Some people are under the mistaken belief that Tottenham were the first team to sell their best player and fail to replace him. In fact, when Liverpool sold Luis Suarez at the end of the 2013/14 season for approximately £75 million, there was talk about Liverpool making sure not to ‘do a Spurs’ which means selling your best player and buying a multitude of sub-standard ones to do the same job.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham have been guilty of this in recent seasons, but contrary to popular belief, it was Liverpool that started this trend rather than Tottenham. Remember Fernando Torres?
When Liverpool sold Torres to Chelsea for £50 million in January 2011, they signed Andy Carroll from Newcastle for £35 million on the same day. To this day, I have never heard a Liverpool fan say that was £35 million well spent – it wasn’t!
Andy Carroll failed to make a significant impact at Liverpool, (he played 58 times and scored 11 goals) and he stayed until June 2013 before moving to West Ham for £17.5 million. The Merseyside club were eventually able to recoup exactly half of their £35 million splurge on Carroll, but bringing him in to replace Fernando Torres has to be put down to a failed experiment.
The like for like transfer that Liverpool attempted to pull off was far from successful, but Tottenham took this even further and bought more than half a squad in an attempt to replace one player.
When Tottenham sold Gareth Bale in the summer of 2013 for £86 million, they purchased seven new players to replace him. The transfers were partially funded by the Bale transfer as Spurs spent over £100million on rebuilding their squad.
Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela and Paulinho are the seven players in question and not one of them has lived up to the hype that surrounded them ever since they joined White Hart Lane in June 2013. Before coming to White Hart Lane, Roberto Soldado had scored 59 goals in 88 appearances for Valencia and this is probably what convinced the North London side to pay £26 million for him. However he has been unable to continue with his form and in two seasons at Tottenham, Soldado has only managed seven goals in two Premier League seasons.
Soldado has been sold to Villarreal in this transfer window for a reported £10 million after two disappointing seasons in England. He is not the only one of the seven to be moved on this season either. Etienne Capoue, purchased from French club Toulouse for £8.6 million, has been sold to Watford this season for around £6.3 million.
Just like Liverpool, Tottenham have splashed the cash on players and then they have had to sell them at a significant loss. Tottenham have approximately made an £18.3 million loss on Soldado and Capoue as both players have not recaptured the form that initially made the North London club sign them.
Now back to Liverpool. Regardless of the controversy that seemed to follow him around wherever he went, Luis Suarez was Liverpool’s best player. But in the summer of 2014, Barcelona came calling after a fantastic season at the Merseyside club in which he scored 31 Premier League goals in a single season. Barcelona and Liverpool settled on a £75 million deal and Suarez was off.
Liverpool went on an almost identical spending spree to Tottenham the previous season, post-Bale, and spent all of the money from the Suarez deal (and more) on eight players. They raided Southampton and came away with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. In addition, they bought Mario Balotelli, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi (who was promptly loaned back to Lille, the club he was signed from).
Just like the players Tottenham acquired to replace Bale, none of the signings that Liverpool made have come close to replacing Suarez. Balotelli proved to be a risk that didn’t pay off as he managed one Premier League goal for Liverpool last season. Lallana was injured for a significant part of last season and none of the other players got into their stride.
Rickie Lambert, who was a member of Liverpool’s youth squad, seemed to be returning with a point to prove. However, after a single season, he has been sold to West Bromwich Albion for approximately £3 million. Lambert only managed to score two goals in 25 Premier League appearances for the Reds and there were 119 players who scored more goals than him in the Premier League last season.
Liverpool have again made a loss on a like for like striker as Lambert was sold to West Brom for approximately £3 million, which is £1 million less than Liverpool paid Southampton for him the previous season.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham have purchased a great number of players to replace one spectacular player and it has not worked out for them. There is nothing wrong with buying more than one or two players in a transfer window, but the mistake that both of these Premier League sides have made, is buying too many and trying to thrust them all together at once.
You would think that Liverpool might have learned their lesson from this, but they have purchased another seven players to replace the huge gap left by Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. Maybe it will be third time lucky for the Reds or maybe they’ll be cutting their losses again in two years. I personally don’t see the outcome being any different to last season, but the new season has only just begun and I am more than happy for the likes of Christian Benteke and his team mates to prove me wrong.
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It’s crunch time for Stoke City under Paul Lambert
The next two months are crucial for the future of Stoke City.
There are only eight games left of the Premier League season and with Manchester City running away with the Premier League title the attention now turns to the race for survival.
Stoke City began the season celebrating their tenth consecutive year as a top-flight club and yet the campaign could ultimately culminate in relegation to the Sky Bet Championship.
The warning signs were there in the summer when star winger Marko Arnautovic forced through a transfer to West Ham United and claimed that the Potters ‘lacked ambition’, something that the club hierarchy strenuously denied before forcing Mark Hughes to be reliant on free transfers and loan signings.
The further departure of club stalwarts such as Jonathan Walters and Glen Whelan was also a loss in the dressing room and behind the scenes, if not necessarily on the pitch.
The campaign actually got off to a promising start as Stoke secured four points from their opening two home fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United, but the wheels quickly began to fall off.
Hughes had opted to deploy a new look 3-4-3 formation and, despite some early success, it soon became apparent that the Potters did not have the personnel or quality to make the system work.
The sight of Mame Biram Diouf, a striker by trade, stranded as a wingback pretty much summarises the tactical naivety of Hughes and his unwillingness to revert to a back four, despite poor results, saw the club slip into the relegation zone.
Ultimately, it has been Stoke’s inability to defend that has underpinned their demise this season.
At one stage, the Potters had the unenviable record of possessing the worst defensive record of any club in the top flight of European football, whilst only West Ham United have conceded more goals or kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
Mark Hughes was dismissed in late January after Stoke City had been knocked out of the FA Cup by fourth-tier Coventry City and were stranded in the Premier League relegation zone.
There is little doubt that the Potters were correct to part ways with the Welshman, although in hindsight the club hierarchy had remained too loyal for too long.
Stoke’s attempt to hire a successor was chaotic, disorganised and became something of a soap opera.
Gary Rowett was the first manager to publically turn down the job after being approached and was swiftly followed by Quique Sánchez Flores, who conducted a swift U-turn within twenty-four hours of reportedly agreeing to leave Espanyol, and Martin O’Neil.
Stoke supporters were eventually left with the uninspiring appointment of Paul Lambert who, quite clearly, was nobodies first choice for the role.
The former Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers boss has certainly had a positive impact since arriving in the final weeks of January and has undoubtedly made the team more organised and harder to beat.
However, Lambert has overseen just one win in seven fixtures, at a time when the club are desperate for points, despite having been handed a favourable run of fixtures that included Huddersfield Town, Watford, Brighton, Bournemouth, Southampton and Leicester City.
The 48-year-old will need to stimulate a dramatic improvement in results of The Potters are going to have any hope of avoiding the drop.
On paper, the current Stoke City squad consists of a core contingent of proven international players that should have the quality and experience to pull away from the relegation zone.
Jack Butland, who is vying to be England’s first choice goalkeeper, Kurt Zouma, one of the most highly rated young defenders in Europe, Joe Allen, a central midfielder of undoubted quality, and Swiss superstar Xherdan Shaqiri make up the spine of the starting eleven, whilst Moritz Bauer and Badou Ndiaye arrived in January to add further quality.
However, there is an obvious lack of creativity in the current squad and the responsibility for facilitating goal scoring opportunities rests solely on the shoulders of Shaqiri.
In addition to this, Stoke lack a proven goal scorer with Mame Biram Diouf (inconsistent), Peter Crouch (one dimensional) and Saido Berahino (who has yet to score in over two years) the only options at Paul Lambert’s disposal.
This imbalance in the squad has been reflected in recent results. Since Lambert’s arrival in late-January Stoke have lost just once in seven games, against the champions-elect Manchester City, and have kept three clean sheets in the process.
However, in the same period, they have only won once, in Lambert’s first match against Huddersfield Town, and have found the net just five times – three of which were provided by Shaqiri.
It is the lack of creativity and goals that is undermining any shoots of recovery at the Bet365 Stadium.
Everton (H), Arsenal (A), Tottenham (H), West Ham United (A), Burnley (H), Liverpool (A), Crystal Palace (H) and Swansea City (A).
Stoke City have a semi-difficult run of fixtures but there are certainly opportunities to accumulate points over the closing weeks of the season.
Home games against Everton, Crystal Palace and Swansea City are ‘must win’ based on the fact that the Potters have the worst away record in England, having won just once on their travels this campaign, but trips to Olympic Stadium and the Liberty Stadium could provide a chance to rectify that.
Fundamentally, if Stoke can get to the final two games of the season and still be in with a chance of securing safety then they will be relatively pleased. It could all come down to the last day of the season with a mouth-watering fixture against Swansea.
Will They Survive?
Although Paul Lambert has certainly had a positive impact since being appointed in late-January, making the team more organised and harder to beat, it is difficult to see where Stoke City will secure the three or four wins required to guarantee safety.
The Potters have won just six games all season and the lack of creativity throughout the side and the absence of a proven striker leaves you wondering where the goals are going to come from.
There is certainly still hope for Stoke supporters, but Lambert will need to facilitate a dramatic improvement in performances if he is to guide the club to safety.
It will be an achievement if he can get the Potters to the final two games of the season, against Crystal Palace and Swansea City, and still be in with a chance of surviving.
Paul Dummett’s Wales snub will please Newcastle United fans
The Welshman turned down an international call-up this week.
Paul Dummett has been one of the standout players for Newcastle United this season and his performances haven’t passed Ryan Giggs by.
The new Wales National Team manager has admitted that he has spoken to the left-back with a view to a return to the squad. The Chronicle reported the following quotes:
“I had a conversation with Paul Dummett, because he hasn’t been in the last few squads, and he just felt that it wasn’t the right time to come back.
“He wanted to concentrate on his Newcastle career which I have to respect, and we move on.
“He (Dummett) said that he wanted to concentrate on Newcastle’s relegation fight so I have to respect that at the moment. In the future we will wait and see.”
That will be music to the ears of Newcastle supporters and Rafa Benitez, as Dummett has emerged as a key player for the team since his return from injury.
This season in the Premier League, the Magpies have conceded only 13 times in the 12 matches that the 26-year-old has started.
That underlines how effective he has been and his importance to the team’s chances of staying in the top-flight.
Although he may not be the most exciting player to watch, Dummett is very good at carrying out a role for the team and it is no surprise that he has become one of Benitez’s most trusted lieutenants.
The Spanish manager enjoys to coach players that listen and carry out his instructions to the letter and his left-back certainly fits under that description.
A quick look at the stats shows how rounded Dummett is as a defender.
He averages 2.83 ball recoveries, 0.78 blocks and 6.85 clearances per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, he is very good in the air as shown by his aerial duels win rate of 57.41%.
He was once a scapegoat for Newcastle supporters and the focus of anger when things weren’t going well. The reason for that was his lack of technical skill, which would make him stand out on the pitch.
However, that side of his game has developed and he is now serviceable in possession. Dummett isn’t going to be cutting sides open with his attacking threat down the left, but he understands his own limitations and that has seen him improve as a player.
The 26-year-old has been part of Wales squads in the past, but he has only played once for his country and his lack of game-time may be a reason why he stepped away from the international arena.
Last summer, Newcastle issued a statement to explain why Dummett withdrew from the squad for the World Cup qualifier against Serbia, which featured the following quote:
“After a gruelling campaign with the Magpies, in which he played through the pain barrier on several occasions, 25-year-old Dummett is keen to recharge his batteries and spend time with his family and friends in order to ensure he is at peak form and fitness for his hometown team’s return to the Premier League and what promises to be a big campaign for both him and the club.
“He has been supported in his decision by Newcastle boss Rafa Benítez.
“However, Dummett – who has represented his country from youth level all the way to the senior team – has not closed the door on his international career and hopes to represent the Dragons again in the future.”
It is clear that Newcastle is the priority for Dummett, but it is interesting that he refused to close the door on Wales last summer.
A managerial change since then may lead to further opportunities for the left-back and it is easy to see why Giggs has already reached out to him.
The Newcastle full-back has developed into a Premier League calibre player under Benitez and he will offer an upgrade on the options currently in the Wales squad.
For him, as a player, it may be beneficial to play international football and gain experience at the highest level. Although he didn’t agree to come back at this time, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t return to the fold in the near future. Both parties would benefit from that.
Salif Sane is the centre-back Everton must sign in the summer
The Senegal defender has been in fine form for Hannover 96 this season.
Salif Sane may not be a player well known to many fans in England, but this season he has emerged as a superstar in German football.
The 27-year-old has been in incredible form for Hannover 96 this season. According to the stats aggregator, WhoScored, Sane is rated as the second-best player in the Bundesliga, with only Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez ahead of him.
His form should surely have caught the eye of Everton.
The Toffees have had a torrid time defensively this season.
Ashley Williams has been in awful form and has lost the backing of fans with his recent red card versus Burnley.
Michael Keane has struggled to replicate his Burnley form at Goodison Park.
Phil Jagielka’s age is catching up with him whilst Mason Holgate has been erratic.
The less said about loan signing Eliaquim Mangala the better. With Ramiro Funes Mori sidelined for most of the campaign, Everton have leaked goals.
Sane could be the perfect plug.
The Senegal defender, who came through the ranks at Bordeaux and later Nancy, is exactly what Everton need.
Sane is a no-nonsense defender whose main aim is to keep out goals. Defending is his first priority.
One area of his game where he is imperious is in the air. Not many players beat the 6ft 5 ins powerhouse in an aerial battle.
This season has been a breakthrough campaign for Sane.
This summer he will be in the Senegal squad at the World Cup in Russia, with plenty expected of a side containing the likes of Sadio Mane and Keita Balde Diao.
Sane would join his international colleague Idrissa Gana Gueye at Everton and would arrive more than capable of finally steadying the ship in Everton’s woefully inept defensive unit.
If not Sane, then someone else, but it is fair to say not many players in Everton’s price-range would be able to have the impact the Senegal defender might if given the chance.
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