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Football News: Premier League Transfer Window Assessment Revisited

Premier League Transfer Window Assessment Revisited
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Premier League Transfer Window Review - 11 Games In


After the huge spending of the transfer window, I did a review of how I thought each team had done with their transfers. Now I am re-examining my thoughts with the benefit of some hindsight over the ten games played. Thanks to MK Scouser for the suggestion for this article.

In case anyone does want to have a look at the original article, to laugh at how badly I got it wrong it's here.


Huddersfield Town


Current Position: 10th


Initial Marks: B- sensible recruiting and general improvements to the team but they look to lack the goals needed to guarantee survival.


It has been a mixed season for the Terriers, they have performed above all expectations so far on the pitch, most of their signings have too, but there has been the injuries to Steve Mounie and Danny Williams and the lacklustre, at best, performances of Tom Ince. Some of the new boys have yet to make a real impression in the side at all, but Aaron Mooy and Zanka have been excellent signings so far.

None of the outs have come back to haunt them, with Nahki Wells yet to recover fitness to play for Burnley. Overall it was a transfer window that saw the club take a clear stride forward, though they do look to be short of the quality to create and score the goals to survive, so far they are sat comfortably in midtable. They have given themselves a very real chance of survival, but they need to maintain their momentum as some of those below them will start to improve as the season goes on.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - A they have bought players that have fitted in to the Premier League well. Even the keeper, Jonas Lossl, who has made a few mistakes, has mostly been good for them. There is no question that their summer recruitment saw them take a huge stride forward. The question is whether it is enough to survive in the Premier League

Overall - A- their performances have mostly been above all expectations, some incredible performances and results but also the odd game and performance where they looked like a Championship side. We will learn a lot more about this Terriers side over the next two months, as the Christmas period, with its heavy workload of games, will show up any gaps in the squad. So far all is rosey in the Huddersfield garden.


Brighton and Hove Albion


Current Position: 8th


Initial Marks: D- they took a little more of a gamble than Huddersfield with their spending, but still they look to have missed out on what they truly needed, some goalscorers and a Premier League level keeper, after allowing one to leave. It is difficult to see any hope of them surviving.


It looks like I could not have been more wrong about Brighton, mostly because of one signing; Pascal Gross. The German has been a revelation, creating goals and chances galore and has struck up a good partnership with Glenn Murray, who was already at the club. Matthew Ryan has been well protected by the defence in his major weakness, the crossed ball in, with two big centre halves who deal with those balls.

Davy Propper and Markus Suttner have settled in well and helped the club achieve results that has left them in a strong position at this early stage of the season. They look a team with a genuine chance of survival, even if the goalscorer is a veteran who was already a part of the team before promotion.


Current Marks

Recruitment: A- the signing of Gross alone makes their recruitment worthy of an A+ as he has been one of the best players in the league this season. His delivery has created a lot of chances. However very few of their other signings have had any effect yet. It is almost entirely the team that got promoted plus Gross that is doing so well. However they had a better platform to build on, with a higher quality of player already at the club than Huddersfield, so they only needed a step forward to compete. Gross is that step forward on his own.

Overall: A+ how could I not give that mark? They are top of the three promoted sides. Chris Hughton is doing a remarkable job there and hopefully he can prove that nice guys can be successful.


Newcastle United


Current Position: 11th


Initial Marks: C- have offloaded some of the unwanted players but have struggled to recruit the players they need, though they could have picked up a hidden gem in Lejeune.


Newcastle had, on the face of it, the worst transfer window of all, and their current position as bottom of the three promoted clubs would seem to confirm that. It is not quite that simple though. They were the most restricted of the three promoted teams, in that owner Mike Ashley and his honcho Lee Charnley made it difficult to bring in players with their meddling. They did manage to offload a number of players but the ins were restricted badly by the cap on spending and wages the club imposed out of nowhere.

It is a mixed bag of signings, though they have all had a fairly large part to play this season, some are not impressing. Jacob Murphy and Joselu look way off the level required. Christian Atsu struggles with consistency and his end product has been lacking. Javier Manquillo has had to cover out of position at left back and Florian Lejeune has had an injury which saw him miss a few games and has been a bit hit and miss since returning. Mikel Merino has probably been the only genuine success and even he has lost his place in recent weeks.

With Ashley trying to sell, it could make the January window a complete no-go area for the Toon, which places more pressure on Rafael Benitez and the players he has at his disposal now to get results early. One thing is for sure, no matter what happens the club can count on the fans to be 100% behind the manager, as they have taken Benitez to heart and that support could be key to their survival hopes this season.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - D for duds as summed up by Joselu and Murphy. Added to that they failed to buy the left back the club has been in desperate need of for years and it was not the most successful transfer window they have had.

Overall - B they may be bottom of the promoted sides, but they have still done extremely well so far. Despite the transfer restrictions, injuries in key areas, Jonjo Shelvey's idiotic actions, they are in a midtable position, safe from relegation. Nobody has beat them out of sight, they have acquitted themselves well and look like a team.




Current Position: 9th


Initial Marks: B+ the signings, at face value, look to have taken the club forward a level and should see them avoid being dragged into any kind of relegation battle. Really they will be looking to challenge in the midtable for a top half finish.


The arrival of Marco Silva has thoroughly revitalised a struggling team, which has gone from turgid displays to exciting, attacking football. The signings themselves have been a bit of a mixed bag, some have barely featured, if at all, such as Will Hughes, Andre Gray is still finding his way after a long term injury. Nathaniel Chalobah started well but then picked up an injury and Tom Cleverley, well he is still CLeverley, an average midfielder with no outstanding qualities to endear him to fans.

Like Brighton, they have made one surprise signing that has stood out like a shining beacon in their team, Richarlison. He has been absolutely brilliant for them, except in front of goal where he, to use a term my mother used to be fond of when I was young, 'couldn't finish his dinner'. I have never seen a player miss so many absolute sitters over the course of a season as he has already missed.

Those missed chances are the reason why the Hornets slipped down the table in recent weeks and it is something they need to look at. Along with Cleverley's penalty taking, which shows all the precision aiming of a blind man with a sawn off shotgun.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - B too many players that have yet to step up and impress drag down the mark. However Richarlison was a great signing for the club. Still the confusing mess of loans in and out from other Pozzo-owned clubs.

Overall - C they have just begun to slide down the table recently, before that they were playing some excellent stuff and looking like a contender for a European place. There is a problem with their defence, which gives away far too many goals and they have a tendency to fold when things go against them.




Current Position: 7th


Initial Marks: D they look to have taken a step backwards with their recruitment this season, losing a first choice centre back without bringing in a replacement. While I know they have a replacement already within the squad, that still leaves them down one centre half in their squad. The additions are not inspiring either.


Burnley seem to have taken a huge step backwards in their recruitment, yet Sean Dyche has turned it into a step forward. Only two of the new signings have made any kind of contribution to the season, but that has been enough to see the club move forward, while all the players moved on have struggled badly at their new clubs. It is still difficult to see them maintaining their good form, as they failed to strengthen their squad in the summer.

Jonathon Walters is way over the hill and most of the way down the other side, Phil Bardsley and Adam Legzdins have never been good enough, Nakhi Wells has yet to be fit. However Jack Cork has been an ever present and Chris Wood has scored some important goals, they have both been a big part of the Clarets current position in the league. Can they maintain their lofty position over the course of the season?


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C- they do not look to have strengthened with their recruitment, it has been mostly about players already there stepping up, such as Tarkowitz and Defour.

Overall - A The success of the promoted sides has overshadowed just how well they are doing. It is little wonder Dyche is the one Everton would like most of all, he has performed a minor miracle, all while ensuring that most of the money the club receives is spent on infrastructure upgrades, rather than player recruitment.


Swansea City


Current Position: 19th


Initial Marks: C- no matter how Sanchez and Abraham perform, they are only loans and they have lost important players. A big burden is on Clement to make something of this team.


This is turning into a disaster, nothing seems to be going right at all for the Swans. Paul Clement seems utterly unable to get anything approaching attacking play from the team and the loss of Sigurdsson has hit them hard. They look in a mess and the few recruits they brought in have yet to make a difference or fit in properly to the style of play they aim for.

In particular Sam Clucas looks in the wrong place for him. An excellent player but not suited in any way to the Swansea style of play. In fact there are few that look less like the right kind of player for the Swans than him. Everything about the play on the pitch screams relegation and it has spread to the stands with the fans now booing the team off on a regular basis. It feels like it is only a matter of time before Clement is joining Slaven Bilic and Ronald Koeman on the scrapheap.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - F a definite fail. None have impressed at all, bar the loanee Tammy Abraham.

Overall - F they are dreadful to watch, there is no fluency, no attacking flair, just well organised and turgid. Unless something changes quickly they will be relegated and no one will mourn them on the back of these performances.


Crystal Palace


Current Position: 20th


Initial Marks: F a transfer window that smacks of a team in transition, without a clear plan or proper scouting network. It feels like the manager has not assessed the squad and figured out what he really needs to do to change things.


It has been every bit as bad as feared, worse in fact, which is why Frank de Boer got his marching orders so quickly and Roy Hodgson appointed. They are still a mess, but at least they have taken some steps towards repairing the damage done by de Boer's shortlived reign.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - D- none of the players brought in have fixed the issues at the club, but none have been a failure, though Riedewald is yet to make an impression really. They just bought the wrong players.

Overall - D- they started appallingly but there have been signs of revival under Hodgson.


Stoke City


Current Position: 14th


Initial Marks: C- cleared out a lot of the underperformers, ageing players and those who could not be trusted to avoid cards but their recruitment was uninspiring to say the least, other than the loans.


They have been incredibly inconsistent and the changes made in the summer seem to have little effect on the team, leaving it marooned as a lower half team despite all the money spent by Mark Hughes. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been excellent and Darren Fletcher good, but the rest have disappointed. In most other seasons the talk would have surrounded Mark Hughes' future, as it is unlikely even a chairman as patient as Peter Coates will put up with much more.

Hughes was not brought in to put the club in the lower half and need to spend every game bringing Peter Crouch off the bench to rescue the club.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C the players brought in have not done badly in the main, but it is just not enough to take the club forward.

Overall - E- I still cannot see any signs of the team having improved under Hughes, if anything they look worse now than they did in his first season.


Leicester City


Current Position: 12th


Initial Marks: D- losing Drinkwater was a blow, allowing Mendy to go out on loan was bizarre and their incomings do not look to suit the way they play. Strange window that looks to have taken the club another step backwards.


It has been another struggle to the start of the season for the Foxes, culminating once again in a new manager. This time around Claude Puel was brought in, surprising the players as well as the fans, to get the club back on the upwards trajectory it had shown. There have only been two major changes to the team this season, neither have really worked properly yet. Vicente Iborra replacing Drinkwater has given them a passer in the midfield but he lacks the mobility of Drinkwater, in fact he just lacks mobility. Playing a two man central midfield the way they tend to sees them struggling not to become overrun. Ndidi is not able to cover as much ground as Kante did, leaving them a little exposed centrally.

At the back, the arrival of Harry Maguire has led to a defence that struggles, his positioning is poor and he leaves Wes Morgan alongside him exposed in a way Robert Huth never did. People see the forward runs he makes and fail to notice how poor defensively Maguire actually is. The rest of the new buys have had little to no effect, with poor Adrien Silva left to sit out for a few months after Leicester made an error by not registering him in time. It is even more unforgivable when you realise they had plenty of opportunity to request an extension beforehand so that this did not happen.

Leicester just look, once again, like a team going backwards. Puel has his work cut out to build something in the long term with this team, with the likes of Huth and Vardy ageing and no one within the ranks even close to being a replacement.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - E+ their recruitment looks as haphazard and bizarre now as it did in the summer. They have lost their way badly since winning the league.

Overall - D- Puel has so far come in and steadied the ship, it just remains to be seen whether he is capable of setting it back on course.


West Ham United


Current Position: 18th


Initial Marks: D it is difficult to see any thought behind the signings and the team does not look to have improved.


It was a mess created by the owners in the summer that has got increasingly more messy as the season has gone on. Bizarre statements undermining Slaven Bilic has led to him finally getting his marching orders, in what must be nothing more than a relief to him. They have now taken the bizarre decision to appoint a man that could not be further from the West Ham ethos short of giving the job to Dave 'Long Ball' Bassett. If David Moyes is the answer then I shudder to think what the question must be.

The only person who is likely to be delighted with this appointment is Andy Carroll, as it guarantees he will be the central figure at the Hammers.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - F much as I loved Pablo Zabaleta as a player a few years ago, it has been clear that injuries took their toll and he is no longer a Premier League quality player, sadly. Joe Hart is an expensive player who is in no way an improvement on the keepers already at the club. Marko Arnautovic is a strutting arrogant peacock whose ability is nowhere near the level he believes it to be. That only really leaves Chicharito as a potentially decent signing, but he has been used as a left winger for much of the season!

Overall - F sat in the relegation zone, how could it be anything other than an F for fail? The problem is that no matter how many managers and players come and go, the problems at the club all stem from the owners and their ineptitude. Until they step back and let someone who understands the game run the club or sell up, the club will always be on the verge of the next crisis.


West Bromwich Albion


Current Position: 16th


Initial Marks: D- nothing in their recruitment suggests the club has moved forward at all. The same old problem of no one to score the goals and no quality to create chances from open play.


My initial marks pretty much stand, they have done poor business and they are struggling badly. Unless Tony Pulis turns it around quickly he will be another manager looking for a new job. If the fans have any say in it, then he will definitely be out.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - D it is not that the players brought in are not good enough, they just were not the right players. The team still has no one to score goals for them.

Overall - F the style of play is not an issue if the team are getting results, but when they are horrible to watch and struggling to pick up results then there is a major issue.




Current Position: 17th


Initial Marks: A the recruitment has been just about as good as can be expected for Bournemouth. A top class keeper, a defender and a goalscorer, the 3 main priorities of the team.


They still look to have recruited well but none of the players look up to the level required. Nathan Ake looks all at sea in defence with no positional sense displayed at all, Asmir Begovic looks like his time warming the bench at Chelsea has taken it out of him and Jermain Defoe looks finished. Are they really that bad or is the manager, Eddie Howe, failing to use them to their best, or is it a bit of both? I think it is a bit of both personally.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - E none of the new boys have impressed yet.

Overall - E- the Cherries are struggling badly and look like a side destined for relegation at some point soon. The team seems to be getting worse each season.




Current Position: 13th


Initial Marks: C- while the signings were decent signings, they have failed to address the glaring need for creativity and goalscoring.


I was wrong about the signings, they were decent signings except for Mario Lemina who is an excellent signing. However he has not fixed the issues of creativity and goalscoring. In fact none of the problems of last season have been addressed. Quite the opposite in fact. Saints are even more dull and slow in possession and looks even less likely to score than they did at the end of last season. Mauricio Pellegrino has made the play less attractive, more stifled and worse than it was under Claude Puel.

If this current style is what he is aiming for, then there are future problems on the horizon for Southampton. However, if this is just him tightening up the defence and working from the back, as Puel does, then it is just the start and it should improve. I just do not know how long the fans will put up with such uninspiring, turgid football.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C Lemina has been excellent, Hoedt good, they just did not bring in enough players in key attacking areas.

Overall - E- they are just so boring to watch it is impossible to give them a higher mark. They barely even make any attempt to attack the opposition and it feels like they have forgotten the aim of the game is to score goals!




Current Position: 15th


Initial Marks: C- recruited heavily but let heart rule the head with the return of Rooney. No replacement for Lukaku has left them worse off than last season, despite all the incomings.


The initial marks are pretty much correct, except I was too generous with the C-! The players brought in never quite looked right, but no one had thought they would be quite so wrong as it turned out to be. Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Cuco Martina were dreadful, Sandro and Rooney probably even worse and Sigurdsson has yet to show anything at all either way, he just seems to be there. At least Nikola Vlasic has impressed and Jordan Pickford is a step up in the goalkeeper position from last season.

How much of the problem was down to now-sacked manager Ronald Koeman is difficult to judge, but it does seem to be more than just a managerial issue judging by their struggles under caretaker David Unsworth. The squad lacks balance, with the wrong types of players for the style the manager is wanting them to play.

Current Marks:

Recruitment - E+ there was a complete lack of forethought and planning involved in the recruitment process, the signing of Sigurdsson late on in the window the symptom of a mess. However there are some decent players, they just need to create the right team framework to use them correctly.

Overall - D- it would have been an F before Koeman's sacking, now things are looking a lot brighter, despite having no permanent manager in place as I type this. There is a squad there that is more than capable of finishing in the top half quite easily.


Manchester United


Current Position: 2nd


Initial Marks: B- bought well but still left with gaps in the team as they only brought in three players. Lost no key players to end the window looking a much stronger team.


How much difference does a few weeks make? Certainly enough to stop Man Utd looking like a likely title winner to become a team competing for the top four, as they start to look like a very average team. While a lot of that is down to Jose's style of play meaning they are not dominating games, so they look worse than they actually are at times. Mourinho does not care how they look, so long as the results are coming, so that is not really an issue to him, though some fans are bothered, especially as results have dipped of late along with it.

Right now the lack of fullbacks and wingers, that Jose Mourinho wanted the club to sign, is clearly holding the team back, but they are still sat in second place. As ever Jose manages to get the results he needs to keep his team competitive, no matter what he needs to do.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C- the lack of signings is really holding the team back right now, with Paul Pogba out they look lacking in midfield strength, as well as width. Worse is Romelu Lukaku's dry spell up front, as the Belgian offers the sum total of nothing when he is not scoring. In fact he becomes a liability as he sulks around, the ball bouncing off him and usually being taken straight off him.

Overall - B they are second but falling way behind local rivals City and looking like they are only going one way at the moment, and it is not up. There is a long way to go this season, but they need to strengthen to challenge for the title.




Current Position: 6th


Initial Marks: E two good signings are not enough to fill the gaps in the team. Wenger is looking like the little boy with his finger in the hole in the dyke not realising that he has sat on the button to open the floodgates.


As usual Arsenal's transfer business was a case of too little, too late, though this season it has been compounded by Arsene Wenger's bizarre decision to use Alexandre Lacazette as an impact sub in games. The Gunners are beginning to turn into a parody of themselves. I am beginning to wonder if the board and Wenger are deliberately winding people up with the decisions being made. It feels like the last ten seasons have just been on repeat as Arsenal gradually drift further and further away from a title challenge with no changes being made to stop it.

Even a failure to qualify for the Champions League has not been enough to change anything. What would it take for the club to realise their current method is not working? Will things even change when Wenger goes?


Current Marks:

Recruitment - F Kolasinac is a good player but he is not enough on his own to change anything and Lacazette is being criminally underused. The summer recruitment was shambolic. What makes it all the more bizarre is that they decided against the signing of Thomas Lemar until an offer came in for Alexis Sanchez. Surely it was clear they needed him anyway?

Overall - E I am surprised they are as far up the league as 6th considering every time they face a team that gives them a test they lose, badly. If they do manage to finish in the top 6, I would have to say that reflects badly on the rest of the league that have been unable to take advantage of their failings over the course of a season.




Current Position: 5th


Initial Marks: C made improvements but still have not addressed the centre back issue, which could cost them badly.


Not fixing the centre back issue has certainly cost Liverpool dearly and seen them drop off the pace at the top but the signing of Mohamed Salah is probably the signing of the summer so far. Only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane have scored more than the Egyptian winger has so far. However the biggest problem of all was not resolving things with Coutinho, rejecting offers from Barcelona in order to hold onto the wantaway Brazilian has been counterproductive. When he is not feigning injury he is not performing anywhere near his best, to put it kindly.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - D really needed to buy a centre back, that was the main priority and none came in.

Overall - C- the mess with Coutinho, the failure to sign a centre back and the Champions League has left the team no better off than last season at the moment. Top 4 is the aim, but they are currently just outside it.


Manchester City


Current Position: 1st


Initial Marks: B- like Liverpool they fixed some holes in the team, but with what should be (especially considering the amounts spent) higher quality players. Also like Liverpool they have failed to fix the huge gaping hole in central defence.


They may not have fixed the big hole at the back, but they have improved their attacking quality so much that they have been able to get away with it so far. Whether they will be able to keep up their attacking intensity all season remains to be seen, but so far no one has been able to really get at their defence.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - B+ just needed one more left back and a centre back and they would be pretty much the finished article.

Overall - A there has been some cracks appearing of late, with a woeful West Brom side able to put 2 past them, but they are still flying high right now.


Tottenham Hotspur


Current Position: 3rd


Initial Marks: B improved the squad's strength in depth to cope with European football, but the team is still the same one that has fallen at the last hurdle the previous 2 years in a row.


Now they are over their Wembley issues Spurs are rolling on up the league, though they did have a setback against Man Utd, which is why they are sat below them in the table. It is still difficult to see what improvement the recruitment has made to what was already an excellent side though.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C+ it is difficult to see any improvement in the team through the recruitment made, but the better strength in depth has been extremely useful and kept them competitive even with a number of injuries.

Overall - B+ they look to be the most likely team to give Man City a fight for the title, though there are still the worries about whether they will go all Spursy and bottle it when it matter. Only time will tell on that point.




Current Position: 4th


Initial Marks: B+ they look to have taken a genuine step forward, despite the blow of losing Matic. The only real worry they have now would be a long term injury to Thibaut Courtois.


I never even considered the possibility that N'Golo Kante could suffer an injury! He seems so unbreakable but his recent injury showed how absolutely essential he is and just how good his performances are, as Chelsea looked a shadow of a team without him. Despite that they are only 1 point behind Man Utd and Spurs.


Current Marks:

Recruitment - C- the team is lacking balance right now with Zappacosta not quite fitting in properly straight away and Moses out injured. There is also no alternative to Alvaro Morata for when the Spanish striker is not scoring.

Overall - B+ while they would have hoped to be higher, they have had to cope without Eden Hazard initially, then lost Kante as Hazard was returning to fitness. With all the talk of the manager leaving and pressure being cranked up on them added to talk of a crisis, it is easy to forget they are right on the coattails of the 2 teams just above them.

Written by Tris Burke November 09 2017 17:40:55