January is a big month for the Premiership teams as they try to use these thirty-one days to buy and sell players which could make or break their season. It is a month filled with rumor, speculation, shock and amazement and one that holds the attention of football fans all over Europe.
With the managers keeping things close to their chest and the tabloids printing any stories that will sell papers, it is hard for any typical fan to know who their team is chasing. Are they looking for a world class striker or a reserve goalkeeper? Or are they looking to sell and pocket some money – a tactic seemingly used by Mike Ashley and Newcastle during the last January transfer window. Keeping one eye on the transfer window I decided to speak to some fans of the big clubs and find out what they are hoping from their teams during the next three weeks.
Arsenal – The news from the Emirates today was that Sol Campbell has made a shock return to his old club. The aging defender has made a good name for himself in English football but he has also made plenty of enemies. The last time he was at Arsenal he went AWOL after being subbed at half-time during a game with West Ham, and he didn’t make any contact with his club for several days. Then, after leaving Portsmouth, he signed for Notts County on a five year contract, only to quit after his first game.
Arsenal fan Dave from Dagenham spoke of the trouble that the Gunners have in defense “Defensively we have been quite poor at times and I think Gallas is a large part of that, he’s a disruptive element when he sulks on the pitch and I imagine off of it as well. He’s also past his peak in my opinion. Vermaelen has fitted in quite well I think and was never going to be able to keep pace with his great start for the club” so will another “sulking” defender really be what Arsenal need? Will Campbell push on past the personal issues that seem to have plagued his footballing career and get on with the game? Will he even be fit enough after being out of Premiership action for so long?
These questions all remain but I think it is clear that if Arsenal really want to bolster their defense then they need to keep on looking, perhaps keeping an eye out for more squad players as well – to help with the string of injuries.
Chelsea – The leaders of the league are sitting in a very good position and have clearly shown that their current team is strong enough to secure this title, but changes are still sure to be made. Questions remain about the future of Joe Cole who spent a lot of this season sidelined with injury, and they have also been linked with a move for Franck Ribery. Blues fan Jason certainly agrees that that this would be a good swap but doubts it will go through “I like Cole, he is a skillful player who has been good for the club. If we are going to lose him then I will be disappointed but if Ribery comes in as a replacement then I think we will manage”.
The league leaders have also been linked with a number of strikers including Kuranyi and Iaquinta but with both Anelka and Drogba on form do they really need another striker? “I don’t think it could hurt to being in another top forward, Drogba and Kalou will be away with the Ivory Coast for a few weeks and we don’t have anyone to fill that gap. Bringing in a big, expensive star would probably be a waste but it would be wise to consider a proven goal-scorer, just to make sure we stay on top until Drogba gets back”.
Liverpool – The Reds are slipping down the table and struggling to fit into a fourth place that used to be their second home, boss Rafa Benetiz is treading a fine line and questions about their finances have been raised – with proclamations that Gerrard and Torres could both be up for sale. They have sold a couple of players this season with Dossena and Voronin both making way but what about new signings? What do the Liverpool fans want?
Rob, a Liverpool fan living in Manchester told me “[Liverpool] have no creativity in the Midfield when playing Steven Gerrard more forward. Playing Mascherano and Lucas gives us two defensive midfielders, which isn’t good enough when you look at how many goals we have scored!” attacking midfielder Maxi Rodriquez has been linked with a move to Liverpool and this fan seems to like the idea, but it is clear to all, even the neutrals, that Liverpool need a striker “Maxi Rodriguez should be a quality signing if it comes off, I think we need a creative midfielder and a Striker. Ruud Van Nistelrooy would be a cheap option, if not, Stevan Jovetic from Florentina or Dzenko from Wolfsburg” but the unified message with the Liverpool faithful seems to be “keep Torres” the prolific striker has become a legend in his short time at the club and is one of the best goal-scorers in the league, if not the world.
Tottenham – James, a young Spurs fan living in Berkshire, had some wise words for me regarding Tottenham’s needs as they look to do business. “First we need to get rid of a few. Roman Pavlyuchenko can go first. He has publicly criticized Harry Redknapp and clearly wants out. Rumors of a return to Russia have been touted by his agent. David Bentley can also go, he has been given the full backing by the gaffer yet has failed to deliver on several occasions. His off the field antics have infuriated Harry so his days are numbered. Alan Hutton is another, but only for the right price. We have the solid Corluka in that position and one of England’s hottest prospects in Kyle Naughton.”
Tottenham have been pretty quiet on the transfer front so far and they seem to have a well balanced team so it would be interesting to see who, if anyone, they brought it. They have two top English strikers in Defoe and Crouch and they also have Robbie Keane, add Pavlyuchenko to the mix and they are clearly spoilt for choice in that area, which tells me that James is right and the Russian will certainly be on his way.
Spurs are also well supplied with Midfielders and Defenders so it is possible that Harry Redknapp might turn to youth players or even a goalkeeper. “I can see this being a quiet transfer window for Harry but it is widely known he always get down to a bit of wheeling dealing. The young Brazilian, Sandro, from Internacional has been on the Spurs radar for some time. He can play CB or CM so he can fill the two main areas that need improving.”
Manchester City – The big spenders of the league are looking to buy their way into fourth place and despite having a massive team of stars to play with, new boss Mancini will still want to bring in players of his own to stamp his mark on the team. City fan Martyn from Wales is hoping for a few players “I would love to see two new central defenders, but I think Micah Richards will move there with Maicon coming in. We need to get rid of Robinho if he doesn’t want to be there and unfortunately I think Roque Santa Cruz (a fan favorite) will also go, I would also love to see a creative attacking midfielder, maybe Joe Cole”.
Whatever happens at City it does seem that anything and anyone is possible. With an abundance of World Class and top quality strikers at their disposal (Cruz, Robinho, Adebayor, Tevez, Benjani, Bellamy, Jo) it looks likely that Mancini will be forced to sell some of these if he wants to bring in strikers of his own, and with Cruz, Jo (currently on loan), and Robinho out of favor these could be the first to go. Midfielders are also a likely option and after the news grabbing, multimillion pound bid for Kaka during the last window, it will be interesting to see how high City set their sights this time around.
Last of all we will take a look at Manchester United. Disputably the biggest club in the World they have faced a lot of injury problems lately and could be looking to bolster their squad numbers, with bids for fringe players potentially on the table. Like their rivals in blue, Man Utd have plenty of top strikers in Rooney, Berbatov and Owen, and with potential stars like Obertan, Macheda and Wellbeck growing up in style this should be an area that they don’t need to support.
One problem they do face is that quite a few of their players are getting too old for the Premiership and it won’t be long before they retire. Scholes, Giggs and Neville all fall into this mould with injury prone Rio Ferdnand not too far away. Goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar is also getting on a bit and is stricken with injury, Kuszczak has been filling in goal but whether they deem the Polish ‘keeper to be worthy enough of a long term place is another story.
Manchester fan and resident Philip told me “we need a big change. The guys are getting too old and the ones waiting to replace them are not good enough. Anderson, Obertan and Evans don’t look like they will be good enough and Park Ji-Sung, Gibson, Hargreaves and Brown are substitutes at best. Nani is another player who I am not too happy with and whilst I think Carrick, Valencia, Evra and Vidic are all top class – as well as Rooney and Berbatov – we can’t win the league with just those players”
What is going on inside the mind of the great Alex Ferguson is a mystery but it seems to be clear to many that a few more quality players need to come in if United are ever going to match Chelsea again. The January transfer window is perhaps not the best time for a change like that but for now a few players will surely be drafted in to help ease the injury crisis.
Keep your eyes on the sports news this month as it is sure to be an exciting time for everyone involved.