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The Squad Balancing Act

By Robin Byrne :  23/08/2007 :  Comments (6) :
Now that Yakubu is on the way (medical and personal terms permitting) and Fernandes appears to be signed (red tape and Premier League/FA double standards permitting), it looks like our transfer window business is done so I figured I?d look at how the incomings compare to the outgoings, basically how the squad compares to the one we finished the season with.

Wessels in (free), Wright out (free). Looks a good bit of business. I don?t think anyone could argue with getting rid of Dickie and Wessels is an experienced European keeper who should provide quality cover for Howard and may even push him for a starting place.

Baines in (£5m), Naysmith out (£1m). No brainer this one. Naysmith was never a fan favourite, which is putting it mildly! Baines is younger, a much better player, and should hopefully solve our left back issues. £5m is a snip in my opinion, especially when you look at the lad Bale going to Spurs for double that.

Jagielka in (£4m), Pistone out (free). Another no brainer. Pistone had hardly played for us in the past 2 seasons and while he could play left back or centre back (even right back on occasion if memory serves) I never felt all the confident when I saw his name on the team sheet. Jagielka on the other hand is younger and looks the business. The fact that he is a utility player might delay him cementing a first team place but he?s a great addition to the squad in my opinion, and at a decent price too. I think he or Baines could prove to be one of the signings of the summer.

Yakubu in (£11.25m), Beattie out (£4m). Tricky one this. I think £4m for Beattie was a smashing price given his atrocious form last season, even if it does represent a £2m loss on the player. I would?ve loved Beatts to be our number 9, but it wasn?t to be and I was delighted when I heard we?d sold him. I just hope we haven?t bought a more expensive version of him. Yakubu has a proven goal scoring record in the Premiership, which is more than can be said of Beattie. He has a reputation for being lazy, which is something I cant see Moyes putting up with, and hopefully playing with his mate Yobo will help too. My main worry is whether he?s worth £11.25m. I was amazed when Boro bought him for £7.5m two years ago, and I don?t think he?s improved as a player while there as I thought he was much more dangerous at Pompey. I hope its not a purchase borne of desperation ? would we have bought Yakubu for such an amount of money if Vaughan and to a lesser extent Cahill weren?t injured at the moment? He could, and hopefully will, turn out to be a good buy come the end of the season, and even for the money we?ve spent I think he?s an improvement on Beattie. Which might not be saying much. Another reason to think positively about the Yak is the fact that the football pundits don?t think he can form a partnership with AJ, other than Harry Redknapp. That might sound daft, but lets not forget that this time last year every TV and newspaper pundit out there was waxing lyrical about how AJ and Beattie would form an amazing partnership, whereas Moyes himself was rather coy about it. So lets hope that Moyes sees something in Yakubu that will complement AJ?s workrate and style of play.

Pienaar in (loan). I?ve only seen flashes of him but he looks a good player and should be a good addition to the squad, and may push for a first team place if good enough. Getting him on loan is good business especially if we have an option to buy for £2m which was quoted at the time. If Andy van der Meyde is kicked out before the close of the window, I would guess that Pienaar is his direct replacement.

Jutkiewicz in (rising to £1m). Good signing in my opinion. He wont see much first team action this season, barring injury, but he had a good pre-season and could be one for the future.

I haven?t counted Manny as he finished the season with us, but I will say that adding him as a permanent player is great business, even at £8-9m.

A lot of us have complained in the past about how we usually end up under Moyes improving the quality of the squad but actually reducing the size of it. It would appear that he, and/or the Board, have learned from past mistakes as this transfer window we have boosted the size of the squad by 2, and definitely improved the quality. Will there be more comings and goings? I think its unlikely that we have any more money to spend, but I wouldn?t count out us getting rid of Andy van der Meyde. I?d love to think that we could sign an out and out winger if we do ditch AvdM but I cant see that happening given the amount of money spent and the time available, and I?m probably being greedy because I cant really argue with the improvements Moyes has made to the squad this summer. When Vaughan, Cahill and Baines come back and join a squad with Yakubu and Manny included (again hopefully) we?ll have one hell of a team!

Reader Comments

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Eric Myles
1   Posted 24/08/2007 at 02:04:26

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From my limited armchair viewing from overseas I thought that in our 4th place season (so long ago now I don’t remember when!) Pistone was one of the most underrated left backs in the league and contributed a lot to our acheiving the fourth spot.

Unfortunately he’s had continuous injury problems and not been able to build on that potential.

But on a one to one comparison of Baines vs. Pistone, I agree, defiinitely a no brainer.
Bob P
2   Posted 24/08/2007 at 02:30:30

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Robin - you make what appears to be a good, sound analysis here. I, too, wonder about Yakubu. There is no room in a Moyes team for laziness. So, let’s hope Davey has some insight that dispels this fear. As for clicking with AJ, I reckon there’s a really good chance he’ll lay off some great chances for AJ because of his size and strength and AJ, with his sped and tenacity/agility etc will provide for Yak as well.
Let’s hope it all happens
3   Posted 24/08/2007 at 07:03:11

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Strangely enough I too have some reservations about Yakubu. He has never struck me as a team player but rather a player who is interested only in himself and his scoring record. Not an all together bad thing when it comes to a striker but..........?
Dan Mckie
4   Posted 24/08/2007 at 09:12:39

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I dont think Yakubu is a panic buy or that he was only bought because of injurys! I think its because we didnt posess any real power up front (maybe Anichebe but not yet),we have pace in Johnson and I think Vaughan will continue to get better but we had nobody who could bully a centre back and I think we could have found our answer to that in Yakubu!
Richard Watts
5   Posted 24/08/2007 at 11:36:41

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I also don’t think it’s fair to describe Yakubu as a panic buy - we’ve been linked with him for some time and he’s played in the Premiership long enough that Moyes will know what he can do. It isn’t like we’ve bought him in two days having only seen him on DVD (a la Harry Redknapp)!

This is a very good analysis of how the team has developped. Assuming we do get Yakubu and Fernandes this has been our best pre-season for transfers for a long time. We also now have the strongest squad the club has had since the disintegration of the great Kendall team.

So now is the time to show it on the pitch.
Luke Brooks
6   Posted 24/08/2007 at 13:06:59

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Nice analysis and on the balance it looks like a good summer’s biz. Again, I’m not certain on the Yak and whilst we probably got £4m more for Beats than he was actually worth it doesn’t mean we should’ve splashed so much the cash....worse still, one of my mates who is a Shef Utd season ticketer reckons that we’re stumping up £12K of Beats’ £40k p.w. salary whilst they’re in the Championship. Has anyone else heard anything along those lines...

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