Friday, January 04, 2013

Bargain hunt

With the transfer window now open, it’s customary for us to review the squad and suggest areas in which we might wish to improve.

To be blunt, this year that’s a fairly straightforward task.

With Mathieu Debuchy’s arrival now confirmed, it is clear that we were rightly looking to strengthen at right-back – not least because Danny Simpson is now free to talk with clubs ahead of his contract expiring in the summer. Even if Simpson were on a longer-term deal, the opportunity to replace him with an international right-back for a relatively modest fee is not one we could pass up as it hopefully represents an upgrade on Simpson.

Going the other way is, of course, Demba Ba, who is off to Chelsea claiming the decision to join the European champions was "not a hard one". Having shipped out Peter Lovenkrands and Leon O’Best in the summer, our striking options are now Papiss Cisse, Big Lad, the Xisco Kid, the Lone Ranger and Adam Campbell, which, with the exception of Cisse (and Big Lad on his day) looks distinctly shy of goals, so a further striker (with number one target reportedly Loic Remy) a priority if we’re to score the goals to keep us safe from relegation. Cisse finding the scoring boots he was wearing during the second half of last season wouldn’t hurt – something which Ba’s departure might actually assist as it should provide our remaining Senegalese striker with the opportunity to play through the middle rather than be stranded out on the wing.

With the Silver Fox talking about two or three new recruits, the other priority should be a centre-back, with back-up for Sideshow Bob and Saylor currently limited to Mike Williamson or Perchinho. Currently name in the frame remains Douglas from FC Twente, a player we were previously linked with in the summer, but (like Debuchy) a deal was never done at the time and with Saylor injured and Sideshow Bob not hitting the heights of last year (and according to .com looking for a move back home) a top-class centre-half needs to be a priority.

Hopefully Ba's will be the only locker being cleared out this month; with the squad already hit by injuries we can ill afford to lose anyone else (even the Lone Ranger) with players like Obertan Kenobi and Sylvain Marveaux starting to shine at the moment. Marveaux in particular looks to be hitting his straps and with Dreamboat and HBA still out (albeit the former is now back in training) he’s probably our most creative player currently fit and available so shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere.

A successful January should hopefully allow us to kick on over the second half of the season and find some security in mid-table and maybe prolong our Europa League adventure. A bad month, in which more players depart without being adequately replaced, and we’ll be in real trouble. As ever, our season hangs on the decisions of Jabba and Llambiarse loosening the purse strings and on Graham Carr pulling yet more rabbits from his hat.

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Anonymous PJ said...

Hello, been a while since I came here. The match yesterday really saddenned me - neither the players on the pitch nor the board seems to care. Even if the purse strings aren't loosened there's good no.of bargains to be had if we work our socks off to getting them. Can't beleive Tim Cahill (who'd be available for exactly 8 weeks loan - the time when Cabaye/Ben Arfa/Tiote are out) is likely to go to QPR coz we aren't going for him. Diame's 3.5m clause apart, Danny Graham is available & Bechhio is scoring for fun (~4m if Leeds do a deal). Gary Hooper can be got for <7m & I could list at least 10 good prospects from the continent who are in the last 6-12months of their contract.

9:14 am  
Anonymous PJ said...

Even if Cashley is only motivated by financial considerations can he not see that he stands to lose the 40-50% increase in TV money from next season if we get relegated? The additional 40m/season can easily be maintained with a spend of ~20m right now. Not to mention the ~3m prize money (not to mention the additional gate revenue) we'll make due to reaching the R32 in EL (though offset by the drop in league position prize money - which also is linked to lack of investment). Even from a financial standpoint he's neither recouping his money nor making the club more lucrative for an investor (slide down the league ranking/relegation)! He got 35m profit last yr & maybe thought he could squeeze the same amount every year but this isn't the way.

9:20 am  
Blogger Ben said...

While I don't want to suggest that last season was a complete fluke, it's fair to say the fact that we were largely injury-free and all our first teamers were in superb form was extremely lucky. Jabba's mistake was to assume that the same would be the case this season - wrong on both fronts. He surely has to commit significant funds for improving the squad - all the more important now that we now need two new strikers rather than just the one.

Your suggestion of £20m would be just about reasonable, I'd say, though we could get away with spending less if we once again prove as adept as we have recently at picking up the sort of free agents and nearly-out-of-contract players. We definitely ought to investigate possible loans too - it's something other clubs have done to good effect in January transfer windows past (see e.g. Everton's loan signing of Steven Pienaar last year).

7:44 pm  

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