This is part II of my look forward to the summer transfer window. Part I can be found here:
You know, the guy you know you should have heard of but haven’t. The one Wenger knows all about. That guy who’s tearing up the Greek second division. The third leading scorer at Le Havre. The 24 year old Peruvian fella turning it on for Newell’s Old Boys. I’m making these up, but you know the kind of player I mean, or more to the point, you don’t. Someone who can come from nowhere, or even just from leftfield – Hernandez made his mark in the world cup before he made his United debut but he wasn’t an obvious spot. There must be others out there. Problem is, I reckon ‘Arry has about as much of a clue where as I do. Let’s hope whoever spotted Sandro still has some influence, and we could yet save a hell of a lot of money. Risky, though…
The young guns?
Connor Wickham. Lukaku (again). The next big thing. You have to give them time which is not a luxury we have. Added to that, it’s not a luxury Redknapp really has given that next year will surely be his final season with us. So whilst I’d love to see us invest in youth, I’d prefer we go for Modric style youth. 22 and ready to burst fully fledged on to the world stage. By all means buy the next Bale if you spot him, but unless he’s preternaturally ready for the big time it won’t help us next year. The word is Lukaku might be.
We need to think carefully this summer. Identify targets who will keep us in the hunt. Next season looks all the world like being a mini-league of five at the top. Do we want to take risks to make it a six or do we drop down a level? I would suggest that Defoe and Pav should be operating at that lower level. I would hope we could get £20m for the pair of them. Any bottom-half premiership team would snap them up and we’ve seen the premium on strikers with Darren Bent recently. Add that to £15m or whatever we get for Jenas / Keane / Bentley / Kranjcar plus some good old fashioned investment and is it so outlandish to think we could spend £45-£50m on a big gun and a one more contract-or?
Based on last summer, it probably is. My big fear is that our targets this summer might be in a fifth category. The why. I really do not want us to be chasing Scott Parker, not unless he’s on the cheap and doesn’t prevent us signing top quality in the areas where we need it. Nor do I want to sign anyone because they are ‘premiership quality’. Odemwingie, to name a random player, is Premiership quality. But so is Defoe. We need top mini-league quality. Harry needs to resist any temptation to sign players just because he knew their granddad or because he’s a lovely lad he had him at West Ham / Pompey triffic triffic triffic.
Sadly, I am now at the point where I also think we need a top quality goalkeeper. I still love you Heurelho, but I also still love Paul Robinson and I don’t want him to be my number 1 either. I want the Gomes of the final two thirds of last season back, but I don’t know where he is and I’d rather end it cleanly than to see a once beautiful relationship fizzle out in acrimony.
There are two main reasons put forward to replace him. One is that it’s affecting our defenders’ game: I’m not so sure about this. I reckon that in general it’s not knowing what your keeper will do that affects your game. With Gomes, he tends to come for everything and, mad minute against Blackpool aside, by and large it’s effective in a wobbly heart murmur kind of way. Do defenders really change their game when they know their keeper might spill a shot they should be trying to block anyway? I don’t think so. For me, it’s simply that the balance has tilted. The ratio of amazing saves to gaffes has altered and it’s just not worth persevering with any more. Replacing a keeper is a tricky business. You can’t really rotate, and if you get it wrong it’s easy to move backwards. But as with the strikers, there must be a few improvements available on the market this summer, and we don’t have to aim for the best in the world. We just need someone better. Let it be said though – at his best, there is… was… no-one better.
I’d also like a new right back and if we can get the lone frontman right I might think about giving Fvondefvoort a bit of competition, but I’m not fussy. I’d take two good quality strikers and nothing more if it was on offer.
And that’s it. Let the idle speculation flow. Let the rumour mill spring into action. Let us look to the future, because the present is just a bit too depressing.
The four most important months of next season have already begun. We simply have to get it right.