent's move to Villa.  When it first happened I was surprised by the size of the fee, mainly because I didn't think Villa had that sort of money to throw around, rather than because I didn't think that he was (relatively) worth it.  I think he is what Aston Villa have been lacking and that one purchase can push them back towards the top of the league.  If you look at their team I've always felt they were strong, excellent goalkeeper; strong, reliable defence; creative midfield; but the question has been where are the goals going to come from?  They have now answered that question.  It's a shame for Sunderland though, I hope they can replace him and continue their excellent progress.
Football has gone very crazy with money however.  Chelsea have just announced £70million loss for the previous year, before going out and splashing out another £70mil on players.  Though you give a club money to spend and they will spend it, be it £5 or £5million.  This spending by Chelsea is surprising as UEFA's financial fair play regulations are supposed to come into play soon.  The spending wont go into just this year's books, it will be written down over the life of the player's contract, so Torres will be a £10mil expense a year (assuming a 5 year contract), with his high wages on top.  I really hope that when the rules are in force it will make clubs assess the way they do business and hopefully we will see no more cases of Portsmouth and Leeds.  Perhaps even it will make clubs look closely at the people who take money out of the game without really adding anything - agents.

One final mention in this blog is for Gary Neville.  He may not be everyone's cup of tea but he is quite clearly the best English right back for a generation.  You know a full back is doing their job defensively when you don't notice them.  Now he is no longer England's number 2 we are starting to notice a weakness in that area!  I am sure United will miss him, but he should have retired at the end of last season.  It has almost been painful to watch him at times.  I hope his future career goes well, though I'm not sure I want him on Sky Sports, we'll have to wait and see what he'll be like I guess!

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