Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bypassed by the action

On this day a year ago, we pulled off a massive coup in securing the signature of one Michael Owen for £17m. (Of course, so far it's not quite turned out as we planned it, but that couldn't have been foreseen and we may well yet see a significant return on our investment.)

Today, though, all the transfer action passed us by with several rumoured targets signing for other clubs. In most instances it's not clear quite how firm our interest was, so it's impossible to know whether we were beaten to their signatures or whether it was our decision not to push for a deal.

In any case, Senegalese defender Souleymane Diawara has moved from Sochaux to Charlton for £3.7m, and Dane Thomas Gravesen - who would have been an asset and a bargain at just £2m, though our midfield is already strong - has left Real Madrid for Celtic.

Another player leaving the Bernabeu today was Jonathan Woodgate, someone we can be certain we were keen to recruit and will be disappointed to have missed out on. Our former star defender (two words you rarely find in close proximity when we're concerned) has plumped for a year's loan at his hometown team Middlesbrough. It would have been great to have had him back on Tyneside, but the real concern is over his fitness. If he can stay injury free, we'll be rueing his decision even more.

Meanwhile, the Smogs can also lord it over us after landing Chelsea's German centre back Robert Huth at the second attempt. Huth failed a medical earlier in the summer, but has now signed for £6m.

All of which - regardless of our level of interest in the players concerned - must leave us looking around enviously. At the time of writing Glenn Roeder and Fat Fred have just over a day to make the promised additions to the squad. We still need two defenders and a striker (the Mark Viduka rumours having resurfaced, along with a new link to Juventus's David Trezeguet). No doubt the pair of them are "working away extremely hard behind the scenes", but that won't be good enough if there aren't new faces to show for it come midnight tomorrow. Now's the time to produce the goods.


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