Pochettino is right, the Premier League summer transfer window is a farce

Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager came out with a suggestion that the transfer window should stay open as long as in the rest of Europe and he is absolutely right.

The window closed on August 8th in England just a couple of days before the Premier League season kicked off. In theory this makes perfect sense. Close the window and start the league, that way no players can feel unsettled- however this is only the case in England. In the major top European leagues their windows do not close until September 2nd, and that means that the likes of Real Madrid can pursue for example Christen Eriksen from Tottenham and Tottenham won’t be able to replace him.

It makes no sense at all that the windows are closing on different dates. One solution could be that foreign clubs cannot buy any players from the Premier League once the window closes in England, but with big money involved you can see clubs going to court about that.

In England the window used to close around September 2nd in line with all other top European leagues and it was only decided a few seasons ago to stop this. The idea being that players feel unsettled starting the season with one club and ending the month at another. But closing the window before the beginning of the season doesn’t make any sense unless all other major European leagues do the same. If not surely England has to revert back to the end of the month?

From a fans perspective what has been good about the window closing early is that we can close the book on  any silly rumours flying about- except with European clubs able to take your clubs best players for an additional 3 weeks, you can’t.

In essence closing the window early in England has to go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the Premier League, and this season it could come back and haunt some of the clubs, namely Tottenham and that is why Pochettino is obviously so concerned. But other clubs should be too- it might not be this season that your club is affected, but it could be the next.

Pochettino has voiced his concerns and said that he hopes the Premier League will change their stance. Of course it will be interesting to understand how fans feel about this, but the current situation does seem incredibly wrong.

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Business as usual as Manchester City and Liverpool get off to flying starts in the Premier League

So the Premier League has kicked off and it seems that it is business as usual as both the title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool got off to flying starts. Not only did they win their respective games they scored 9 goals between them.

Liverpool got the ball rolling (pardon the pun) when they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night. It was always going to be extremely difficult for Norwich who have just been promoted from the Championship to take on the European champions and last seasons runners up in the league and so it proved. With ease Liverpool scored 4 goals and Norwich showed their naivety.

At the same time it wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen Klopp’s team and Norwich played some tidy football and created quite a few clear cut chances. If Liverpool who have arguably one of the best defences in Europe defend like they did on Friday night against a top 6 team they will suffer. Plus Alisson went off injured and Klopp will be hoping that his Brazilian goal keeper is only out for a limited time. Still it was a great start for Liverpool who will be looking to win their first league title since 1990.

The next day at lunchtime ended up being a miss match, when champions Manchester City went to West Ham and didn’t break sweat as they scored 5 goals with no reply. Raheem Sterling was deservedly the man of the match after he started his campaign with a fantastic hattrick. West Ham were toothless and unlike Norwich gave no fight and no hope as to how they will pick up points this season. Of course the Hammers have had some hyped arrivals in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller and even though Fornals only came on from the bench in the 2nd half, he made almost no impact except for a teasing cross.

City were simply breath taking on the ball and the pace and fitness was evident compared to West Ham who are set for another frustrating season. The only other story to take from the game is VAR. It was used no less than 3 times and on each occasion got the decision right but there has to still be a question of is VAR good for football? Wasn’t the game supposed to be a simple one, that would include human error? After all England would not have become world cup champions in 1966 had VAR been in place.

True there has been shocking decisions in football, but it can work for and against your team. Maybe VAR takes that moment away in football.  Now when your team score, you will celebrate but perhaps have one eye on the referee and his assistants just in case. What will happen this season is penalties being retaken. It happened in the West Ham game when players encroached the area and it will happen when the goalkeeper leaves his line, and we can expect many penalty problems as a result.

The one damning verdict of West Ham’s defeat was the roar the fans gave as if they had scored a goal. They hadn’t, instead VAR had ruled out a City goal. Is that what teams outside the top 10 will be cheering about in the future?

 

 

Are Everton heading for an average season yet again?

There has been lots of talk within Everton about bringing in new players and improving on last season, but as it stands Marco Silva’s team look like they are stalling with just 4 days of the transfer window left.

There has been talk about splashing the cash. It started with the possible transfer of Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace but that seems to have fallen apart. Palace are holding out for £80m for a player that has not scored more than 10 goals in any given league season. While Zaha has many good qualities about it, but the price tag seems too much but there lies the problem and why the price is too much. Palace would have to give Manchester United his former club up to 20% if any deal went through, and that is why his price has been inflated.

Everton are offering around £55m for Zaha but Palace look like they won’t budge. It did look at one point that Zaha would go to Arsenal but that fell through again over money, but then Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille and the rest is history.

Everton’s next choice seemed to be Juventus forward Moise Kean who looks impressive. Kean was given a chance in the team when Juventus had in theory wrapped up the league and for the last 2 months he played well, scored goals and looks very promising. His price tag of under £30m also looks like a stunning bargain. But the talk has gone quiet and this is not a great time to be an Everton fan.

Also Everton were hit with new signing Fabian Delph getting injured in a friendly match only five minutes into his career with the club. The injury is not thought to be serious but he could still miss the beginning of the season- and he has a history of getting injured.

Truth is for Everton that when it is all said and done the only real signing of merit the club have made is Andre Gomes for £22m who was already at the club on loan last season. There has simply been no progress in the transfer market for the club. Yes Tottenham have got away with that for a few windows, but they had and have a quality team, Everton don’t.

Also let’s not forget how the club let Idrissa Gueye join PSG for only £26m. Gueye had proven to be a stalwart in Everton’s midfield last season, and the feeling is that they have let a very good player go for too cheap.

There is still until the end of the week for something to happen, and Everton fans will be hoping it does, because it does not look good for the club next season who might end up having a very average one if the board don’t act quick.

 

Nicolas Pepe signing can change Arsenal’s fortunes

Arsenal have surprised the football world by splashing the cash and signing forward Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a cool £72m, and the player has all of the tools to put the Gunners back on the map again.

The surprise element comes in different packages for Arsenal who have become famous for not spending over the odds on a player and also because they are a club who love to haggle for a price. But in Pepe’s case that was non existent and the deal was seemingly one of the smoothest the club have made in years. They enquired, they offered the money and terms and the player is now wearing the famous red shirt.

Arsenal only had to fight off Napoli for his signature in the end but that shouldn’t deter from how good Pepe is and the club have signed a world class player. Pepe had an excellent season at Lille where he scored 22 goals in 38 games but that only tells one side of the story. His goals, commitment and excellent play helped Lille finish runners up to PSG and qualify for the Champions League. He also made PSG run ragged and scored a few goals when Lille thrashed the eventual Ligue 1 champions 5-1 a few months ago.

Pepe has that quality about him where you feel at 24 he has matured and has the potential to become a world class player. Up until his signing it was looking like a quiet period for a club the size of Arsenal who had only brought in some loans and splashed out on Gabriel Martinelli for £6m, a Brazilian forward, unproven but young but comes without the wow factor- in Pepe they now have that.

But here is the deal clincher- he will almost certainly be paired up front with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was excellent last season in finishing as the Premier League joint top goal scorer with 22 goals. Now can you imagine the potential of both of these players together? Arsenal suddenly have arguably the deadliest strike force in the league. What this means for Alexandre Lacazette is anyone’s guess, but if these two hit it off then Lacazette’s career with the Gunners could well be coming to an end.

As for the long suffering Arsenal fans this could finally be the signing that signals a positive change at the club. While they are too far off from league titles, a good league run, and  a cup run and or win is certainly on the cards as the club try and get back into the Champions League where they will feel they belong. Roll on next season.

Will Arsenal’s season be bleak after scant transfer signings?

If Arsenal fans thought that life under Unai Emery would be different in the transfer market, then think again, because on the evidence of it Arsenal are not going to be breaking any banks soon.

The Gunners who missed out on Champions League football last season despite reaching the Europa League final have been very quiet in the transfer window.

Though six players have come in, there is a catch to most of them and in truth Arsenal have failed to bring in a big name. How else will they be able to expect to break into the top four for next season?

The clubs most eye catching capture has been Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos but the midfielder only comes to the club on a strict one year loan deal that is reportedly costing them a cool £15m, on top of that it is believed that the contract does not include an option to buy if the player has a successful debut season in the Premier League.

Ceballos only ranked 35th in La Liga midfielders for last season in the stats although he started just 13 matches and then played another 10 from the bench in a largely forgettable season for the club. He could do well for the club, but well enough in one season to make a difference is questionable.

On the same day Emery got to finally sign Saint Etienne’s William Saliba for £27m and he is thought of as being one of the players to watch in the future. That is all well and good but doesn’t this sound a tad bit like Arsene Wenger’s final days, scooping up very young talent, that might one day make it? Well be that player that the fans have been wishing for or not Saliba has been directly loaned back to his former club, so Gunners fans won’t get the chance to see him until the 2020/21 season anyway.

There is another three signings that went through the radar mostly because these players will join the Academy. And then there is Gabriel Martinelli, a player that mostly nobody has heard of and he was bought for £6m from Brazil.

The season coming up looks rather bleak for a club whose rivals have spent big and just look that much better equipped to deal with the season even if they hadn’t splashed out. Last season Arsenal finished 5th and just a point behind Tottenham and yet they never really looked like securing a top 4 place.

Lest we forget that in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal possess the joint top goal scorer from last season, but even with that taken into account, surely fans were expecting a big budget and some big names coming into the club? Some players namely Mesut Ozil have not been pulling their weight and look too comfortable in the side.

This season could, on paper, and as It stands be one of Arsenal’s worst for some time. After all they have been on the decline for the last few years and have seen Tottenham over take them, they are now failing on a regular basis to qualify for the Champions League too.

Emery has his work cut out.

 

 

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Vicente Guaita

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Vicente Guaita finished 7th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League goalkeepers but he must have been amongst the very best value players to have in your team for season 2018/19.

Guaita was valued at just 2m as he kept guard in goal for Crystal Palace for 20 games and that was enough to have him easily placed in the top 10 goalkeepers in England.

Whilst Guaita only accumulated 23 points he also kept an impressive 7 clean sheets, keeping the score at zero for 35% of his games. He conceded 25 goals in his games and received 2 yellow cards.

Guaita had spent his career in the Spanish league up until he joined Palace last summer in a free transfer joining from Getafe after making over 100 appearances for the club. It was always thought that Guaita would be a back up for Roy Hodgson’s Palace team, which he was. He finally made his debut for the club in December almost half way through the season.

Guaita’s first match for Palace ended in a 1-0 victory for the club when they beat Leicester, in the process he kept a clean sheet in his first game and earned 7 points. His next game is simply unfortunate for a goalkeeper, as Palace pulled off an incredible 3-2 victory at Manchester City. But because he conceded 2 goals and got booked he ended that game personally with -3 points.

But Guaita bounced back earning 14 points from his next 3 games and his signing seemed completely justified by Hodgson even on a free transfer for the 32 year old.

He had a few matches he’s rather forget- the defeats against both Manchester teams yielded 6 goals shipped and as a result in those two games he lost 8 points. And then there was a poor run that begun in mid April to the end of the season. True this run also involved the keeper picking up 7 points after he kept a clean sheet against Everton in a match that finished 0-0. But also taking those final 5 game into account Guaita did not earn any points in 4 of those games and earned a total of -5 points in that period.

What could be taken from Guaita’s half season of games is that he rarely went many matches without earning points. And Palace greatly improved as a team in the second half of the season and Guaita was certainly a key reason for that. The Spanish keeper is set to remain at Palace for next season as he initially signed a 3 year deal with the Eagles and it sure that his value will rise here from 2m. A shrewd player may just surprise themselves by a next season purchase of him.

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Marko Arnautovic gets his wish and leaves West Ham to play in China- is it the right move?

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He’s gone Marko Arnautovic finally got his wish to leave West Ham and has joined Chinese super league team Shanghai.

West Ham were so annoyed by this that they issued a very short statement to the fact and failed to even add the usual all the best wishes to the Austrian player. Arnie as he is known to West Ham fans made his feelings clear a early as January and tried to force the move then but the Hammers were having none of it.

But now he is gone and it is thought that West Ham have had to sell him for a cut price £23m instead of the near £30m they would have preferred. But was Arnie right to leave?

Though there is a feeling of bad blood between both parties, this does feel like the right decision. Why would West Ham want a player who was not commited to the cause, isn’t it just correct to sell the player? Also on his side he isn’t getting any younger. So why stay at a club who will be struggling to fight for honours next season?

Of course money is the real issue and Arnie can expect to earn near to £300,000 a week with Shanghai, a kings ransom and he could never have got that at West Ham, plus he is 30 and not getting any younger, this last big contract gives him the chance to earn well and set himself up.

Shanghai are champions too and he will be made to work hard to retain their trophies and silverware will be a reality for the player out in China.

It’s hard luck to West Ham and one will wish that the club can learn from buying a player who perhaps never had his heart setteled on the club. He scored goals and looked like a great buy, yes, but at the same time he struggled to get goals and play well against the better teams and that was also the problem. He was simply never a top level drawer player and West Ham should be able to move on from his departure which it shouldn’t affect them as much as it could.

West Ham have bought Pablo Fornals and are now in the hunt for Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez that is the real top drawer there and those players should be enough to make Arnie’s loss a distant memory.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is right to turn down approach from Newcastle

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Steven Gerrard has turned down the chance to manage Newcastle United and it seems the ex Liverpool legend has made the right choice.

Gerrard is new to the managership game and has chosen Rangers to make his debut in the dug out. Gerrard did well and finished 2nd in the league only to Celtic and only by 9 points. That means that Rangers will be playing in the Europa League next season and he should be happy with his first season.

Rangers are trying to win their first league championship since 2011 after a troubled decade which has seen them relegated due to internal problems. Surely the challenge then for Gerrard would be to see Rangers as champions, and leaving after just one season would make little sense.

This would be underlined when it comes to Newcastle as Gerrard has seen his former Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez not treated so well at the Magpies by owner Mike Ashley, so why would Gerrard leave a stable job like Rangers to manage Newcastle who could well be a likely candidate to struggle next season and could be relegated. With Rangers there are goals to be won and one of those is finally displacing Celtic and bringing the league back to Ibrox after 9 years.

Gerrard is also showing total respect to Rangers as he has already been involved in pre season and this week Rangers will be taking on St Josephs in the Europa League qualifying. Rangers are expected to win the game against the minnows from Gibraltar but this is over 2 legs.

One could take a leaf out of Gerrard’s book though. It is still puzzling that Brendan Rodgers left Celtic in March, two months before the end of the Scottish season to take charge of Premier League team Leicester City, why not wait until the end of the season, after all that is what it is about respect.

Anyhow Gerrard has decided to stay and done the right thing, and there would have been no guarantee anyway that he would have gotten along with Mike Ashley- few seem to do.

Gerrard’s long term plan looks evident enough and that is to put Rangers back on the map to winning trophies and then one day return to the Premier League and manage his beloved Liverpool. Well if Frank Lampard can do it for Chelsea why not Gerrard for Liverpool, it will take longer to achieve but that will be his ultimate goal no doubt.

Everton could struggle next season in the Premier League with a lack of signings

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Everton are a team who could have in theory been relegated a few times in the last 20 years and yet they remain one of the longest serving clubs in top flight history in England. They have been consistently in the top league for almost 70 years and that says a lot.

Under coach Marco Silva no one is expecting the club to be relegated next season, they have a quality team but the problem is that the club have not been very active in the transfer market, and there is just 30 days to go until the window slams shut.

Everton have only brought in 3 new players and one of them was from the academy in promising defender Sebastian Kristensen who has also been playing for Danish side Lyngby.

The other player is Jonas Lossl a goal keeper who was with Huddersfield who were of course relegated last season and he will be clearly seen as a back up to Jordan Pickford. The one transfer everyone has been focused on is Andre Gomes, who was on loan at the club last season. Now Everton have made that move permanent after sealing a deal with Barcelona in the region of £22m. That’s all very well but a player who was already at the club is hardly an exciting buy.

Everton really need to bolster their squad with 2 or 3 more quality signings and given the TV money involved with football now fans should expect this. The problem for Everton of course is that they are looking to move away from Goodison Park and are probably making that a number 1 concern when it comes to their finances. Just look at how it has affected both Arsenal and Tottenham when trying to buy players, Tottenham went 2 windows with no buys. It’s unsure if a club like Everton could afford to do that.

Next season will be okay for Everton but it is a question of what do the team want? Do they want to improve on last season, reach the Europa League? Right now with their transfer policy all the team needs is a key injury to the likes of Sigurdssson or Richarlison and they could get into trouble if they have not brought in any quality. At best Everton could be finishing mid table and that would signal a step backwards.

The long suffering fans should expect more investment whether they will get it is quite another thing.

The Big four in the Premier League have been quiet in the transfer market

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The summer transfer window in the Premier League has been open since May 16th and in that time 7 weeks there hasn’t actually been that much activity between the top 4 clubs who finished in those places in the Premier League. The ones where you expect them to break the bank and make massive signings just like they have in the past.

Is FFP to blame? Or is it a case of the teams are simply not finding the right players at the right prices to try and compete? There haven’t been too many eye catching transfers in Europe either although the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool both aiming to dominate football and be the best would have risen an eyebrow to the highly talented Joao Felix signing for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. So the money is there or thereabouts but where is the quality this summer?

Of course the window does not shut yet but in England it has changed. Years ago the window used to close on August 31st even though the league had in all of those cases already started. The window now closes just before the league starts and that has been the new given rule in England. So it will close on August 8th. That is just 31 days away, and that goes very quickly, will we see more big deals go through or is that it?

Champions Manchester City who have spent close to £500m since Pep Guardiola became manager have brought in just two players. Angelino from PSV and their big one Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Angelino cost just over £5m but much is expected of Rodri who cost the club £63m. Give or take City have spent about £75m this summer on players, a lot of money but not nearly as much as City would usually spend.

Premier League runners up Liverpool have been very quiet buying just one player, Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m and it will be questionable if the player gets games in the league and he may be only used for the league cup. So manager Jurgen Klopp is keeping his chequebook closed but at the same time Liverpool do have a very strong team and he will be happy with what he has.

Chelsea managed 3rd place in the end in the league but unlucky for them they currently have a transfer ban from UEFA. It is something that the club are appealing but with days running out anyway it looks almost certain that the Blues will not be buying or be able to buy any new players this summer.

That leaves us with Tottenham. A team who went the past two transfer windows not buying anyone. Young prospect Jack Clarke has come from Leeds for just £10m but the big purchase has been for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele who cost the club in the region of £55m, though that may rise.

All in all the big four clubs who finished in the top four last season have spent a combined £140m on players so far. Even taking into account Chelsea’s transfer ban this is a very low figure when you think of the TV deals that the clubs have been able to broker. We could also be fair and include Arsenal who finished 5th in place of Chelsea who can’t buy players.Yet even if we do this the Gunners have only spent £6m, with one player coming in on a free transfer.

Is the bubble finally bursting in the world’s most expensive league or should we remain more patient as the window closes by each passing day- either way we will find out soon enough.