Yesterday, I looked at Arsenal’s transfer business and concluded that they deserve an A minus! Well, I didn’t exactly state that, but if you read between the lines, you would have picked that up. After all, the Gunners are supposed to be A-grade students of the game, but they would have just about managed a C Grade at GCSE level in the last campaign!
Now let’s take a look at the clubs with names that start with B, some of whom would be more than happy with Arsenal’s final position of 6th in the class behind Man City (1st), Man Utd (2nd), Spurs (3rd), Liverpool (4th) and Chelsea (5th). Those boys ought to be made prefects! Erm, then again, maybe not!
However, how about the bad boys in the Premier League class? By that, I mean the teams that are not expected to do well.
You could say that Bournemouth are one of the ‘goody-two-shoes’ in the class, with their polished football skills and comparative lack of disciplinary points. However, being one of the teachers’ pets didn’t help Swansea much, as they hurtled down a division last time around. Therefore, it’s more about grit and determination (or a bit of foul play), if you want to excel. Into the engine room of midfield comes David Brooks from Sheffield United for a fee that could reach £11.5m. Perhaps the ex-Blade will provide a cutting edge for the Cherries, but with the £18m-plus-worth of offensive exits, which includes: Benik Afobe (10 goals in 63 appearances), Lewis Grabban (who couldn’t seem to find the net enough in the Premier League), and the attacking but misfiring Max Gradel, clearly the club are looking to bring in someone more proven in the goalscoring department (despite scoring a not-too-shabby total 45 goals in 38 games last time around). They’d better get their skates on as there’s not long to go until the transfer window shuts!
Next up, let’s look at Brighton. Everyone (well, almost everyone!) has been hailing the Seagulls manager, Chris Hughton, for being Mr Shrewd (not Scrooge!) on the transfer front. My only concern is too much change is not necessarily a good thing, as Brighton have brought in: Yves Bissouma from Lille to strengthen midfield, and Leo Balogun to bolster the defence. Aside from that, Brighton have recruited decent keepers in David Button, Jason Steele and the promising Hugo Keto, while taking a bit of a risk on Bernardo, Percy Tau, and the not-exactly-prolific Romania international striker Florin Andone. Not counting ‘undisclosed’ transfer fees, Brighton have spent in excess of £30m on eight players, while five have been sold or allowed to leave. That’s quite a turn-over, and Brighton’s success next season depends on how well Hughton can help the new arrivals to settle. Personally, I think it’s going to be a tough season ahead for Brighton.
Now for the opposite extreme: Burnley. The Clarets in the transfer market reminds me of Peter Cook’s fictional adventure into the world of restaurants. When asked how business had been at the ‘Frog and Peach, Cook replied: ‘Let me answer that in two parts. There hasn’t been any business and nobody’s been’. It’s a bit like Burnley, who are reportedly hoping to land Vinny Steele from York City and Nantes’ Abdoulaye Toure. Meanwhile, two players have left, so it’s as you were at Turf Moor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Clarets over-achieved last season and could possibly prove difficult to beat once more, as long as they hold onto their much sought-after manager, Sean Dyche.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine Burnley or the other teams above pushing Arsenal for 6th spot or above in the forthcoming season. The Gunners have certainly been much busier than two of the ‘B’s, when it comes to the transfer market.