My head is still spinning on account of all the moves that went down yesterday – and especially those that didn’t – and I know that probably goes for a lot of people so I’m here to offer you a quick rundown on which clubs fared well and which clubs shat the bed (eg, see above).
So let’s get to it…
EPL TRANSFER GRADES
So who did good business and who sucked a wet fart? Here’s a quick and dirty report card with the more important transfers that went down over the course of the summer transfer window. I broke the clubs down into five pots – overachievers, achievers, middling piddlers, class clowns and Arsenals – and included a specific letter grade for each club’s individual performance.
West Ham – A
There were a couple of clubs also in contention for the top spot but the winner by a nose is West Ham. Ever prior to deadline day the club had done some nice business, including Alex Song and Dimitri Payet, but the last minute signings of solid additions like Victor Moses, Nikica Jelavic and Michail Antonio should provide some much needed stability – something the Hammers need desperately after their ridiculously schizophrenia start to the season. [Note: not to rain on the parade but those thinking this puts the Bubbles Blowers in contention for a Europa spot next season need to pump the brakes, as the moves should instead secure a mid-table spot and more importantly avoid any chance of relegation, which would essentially kill the club ahead of their big-money move to the new stadium next season.]
Swansea – A-
The Swans spent deadline day sipping Mai-Tai’s by the pool after getting their business done early, which was likely a HUGE part of the strong start that has them in 4th place at the moment. Andre (aka Real) Ayew, who the club acquired as part of a free transfer, and has thus far been easily the shrewdest acquisition of the entire EPL window.
Crystal Palace – A-
$20-million-man Yohan Cabaye was the headliner, and rightly so, but Pardew’s peoples did about as well as possible for not being one of the established big spenders. Connor Wickham could be a revelation up top thanks to the strength of Palace’s creative midfield.
Stoke – B+
Nobody has ever questioned Stoke’s effort, but trying hard only gets you so far (into the mid-table) without talent, so the club has recently focused its efforts on upgrading its skill level. Adding Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay (to go along with the recuperated Bojan Krkic) add a new dimension to the Potters’ game.
Lester – B
Like Swansea, the wee Foxes went out and did their business early, bringing in several major upgrades like Shinji Okazaki and Gokhan Inler. Considering their shoe-string budget, the club deserves credit for spending wisely. [Note: Will it be enough to hang on to a Champions League spot? No. How about hang around mid-table? Unlikely. Okay, fine, avoid relegation? Maybe.]
Liverpool – B
I’ve seen a lot of people knocking the Reds’ summer transfer campaign, which strikes me as off-base. The club is again dependent upon the return of Daniel Sturridge, but that was always going to be the case, and they appears to have learned some sort of lessons from last year’s atrocious spending because they have done plenty of good business this time around. First and foremost, Liverpool sold Sterling for a ridiculous pile of cash (particularly given the fact City will have known the wee sprite had zero interest in ever playing for them again), and brought in some useful pieces in Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne. Also, defender Joe Gomez from Charlton could turn out to be a real steal. Rodgers also gets bonus points for getting his squad set early, thus avoiding the deadline day crunch and giving his squad time to coalesce.
United – B-
How the two of the richest clubs in the world fucked up the David De Gea situation is beyond me. In fact, I honestly can’t help smelling something fishy going on because if BOTH clubs absolutely wanted the deal to get done, it would have gotten done – even a few minutes after the transfer deadline, if need be. Here’s why I have trouble downgrading United too terribly much despite their apparent incompetence: it means they will benefit from the world’s best shot-stopper* for at least half the season (who has to play and play well to keep his spot as Spain’s #1 heading into Euro 2016). Add to that the other additions the club made – Depay, Darmian and Schneiderlein in particular – and the Red Devils are right back in contention. The club also went out and did what others (Tottenham and Arsenal especially) could and/or would not by bringing in a much-needed striker in Anthony Martial, though it is hard to clap too hard for their decision to pay an ungodly sum – minimum of $55 million – for an unproven 19-year-old. That plus the DDG debacle lowered the grade from B to B-. [Note: I’m not sold on Schweinsteiger. He’ll be solid all season but I can’t help thinking like the 31-year-old looks like he’s lost a step, and 97.8% of his passes have been going backwards so far this season. Just something to keep an eye on.]
Newcastle – B-
There is no doubt that Steve McClaren has strengthened his roster this summer thanks to the acquisitions of Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin and especially Wijnaldum. The fourth big signing, Aleksandar Mitrovic, is a complete wild card. Loads of talent but a total loose cannon, dude is like a slightly more unhinged Jonjo Shelvey – which is an insane statement. All in all, Newcastle look to have done enough to pull itself up by its bootstraps in the direction of mid-table, though that’s likely to be a best case scenario.
City – C+
Sky Blues are the clear favorites to lift the title this year thanks to their strong start combined with the $220 million petrodollars they spent to upgrade the squad. This might not be a popular grade, particularly among City fans (who have been coming out of the woodwork these past few weeks), but despite the talent of signings like Raheem Sterling for $76 million and Kevin de Bruyne for ~$80 million, I can’t in good faith give the club a better grade because they overpaid for basically every player they brought in. Congratulations and well done on being filthy rich and not being too cheap to spend it – I guess?
Bournemouth – C+
This is perhaps a bit harsh on the Cherries, who look to have spent about as well as Lester, but the injury to one of their biggest signings – Max Gradel, who will reportedly be sidelined for six months – is a massive blow. On the other hand, adding striker Glen Murray right at the death looks to have been a shrewd move.
Chelsea – C
In retrospect, Mourinho and Co. would have gotten an F+ if not for the last minute cuckolding of United they pulled off to snag Pedro. I’m not sold on the defenders they brought in (Hector and Djiboody [sic]) to try and fill the gap left by not prying John Stones away from Everton, and the fact is the club’s defense has inexplicably gone from first-to-worst over the summer break. [Note: somebody needs to put out an APB on Branislav Ivanovic, whose skills are apparently receding faster than his hairline.]
Southampton – C
The revolving door has not stopped spinning, with Ronald Koeman & Co. losing important players in Schneiderlein, Alderweireld and Clyne, then turning around and stocking back up on lesser known guys. Retaining Sadio Mane (if he can stay healthy) and Victor Wanyama were as important as any of the additions, though ex-Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk will likely be a very good last minute signing.
Everton – C
The club will get a lot of credit for keeping John Stones, and perhaps they should given the ridiculous amount of money Chelsea was willing to shell out for him, but there would have been something to be said for selling him early in the window and putting that money into bringing in a few more solid players. That said, I think the Toffees are in better shape than a lot of people seem to think – assuming they can keep what few defenders they still have on hand healthy. Adding Mori will help shore that up, and Gerard Deulofeu has a lot of potential, but Tom Cleverley and Aaron Lennon in the midfield were pretty “meh” additions.
Watford – C-
Credit to the hornets for “going for it” as they brought in 15 (!!) players over the summer, and had the fifth highest net spend in all the EPL. That is what we like to call a bigggggg gamble as the club will need to stay up next season to keep its finances anywhere near in order. None of the guys they brought in have names that are easily pronounceable – seriously: Prodl, Capoue, Behrami, Nyom, Jurado, Ake, Berghuis, Holebas, Oulare, Guedioura and Ibarbo are some of them – which is often a good sign, but most of them are either unproven youngsters or dudes that haven’t exactly been a lighting it up in other European leagues. My best guess, particularly since I’ve seen several outlets calling Valon Behrami their top signing, is that the struggle will be real to mesh this season.
Aston Villa – C-
Tim Sherwood has taken a page out of Arsene Venger’s (old) book and has been mining Ligue 1 for young talent, bringing over Gueye, [Other] Ayew, Amavi and Veretout. Unfortunately only the first of those listed has gotten off on the right foot so far, but still plenty of games left to play. To be honest, I do like the strategy. Whether it pays off though remains to be seen.
West Brom – D+
Bringing in striker Salomon Rondon was the club’s best bit of business this summer. Bringing in Rickey “I’m Just Big-Boned” Lambert was not, and the fact they paid real actual money for Jonny Evans immediately took the grade from a C to a D-. Then there is the debacle with Saido Berahino, which is not going to work out for anybody involved – the player, the club, or his preferred destination (Tottenham). Taking a look at the big picture, this window did not work out well for the Baggies.
Tottenham – D
Spurs’ #1 need was another striker to pair with Harry Kane, so the club brought in some defenders and midfielders. Makes sense to me! Yes, two “attacking” players were brought in – Leverkusen’s Heung-Min Son and Lyon’s Clinton N’Jie – but neither are out and out forwards, which is really what the club needed. That HUGE failure aside, which falls squarely on the shoulders of Daniel Levy who believed (wrongly) he could snatch Berahino away from West Brom at the death, the club actually did some good business, with Atletico’s (via Southampton) Toby Alderwiereld being a much-needed massive upgrade at central defender, plus several others – Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier – who will contribute. Keeping Hugo Lloris was also a nice surprise. But not filling the one gaping hole in the team is basically unforgiveable.
[Note: I like the Men in Blazers but their adoption of the “ThatsSoSpursy hashtag is starting to make me want to shine their heads with a belt sander. Fans of other clubs using “Spursy” every now and again is one thing – it is, after all, steeped in a tradition of anti-excellence – but attempting to make it your own rubs me the wrong way.]
Norwich – F+
Stop me if you have heard this before: the club needed a striker. The club didn’t sign a striker. Unless the city pools their money together in January and buys the entire roster of, say, West Brom or Lester, this club has Championship-bound written allllllllll over it. [Note: The + is essentially a participation ribbon.]
Sunderland – F
The club got off on the wrong foot this season, and it was a case of too little too late in terms of the business Advocaat & Co. did pull off. Rule of thumb: when Fabio Borini is one of your “best” signings, you are in trouble. Also, it’s not the Black Cats’ fault, but the fact they are going to drag my boy DeAndre Yedlin through the mud with them season makes me sad. Hopefully the experience will make him hungry for success rather than breaking his spirit to play/fight/live.
Arsenal – F-
“Ohhhhhhhhh, man, we are gonna be so good this season! All we need is another holding midfielder and, more importantly, at least one more striker!” –every Arsenal fan coming into this season… and they weren’t wrong. Unfortunately Arsene Wenger decided battling with Spurs for a Europa League spot was more important than spending money.
Ah well, you win some and you lose some. Couldn’t have happened to a ‘nicer’ fan base.
So there you have it, a nice handy little guide to how the transfer window turned out. I might be back with a weekend guide to the international break and/or the USMNT’s tune-up against Peru on Friday, or maybe not if I end up having too many adult beverages on the way down to Dallas… we’ll see, but either way we got a bigggggggggg weekend coming up in EPL the following weekend highlighted by:
In the meantime, Fuck’em Bucky.
Sam U.L. Army