July is very near which means the summer silly season is nearly upon us. The transfer window will officially open and the presenters of Sky Sports News will go into overdrive for two months which will accumulate with Jim White reporting on deadline day like an imminent nuclear strike from North Korea, Football message boards countrywide will be awash with people claiming to be “ITK” and social networking sites will see clubs linked with countless players and have fans biting their nails when their own stars are linked with moves away.
For seasons gone by us Stoke City fans have slowly learnt a few home truths about the summer (and indeed the winter) transfer windows:
1 The majority if not all of the business is done in the dying embers of the window. (this is where the best deals are to be had apparently)
2 We never sign full backs.
3 We’d sign someone, possibly out of the blue, all be relatively happy but then never see them on the pitch (See Arismendi Palacios, Edu, etc)
Alas, the era of the baseball capped messiah has now passed and we have a complete new management set up, back room team and outlook. so with that, what can we expect from the new gaffer. A lot of worries I heard when Hughes was announced was that he has made some shocking transfers in the past and his record of spending money was not the best. To be honest I think most if not all managers have signed some utter shockers in the past, Hughes is no exception to this.
At QPR Hughes signed Rob Green from West Ham Utd, granted Green was a freebie but by all accounts was on a hefty wage (along with the rest of the QPR squad). No less than 7 days later Hughes signed Julio Cesar on a 4 year contract, Green was cast aside and apparently told he could leave at any time despite being promised the number 1 spot by Hughes. Whilst manager of Manchester City, Hughes spent £5 Million on Tel Ben Haim a player who in my opinion has stolen a living as a premier league footballer for years, the fact that he has played for 5 Premier League clubs is staggering. Reports stated that Hughes was ill-advised to sign Jose Bosingwa at QPR but pressed ahead leaving some QPR fans to rate Bosingwa as one of their worst ever players. Other notable failures of Hughes include a list consisting of Francis Jeffers, Andrew Johnson, the Brazilian “Jo” and the £17.5 Million he spent on Roque Santa Cruz, a player Stoke have been linked with already this summer (You see it’s starting already). Hughes took him to Man City where he made just 20 appearances in 4 years scoring a massive 3 goals.
The above shows that Hughes had has his failings in the transfer market in the past, on the plus side he brought players such as Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Carlos Tevez to Man City who have all played their part in bringing trophies to the blue half of Manchester.+
Moving to next season for the Potters, Mark Hughes has already said he does not plan wholesale changes, in fact Hughes first signing has been last seasons outcast Jermaine Pennant who looked seemingly certain to leave Stoke but has been given one more chance with a one year contract. Along with this, Hughes has been quoted as saying the following:
““We need good quality in our starting eleven and good quality back up for when we lose players to injury and suspension, which it’s inevitable we will do.”
Pretty standard stuff in my eyes but the above has been our downfall for the last couple of years, we have had quality but nothing to back up the quality should something go belly up with players such as Wilko filling in at left back and Shotton on right wing. Hughes has also said he does not expect to bring many faces in and expects to add the “right” faces to the ones we already have. He has gone on to say that he would love to have deals wrapped up ready for pre season training. It seems Mr Hughes does not shop at the same place when Pulis got his last minute bargains.
I will be slightly sceptical of Hughes’ transfer activity, especially where large sums of money will be involved and I wouldn’t bank on us not signing any so called “Journeymen” after all we are the dogs home, but with Pulis departing Coates and Co must want Hughes to exploit the talent we may have already on our books that Pulis probably would have not. Brek Shea, Jamie Ness, and even Palacios may get a look in.
It will be interesting to see what our 25 and indeed starting XI look like come August 17th at Anfield, how many new faces we have and what these new faces will add to our squad. Can Hughes maintain our (nearly) rock solid defence whilst sorting our attacking failings. Exciting times ahead, lets hope Hughes stays away from some of his previous players in the crap list.