Tuesday Topic: How did the North-East's big three fare in the transfer window? (From The Northern Echo)
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Tuesday Topic: How did the North-East's big three fare in the transfer window?
The transfer window closed at 11pm last night, bringing an end to more than three months of transfer activity. Or in the case of one of our region’s clubs, non activity. Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson assesses how Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough have fared now the transfer deadline has passed
IT comes to something when the most noteworthy arrival at Newcastle United all summer was a 66-year-old who made a major contribution to the Magpies’ relegation during his previous spell at the club.
Joe Kinnear’s shock return as director of football was accompanied by a flurry of meaningless platitudes that now look even more nonsensical than they did at the time.
The new director of football was going to get some key signings “over the line”. He was going to be the conduit between manager Alan Pardew and owner Mike Ashley, ensuring the pair sang from the same hymn sheet when it came to recruiting players. He promised to improve a squad that finished just two places above the relegation zone last season.
How could he possibly fail when he had every football manager in the world on speed dial?
In any other self-respecting business, Kinnear’s position would now be untenable, and as the man who appointed him, Ashley would be questioning his own aptitude for his role.
But this is Newcastle United, a personal fiefdom in which Ashley’s power is absolute and the hopes and dreams of thousands of supporters mean nothing when posited against the whims of an owner who appears to have lost any sense of ambition.
Having watched his side scramble to safety last season, how can Ashley possibly believe that the loan signing of Loic Remy is sufficient to ensure there will not be another battle against relegation this term?
While the rest of the Premier League splashed the cash yesterday, Ashley sat tight and as a result, Pardew will have to battle through to January at least with a squad that lacks depth in key areas.
The Newcastle boss was desperate to sign another centre-forward and a creative midfielder, but tentative interest in the likes of Andre Ayew, Tom Ince and Demba Ba came to nothing.
In truth, there was never really a serious prospect of anyone moving to St James’ Park yesterday, with Newcastle’s summer business effectively ending when Remy signed and it proved impossible to reach a financial agreement with the representatives of Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis.
Retaining Yohan Cabaye is a success of sorts, although it remains to be seen how successfully the midfielder can be reintegrated into the squad given his obvious desire to leave, and without the added pressures of European football, perhaps Newcastle’s problems are not as acute as they appear.
For now, though, the summer must be regarded as a failure. Promises have been broken, chronic problems remain unaddressed. Premier League clubs spent more than£500m this summer – Newcastle United accounted for around £2m of that.
NEWCASTLE’S SUMMER DEALS
M Olivier Kemen Metz
F Loic Remy QPR, loan
G Steve Harper Hull
D Danny Simpson QPR
D James Perch Wigan
D James Tavernier Shrewsbury, loan
D Shane Ferguson Birmingham, loan
M Mehdi Abeid Panathinaikos, loan
M Michael Richardson, loan
IT has been billed as Paolo Di Canio's revolution, but despite the acquisition of 14 new signings, the fear is that a large number of the problems that haunted Sunderland last season still remain. On the evidence of the first four matches, the more things alter, the more they stay the same.
Having outlined the need for a radical overhaul at the end of last season, Di Canio cannot complain about the level of support he has received as he has set about transforming his squad in partnership with director of football Roberto de Fanti.
The departure of Simon Mignolet and Stephane Sessegnon, with the latter joining West Brom in a £6m deal yesterday, went a long way towards balancing the books, but it is still unprecedented for a Premier League club to make so many changes in so short a time. The key question now is, 'Will they work?'
The early evidence has been far from positive, with Di Canio's reluctance to play some of his new signings a particular worry given his obvious lack of faith in so many of the players he inherited from Martin O'Neill.
Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini will clearly be guaranteed starters provided they are fit, but why was Cabral dropped after the opening game of the season? Why have Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite both been in and out of the side in the early stages of the campaign? And how close are the likes of El-Hadji Ba and David Moberg Karlsson to the first team?
Fabio Borini and Andrea Dossena were the last two players to be added to the squad yesterday, and while the pair hardly boast a proven track record in English football, at least they should help plug gaping holes that were glaringly apparent.
Whether they are good enough to elevate Sunderland from the group of clubs likely to be battling against relegation is a moot point, but the same question could be asked of the majority of Di Canio's acquisitions. Time will tell.
On the other side of the coin, the sale of Mignolet and Sessegnon has deprived Sunderland of the services of two of their most impressive performers from last season, and the tally is three if you include the return of loanee Danny Rose to Spurs.
Sessegnon's departure is a controversial one, as for all his failings, the Benin international was the Black Cats' likeliest match winner on a number of occasions last term. Without him, where will the attacking threat come from?
It is unlikely to emanate from Ji Dong-won, although the South Korean is hardly alone in being a player castigated by Di Canio who nevertheless remains on Sunderland's books. The same is true of Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole – is there any way back for them?
SUNDERLAND’S SUMMER DEALS
G Vito Mannone Arsenal
D Modibo Diakite Lazio
D Valentin Roberge Maritimo
D Ondrej Celustka Trabzonspor, loan
D Andrea Dossena Napoli, loan
M El Hadji Ba Le Havre
M Cabral Basle
M Emanuele Giaccherini Juventus
M Charis Mavrias Panathinaikos
M Ki Sung-Yeung Swansea, loan
F Jozy Altidore AZ Alkmaar
F Duncan Watmore Altrincham
F David Moberg Karlsson IFK Gothenburg
F Fabio Borini Liverpool, loan
G Simon Mignolet Liverpool
G Jordan Pickford Burton, loan
D Titus Bramble Unattached
D Matthew Kilgallon Blackburn
M Ahmed Elmohamady Hull
M Alfred N’Diaye Eskisehirspor, loan
M Adam Reed Burton
M James McClean Wigan
M Billy Knott Wycombe, loan
F Danny Graham Hull, loan
F Ryan Noble Burnley
F Stephane Sessegnon West Brom
When Scott McDonald severed his ties with Middlesbrough in July, the hope was that the departure of the club's highest-paid player would free up sufficient funds for a major overhaul of the squad that slipped out of promotion contention so meekly last season.
There have been additions since then – most notably Bristol City winger Albert Adomah and fellow forward Kei Kamara, who joined from Sporting Kansas last night - and with the Football League loan window opening later this month, it will still be possible for Tony Mowbray to recruit further. Nevertheless, it is safe to say the anticipated flurry of arrivals never really came to fruition.
Mowbray has spoken at length about the need to make improvements at both ends of the field, but the transfer window closed without Boro recruiting a centre-half or an out-and-out striker. As a result, they look short of options in both of those of positions if injuries to key men bite.
That is not to say that the summer has been a complete failure though, as the majority of the additions that have been made already look astute.
Dean Whitehead and Joszef Varga have slipped seamlessly into the first team, and have added some of the midfield bite that was so conspicuously lacking in the second half of last term.
Adomah was on Mowbray's wanted list for a number of seasons, and the former Bristol City winger should provide a potent attacking threat from the flanks. In partnership with fellow flyer Mustapha Carayol, it is not hard to envisage Adomah causing Championship defences a number of problems this season.
He might have to, as aside from Lukas Jutkiewicz, it is still hard to see where Boro's goals are going to come from. As the season goes on, there is a strong chance that Mowbray might have to dip into the loan market to replenish his attack.
Ideally, he would prefer to have a permanent addition in place, but offers for Ross McCormack, Tokelo Rantie and Jelle Vossen were rejected despite Boro tabling individual bids in excess of £2m for the first time in more than two seasons.
That underlined the continued faith and ambition of chairman Steve Gibson, who also backed Mowbray to the hilt when it came to retaining key members of the squad.
Nottingham Forest were desperate to sign Grant Leadbitter, and yesterday's bid of around £3m is understood to have been the sixth offer made by officials at the City Ground this summer. All were rejected – quite a statement for a Championship club bereft of parachute payments.
Interest in Rhys Williams and Marvin Emnes was also rebuffed, and while the Boro squad might not be the biggest in the Championship, it nevertheless boasts a tried-and-tested core.
MIDDLESBROUGH’S SUMMER DEALS
G Dimi Konstantopoulos AEK Athens
D Frazer Richardson Southampton
M Dean Whitehead Stoke
M Joszef Varga Debrecen
M Albert Adomah Bristol City
F Kei Kamara Sporting Kansas
G Connor Ripley Bradford, loan
D Andre Bikey Unattached
D Christian Burgess Hartlepool, loan
D Stephen McManus Motherwell
M Julio Arca Unattached
M Kieron Dyer Retired
M Merouane Zemmama Unattached
M Nicky Bailey Millwall
M Adam Reach Shrewsbury, loan
M Ryan Brobbel York, loan
M Matty Dolan Hartlepool, loan
F Scott McDonald Millwall
F Curtis Main Shrewsbury, loan
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