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Transfer deadline day Q&A

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Phil McNulty | 08:51 UK time, Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The transfer window has closed and the final Premier League business has been done until January - so how are those fighting for silverware, solidity or simply survival shaping up?

It was a hectic final day without a late Robinho-style blockbuster and now managers must go with what they have got and hope they have assembled the quality and depth of squad to flourish until the turn of the year.

We asked for your questions about your team's transfer dealings and any other deadline day debate on Facebook and Twitter and have tried to answer the top 20 here. Sorry if we have missed yours out but there will be plenty of other opportunities throughout the season.

Alex Sole-Leris on Facebook: Why did Sir Alex Ferguson still refuse to buy anyone else? Did any deals fall through or weren't completed in time which weren't made public?

The lack of activity by Manchester United - especially after the £80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid - was raised by many, especially those who thought they had spotted David Silva in Manchester yesterday afternoon.

Having watched United three times already this season, I feel there are a couple of areas of concern - the lack of real creative playmaker in central midfield and a touch of fantasy to help out Wayne Rooney in attack. Only time will tell if these should have been addressed.

I was at Sir Alex Ferguson's press conference after the Community Shield defeat against Chelsea when he was asked whether he thought it would be worth adding either Silva or his Valencia team-mate David Villa to his squad and he replied: "Not at £50m I don't."

So maybe the question was asked and the price tag was too rich for United. And you can see his point - he will refuse to pay vastly-inflated prices simply because clubs know he has a vast reserve of cash from Ronaldo.

Ferguson also has great faith in the squad he has, augmented by summer signings such as Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia.

He said in his match notes for the Arsenal game that the "Ronaldo money seems to be burning a hole in the pockets of lots of fans."

Ferguson added: "I have explained our strategy, based on my confidence in our squad with a few new faces, existing players maturing and more eager beavers on the way up and I have no intention of abandoning it. I know we have the right squad and I trust them. It's an insult to suggest that I could somehow lose faith in my players overnight."

And his record suggests he is right, along with a track record of slow starts in the Premier League.

Blaming the sale of Ronaldo will be a default option after every defeat, but United have lacked a spark, Wayne Rooney apart - and remember how Barcelona were on a different plane creatively in the Champions League final, even with the Portuguese in their ranks?

Only a fool would write off United totally, but I genuinely believe they face an uphill task to retain the Premier League and an even bigger one to win the Champions League - but Ferguson has great trust in his players and he has proved us wrong before.

JLW91 on Twitter: How do you think Stoke will do this season with the additions of Tuncay, Huth, Collins, Whitehead and Arisimendi?
As I tipped Stoke City to survive comfortably again - the kiss of death if ever there was one - and they have made an excellent start, then I think they have every chance of a real season of development after their work towards the end of the transfer window.

Tony Pulis has not just brought real quality in in the shape of Tuncay from Middlesbrough - why did he not have greater competition for his signature from clubs who finished higher up the table than Stoke last season? - he has done something just as important in holding on to defender Ryan Shawcross.

Shawcross was looked at by many, Liverpool and Everton included, but Stoke have kept him and this is a great plus for Pulis.

As I said I think Tuncay is a real coup for Stoke, Robert Huth is a solid defender and Danny Collins will add back-up. I'm afraid you will have to tell me about Diego Arismendi, but I think Stoke have more than enough not just to stay up, but to consolidate.

And as someone who felt the atmosphere at The Britannia was something special last season, that will be for the good of the Premier League.

jstallwood on Twitter: Have Villa pulled off enough last-minute deals to keep up their challenge of the top four?

No. I can see Villa challenging for the top six but not the top four. I felt they had that chance last season and ultimately faded away. The early exit from the Europa League may help when it comes to keeping the squad fresh, but I am not sure they have the quality to challenge for the Champions League places.

James Collins, Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock are solid signings but are they the men to make the difference between top six and top four? I don't think so - although this should not stop Villa trying to maintain their league position from last season and having a serious shot at a cup competition.

coastalpastor on Twitter: Is Everton's habit of last-minute shopping an indicator that the kitty is empty?

Again quite a few questions on this one from Everton fans wondering why so much of their business is done in the dying days of the transfer window. It was similar this season to last, when Marouane Fellaini arrived from Standard Liege with minutes to spare.

It is clear there is not a lot of cash around at Goodison. The maths tells us this. Fellaini was financed by the sales of James McFadden and Andrew Johnson while the arrivals of Sylvain Distin, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Johnny Heitinga were all bought with the money brought in from the sale of Joleon Lescott to Manchester City, once Wolves had received their cut of that particular deal.

I was told there was money available to Moyes even prior to the Lescott sale, but it would have been interesting to see how much money Everton would have spent if he had not been sold.

What is obvious is that there will be no serious transfer cash at Everton unless chairman Bill Kenwright lures investment to the club - and there is no sign of this - or they continue to sell players in the manner of McFadden, Johnson and Lescott.

The worry for Everton and their fans is that financially they not only have a problem competing with Spurs, Aston Villa and Manchester City, but they now cannot even compete with Sunderland when it comes to financial firepower.

It may well be shrewd business to sell one player (Lescott) and buy three (Distin, Bilyaletdinov and Heitinga) - but I do not see Everton finishing fifth again this season. The kitty may not be empty, but it is very clear the budget will always be limited until investment is found.

Simon Paice on Facebook: When will Arsene Wenger realise that his transfer policy is hindering the club and stopping us from making the leap to actually winning trophies again?

Another bone of contention. Wenger clearly does not believe his transfer policy is stopping the club making the leap to winning trophies again - although four years and counting makes this a season when silverware needs to come to the Emirates.

Wenger was at pains to point out that the average age of Arsenal's team in the win against Celtic was 23.9 - and he insisted that is a sign that they will improve in strength and maturity as the season progresses.

Thomas Vermaelen looks a very important signing, Andrey Arshavin has a touch of genius, and all the messages we are hearing is that this is a more cohesive, united Arsenal squad than last season. Yes, they lost against Manchester United but it was an impressive performance and Cesc Fabregas was missing.

He told us after that game: "We have a great future and can be a real force."

Wenger did admit there was a lack of maturity, especially when it came to communication and Abou Diaby's own goal, but he saw great hope.

Arsenal fans say "Arsene Knows" and "In Arsene We Trust" - he is not going to change his policy so you will have to hope that faith is well-placed. Needs a trophy this season though.

Geovanni218 on Twitter: Regarding Hull City's big deals it seems the only big deal is to let our best player go to Sunderland, Michael Turner.

Michael Turner is a big loss to Hull. I know Liverpool were keen and I was impressed when I saw him at Chelsea on the opening day of the Premier League season. He had a real fight on his hands with a fired-up Didier Drogba but he never gave an inch and was one of the reasons Hull only lost deep into stoppage time.

Phil Brown explained that once a player expresses a wish to go then the game is up, rather like Joleon Lescott and Everton, but it is still a blow.

Ibrahima Sonko has arrived from Stoke on loan and Paul McShane is back, but I am not sure either of those are adequate replacements for Turner. Tough on Brown though because he would have hoped to keep Turner - although they have turned a tidy profit on a player they bought for only £350,000 from Brentford three years ago.

Russell Kamwendo on Facebook: Will Liverpool be able to cope with the squad that they have?

Good question - and as someone who tipped Liverpool to win the Premier League one I am particularly interested in.

The big question will be answered shortly. Can Alberto Aquilani fill the gap left by Xabi Alonso's move to Real Madrid? If he can it will go a long way towards defining Liverpool's title chances this season. If he can't (or falls victim to yet another injury) then the landscape changes for Rafael Benitez.

Glen Johnson has been excellent so far and Sotiris Kyrgiakos has been added as central defensive cover - although it is no secret Benitez would have liked to pursue more expensive options than the AEK Athens defender.

Aquilani will add creativity in midfield, but where I believe Liverpool's squad has the potential to fall down is in attack. Where is the serious back-up to Fernando Torres?

Ryan Babel is reaching the tipping point where he will have to be judged as a failure rather than unfulfilled potential, David Ngog is a work in progress and Andriy Voronin has never looked like cutting it in the Premier League.

Old soapbox subject of mine, but I believe Liverpool should have taken a chance on Michael Owen. Not that Benitez was ever seriously considering that option.

So yes, a worry over Liverpool's squad strength, particularly in attack.

Liam James Richardson on Facebook: Are Tottenham now potential title contenders? They have lot of stength in depth.

Just got to take your first question! No. I do not think Tottenham are potential title contenders, but they can finish top five and maybe, just maybe, think of top four- although my personal view is that this will be just beyond them.

Harry Redknapp has worked with typical guile in the transfer market, although the loss of Luka Modric is a real setback for Spurs. Niko Kranjcar is a good, not to mention cheap, replacement but not quite in his Croatia colleague's class.

Sebastien Bassong was outstanding when I saw him against Liverpool and Wilson Palacios is a huge figure in every sense in midfield. Bit of a worry about constant injuries to Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgale and Michael Dawson, but great strength in attack.

Jermain Defoe is an outstanding finisher, Robbie Keane can be the creator while Peter Crouch adds the option of height.

So no, I would not go as far as title contenders but I predict good things for Spurs this season providing they get a fair wind with the good health of their central defence.

Sam Evans on Facebook: Out of the three promoted teams who is best placed to survive following the closure of the transfer window?

Given they way they have started I still fancy Burnley to survive - although I know plenty disagree. David Nugent is an interesting signing after his career stalled at Portsmouth.

How will he be received by Burnley fans after his strong allegiance to fierce rivals Preston? Nugent needs to prove he is Premier League class and Burnley manager Owen Coyle will look to rebuild his confidence.

Wolves have added the experience of Segundo Castillo, who did not have particularly distinguished spell at Everton last season as well as Austria international striker Stefan Maierhofer from Rapid Vienna. How they adapt to the Premier League will be key.

Teemu Tainio's experience will help Birmingham, although realistically there will be tough times ahead for all of these teams this season. No shame in that though because the jump is a big one.

The one to stay up? Burnley, plus one of Birmingham and Wolves...but not both.

mrslfc on Twitter: Should Benitez have spent Alonso money on a few squad players or was he right to spend on Aquilani as a more direct replacement?

He was right to spend the money on a direct replacement. Alonso was such an important player for Liverpool that Benitez could not replace him with the players he had or simply use that money to fill in around the edges of his squad.

You must also remember that the purse strings are being pulled tighter at Anfield now. Benitez had that decision to make - spend the bulk of the Alonso money on one top-class replacement or potentially add a few journeymen?

I believe he was right to go for the big-money option. We will soon know if he was right to go for Aquilani.

dpoulton1981 on Twitter: What damage has Man City done to inflate the transfer market this year?

They have inflated the transfer market hugely, but whether they have done damage is another point. They have given Arsenal £40m for Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure, Everton £24m for Joleon Lescott, Aston Villa £12m for Gareth Barry and Blackburn Rovers £18m for Roque Santa Cruz, so they might say they are pumping money around the Premier League.

Of course these figures are ludicrous, but the bottom line is that Manchester City can afford them and I do sense some jealousy and hypocrisy from fans of other clubs when they have a moan about it.

Ask Manchester City fans if they feel their club has damaged the market. I bet I know what the answer will be.

Leon Boylan on Facebook: Why on earth did Pompey let Krancar go so cheap? And why didn't Liverpool come in for him? Perfect replacement for Alonso?

He had only a year left on his current contract and had informed Portsmouth he had no intention of signing another. It was a case of either getting money now or losing him on a free at the end of a season when he was planning his farewell anyway.

Not great for Portsmouth and I do fear for them I'm afraid. Lost too many crucial players although they have kept David James.

As for Kranjcar for Liverpool. No. Not a perfect replacement for Alonso. Not in Alonso's class but still a very good signing for Spurs, especially after the loss of Modric.

ScreechSinger on Twitter: I'm an Arsenal fan, but why wasn't there any movement by any of the top four on deadline day? Did anything fall through?

Variety of reasons. As we have said, Sir Alex Ferguson is happy with his squad and has already expressed his reluctance to be held as a hostage to the fortune Manchester United got for Cristiano Ronaldo.

I am sure Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez would have loved to have been out and about in the market, but he just didn't have the cash.

Arsene Wenger is notoriously cautious about spending over-the-odds for players and feels he has the squad in place to progress this season.

Chelsea would have loved to have spent more money, but again Carlo Ancelotti is very satisfied with his squad and feels it would take someone very special to improve it. Franck Ribery was constantly linked but no-one has been able to tempt Bayern Munich to sell him.

Also it is fair to say that the top teams have most of their signings in place by the start of the season and usually any big deals (the Robinho move to Manchester City ahead of Chelsea apart) are the climax of long-running sagas or games of transfer brinksmanship such as Manchester United's moves for Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

Andrew Chrysostom on Facebook: What I want to know is, do you think Wenger owes the fans a big name after the last few years?

Sorry I can't use all of your post Andrew, but the simple answer to this is - no I don't think Arsene Wenger owes Arsenal fans a big name. In fact I don't think he owes Arsenal fans anything at all.

And don't forget he has brought in the wonderful Andrey Arshavin, who will grace the Premier League for years.

Wenger has been an outstanding figure for Arsenal and the Premier League. He has had his moments, but most managers have.

I agree he is under pressure to win a trophy this season, but he has brought success to Arsenal in the past and produces teams that play the purest football. He has his policy in the transfer market and will not divert from it. It is a frustration at times, but he is usually the perfect judge of when to sell a player - and when to get the maximum fee.

Alijawaad MeraliI'm on Facebook: Still wondering why Rafael Van der Vaart wasn't bought by one of the big four. He was the best player at the last European Championships and would have been perfect for any team.

A top player, despite mixed fortunes in recent times and there was actually a chance he could have come to the Premier League.

Everton were very keen to take him, and no wonder. It was reported in Spain and here that he was positive about a move to Goodison Park but he was then told by Real Madrid that they would like to keep him - and this was good enough to persuade him to stay in Spain.

Would have been a great signing for Everton - and plenty of other Premier League clubs.

Stephen Waters on Facebook: There is a lot of pressure on Rooney to supply and deliver. Do you think that if Rooney gets injured Manchester United could struggle big time?

Yes I do think Manchester United will struggle if Wayne Rooney gets injured. Not to the extent that they will plummet down the table, but I am not sure they have the players in the squad to compensate for his absence with Cristiano Ronaldo gone.

There is huge responsibility on Rooney, both in terms of taking on the pivotal central role now and being the symbol of Manchester United's team. He is up to the task and he effectively dragged United along with him when they were struggling against Arsenal - if he was to be absent for any length of time I do not see who United have got that can adequately replace him.

Faisal Araban on Facebook: Don't you think it about time Liverpool got rid of the American owners?

How can Liverpool "get rid" of the American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks? They own the club and somebody out there needs to buy it from them if they are to go anywhere. Where are they?

Sadly for the pair, any relationship they may have had with many Liverpool's fans initially is broken beyond repair. There seems to be no serious start date for the proposed new stadium in Stanley Park and Rafael Benitez clearly did not have all the cash he wanted this summer - most of his funds came from the sale of Xabi Alonso.

Oh for the day when Liverpool and Everton see sense, put pride on one side, and agree to share a stadium. Do not see that happening though.

It has to be said that Manchester City was the club that really hit the jackpot when it came to finding new owners.

It should be pointed out, however, that Benitez has hardly been starved of cash in the past - certainly not in comparison to most Premier League managers.

burnaftereading on Twitter: How big a factor is the recession in the lack of last minute, big money transfers?

It must be a factor simply because there is not so much money around. You have to think many clubs would want to be able to spend more but the current economic climate means there is more of a reluctance to invest heavily in football.

As we mentioned earlier, Liverpool would have loved to have been bigger spenders but their owners are simply not in the position to give Rafael Benitez vast sums of money.

Also, I think it was quieter because other factors were at work. Manchester City had done their big deals, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were not biting on any business, so it was all done at a slightly lower level.

Be interesting to see what the so-called "Big Four" spend in January because the quality of players they require are rarely available in that window.

Ray Kiarie on Facebook: What do you make of Spurs' recent signings? All players managed by Harry Redknapp before. Does that mean Spurs haven't got good scouting networks?

Harry Redknapp has done good business. Not all have been managed by Redknapp in previous days. Kyle Naughton was widely regarded as the best young defender outside the Premier League at Sheffield United and Spurs had to fight off fierce competition to get him.

Sebastien Bassong was another who had his admirers, but this deal was done off the back of a chat Redknapp had with Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie after Spurs played Newcastle last season. They told Redknapp that if Newcastle went down and the club needed to sell he should go for Bassong - a message he kept in mind.

Peter Crouch is obviously well-known to Redknapp, as is Niko Kranjcar, but these are good players - he is not buying out of the goodness of his heart, he is adding quality to his squad.

And on the subject of the scouting network, I suspect if there are any promising players out there, either here or abroad, Redknapp has the contacts to keep him up to speed.

And finally

Callum Orr on Facebook: Was David Silva in Manchester for talks on a possible move? Or just speculation?

Obviously speculation. But I was also told several times that Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson and David Bentley were seen at Liverpool's training ground and Franck Ribery was seen getting off a plane en route to west London.

All the knockabout stuff that makes transfer deadline day so compelling.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "burnaftereading on Twitter: How big a factor is the recession in the lack of last minute, big money transfers?

    It must be a factor simply because there is not so much money around. You have to think many clubs would want to be able to spend more but the current economic climate means there is more of a reluctance to invest heavily in football."


    If it wasn't for Manchester Citys spending so much then surely a large number of the other deals would not have occured? Food for thought!

  • Comment number 2.

    Phil, I think you'll find that Michael Turner was signed by Hull from Brentford, who I believe will be receiving a chunk of the cash from his sale to Sunderland. Aside from that error - Good Article!

  • Comment number 3.

    It's obvious Everton are skint Phil. Without investment we will probably tread water or given the level of spending by the mackems, et al, fall further behind. Bill means well but just does not have the financial clout. Sadly the 'mersey millionaires' tag seems light years away.

  • Comment number 4.

    To Luke1471...Agree with that. Manchester City have been accused of distorting the market, but it is worth making the point they are creating it as well by sending money around the Premier League. Everton's transfer fund for the summer was effectively provided by Manchester City signing Joleon Lescott.

  • Comment number 5.

    Apologies re. Michael Turner. Of course he signed for Brentford after a loan spell from Charlton. I also expect to be hearing more about this error from the resident office Brentford fanatic.

  • Comment number 6.

    "burnaftereading on Twitter: How big a factor is the recession in the lack of last minute, big money transfers?

    It must be a factor simply because there is not so much money around. You have to think many clubs would want to be able to spend more but the current economic climate means there is more of a reluctance to invest heavily in football."

    Another factor is the devaluation of the pound v the euro and the new top level of taxatation. This has distorted the value of transfers between British and European clubs, and also made European clubs more attractive.

    Ronaldo's £80m transfer only (?) equates to 100m Euro this summer, whereas last summer the same price in pounds would have been 120m Euro. I suspect that's why United haven't gone after Silva or Villa, as the devaluation of the pound, rather than Valencia knowing we had money, has inflated the price.

    I also remember reading Jermaine Pennant commenting that his move to Spain has meant he is significantly better off then if he had taken a similar contract in the UK.

    More food for thought

  • Comment number 7.

    City did indeed provide our transfer budget Phil. However, it must be stressed that the bullying tactics Moyes felt they employed should not be tolerated by the authorities.
    Good luck to their fans as they have suffered more than most top clubs but it's all a little frustrating for us toffees.
    Another point. Please don't resort to using the 'big five' term I've seen bandied about Phil. It's hideous.

  • Comment number 8.

    Rather then breaking up the Big Four, new investment in clubs further down the PL looks like a new top 4 is being created outside of CL clubs. Man City, Villa, Spurs, Everton/Sunderland?

  • Comment number 9.

    Phil, good column. You mentioned once or twice that we'll know soon if Aquilani is a good replacement for Alonso. Don't agree with this - surely we will have to assess Aquilani over a full season at least to determine what class of player he is. He has only played a ridiculously small number of games over the last two years so he will need some time to readjust and settle in to top class football once again. Time is not something Liverpool can really afford in this instance but it would be harsh to judge Aquilani after a few games.

    http:www.hillwalkireland.com

  • Comment number 10.

    what about this uefa charge on the arsenal player for diving? anybody else see ronaldinho's blatant dive in the milan darby? is this what we need now- a committee that looks over each week's dives? the highlight show did a good job pointing out rooney's smart play, but how to determine what does and does not merit suspension? none of these were penalties, but 2 were given...

  • Comment number 11.

    Phil,

    Is it not the case that Sir Alex Ferguson didn't so much choose not to spend much (if any) of the Ronaldo money and more that there wasn't any left to spend once the Glazer's had decided that its best use would be to help service some of the huge debt the club has?

    If one assumes that £20m odd would have been made available for transfers this summer anyway then it's a fair assumption to make that none of the £80m received for Ronaldo has been spent on transfers.

  • Comment number 12.

    Unlike you and Sky Sports, I would hardly call transfer deadline day "hectic".

    United have a strong squad of talented players, but we just need our big stars to step up (looking at Berbatov, and to a lesser degree Nani). I hope the rumours about Anderson aren't true - he needs to get in there ASAP.

    Liverpool and Arsenal on the other hand have no depth. They have very tidy first teams, relying on a few key players like most clubs, but the shelves are somewhat bare behind them. Where are the budding Gerrards and Owen's at Liverpool now? Benitez seems to be stifling the flow of youth, while Wenger seems content with the fall back of "they're only kids still".

    Chelsea on the other hand don't need any players (except maybe during the African Nations) and it will be down between them and United come the end of the season, so you're right to that degree to write Tottenham off.

    But considering you backed Liverpool to win the league and they're already 6 points off, you seem very quick to write a team off who have played with some style, good strength and nice balance, and have the points on the board to prove it. We'll see what impact the loss of Modric has for them, but I could easily see them above Liverpool this season. The one thing they don't lack, by comparison, is forwards.

    I'm genuinely excited by the league this season - Sunderland in particular look quite interesting, City obviously have built a talented and above all balanced side that will only get better as the season progresses, and many of the other sides like Stoke have added some good players. Everton have done some lovely deals, and spent their oil money very well.

    It may not have been a vastly active last day, but the window itself has been good, only ruined from my perspective by the stupid prices United would have to pay to get anyone worth getting. I personally was crossing my fingers for van der Vaart.

  • Comment number 13.

    You must also remember that the purse strings are being pulled tighter at Anfield now. Benitez had that decision to make - spend the bulk of the Alonso money on one top-class replacement or potentially add a few journeymen?
    ========================================================================

    what is aquilani but a overpriced journeyman? flitted in and out of the roma squad, plenty of sub appearances when fit, plagued with injuries, no experience of english football and by all accounts a totally different player who prefers playing on the right so not a 'direct replacement'. not to mention the abysmal record of italian signigns in english football, carrying all the hopes of the kopites plus playing for a manager not noted for improving the confidence or dealing with pressure with regard to players.

    for me, aqulani can only be compared to Cheyrou, Diao or any of the other overpriced signigns at the end of the Houllier era. i expect when the Klinsmann era starts after rafa fails to meet the impossible task of improving on last season (how you must be regretting your title predictions now, phil!) he'll be one of the first back out the door to italy.

    liverpool's two games against man city this season will be crucial in deciding the fate of the club. missing out on CL football would not only be financially disasterous, i cant see players like torres - especially with a world cup to put himself in the shop window - hanging around. could be many more years in the wilderness and rebuilding under another manager ahead.

  • Comment number 14.

    A bit less about Liverpool (!) and a bit more about some of the other clubs would have been nice.

    No mention of the likes of Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn. And lots (and lots) about Liverpool.

  • Comment number 15.

    I swear i saw Franck Ribery in Glasgow yesterday before the transfer window shut. Clearly it wasn't him, but the resemblence was uncanny!
    Glaswegian Franck Ribery - please get in touch, i am thinking of starting a lookalike agency for parties etc.

  • Comment number 16.

    With the current recession, weak pound and 50% tax band on wages making overseas players less affordable to premiership teams and vice versa, could many Premier League teams come to rue a lack of investment in home-grown talent over recent years?

  • Comment number 17.

    I am an Arsenal fan while also being a massive fan on Rafael van der Vaart. i was desperate to see Wenger go out and spend on him as he is a world class midfielder and was at a cut price. people say we dont need another creative midfielder may be right but someone as talented as van der Vaart at a price so cheap could only have been great business. I admit to being a little frustrated by Wengers lack of dealings after Vermaelen but will never lose faith in him as a manager. I still think we could have done with another striker, midfielder and defender although Song looks like a new player in his position following his excellent start. unlucky against united, everyone knows we deserved to win the match but a positive start and looking to challenge this year

  • Comment number 18.

    Of course City have over inflated the transfer market and trying to vendicate this by saying they are spreading the wealth is ridiculous. First of all they ran up the prices of medicore players to 3-4 times there worth so by buying this players at this rate the balance has still been lost as the money teams receive for them cannot be spent as the market has gone up drastically!!

    As a player has been bought for 3-4 times his worth then his replacement will also cost at least triple their original value so teams will still end up losing a player an having to spend all monies gained on a replacement.

  • Comment number 19.

    I cant understand peoples logic when they talk about man city ruining the transfer market, I heard one fan say that they were even ruining it for lower league clubs as they are over inflating the price of premiership players.

    The only players that will be over inflated will be the ones man city are trying to buy so its only effecting them or similar teams competing for those player, lower league teams wont be competing for these players. And as for the money well its outside money not generated from the fans pocket (well not directly!!) so surely can only be good for the came, more investment increase the potential for improvement and longeivty. Some other clubs are benfiting hugely from it too, take Everton for example, Lescott for 24 million and they have bought some decent players and still cleared a profit, I dont think Lescott is worth anything like that figure, he is never going to be a world class defender, he has his flaws. A
    ll in all good blog, of course my tip for buy of the year has to be Kranjcar, there have been flashes of brilliance just hasnt delivered enough a pompy lets hope he can flourish at spurs and for 2mil it cant go wrong

  • Comment number 20.

    The transfer deadline day was such an anti climax, it was hyped up by both the BBC Sport and Sky Sports News. It doesnt help when fans imagine finding a lookalike of Franck Ribery at an Airport in London!

    Anyway, i believe Man City have definitely screwed around with the transfer policies of every premier league club. Last year the players that Man City bought would have been a maximum worth estimated:

    Emmanuel Adebayor £20 mill
    Kolo Toure £8 mill
    Joleon Lescott £15 mill
    Gareth Barry £12 mill
    Roque Santa Cruz £10 mill

    now arsenal, everton and villa have spent the money wisely from what they received buying solid squad players rather than paying ridiculous amounts like man city. Man united on the other hand are sitting warmly on a handsome figure, which they can spend whenever they like. The transfer window wont effect any of the clubs though, i think the league will be alot more open though...man city & spurs have as good a squad as the big four.

    next week should be interesting...man city v arsenal & spurs v man utd...damn i`m excited this year!

  • Comment number 21.

    Phil: you say "Four years and counting makes this a season when silverware needs to come to the Emirates."

    So if silverware NEEDS to come to Arsenal this season, what happens if it doesn't? Wenger is sacked? We get the usual 'next season will be the big one' jargon? Or will Wenger just continue overseeing the clubs longest trophy drought for 22 years?

  • Comment number 22.

    I beg to differ, when United played Barcelona we were on top of them 'til their first break away counter attack yielded a lucky goal and after that, where had we taken our chances, we could've been 3 up when that goal came, we had no chance, top teams are masters at counter attacking and when you're a goal down to Chelsea, Barcelona, Liverpool, United, Arsenal, they'll destroy you as you go on to try and salvage something from the game, especially after you concede very early, we proved this against Arsenal, up until our first attack Arsenal were on top, pressing very very hard, putting balls into the box, closing down space, but our first attack, a slip by their player and we were 1-0 up, we never looked back simply because on the counter, we're as good as anyone. Barcelona, the best team in the world last season, there was no shame to lose to them, but they're not as great as everyone goes on about, Chelsea should've beat them, probably home and away yet they got lucky in the semi final, very lucky in fact and then just didn't look back. I'd say you create your own luck but the referee did it for them.

    We do lack something this season but we can't win everything every season and so this season may end up trophyless though i'd love us to win a 4th title, we need some other players but I trust Ferguson and I think this season will be one where we assess the squad rather than expect to win everything like we did last season and the season before.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good blog, and yes it seems every united defeat will be blamed on the absense of ronaldo. I do think Sir Alex's squad is good enough to be an absolutely superb team, whether that is this season we will find out but what brings me confidence is fergies arrogance to the media. He will be so incredibly motivated to get this side winning trophies to really stick it to all the media (aswell as the pride and glory obviously).

    And i totally agree with him, there seems to be ridiculous price tags on players now that aren't worth paying. I would of liked to see another signing but if other clubs are being so stubbon as to stick a 50mil price tag on a player just because of the sale of ronaldo, then screw them!

    Fergie to prove everyone wrong, united for top!

  • Comment number 24.

    Regarding Liverpool, I think the American owners are quite content for Liverpool to finish in the top 4 and get into the CL. To win the league, they know they would have to spend a fortune in order to keep up with Man U and Chelsea, and now Man City. It makes no significant difference to the club's revenue whether they finish top or 4th. So, why bother? Of course, they will never acknowledge that publicly, they would get slaughtered. As a supporter, I have learned to accept mediocrity. If it so happens that the other big clubs falter, and we happen to hit good form, with the wind behind us, then we may have cause for a bit of excitement, like last season, which was well above expectations.

  • Comment number 25.

    To The Midland 20...the reason there is no mention of Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn is because I never received any questions about them. I would have been delighted to receive questions from fans of those clubs.

    And as for Liverpool, there were many questions I did not have room to answer. Plenty of Liverpool fans posed questions, as did fans of Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs.

    Questions about Hull City, Stoke, Burnley and others were gratefully received and answered and I hope to get some from fans of every other club next time.

  • Comment number 26.

    Good blog Phil, nice to hear some positive words on Stoke City, I honestly think (and I am not too biased here!!) that Tuncay will turn out to be the best buy of the window, in my opinion, he is very similar to Tevez - 100% effort for 90 minutes, skilfull, scores goals AND was £20Million cheaper and probably £90K per week off the weekly wage bill.

    Keep up the good work

  • Comment number 27.

    Arsene Wenger was right to point out that if he has money available, he spends it, but only on players he feels will have a bright future at the club. This does not mean splashing out £20 million on a single 'super'star, but rather his tried and tested method of spending a few million here and there on young players with potential.

    The truth is, despite Arsenal's large fanbase and income, the club's structure prevents huge sums from being funneled into a war chest, with the shareholders content to maintain a top 4 place, rather than splash out in the hopes of buying a championship.

  • Comment number 28.

    Interesting blog Phil.

    Can I ask though, a few weeks ago you suggested that you and 'your fellow journalists don't make things up', I think was the expression.

    With that in mind, can you explain the never ending slew of gossip column material that the BBC perpetuate which proves to be not only wrong, but often contradictory.

    If you become aware of behind the scenes talk which amounts to tapping up, as surely you must do if you are on par with the print journalists, do YOU pass your information on to the relevant authorities/FA Anti-Corruption unit?

  • Comment number 29.

    And for those that keep banging on about Man City over-inflating the market, how has this manifested itself exactly? What does it even mean? Where is the evidence?

    True, Man City have paid more for players than most other teams would have, but that's only inflating the prices of players for deals that they're involved in and certainly not the market as a whole.

    As far as I can see "the market being over-inflated" is rapidly becoming one of the irritating buzzwords and phrases that us football morons will happily trot out with little or no regard for what it actually means.

    Much like "these things even themselves out" (do they really, it would be unlikely if they did...) and "that's their best start to a season for 85 years" (what is a "start" exactly?)

  • Comment number 30.

    The same "over-inflating" the market criticism of man City was also levelled at Chelsea when they came into the money, but you could just as easily criticise the selling clubs for raising their prices. In the end, you cannot blame clubs for trying to get as much as they can for their players (21m for SWP, ha hah!) - thus Lescott is now, financially at least, in the world-class defender bracket.
    I cannot see, though, how this can be blamed on inflating the price of English players in general - if a 2nd Div. club asks a ludicrous 6-8m for an average Joe Clogger defender, then who can blame the buying clubs looking for cheaper, foreign talent? Something that is supposedly "killing" the development of English players.

  • Comment number 31.

    To electricYevrah...the money from Ronaldo is available for Sir Alex Ferguson to spend. He has simply chosen not to enter the market with it at this stage. Do you think he would have sold Cristiano Ronaldo to service a debt? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 32.

    Had to comment on the comment about the abysmal record of italian players. Maybe at Liverpool I'd agree Dossena is a disaster. but come on Zola one of the best players ever in the PL.

  • Comment number 33.

    31. At 3:25pm on 02 Sep 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:

    To electricYevrah...the money from Ronaldo is available for Sir Alex Ferguson to spend. He has simply chosen not to enter the market with it at this stage. Do you think he would have sold Cristiano Ronaldo to service a debt? I don't think so.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It doesn't matter that the money hasn't been spent on players.

    Firstly, why spend for the sake of it. Secondly, who exactly would they buy? Remember they do have a top set of players despite the doom mongering. And thirdly, so what if the 'profit' is used to service the debt either in terms of repayments or interest payments. This will simply mean that the club is in a better position, comparatively, to spend money in the future for when Ferguson does identify a player that he wants and at a price that's right. Remember, they are running a business you know!

  • Comment number 34.

    The sale of Ronaldo seems to have hit United in more ways than just on the pitch.
    Clubs have inflated their prices to man city like proportions when United come knocking, inhibiting their ability to get their man. The criticism of Ferguson's tactics post CL final will have been noted by many a Pro. Surely, Ronaldo would never had made such bold statements if the deal wasn't already done?
    The desire to play with the best player in the world has shifted the attention of many of the World's top players away from OT and to the Bernabeu. There are players still at OT living under the shadow of a man who no longer plays there, and failing to match him, despite their assertions that they could.
    Fans in Asia, notoriously fickle, are deserting United in droves as they are drawn by the star quality of players like Messi and Torres, the like of which United no longer have. However good Rooney is he doesn't have a tenth of the appeal of a Torres, Ronaldo or Messi.
    All in all, it's a deal that will continue to have many repercussions at OT over the following seasons. It's not even as though United are cash rich, as the Ronaldo fee will now go towards servicing this years debt repayments. I'm sure some myopic United fans will still be able to dress it up as the deal of the century but how anyone could really believe that beggars belief.

  • Comment number 35.

    Last season we had some quite noticeable 2nd half of the season tumbles like Hull, Villa and one or two others to a lesser extent. Do we attach any significance to the winter pitches for this season perhaps ?.

    Ferguson I think paid much too much for Berbatov and this player is best with creative talent like Ronaldo and Tevez around him. He is currently a little bit of a fish out of water an perhaps Sir AF needed a fallow season.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think last year's Champions League final demonstrated the gulf in class between La Liga and the English Premier League - and Madrid's summer acquisitions further cemented it.

    The reason there have been few significant signings by English clubs is because the best players are all angling for a move to Spain - where the football is.

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with Fergie that at £50m Villa/Silva were overpriced, but in the past week two very good attacking players have gone for small prices in Niko Kranjar and Sanli Tuncay. Neither are marquee players but would have added something to the United squad that does not have a player of this type, for what would have beena fraction of that price.

  • Comment number 38.

    To bump54...no problem not using "Big Five" - I wince when using the "Big Four" and usually add "so-called". Sadly the Premier League table tells us there has been a consistent quartet ahead of the rest.

    As for Everton, I fear fifth is as high as they will ever get in their current position as a club and it will be another outstanding piece of management by David Moyes if they repeat it this time.

    In the absence of any major transfer funds because of a lack of investment, the worry has to be that they will need to sell to buy. Unpalatable but that is effectively what has happened this summer.

    If there is no investment in the next 12 months and Manchester City, or another club with bigger financial clout comes calling for Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka or say the youngster Jack Rodwell, what will they do?

    They fought as hard as possible to keep Joleon Lescott but in the end he still went.

    Investment is desperately needed, even Bill Kenwright admits that, but it seems it is nowhere to be found.

  • Comment number 39.

    what is aquilani but a overpriced journeyman?

    -------------

    Errr, a journeyman has many clubs, Aquilani has not.

  • Comment number 40.

    To oldnickyb...I agree with you totally. I am Turkish, support Fenerbahce, where he came from originally, and a Liverpool supporter here. Desperately waited for Benitez to buy him this summer, but he has gone for yet another Italian disaster. I have seen him over the years play for Fenerbahce and Turkey, and he is awesome. Unfortunatley Southgate insisted on playing him as an out and out striker which did not really work, although he did score several goals. But, for Turkey he plays more central, and runs the show, he is fantastic both in winning the ball, and in his distribution. His is skilled, intelligent, and reads the game very well. How he would have slotted in to the gap created by Alonso's departure! You have done very well acquiring his services at Stoke, and I wish you a good, successful season (but not when you play Liverpool!).

  • Comment number 41.

    So Phil, just how much do you expect us at Wigan to struggle?
    We've lost Palacios, Heskey, Valencia and Cattermole in the last year, yet only signed players from the lower leagues.
    Our chairman, who admittedly saved us from bankruptcy, before taking us to the dizzying heights of the PL (thanks uncle Dave), continues to spout rubbish about a 'war chest' of funds, yet we always make a profit in the transfer windows.
    We now have a bright new manager and practically a new squad, just how many top flight clubs are on a worse footing, on the field, we may have happy accountants, but football isn't played by accountants.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a liverpool fan I asked the 'krancjar for liverpool' question yesterday myself! I disagree with your answer, Phil. Krancjar is only 25yo, only £2-3m and is familiar with the premier league, the life and culture in england AND the english language! None of which can be said for aquilani. We should've bought Krancjar for £2-3m and used the remaining £17-18m to buy a creative midfielder (silva) or another striker (well.....there's not many decent strikers available but maybe carlton cole. On that note- £10m for defoe and £15m for arshavin are unbelievably good buys).

  • Comment number 43.

    I may be proved wrong but I think Stoke City have got a top buy in Tuncay. Middlesbrough fans loved him and he mixes real hard work with natural talent.

    Thought he might have been a good buy for a club like Aston Villa, but Stoke had the ambition to do the deal and I am sure they will be rewarded.

    Tony Pulis deserves great credit for what he has done at The Britannia. To oldnickyb - I am always happy to be positive about Stoke City. Great visits to The Britannia last season. Wonderful atmosphere and a club and fans enjoying every second of the Premier League experience.

    Think they will progress and consolidate this season.

  • Comment number 44.

    to : I'm not super genius...or are I?

    Are u all there? Barcelona played very well, they kept the ball away from you for large amounts of time, and yes United started brightly but faded mid way through the first half as Barca took a hold of the game (which is what better clubs do) just admit u lost to the better team with the better players!

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the subject of Liverpool, there first 11 players are as good, if not better than anyones in the league, and every club has a player they rely heavily on, i.e. Lampard at chelsea, Fabregas at Arsenal and Rooney at United.
    I do belive Liverpool are unfairly labelled a 1/2 man team when, as you, Phil have pointed out United will now have the same problem as Liverpool if there star man gets injured, but this Term Liverpool have 2 (Gerrard and Torres) compared to Uniteds one (Rooney), so i think United would suffer more if they lost him compared to if Liverpool lost Torres or Gerrard.

  • Comment number 45.

    To Phil, post 31.

    "To electricYevrah...the money from Ronaldo is available for Sir Alex Ferguson to spend. He has simply chosen not to enter the market with it at this stage. Do you think he would have sold Cristiano Ronaldo to service a debt?"

    I don't think Ferguson did sell Ronaldo to service the debt, but Ferguson isn't responsible for the finances of the club. It's clear that once an £80m cash up front offer came in there was no way that Man Utd as a business were going to turn it down.

    Couple that with the fact that Ronaldo was desperate to leave and was becoming a disruptive influence on the club (questioning Fergie's tactics, that nauseating interview with himself on Sky...) and the decision was almost out of Ferguson's hands.

    I'm also curious as to how you're so sure that Ferguson has (all of) the money to spend, when everything points to the opposite.

    Why has he not strengthened? You said yourself above that the team/squad looks light in certain areas and it's clear that the central midfield (given Hargreaves prolonged absence) and wide men are not of the calibre the rest of the big 4 possess.

    In fact the only thing that points towards Fergie actually having that money to spend are the comments from Fergie himself, but if he hasn't got it what else could he say?

  • Comment number 46.

    #34 dmrichkt

    Ronaldo has been gone but two months. How on earth do you know how Man U's financial results will compare yet?

    I believe that the EPL still has the most viewers and the most valuable tv contracts attached to it. If that is so, then I don't see how you can come to your conclusion.

    When all is said and done, for all the plaudits given to Barcelona, they were perilously close to not even being in last years Champions League final!

  • Comment number 47.

    36. At 3:40pm on 02 Sep 2009, The Hand Of Hidden Forces - !! WDB !! wrote:

    I think last year's Champions League final demonstrated the gulf in class between La Liga and the English Premier League - and Madrid's summer acquisitions further cemented it.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Off subject I know but I had to comment.... What a joke!! Remind me again how many Spanish teams made the Semis of last seasons CL?? And how many Premier league teams got to the same stage??

    Fail...

  • Comment number 48.

    To freddawlanen...I predicted you would stay up and regarded Roberto Martinez as an excellent appointment. Still do, but things have taken a little bit of a dive since that excellent opening day win at Aston Villa.

    Word the other day was that Martinez was adopting a slightly more attritional style at Everton after losing heavily against Manchester United and Blackpool.

    This is understandable but I hope he doesn't stray too far from his passing principles because they are to be admired. Can't lose Cattermole, Valencia, Palacios and Heskey without feeling the effects, but I rate Martinez and Wigan almost got a point at Everton but for an injury-time penalty.

  • Comment number 49.

    33. At 3:35pm on 02 Sep 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Firstly, why spend for the sake of it. Secondly, who exactly would they buy? Remember they do have a top set of players despite the doom mongering.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's not spending for the sake of it when there are areas of the team that need improving. Players like Park and Nani were adequate when they were in the side to work hard and fill up the numbers, letting Ronaldo create and score, but with him gone the onus is on them to provide a certain amount of his guile and they're just not up to it.

    As for who they could have bought, there have been plenty of bargains over the last couple of weeks snapped up and if Fergie did have an £80m hole burning in his pocket (which as I've said, I doubt) his options increase dramatically.

  • Comment number 50.

    Martin Petrov would've been a great signing for spurs which would've allowed Niko Kranjcar to play as an attacking midfielder with Petrov giving them natural width until Modric regains his fitness.

    --------------------PALACIOS--------------------
    lENNON PETROV
    --------------------KRANJCAR--------------------

  • Comment number 51.

    21. At 2:49pm on 02 Sep 2009, GingerGeniusNW3 wrote:
    Phil: you say "Four years and counting makes this a season when silverware needs to come to the Emirates."

    So if silverware NEEDS to come to Arsenal this season, what happens if it doesn't? Wenger is sacked? We get the usual 'next season will be the big one' jargon? Or will Wenger just continue overseeing the clubs longest trophy drought for 22 years?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wenger also oversaw 3 league titles, 4 FA Cups - TWO MAJOR EUROPEAN FINALS before you start harping on about the Cup Winners Cup - That wasn't a major european competition not to mention the Invincibles and probably the best football that England has ever and will ever see.

    Arsenal are in the strongest financial position (self made not Dubai bought) in the Premier League, which he has overseen, not to mention the array of talent that continues to develop and get better with the promise of more to come off the production line. Not a single Arsenal player that he has let go, has ever gone on to have the same impact in any other team - Vieira, Overmars, Petit, Hleb, Campbell and even Henry to a certain extent isn't the player he was at Arsenal

    Arsene Knows - Have faith, the makings are their that this could be a special season

  • Comment number 52.

    Hmmm. I would have said it was a very unremarkable transfer window, with most "big" signings going on around Europe (with the obvious exception of Man City). With Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter and Ac Milan collecting big name players, there seemed little competition from Premier league sides. As a fan of a lower league club (Lincoln City if you must know) I dont really care about who goes in/out of top flight teams. However, i struggle to understand why, with all the big name players flying around, why none were brought to England. Id have thought, for Man Utd looking for a long term replacement to Scholes, Wes Sneijder would have been as close to perfect as they could have got. The mans a superb central/attacking midfielder, and Inter got a bargain at 16€ or whatever it was. Even Arsenal could have done with a player like him!Huntelaar was another one of the Dutch group leaving Madrid, as well as Robben. I fail to see how either of them would not have interested ANY premier league teams enough to put up a fight.
    Im also surprised Kranjcar stayed at Pompey this long. He'll do well at spurs, although the huge amount of quality they have in the midfield will make it hard for him to play consistently.
    Liverpool have NO strength in depth at all. Torres and/or Gerrard get injured and theyll struggle to reach the top four/five. Ngog and El Zsar are not worthy replacements and never will be, Glen johnson wasnt worth £17, and Aquilani is going to need time to settle in to this league.
    Im also find it hard to believe that Shevchenko wasnt worthy of a slot in any prem side. He would surely have proved to be a more worthy back-up to Torres than Voronin?! Its impossible to go from being one of the greatest marksmen in europe to nothing over night. thanks chelsea........

  • Comment number 53.

    To bump54...no problem not using "Big Five" - I wince when using the "Big Four" and usually add "so-called". Sadly the Premier League table tells us there has been a consistent quartet ahead of the rest.
    -------------------------------

    Is a four season span enough to establish "consistency"? Remember Everton were 4th in 04-05 and Newcastle in 02-03. Realistically through the late 90s and on - up to Abramovich - there was a "big two" (United and Arsenal); Since Abramovich the big two has been United and Chelsea - with Liverpool's over performance last year a (probably temporary) intrusion. Below the top two the cast has been stable for four seasons - a historical anomaly - with the burgeoning payments from the Champion's League making it increasingly difficult for non-UCL teams to compete. The influx of the Man City money seems likely to shake up that status quo with Liverpool's inferior infrastructure and squad depth making them the most likely victim. Add to this a Spurs with 'Arry providing some focus to their transfer activity and, in the longer term, Sunderland, and the "big four" (and maybe the "big two") looks to become a thing of the past - created by UEFA, rent asunder by other sources of funding. RIP

  • Comment number 54.

    A bit of out of the box thinking here, but how about that Man Utd have not spent the £80m they got from Ronaldo, because they are keeping it to buy him back when Ronaldo realises the grass is not always greener on the other side of the hill ???

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil - as usual, realistic comments and I agree with most of them except; I think despite all his troubles with injuries and the on/off sale etc of Lescott, that David Moyes will again prove to be 'pound for pound' the best PL manager, i.e. making the best of what he's got ( before others 'chime in' to tell me differently, I said "best manager" not necessarily the most successful, which of course has to be SAF.)
    As far as SAF is concerned, like most Man U fans I am a bit worried about the overall capability within the current squad at OT and after the team selection on Sat (Rooney on his own down the middle!) I was wondering if SAF had taken too much of a gamble - but they won and clearly SAF has to try something different now with CR and Tevez departures and since he cannot seem to get hold of the players he wants (or at the price he wants!). To those Man U fans who keeping moaning that the Glaziers are somehow stopping SAF spending, please let it drop its nonsense! Under the Glaziers ownership Man Utd has won 3 PL titles on the trot - please tell under whose ownership have they ever done that before?
    Finally about Spurs - I agree not title contenders yet, but again 'pound for pound' I think Harry R has been more effective in his transfer dealings (better than M City really) - pity about Moderic's injury, could spoil the party, unless Kranjcar can fill his boots!

  • Comment number 56.

    Nothing really happened to shake up the top challengers situation, so its really down to the current squads to make it happen. My assessment is..
    Chelsea, look very solid, a lot of squad depth, and seem to be very cogesive unit. They are the team to beat.
    Man United, have the experience of winning campaign after campaign, but a number of questions remain to be answered- midfield creativity, replacing Ronaldos goals. They will be in the top three, but the title will not happen this year.
    Liverpool, started very shaky, and clearly Alonso is missed. Aquilano, is a complete question mark. Will struggle for top three.
    Arsenal, have quietly put together a strong and talented young team, and have started well, only losing to United in bizarre circumstances. Will challenge for the title, but may come-up short due to inexperience.
    Spurs have started well, and played well, but they lack the experience to mount a continuous challenge. Modric is a big miss, and they will fall short of top four.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think the Everton position is an interesting one. They have tactically bought with Distin to fill a short term hole in the defence while we will need to see how the Dutch and Russian imports will adjust to the Premier league.. However, it is encouraging to see the improvements in the kids coming through with Jack Rodwell showing vast improvement from last year and James Wallace and Jose Baxter coming into the team in Europe last week.. If you add to that the return of 3 star players from injury (Arteta, Yak and Jagielka) along with a good squad member (Anichebe) I think if Everton can do what they did last year with their typical slow start and get through to November mid table or above, I have great confidence that the squad that David Moyes has built over a number of years can maintain that 5th place.. That is of course on the basis that SAF's desire to land Rodwell doesn't happen during the winter break.. I only wish Everton would buy more players with names that the sports channel presenters could pronounce (Ballyyetdeedinoveden... Whatever)

  • Comment number 58.

    Phil- do you think the reason why Fergie isn't spending any of the money he got from Ronaldo because he'll probably use it in the January transfer window when the clamour would have died down about how much money Fergie has got at his disposal. Just a thought. Thanks

  • Comment number 59.

    ManU, Liv, Che, Ars, Eve, Villa, ManC, Spurs. Stir the pot and the order changeth. Also some gatecrashers to push out, say two of them. Who and which, in view of monies saved, well spent or wasted. How is it going to pan out?

  • Comment number 60.

    oncearedalways54 wrote:

    "Under the Glaziers ownership Man Utd has won 3 PL titles on the trot - please tell under whose ownership have they ever done that before?"

    Erm, how about 98/99, 99/00 & 00/01? We were by far the dominant Premier League team during the latter of those three title-winning seasons. However, things such as winning in football seem to be cyclical and I agree that this probably won't be Manchester United's year.

    Having said that, Sir Alex does have a very capable and constantly-improving squad at his disposal. It's obvious to most United fans (and neutral observers) that a replacement for Scholes is desperately needed. Anderson has most of the attributes, but has always had an air of 'chillax' about him - something not really suited to central midfield in the Premier League (Spain/Italy, perhaps, but not here).

    We are more than capable of challenging for the British cup comps and, perhaps, the League title. However, the Champs League is out of our reach until world-class creativity is added to the squad. Watch out for Macheda again this season, though (providing he isn't loaned to Accrington Stanley, of course)...

    Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City will be the other clubs challenging for the top echelons of the League. Villa... I just can't see it and the same goes for the Toffees. But hey, it's purely down to personal opinion and us Brits all think we're managers anyway.

    Boring transfer window in comparison to others, but most PL managers will be happy with their lot.

  • Comment number 61.

    I agree that MUFC are lacking a spark in midfield. After the CL final it was quite clear that to compete at the very highest level in Europe, Ferguson needed to strengthen his squad, especially in midfield. Selling Ronaldo and buying Owen and Valencia does not, to me, equate to strengthening.

    Whilst (with the very obvious exception of Stam) Ferguson has generally been proved to be right when star players have moved elsewhere, we are now in the position where we have the ageing Scholes and Giggs, both of whom will have less impact as time goes on, alongside the likes of Carrick, Anderson, Park, and Fletcher. That to me looks like a rather pedestrian midfield. Where is the genius needed to unlock a top class defence?

    I do not object to the sale of Ronaldo, because the time was right for him to go, but I was convinced all summer that Ferguson had a replacement lined up. To see no big arrival is a huge disappointment, and I am deeply worried that, if we lose Rooney and/or (the yet to convince me) Berbatov for any length of time, we may struggle to finish in the top four.

  • Comment number 62.

    Will Benitez's patience be able to last under the current transfer fund restrictions. Especially since the fact he made a profit and was not able to spend this money on a new signing ie a backup to Torres. Also there have been stories that the owners blocked a move for Davis Silva and only gave him a budget of 1.5 million in the transfer market after he signed Aquilani.

  • Comment number 63.

    When the financial climate improves is there a good chance the Liverpool's american owners will finally sell the club. Since now it is come to a stage where we are no good for them and they a without doubt no help to us.

  • Comment number 64.

    #60 Jimmyhoov wrote
    Erm, how about 98/99, 99/00 & 00/01?
    Thanks Jimmy, its with that treble winning year occuring, I always forget about the 3 Pl tiles at the millennium!
    glad you spotted the deliberate mistake!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil, regarding Everton, you quote:

    "Investment is desperately needed, even Bill Kenwright admits that, but it seems it is nowhere to be found".

    Can you explain, or maybe ask Mr Kenwright, why every other club can apparently attract investment but not Everton? Or is Mr Kenwright, despite his assurances to the opposite, determined to keep hold of his train set?

    Maybe you could also ask him why HE is so determined to move the club to Kirkby against the wishes of an increasing number of supporters? His assumptions and projections that this move will generate additional resources are mis-guided at best.

    He should be moving heaven and earth to ensure the best manager in the league has the resources for the club to challenge the top four. Once again the manager has been let down badly in terms of funds available and the timing of that availability.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Magara and Phil,

    Thanks for that guys, lets just keep our fingers (and toes) crossed.

    Have a great season Magara, except of course..............when ye come to the Brit

    all the very best

  • Comment number 67.

    Super blog, truly impressed.
    My thoughts on questions related to Arsenal.
    I do believe Wenger owes one big name signing. Arshavin is really good, but we need a strong character in the team who can command them in pressure situations. It is good that Wenger addresses this problem, but I am disappointed he did very little to sign a player in CDM role. Gattuso and Vieira were rumoured... i was looking forward to latter's reunion :(

    Clubs like Real Madrid and Man City did make it difficult for other clubs to buy/sell players. TV rights issue coupled with recession also could have made decisions difficult for managers.

  • Comment number 68.

    #36 Re. I fear how EPL teams are going to fare this season's champions league. None of the EPL teams have made that quality addition to squad to continue as a dominant force.
    1) On paper, Real Madrid look the strongest.
    2) Bayern snapping up Robben makes them dangerous with deadly duo on the wings.
    3) Inter thrashing of AC Milan on weekend proves just how strong they are - Sneijder and Eto'o are the significant transfers they made.
    4) Barcelona - No additions, yet will continue to bank on geniusses of Lord Messi, Sir Thierry Henry, King Xavi Hernandez and Prince Andres Iniesta.

    This leaves no room for EPL teams this year. Bye Bye C'League semis already for EPL. What's your take on this Phil?

  • Comment number 69.

    Question: What impact will the lack of punishment, or even acknowledgement by the FA of Rooney's dive have on UEFA's anti-simulation campaign?

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    re #68. Gunnerfan243
    I think your assessment is very generous.
    Real Madrid will of course be better than last year. Whether they gel quickly as a unit remains to be seen. This weekends 3-2 win at home tells me it hasnt happened yet.
    Bayern adding the mercurial Robben, is not going to be anything like enough to get them to the level required. Indeed Robben was not much help to Real last year....
    Inter have swapped Ibrahimovic for Eto, so its hard to say if they got better. However they were unfortunate to lose to United in last years quarter finals, and could very easily have been in the final. Perhaps Eto will score where Ibra didnt?
    Barcelona got the guy who missed all those chances to beat United last year, lets hope they dont live to regret that! Of course that only matters if United get the ball at any point during the game.....

    I think the EPL teams, have proven again and again that they can handle top European teams. Its really been a long time since they looked bad in comparison, discounting this years final. Chelsea should have knocked out Barca, Liverpool destroyed Real, Arsenal handled Juventus and United took care of Inter.
    I think it might be closer this year, but its upto the La Liga teams to step up, the big four will all be in the hat for the quarters.

  • Comment number 72.

    4) Barcelona - No additions, yet will continue to bank on geniusses of Lord Messi, Sir Thierry Henry, King Xavi Hernandez and Prince Andres Iniesta.
    ---

    No additions? What about Mr. Ibrahimovic?

  • Comment number 73.

    this one thing really annoys me... when Ronaldo was playing for us.. all of you including media stalwarts like Phil/Robbo here used to blast Ronaldo for diving, moaning and doesnt-do-enough, he is not solely responsible for United's success bla bla but now that he is gone, he is being attributed to United's only success factor...

    i mean why is there a sudden shift in attitude towards Ronaldo.. from Rival fans or media or pundits..

    I understand he was a great player for us and my user name says it all but that doesnt mean United made it big time just because of him...

    there were games when he was just a stranger but there were players around him who saved us.. and Ronaldo owes a lot of his goal stats to Rooney although not many ppl realise this.. Rooney being the team man he is.. sacrificed his preferred position for the team.. and in doing so.. helped Ronaldo with his goals.. dont take me wrong in the sense i am not comparing Rooney and Ronaldo.. but he was just a team man, although the best man... but at the end of it, he was just one of 11...

    on another note.. I can say with confidence, no PL team has as much strength in depth as us... just have a look at our 2nd 11 and that will be as good as a team as any other top-4.. United have just listed their squad for CL this season on the site (OH makes it :)).. just glance through to see our squad credentials if you know what i mean...

    and far as ppl saying that fans are switching loyalty coz Ronaldo is gone especially in Asia is nothing but utter rubbish.. have a look at our pre-season.. it was a huge hit... Ronaldo is as sought after as a Giggs or a scholes or a Rooney...

    Phil, you predicted Liverpool for the title, but even at that time, you didnt give a convincing reason as to why.. do you still back that? or your opinions have changed.. and as far as Chelsea are concerned, where is there squad strength.. do they have good replacements for every position.. i doubt.. sturridge is just a kid.. Deco is no Lampard.. and Ivanovic is no Terry..

  • Comment number 74.

    Rooney's a great player, no doubt... but don't you find it embarrassing that, particularly after Ronaldo cheekily got him sent off in that Portugal/England match, he has adopted the same cheating spirit?

    i was livid over that, and i'm not a ManU or England supporter. how could any self-respecting ManU fan welcome Ronaldo to the team after that... but now Rooney is conning refs as cleverly as the master diver himself. what a shame.

  • Comment number 75.

    ManU did lose a great player in Ronaldo (whose only flaw was faking for penalties), but his departure has liberated Rooney to flourish as a major force for his team. He is now the unquestioned leader of the attack, and he is fully aware of the onus it lays on him. So far he seems to be living up to his new definiion. His major flaw is his temper. Will he master it. Its an imperative if ManU is not to slip down the ranks. There is a distictly huge possibility that in the process he may able to tap some fount of as yet undiscovered talent. In my view, perhaps he is the only player in the whle EPL who could rise to much greater heights and even eclipse his forerunner.

  • Comment number 76.

    are you saying he could be a better diver than Ronaldo? ooh, Roonaldo is obviously pretty clever, but i don't know if i'd go that far!

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    I have a question or two Phil.

    Is that Bubbles, from BBC2 hit drama The Wire, in a Stoke City shirt in the picture above? You are McNulty after all.

    Also why was Benjani's agent uncontactable on transfer deadline day? Seems a bit strange.

    I would also like to state that I feel that Man City have not inflated the transfer market as much as previous big spenders nor have they paid over the odds for all of their buys.

    Liverpool where happy to pay £15m for Barry last year but Villa wanted more like £18m. Man City got him for £12m.

    AC Milan were reported to have considered a bid £25m for Adebayor last summer. So Man City's value of £24m was in line with what was being touted. Also if Berbatov is worth £32m then £24m for Adebayor is a bargain.

    But I do feel that both Toure and Santa Cruz are probably over priced. As for Lescott - Everton and Joleon's agent must be laughing all the way to the bank. That deal was well over the odds.

    However, I have to laugh when I hear ridiculous comments from Fergie regarding Man City overinflating the transfer market. This from the first manager of an English Club to spend over £20m on a player. He also paid nearly £30m on a defender - who at the time wasn't even worth half that.

    If any team have inflated the transfer market it is Man United. They are also happy to pay well over the odds in wages too. How could other teams compete with Man United when they regularly splashed the cash in transfers and wages?

    Arsenal held their own on the pitch without overspending like Man United until Roman's millions came along and made Chelsea a force. But all the while United kept buying big and paying out alot in wages. But all of United's purchased success seems to have slipped by Fergie's ever present black spot when the other team from Manchester dare to spend their millions.

  • Comment number 79.

    Regarding Manchester United and the lack of transfer activity, I think you have to realise that the reason that Fergi didnt spend, wasnt a football reason, but an economic one.

    The Pound is currently weak against the Euro, this results in UK teams paying around 24% more for players than they would have before the credit crunch. If Fergi was to spend the remaining say £60m this would be worth 68.4m Euros, but if as expected the economy strenghens by next summer this £60m could be worth around 87m-90m Euros. And then the spanish teams wont be out bidding English teams so easily.

  • Comment number 80.

    Hellas15

    So are you seriously suggesting that Fergie has turned into an economist all of a sudden?

    Fergie has not exactly been frugal with Man United's millions in the past. Why would he start now?

    The likely reason why Fergie hasn't bought any 'big names' or spent well over £20m on at least one player this summer is because there were better deals and options open for players this summer than Man United.

    Fergie's financial potential to buy who he wants and when he wants now has much more competition. Hence why he moaned about Man City's finances.

  • Comment number 81.

    Re. 72 #
    Look I dont consider Ibra as addition since he's part of swap deal. Plus he would prove an asset only if his goal scoring rate is equal to that Eto'o had during his stay at Barca!!

    Stats - Ibra scored at the rate of 0.64 goals per game for Inter (57 in 88) and Eto'o has scored at 0.74 goals per game for Barca (108 in 145 app)

    I am trying to hint that Ibra must better Eto'o to qualify as an asset. I still consider the Barca's midfield duo and Messi as key players ahead of Ibra.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re. #71
    I agree that Liverpool thrashed Real, Arsenal held Juve, Chelsea unfortunate victims to an Iniesta beauty, Man U were already believing its their quintuple season.

    If the same 4 teams are to come to this year's Qtr Finals - I will say Real will thrash Liverpool (If Liverpool do come upto that stage of tournament)
    Arsenal will comofortably beat Juve
    Chelsea will again fall down to Barca's master play.
    Inter/MU will see battle of tactics again this season... Jose wont let Fergie get better of him. As you said, Inter got rid of Ibra the man who missed chances against MU,and got Eto'o who sniffs the goal scoring chances and takes each one of those. So you have the answer MU will struggle.

    Bayern and Lyon are the teams, i think would come into pic if AC Milan, Liverpool and Juve dont live upto their C'League reputation. and if it does happen then Bayern with recently strengthened wing power are good enough to knock out any teams. In fact I remember, Bayern had a good second leg against Barca last season. There was very li'l hope they were going to beat Barca bcoz the eventual champs were up by 4-0 at half time.

    Though my Champs League predictions are too early and generous, but they have some intutive logic behind it. Hope it makes sense to all! Think... :)

  • Comment number 83.

    pathetic attempt to skirt around the issue of his own dive!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rooney said: "Everyone who watches me play knows I am an honest player.

    "I play the game as honestly as I can. If the referee gives a penalty there is nothing you can do." (unless you're Fowler, i guess!)

    Amid the furore that accompanied the two-match ban Eduardo has received for "deceiving the referee" during Arsenal's victory over Celtic, Rooney's conduct at Old Trafford was questioned at the weekend.

    On initial inspection, it seemed clear Manuel Almunia had put his arms in front of the Manchester United striker before he went tumbling inside the area.

    However, TV replays from a certain angle showed Rooney appeared to be heading for the turf before the Arsenal keeper made contact and that the spot-kick perhaps should not have been given.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    if he didn't dive, Rooney would be flipping tables over and shoving cameras in angry refutation.
    what a disgrace.

  • Comment number 84.


    I'm getting more and more frustrated and annoyed at Rafa and the owners. Rafa is solely to blame for Alonso's departure due to his pursuit of Barry last summer. Why Rafa didn't consider a decent but cheap back for Torres baffles me. Tuncay and Zaki are just two examples of many potential candidates. Rafa should have offloaded a few unwanted squad players if there is no cash for him to spend. I bet he wishes that he hadn't sold Crouch either now.I'd even take the ultra-clumsy Heskey back. There is no doubt in my credible opinion that Torres' lack of competition is begining to affect his sharpness and hunger.

 

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