How transfer window affected the North-East

01 September 2010 10:56
Sunderland splashed the cash at the last minute, Newcastle proved that no new capital outlay' doesn't necessarily mean no new signings, and Middlesbrough launched a series of cross-border raids into Scotland. Assistant Editor Scott Wilson looks at the transfer window dealings of the North-East's big three.


WHEN Mike Ashley announced there would be no new capital outlay at the end of last season, it was feared Newcastle would be signing no one this summer.

That wasn't the case, but it remains to be seen whether their limited transfer dealings are enough to keep them in the Premier League.

Chris Hughton has added a smattering of quality, but the Magpies manager has been unable to address the lack of depth that is still apparent in certain areas of his squad. If Newcastle suffer a spate of injuries, Ashley might live to regret his parsimonious approach.

Sol Campbell is the standout signing, and while he is still to make his senior debut having missed the whole of pre-season, his experience and enduring ability could prove priceless. If nothing else, his arrival has tempered the impact of Steven Taylor's injury and transfer listing.

James Perch has also replaced an injured player, Danny Simpson, and the defender's versatility could be a valuable asset given the lack of numbers in Newcastle's defensive ranks.

The lack of orthodox leftback cover for Jose Enrique, though, remains a concern.

In midfield, Dan Gosling has clearly been signed with an eye to the future given the cruciate injury that will sideline him for the rest of the calendar year.

Cheik Tiote is very much a signing for the here and now, and given the new financial environment in which Newcastle are operating, the midfielder's £3m price tag represents a considerable investment.

Hatem Ben Arfa has cost nothing so far, but his loan deal will become a permanent £5m transfer if he makes 25 senior appearances this season.

The France international is a mercurial talent, and his creativity and vision set him apart from the rest of the Magpies midfield. Keeping his temperament in check, however, could be a considerable challenge.

The pursuit of Robbie Keane briefly threatened to end the window with a bang, but Newcastle spent deadline day keeping their powder dry. Time will tell whether their squad is already strong enough to secure Premier League survival.


HAVING spent last summer overhauling the squad he inherited from Ricky Sbragia, this was supposed to be the transfer window in which Steve Bruce kept his tinkering to a minimum.

Quality rather than quantity' was the mantra at the end of last season. Nine additions and 11 departures on, and the Sunderland boss has not exactly been as good as his word.

The early part of the summer was dominated by a defensive overhaul and the surprise departure of former skipper Lorik Cana in the opening week of pre-season training.

The £1m capture of Titus Bramble was always going to be controversial given the defender's much-catalogued troubles at Newcastle United, but his displays in the opening month of the season have justified Bruce's faith.

Similarly, Nedum Onuoha has impressed after joining on loan from Manchester City, while John Mensah's qualities are already well known following last season's spell at the Stadium of Light.

The goalkeeping position is more of a concern, even though Simon Mignolet has started strongly following a £2m move from Belgium.

Bruce's unsuccessful pursuit of David James hinted at concerns over the absence of the injured Craig Gordon, and the board's refusal to sanction the signing of the former England international suggested a change in the relationship between boardroom and dug out.

Ellis Short has clearly decided his pockets are not bottomless, so Bruce opted to raise funds by sanctioning Kenwyne Jones' £8m departure to Stoke.

Despite the arrival of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United, the move was always going to be something of a gamble without a replacement in place.

Asamoah Gyan was always Bruce's preferred transfer target, and after a lengthy pursuit, the Ghana international completed a club-record move to Wearside yesterday.

Having spent £12m on the striker, Bruce clearly needs the transfer to work, and with Fraizer Campbell sidelined for the season, Gyan's partnership with Darren Bent is likely to make or break Sunderland's campaign.

After another hectic summer of transfer dealing, it should also determine the strength or weakness of Bruce's position at the Stadium of Light.


AT the start of the month, it looked as though Middlesbrough had enjoyed a successful summer in the transfer market.

Kris Boyd was ready to reproduce the form that made him the Scottish Premier League's all-time record goalscorer, Kevin Thomson appeared capable of dominating from midfield and Stephen McManus was back after a successful loan spell in the second half of last season.

Four weeks on, however, and the mood on Teesside has changed. Instead of looking forward to a promotion campaign, Middlesbrough supporters are nervously fearing what the next eight months might entail.

Why the sudden change

Injuries clearly haven't helped, with Thomson joining Willo Flood on a long-term injury list that already contained the name of Rhys Williams.

And with the club's early performances having been patchy at best, there is a fear that Strachan has assembled a squad, and in particular a midfield, that lacks balance.

Pace is difficult to discern, and while the likes of Thomson and Nicky Bailey boast obvious ability, are they any different to Barry Robson and Gary O'Neil, players who were already on the club's books

With a final attempt to sign Craig Conway from Dundee United having failed yesterday, Boro lack natural width despite the arrival of Tarmo Kink and Andy Halliday.

The defence looks reasonably strong, thanks to the return of McManus and the loan signing of Matt Kilgallon, but the lack of a natural left-back is a concern.

That could still be addressed once the window for Football League loan signings reopens in seven days time, with Boro having swelled their coffers by completing one of the most unexpected transfers for many a season a couple of weeks ago.

Brad Jones' £2.3m switch to Liverpool was a major shock for supporters and staff alike. Compared to securing top dollar for such an error-prone goalkeeper, winning promotion should be a walk in the park.


Source: Northern_Echo

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