|Football Bettor's Survey|
The big four in England may still be doing more posturing as opposed to actual buying but you do get the feeling that will change at some point.
It just takes one big transfer to go through and free up some space or for a club to get twitchy and start their rebuilding properly.
Sure, Liverpool have bought a few players but Rafa Benitez has a terrible habit of buying players who are merely squad fillers and the early additions to the Anfield squad do not appear to make the first team any stronger. Of course, with Benitez sticking by his rotational policy that isn’t as damaging for Liverpool as it is for other clubs. So, if the big four aren’t really moving, how are the other clubs doing?
There have been some notable signings from the rest of the top flight but like the rest of the football world, there has still been nothing startling or truly jaw-dropping to make you think that yes, this summer transfer window has finally come to life.
One club who has been making some moves are current FA Cup holders Portsmouth and with their first trip to Europe on the horizon, it is no surprise to see them making some moves. This and the fact that manager Harry Redknapp knows how to make negotiations work for himself (and his club), means there will probably be more moves from the South coast club before the window shuts as well.
A real statement of intent was made on the 11th of July when Peter Crouch was brought in from Liverpool for a fee around £9m.
Considering Portsmouth had brought in Jermain Defoe at the start of the year, the club have the makings of a dynamic strike force. There is no doubt that this is almost the dictionary definition of the tall and short front pairing although to be fair to Crouch, he does not play like the stereotypical target man.
He has a far better touch on the ground than his height would suggest but for some reason, has not always hung around at a club too long. In fact, Crouch had previously played for Portsmouth when he was moved onto Aston Villa but is now retuning as a full England international with a reasonable goal record for his nation. Where this leaves players like David Nugent in the Portsmouth squad remains to be seen but Pompey now have attacking options that can rival the strength of their defence.
Do not expect this to be the end of Pompeys signings though as it looks as though midfielder Sulley Muntari will be joining Inter Milan for a deal that is expected to bring in around £12m to the club. You can bet that Redknapp will insist on a sizeable chunk of this money being used to replace the Ghanaian who had an excellent season at the heart of Portsmouth’s midfield.
It is fair to say that the other English teams looking forward to European competition this season have also been a bit slow off the block with regards to transfers and bringing great numbers in.
Tottenham Hostpur moved swiftly to secure the services of Luka Modric before Euro 2008 but since then there has been mainly speculation about who is leaving the club.
Goalkeeper Paul Robinson has moved to Blackburn Rovers and talk persists about the future of Berbatov, Keane and Bent. To be fair the club has brought in a total of 6 new players to the squad so far this summer but with the exception of Modric, the only one to cause any ripple of excitement is the arrival of Giovani dos Santos from Barcelona, who cost just under £5m.
Juande Ramos has also strengthened the goalkeeping position by the acquisition of Heurelho Gomes who arrived for an undisclosed fee although it is believed to be a fee in the region of around £8m. Whether Gomes proves himself to be any better than Robinson remains to be seen and there is a feeling that the move will be good for Robinson to regain his form and enthusiasm for the game.
Exiting White Hat Lane are Teemu Tainio and Pascal Chimbondo who have both moved to Sunderland as well as some squad players in addition to the sale of Robinson.
Everton have been the team closest to breaking into the top 4 in recent years but have not indulged in much activity so far this season.
Their only piece of completed business has been signing up Stephen Pienaar who played for Everton on loan last season. There is the impression that the movement of players in depends first on moving out Andy Johnson and there are a raft of players who are interested in the forward who has never quite lived up to the promise that made Everton fork out for his signature.
There are a number of Premier League clubs hotly pursuing the player with Wigan and Fulham said to be extremely keen to bring the player in but the past two seasons have been disappointing for Johnson who is now far removed from the England squad.
All You Need Is Love?
If Everton can shift the player on, club manager Davie Moyes is said to have expressed an interest in Wagner Love from CSKA Moscow. Love is one of the many Brasilian players who moved to Russia to further his career and pocket a few pound and comes with a reasonable reputation in the Russian League.
Whether he justifies a price that is likely to be double what Everton sell Johnson for is debatable but Everton do need to add something to their squad or they run the risk of having a flat season this time around. They appear unable to break into the top 4 which means that barring a Cup triumph, failure to finish fifth will be viewed as a bad season for the club.
With debate raging over talks of anew stadium which may move the club out of Liverpool city boundaries, this may not be a wholly enjoyable season for Everton.
There is a strong chance that these clubs will be joined in the Uefa Cup by Aston Villa and Manchester City but if people are looking for a new team to challenge the Champions League qualification dominance of the main four, they will look to these three. Whether Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur or Everton have the resources and talent to compete domestically and in Europe remains to be seen but these are the clubs that English fans will be rooting for in this seasons Uefa Cup and to perhaps split the big teams of the land.
for The Silver Circle at www.footballtip.co.uk
I've been a member since July 2003, maybe one of the first to join the Silver Circle. 2004 was a good year but I really enjoyed the long run we had in, I think, July 2005. It was exhilarating! 2006-2007 was not as exciting although still quite profitable and so far 2007-2008 looks quite good. I'm wondering if we're going to hit a long one again soon. Anyway, it's been a pleasure as always with your service, Greg. Armstrong and you are one of the few people I trust on the internet. You have made my retirement so much more fun and financially happy!
Best Wishes, Trent Wrayford, Sidney