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VICE Sports Examines the Premier League Transfer Window

A super serious look at the Premier League transfer market.
September 2, 2015, 4:30pm
Photo by Geoff Caddick/EPA

We can all probably admit that this wasn't the greatest Premier League deadline day of all time. There was no Berbatov or three-random-lawyers deadline madness. The most we have to work with is some deadline eve chicanery—most notably the David de Gea fax fuck-up. But there's a strange sense about this window, the growing feeling that shoveling hundreds of millions of pounds into every club's coffers from Sky and other worldwide Premier League television partners might not necessarily lead to sound long-term strategic planning, competence, or even sanity. Nobody knows how to deal with it, and this is the result.

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ARSENAL

Not only has Arsene Wenger inherited the distinction of being the Premier League's elder statesman from Alex Ferguson, but he's also grabbed the baton from Fergie of being the manager constantly, and fruitlessly, in pursuit of Karim Benzema every summer where no bid actually ever materialises. Arsenal's big signing, Petr Cech, was a smart one, but general fury followed as nobody but a bunch of barely-legal twinks from Romania and Holland followed. Not even a late failed loan bid for Salomon Kalou suggests that maybe Wenger isn't deliberately winding up his support but actually believes in what he's doing. Terrifying.

Window rating: 4/10

The elusive Karim Benzema continues to elude Arsene Wenger. Joe Castro/EPA

ASTON VILLA

Making one big sale and using that money to buy loads of players has been a strategy that's turned out to pretty disastrously in recent years. But Villa had no choice, owing to their entire squad being shite. As it is, they've probably become a better team rather than a rabble hopelessly reliant on the flickering form of Christian Benteke. Sherwood wins again, although we all win when Sherwood laughs at dick jokes.

Window rating: 8/10

BOURNEMOUTH

Here's the extent of Bournemouth's spending: A couple of goalkeepers on frees, some overpriced Championship players and a fat Championship striker. Not terrible, but this window reeks of something a promoted side would do in 2008, before the new TV deal meant that you rocked up at the Britannia facing Barcelona B. A failure to move with the times probably means Bournemouth are staring at inevitable relegation.

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Window rating: 4/10

CHELSEA

Solid but unspectacular here: a good goalkeeper to mask the inevitable horrendous run of form from Thibaut Courtois, a Felipe Luis replacement, and Pedro. The lack of a centre-back was the glaring problem, but Chelsea still have a squad good enough to compete for the title. Their apparent complete failure to do so thus far probably has more to do with Mourinho than the players, but expect a 50 million pound bid for Harry Kane from new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti in January, regardless.

Window rating: 6/10

CRYSTAL PALACE

Some outstanding destinations in the 'outs' column here - Colchester (Owen Garvan), Kerala Blasters (Peter Ramage) — but the focus will be on the ludicrous signing of Yohan Cabaye, with a few other decent players to back him up. Alan Pardew's deal with the devil will probably see him cruise to a top half finish and trouble the Europa League places on the way, so things are looking well.

Window rating: 7/10

EVERTON

The usual window following an interesting one from Everton where they basically do fuck all. They signed Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu and a couple of kids at low prices, while letting go of Sylvain Distin and the much-beloved Antolin Alcaraz. They'll likely finish mid-table without bothering anyone or doing anything memorable for the whole year. Robert Martinez in mid-table is a waste.

Window rating: 5/10

LEICESTER CITY

A mixed bag of tough, veteran journeymen plodders comprise the ins of Leicester's window, although Shinji Okazaki could turn out to be a coup if he can replicate his very legit form at Mainz. But the stark reminder that we live in a world now where David Nugent, on the wrong side of 30, is still worth four million pounds seems to render almost everything else meaningless. He's 30-years-old! And he's also David Nugent!

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Window rating: 6/10

LIVERPOOL

One of several suspiciously-good-looking windows from Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers, with the only one wildcard signing being Roberto Firmino, who was amazing in Germany but hasn't shone for Liverpool yet, and plenty of proven Premier League talent backing it up. It'll be fascinating to see how this one turns out to be a total disaster, with fourth place looking so attainable. But the world wouldn't make sense if it worked out smoothly.

Window rating: 8/10 on paper, probably 2/10 by November

MANCHESTER CITY

By virtue of not doing anything completely fucking stupid, Manchester City have cemented their place as dominant above all of their closest rivals and will likely win the league with ease. But aside from that, they've decided to go back to the old glory days and actually use their billions to buy world-class players. Actually accepting inflation and paying exorbitant fees for Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling means they've vastly improved an already-good squad, and have adequately replaced and improved the players they shipped out. Basic competence is now a minor miracle.

Window rating: 9/10

MANCHESTER UNITED

Oh, Louis van Gaal. Things were looking promising with some good early deals signed and sealed like Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin. Then came the weird signing of a past-it Bastian Schweinsteiger, followed by the typical flailing around trying and failing to sign a marquee player. Then Van Gaal sold half the squad and ended up vastly overpaying for a striker who's just old enough to drive and almost as good as Emmanuel Riviere. The midfield issue has at last been fixed, but at the expense of every other position in the squad. And this is all before the now-traditional spectacular fuck-up. Some people might say it's an improvement that the catastrophe was failing to sell someone rather than failing to buy someone. But Van Gaal alienated De Gea for no good reason (along with Valdes and Rojo), so it's all looking pretty awful. Even the bizarre fanaticism that has overtaken United fans since Van Gaal was appointed is now starting to wane.

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Window rating: jerry_seinfeld_leaving_theatre.gif

David de Gea wishes he were taking his baggage to Real Madrid. Instead he stays with Manchester United. Alberto Martin/EPA

NEWCASTLE UNITED

A surprisingly generous allowance from Mike Ashley means that Newcastle have broken the £10m barrier a few times with their standard strategy of signing decent players who weren't good enough to get a gig anywhere else in the hope a couple of them turn out to be good, but not good enough to get a gig anywhere else other than Spurs. They probably signed enough to stop them nearly getting relegated again too, so both of their ambitions for the season are achieved already.

Window rating: 6/10

NORWICH CITY

A weirdly understated window. The only moves made were signing a trio of bang-average midfielders and a backup goalie on a free. Bizarre, and almost certain to end in panic-buying Charlie Austin for 25 million in January.

Window rating: 4/10

SOUTHAMPTON

Another solid window from Southampton, who signed solid players who probably could've gone to better clubs. The team also got big fees for the outgoing sales. A shame they had to mar things by spending £11 million on the last day to acquire a defender (Virgil van Djik) who can't defend. But it's nice to see a club get confident and secure enough to make an amusingly bad transfer and keep us entertained too.

Window rating: 8/10

STOKE CITY

Ibrahim Afellay, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Bojan Krkic will be Stoke City's frontline. Two years ago it was Jon Walters, Peter Crouch and Peter Odemwingie. So, yeah, fair fucks and all that, but the rest of the team is running on the fumes of Tony Pulis. And the intense weirdness of the squad is a sure sign they've failed to learn the lessons of Fulham and Hull. Relegation certainties.

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Window rating: Surely anybody who's played more than two seasons of Football Manager knows that no good will come of signing Ibrahim Afellay on a free, at any level. Come on.

SUNDERLAND

Wild flailing following a disastrous start to the season just when they thought they'd finally nailed it with the right manager, and a Spurs loan on deadline day. It will end up being the same thing they do every year: sack their manager with ten games to go, beat Newcastle 4-0 and hope they stay up on the last day.

Window rating: Sunderland

SWANSEA CITY

Swansea's windows have tended to be pretty focused. Signing Andre Ayew on a free is probably the best bit of business anyone's done so far. Not only do they win the Bojan Krkic Memorial 'How-the-fuck-did-they-manage-that' Transfer Award, but they also picked up first place for the most amusingly-named player in Botti Biabi after a close fight with Roma and Willy Vainqueur. The trophy haul doesn't lie.

Window rating: 8/10

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

The spectacular deadline day failure was predictable, but it's not been a bad window otherwise. They had no major departures (which, Adebayor aside, is a good thing), and they brought in actual good, proven defenders, and a talented attacking player. The deal for Saido Berahino was presumably just a reflex reaction to some competence and stability, with chairman Daniel Levy having become—much like his partner-in-crime Jim White—self-aware and playing up to the festivities.

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Window rating: 7/10

Saido Berahino's prayers were not answered. He stays at West Brom. Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/EPA

WATFORD

The wisdom of getting promoted with a solid outfit and then buying two entirely new teams with a scattergun approach that sees Spartak Moscow, Steaua Bucharest and Guangzhou Evergrande among your target markets is highly questionable. But it will at least be very interesting to see what happens. So at least in wild experimentation, Watford are doing something positive with their time.

Window rating: ????????

WEST BROM

Things were looking pretty good for West Brom. Tony Pulis appeared to have built a Tony Pulis team fairly efficiently — violent, pacy wingers who only turn up for big games, burly strikers, no-nonsense part-Welsh centre-backs — but then Daniel Levy decided to reduce their best player to tears, and there wasn't much they could do about it.

Window rating: 5/10

WEST HAM

An extremely weird window in which West Ham ended up with players like Manuel Lanzini, who will probably end up scoring at Anfield but then nobody will ever remember what they looked like or what position they played. The weirdest squad in the league by a country mile. While West Ham can cause problems, they will probably also see Slaven Bilic struggle through after a few wins at Stamford Bridge and then heavy defeats at home to Watford.

Window rating: 6/10