The Transfer Insider: Just How Well Have The 3 Promoted Sides Strengthened?

So the white lines are painted in the stadiums are spick and span, ahead of 10 months of Premiership mayhem but before a ball is kicked, one obvious question is: just what can we do with that newly-promoted trio of Norwich, Swansea and QPR in their season’s openers tomorrow?

As we suggested in SBC’s Essential Guide To The 2011/12 season, it is a long recognised strategy to back the newly promoted sides on the first day of the season, when adrenalin ensures they are primed to start with a flourish, even if they subsequently fail to scale the heights consistently thereafter.  You can find out more about SBC’s Essential Guide To The 2011/12 season here:

So what about Neil Warnock’s QPR? They are 7/5 with both bet365 and William Hill at home to Bolton tomorrow, and at that price surely they’re worth a nibble?

Normally QPR would go straight on to the shortlist but new research from the venerable Malcolm Boyle for suggests we should hold our fire. Mal’s research suggests that over the last five Premiership seasons, the new boys probably have not performed as well first-up as the commonly received wisdom suggests they have.

There have been fifteen opening day fixtures played by teams promoted to the Premier League in the last five years.  Their collective records are as follows:

Won 4 (26.7% equates to odds of 11/4)

Drew: 2 (13.3% = odds of 13/2)

Lost 9 (60.0% = odds of 4/6)

Goal difference: 17-29

Some of the salient results include: Newcastle 0 Man Utd 3 and West Brom 0 Chelsea 6 last season, with only Blackpool’s 4-0 pumping of Wigan resonating as a ‘shock’. The season prior (2009-10) Wolves, Burnley and Birmingham all faltered on their first outing.

So as a general rule of thumb, it seems that there is little future in backing the new men early – unless you’re really getting a value price such as 11/4 or better in their matches. And that isn’t happening this weekend at QPR. However at 11/4 Norwich arguably rate a value bet at Wigan while Swansea are a whopping 12/1 at megabucks Man City…..but can you really see the new boys taking anything from these tough looking fixtures? You’d certainly be betting more in hope than expectation.

How the new boys have fared in the transfer market

Certainly, in terms of transfer business, it would seem as if Swansea and Norwich did the majority of their business some weeks ago, although there has been a fairly steady string of new arrivals at Loftus Road.

QPR boss Neil Warnock’s latest recruit is Brazilian defender Bruno Perone, who, it goes without saying, I’ve never actually seen in action. Perone joins fellow summer recruits Jay Bothroyd, Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon, DJ Campbell and Brian Murphy.  The arrival of Perone could be the last bit of business Warnock does this summer. Do these new faces have what it takes to keep the west Londoners in the top flight?  I’m not sure to be honest, I think they’ll finish in the bottom five or six but they may just about keep themselves afloat.

Swansea, for their part, have picked up Leroy Lita and Wayne Routledge and both are certainly players that should add another dimension to the Swans’ attack. Both, were highly touted earlier in their careers  and they  both have something to prove after failing to establish themselves as Premier League stars in the past.

Nasri at 4/1 to join United

Back amongst the big boys, it looks as if Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas is finally going to get his wish of a move to Barcelona, and for everyone bar the Gunners faithful it is a relief this particular transfer saga is over. The writing has been on the wall for what seems like an eternity and it will allow us to move on and focus on other rumours.

Samir Nasri is also off apparently, with Manchester City the destination according to most sources.  However, don’t rule out Manchester United just yet either, they’ve still not signed Wesley Sneijder and the Gunners playmaker would be a cheaper option in terms of wages and price-tag. Nasri has also previously said he isn’t interested in money and just wants to win things, food for thought indeed.  The Frenchman is just 1/7 to join City, and a generous 4/1 to move to Old Trafford with Skybet.

If the pair do leave, as is looking increasingly likely, I would all but rule Arsenal out of the title race in all honesty.  No matter who Arsenal bring in they’ll struggle to cope with the loss of two key midfielders. That doesn’t mean they can’t challenge but the strength in depth at Eastlands, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge makes it hard to see anyone else winning the league.

So what does that mean for Arsenal? Surely Arsene Wenger can’t just dip into his academy and promote some of the club’s rising stars to first-team duty? I hope not.  He needs at least one experienced midfielder to fill the hole left by Fabregas and Nasri but strengthening in defence is Wenger’s priority and someone like Aaron Ramsey could really stake a claim for regular first-team football this season.

The Gunners boss will get to reinvest all the money raised from the two high profile departures back into the squad and Birmingham’s Scott Dann is now his top target, after seemingly deciding Everton’s Phil Jagielka and Bolton’s Gary Cahill are out of his price range.  Liverpool had been chasing Dann but it looks as if boss Kenny Dalglish is going to miss out, a centre-half is still high on his list of priorities and Dann’s potential move to the Emirates could well see the Reds move for Cahill – but the Wanderers may have to lower their £17million asking price if a move is to go through.

Dalglish is on the verge of securing Newcastle’s Jose Enrique for around £6million, which will be a great bit of business if he manages to pull it off.

One player who could still head to Arsenal is Newcastle’s Joey Barton.  The midfielder is a target for Stoke and Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, who will pay him around £70,000 a week, but I reckon he wants a shot at a big club and Wenger could give him the perfect opportunity once Fabregas and Nasri have departed.

Away from the big boys

I’ve been predicting a flurry of transfer activity at Bolton Wanderers for some time now, due to the fact they’ve been left with a threadbare squad that has now been hit with some high-profile injuries.  Granted, it didn’t take a genius to work this out and boss Owen Coyle has now stepped up his search for attacking additions.  Former Middlesbrough man Tuncay Sanli completed a medical on Thursday and will join on a season-long-loan.  The Turk didn’t do much at Stoke but I was a little surprised when the Potters signed him in the first place as he doesn’t really fit the Tony Pulis mould. He should impress at the Reebok, in more sympathetic surroundings.

The Trotters’ boss Owen Coyle is also closing in on Shaun Wright-Phillips, one of the many players deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City, but Stoke and Wigan (who can apparently offer better wages) might yet scupper that deal.  I would still suggest that the Wanderers are in pole position to snap up the occasional England international, despite interest from elsewhere.

Contrary to reports Bolton are not after Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome anymore, but there was interest earlier in the window.  There have been a lot of reports suggesting Stoke and Fulham are keen on the Blues frontman, but it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll either meet Birmingham’s rather steep £3.5million valuation (with add-ons possibly totalling £6million) or if the Championship outfit will lower the price.

West Brom have picked up Shane Long from Reading and this seems to have started some ridiculous rumour Peter Odemwingie could be heading for the exit.  Apparently, Hugo Rodallega is heading to Arsenal (so says the Mirror) and the Latics will go for Odemwingie as a replacement.  While I wouldn’t rule out a Rodallega exit, to the Emirates or elsewhere, I just can’t see Wigan meeting West Brom’s valuation of Odemwingie and it would surprise me to find there was any real substance to this story.

Kranjcar to Sunderland and Benayoun to Spurs

Spurs are still battling to keep hold of Luka Modric but I reckon they’ll eventually take the Arsenal route and relent, allowing the Croat to join Chelsea, possibly (but by no means certainly) with Yossi Benayoun heading in the opposite direction.  I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that the north Londoners have a pretty much ready-made replacement already in the shape of the under-utilised Niko Kranjcar but, despite this, the perennial impact sub could be heading to Sunderland on loan instead.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce would not doubt welcome a player of Kranjcar’s quality into the fold on Wearside but his fate could well be intrinsically linked with Modric’s.  If Modric goes, the former Pompey man will probably stay at White Hart Lane, and if Modric stays Kranjcar will likely move on – he is keen for first team football but has seemingly been priced out of a permanent move away. It is a further indicator that Spurs are keeping their options open to see what happens with Modric.

If Modric does move on Spurs will almost certainly reinvest any funds gained back into their squad, after a very quiet summer by their own busy standards to date, and interest in FC Twente playmaker Bryan Ruiz, Blackburn defender Chris Samba and Espanyol striker Pablo Osvaldo could be stepped up.

Indeed, Spurs are close to selling Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios to Stoke and if the transfers go ahead that will fund a move for one of the above three.  There is some confusion over this deal though – as Spurs want £20million and Stoke have offered £16million but a compromise will be reached, as the duo are no longer required by Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and there doesn’t appear to be much interest from elsewhere to drive up the price.

Otherwise Stoke have been pretty quiet, with just the free agents Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson signing on at the Britannia Stadium to date.  If the Potters do manage to grab Palacios and Crouch that will probably be about it for them, although Pulis does want a winger and if he misses out on Wright-Phillips he will surely step up that search.  Pulis is also relatively happy with his squad and will wait until later in the window when a bargain is more likely to appear at elite clubs needing to balance the books in the light of the looming UEFA Financial Fair Play legislation. Unlike Pulis though, most Premiership managers will be concerned that finding those one or two missing pieces of the jigsaw could be the difference between a season to remember and one simply to forget. And waiting, trusting blindly to fate, is a luxury many Premier League managers simply do not have.


Here is a brief table of completed deals, it may not be a 100% accurate at time of publishing but should prove a useful reference tool.  I’ve not included all the youngsters and fringe men who have been released and who hardly featured last season either, that just seems unnecessary information but I will stick all that in when the window comes to a close.


IN: Gervinho (£11m, Lille), Carl Jenkinson (undisc, Charlton), Alex Chamberlain (£12m, Southampton)

OUT:  Gael Clichy (£7m, Manchester City), Denilson (loan Sao Paulo), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (£1m, Ipswich)

Aston Villa:

IN: Alex McLeish (manager), Nathan Delfouneso (loan return, Burnley), Shay Given (£3.5m, Manchester City), Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5m, Wigan)

OUT: Gerard Houllier (manager), Brad Friedel (Free, Spurs), Ashley Young (£15m, Manchester United), John Carew (released), Nigel Reo-Coker (released), Robert Pires (released), Stewart Downing (£20, Liverpool)


IN: Myles Anderson (undisc, Aberdeen), David Goodwillie (£2.8m, Dundee United), Radosav Petrovic (FK Partizan)

OUT: Phil Jones (£17.5m, Manchester United), Frank Fielding  (undisc, Derby), Benjani (released)


IN: Darren Pratley (free, Swansea), Nigel Reo-Coker (free, Aston Villa), Chris Eagles & Tyrone Mears (Burnley, combined fee £2.75m)

OUT: Johan Elmander (free, Galatasaray), Rodrigo Moreno (loan return, Benfica), Daniel Sturridge (loan return, Chelsea), Tamir Cohen, Jlloyd Samuel, Joey O’Brien (all released), Ali Al Habsi (£4m, Wigan), Daniel Ward (£1m, Huddersfield), Matt Taylor (£2.2m, West Ham)


IN: Andre Villas-Boas (manager), Thibaut Courtois (undisc – Genk, now loaned out to Atletico Madrid), Oriol Romeu (Barcelona, £4.5million)

OUT: Carlo Ancelotti (manager), Michael Mancienne (undisc, Hamburg), Jeffrey Bruma (loan, Hamburg), Jack Cork (undisc, Southampton), Yuri  Zhirkov (undisc but widely reported as £17million, Anzhi Makhachkala).



OUT: James Vaughan (£2.5m, Norwich)


IN: Martin Jol (manager), John Arne Riise (Roma), Pajtim Kasami (undisc, Palmero), Marcel Gecov (£700,000, Slovan Liberec)

OUT: Mark Hughes (manager), Diomansy Kamara (free, Eskisehirspor), Kagisho Dikgacoi (undisc, Crystal Palace),               Eddie Johnson , Matthew Saunders, Pascal Zuberbuhler , Zoltan Gera , John Pantsil (all released), Jonathan Greening (£600,000, Nottingham Forest)


IN: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £20m), Charlie Adam (£9m, Blackpool), Stewart Downing (£20m, Aston Villa), Alexander Doni (free, Roma)

OUT: Nikola Saric (released), Paul Konchesky (undisc, Leicester City)

Manchester City:

IN: Stefan Savic (undisc, FK Partizan), Gael Clichy (£7m, Arsenal), Sergio Aguero (£38m, Atletico Madrid), Costel Pantilimon (undisc, Politehnica Timisoara)

OUT: Shay Given (£5m, Aston Villa), Jerome Boateng (£11.5m, Bayern Muncih), Patrick Viera (retired)

Manchester United:

IN: Phil Jones (£17.5m, Blackburn), Ashley Young (£15m, Aston Villa), David de Gea (£20m, Atletico Madrid)

OUT: Owen Hargreaves (released), Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar (both retired), Ritchie de Laet (loan, Norwich), Wes Brown (Sunderland), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Gabriel Obertan (£3m, Newcastle)

Newcastle United:

IN: Sylvain Marveaux (free, Rennes), Demba Ba (free, West Ham), Yohan Cabaye (undisc, Lille), Gabriel Obertan (£3m, Manchester United)

OUT: Kevin Nolan (£4m, West Ham), Wayne Routledge (£2m, Swansea)

Norwich City:

IN: Steve Morison (£2.5m, Millwall), Elliot Bennett (Brighton), James Vaughan (£2.5m, Everton) Bradley Johnson (free, Leeds), Ritchie de Laet (loan, Manchester United), Anthony Pilkington (£1.75m, Huddersfield), Kyle Naughton (loan, Spurs)

OUT: Matthew Gill (free, Bristol Rovers),


IN: Jay Bothroyd (free, Cardiff), Kieron Dyer (free, West Ham), Danny Gabbidon (free, West Ham), DJ Campbell (Blackpool), Brune Perone

OUT: Mikele Leigertwood (free, Reading)

Stoke City:

IN: Jonathan Woodgate (free, Spurs), Matthew Upson (free, West Ham)

OUT: Abdoulaye Faye (free, West Ham)


IN: Keiren Westwood (free, Coventry), Sebastian Larsson (free, Birmingham), Craig Gardner (£5m, Birmingham), Connor Wickham (£8.1m, Ipswich), Ji Dong-Won (Chunnam Dragons), Wes Brown (Manchester United), David Vaughan (free, Blackpool), John O’Shea (undisc, Manchester United)

OUT: Jordan Henderson (£20m, Liverpool), David Healy (free, Rangers), Steed Malbranque (undisc, St Etienne).

Swansea City:

IN: Danny Graham (£3.5m, Watford), Steven Caulker (loan, Spurs), Jose Moreira (undisc, Benfica), Wayne Routledge (£2m, Newcastle), Leroy Lita (£1.75m, Middlesbrough), Michael Vorm (£1.5million, FC Utrecht)

OUT: Dorus de Vries (free, Wolves), Darren Pratley (free, Bolton)

Tottenham Hotspur:

IN: Brad Friedel (Free, Aston Villa)

OUT: Steven Caulker (loan, Swansea), Jonathan Woodgate (released), Jamie O’Hara (£5m, Wolves), Kyle Naughton (loan, Norwich), Bongani Khumalo (loan, Reading)

West Brom:

IN: Billy Jones (free, Preston), Gareth McAuley (free, Ipswich), Marton Fulop (free, Ipswich), Shane Long (£6.5million, Reading), Ben Foster (loan, Birmingham), Zoltan Gera (free).

OUT: Abdoulate Meite (free, Dijon), Scott Carson (undisc, Bursaspor), Ryan Allsop (undisc, Millwall), Gianni Zuiverloon (undisc, Real Mallorca)


IN: Ali Al Habsi (£4m, Bolton), David Jones (free)

OUT: Tom Cleverley (loan return, Manchester United), Steven Caldwell (free, Birmingham), Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5m, Aston Villa), Mauro Boselli (loan, Estudiantes)


IN: Dorus De Vries (Free, Swansea), Jamie O’Hara (£5m, Wolves), Roger Johnson (£7m, Birmingham)

OUT: Greg Halford (undisc, Portsmouth)