As the busy December schedule approaches, I take a look back to the start of the season, to a time when the fates of certain teams had already been decided before a ball was even kicked.
I am going to be looking at the big teams in the Premier League and how their transfer policy and decisions have shaped their seasons so far.
At the start of the season many Liverpool fans would have been hoping that they would be able to reach similar heights to last season, despite the departure of Luis Suarez. However, few were expecting such a below-par start.
Nevertheless, could the start to their season have been different? The transfer money Liverpool received from the sale of Suarez was humongous. Alongside the promise of Champions League football, they had the money and the power to buy near enough any player they wanted. Granted, Liverpool like to keep a tight lid on their wages so were never likely to bring in the best of the best.
Luis Suarez is a very unique player and everyone knows that there are only a few in the world who play at the same level as Suarez. But instead of directly replacing Suarez, Liverpool went ahead and bought young prospects in bulk. Targets such as Alexis Sanchez, who was available in the summer, were missed, and he eventually sealed a move to Arsenal.
Many have questioned the ability of some of Liverpool’s summer signings. The likes of Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic are yet to settle and make their mark. I don’t feel it was a case of signing players that weren’t good enough, I just feel Liverpool failed to sign the players that they needed.
It was well documented that Rodgers wanted to add depth to the squad, which he achieved. However, they are now facing the backlash from failing to sign a direct replacement for Luis Suarez – to lose a player of that calibre and failing to replace him will always come back to haunt you.
I think the top four sides have to look at Chelsea and how they managed their business over the summer. The blues have struggled to find consistent strikers since Didier Drogba first stint at the club ended in 2012, albeit, two years later they have signed Diego Costa, a very similar player.
They lacked a player who had a cutting edge, capable of making that final pass – they went on to sign Cesc Fabregas.
In my opinion many overlook the importance of identifying transfer targets early. Sometimes it may lead to the teams paying slightly more than they would have hoped, although it could be the tipping point in the season.
You only need to look back to the 2011-2012 season. Manchester City won the Premier League with the dramatic Sergio Ageuro last-gasp winner. However, they failed to strengthen in the summer, maybe due to naivety or inexperience. They signed the likes of Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair, who rarely featured at the club. The following season, Manchester United won the Premier League with City failing to maintain the same level of performance as the previous season.
I still wonder whether Manchester City have yet to sort out their transfer policy.
This season Manchester City have brought in the likes of Fernando and Bacary Sagna, adding depth to their squad. However, I don’t see any improvements, even with the likes of Negredo heading out of the door. The only exception – Frank Lampard has been in sensational form for City and he will most certainly be missed.
I believe the effects of failing to improving the squad have shown for City this season and they are now playing catch up to early leaders Chelsea.
City were hoping that Elequim Mangala would be the rock to partner Vicent Kompany at the back, but the Frenchman has had a shaky start to life at the Etihad. City still have an illustrious squad that has quality throughout, but where will they be at the end of the season?
Every transfer is a risk and nothing is ever certain in football, so I don’t think any team will ever perfect their transfer policy. However, it leaves fans and pundits alike wondering how good or how different a team could be with the right incoming players.
What if Arsenal had signed the defensive midfielder or central defender they were in need of? Where would Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United side be if they had signed a much needed central defender?