Close Season Transfer Targets
By Bristol Boy
One thingís for sure, being a Championship club (yes, thatís a CHAMPIONSHIP club if youíre a Gashead having a sneaky read of this), will make it easier to attract better players.
That applies to players on loan. Birmingham & Stoke in particular, had great success from loaning and, in Larsenís case, signing quality Premiership players. Spending £7m on Vine & McSheffery didnít do them any harm either, albeit they funded it with the sale of Pennant & Upson for £11/12m.
Will players at the clubs promoted to The Premiership be good enough? Will Birmingham want to hang on to players like DJ Cambell & Clemence now that they're back in the promised land? Let's face it they weren't regulars last season and didn't stop them getting relegated the season before.
Neither, it must be said, did the players at Roy Keanes revitalised Sunderland who should welcome back the 10,000 ST Holders that walked when they were relegated. Their decision must have cost them dearly in the latter stages of this season, although they would have felt entirely vindicated before Niall Quinns master stroke and some Irish Investment brought Keanos arrival.
GJís known as a manager who likes to play football, although we tempered our more cavalier instincts last season preferring a rock solid defence on which to base our promotion effort.
So thatís all good news.
The bad news is that better players command better salaries and if you canít afford them or negotiate a percentage deal, youíre in competition with some clubs who wonít approach things in the same manner. Three at least who are enjoying £10mps parachute payments for two seasons.
GJ has a reputation for not liking big name players or big time Charlieís whoíd like to think theyíre big names. His treatment of Bridges, Stewart & Phillips established that and perhaps, quite unfairly, he is looked upon in some quarters as being unable to manage those players.
I donít necessarily buy into that although I wouldnít be so bold as to say itís nonsense. Simply put, I donít know and his activity in the summer will determine whether he wants to go for more established pros or younger players who he may see as having a point to prove.
If one looks at where we need to strengthen, I canít see us signing another keeper or defender unless someone apart from Woodman leaves.
In midfield, itís that much mentioned wide left player in the Alan Walsh, Dave Smith mould and a playmaker/leader in the style of a Gary Shelton or perhaps Brian Tinnion.
Our flank play is certainly an issue.Brian Wilson & Kevin Betsy need a good pre-season and a good start, as does a seemingly rejuvenated Scott Murray.
Up front, every one of our strikers has a point to prove next season and must be looking over his shoulder. Simply put, not one of them, for a variety of reasons scored enough goals or in the case of Brooker and perhaps Showunmi, played enough games. This is particularly applicable when one considers the fact that Billy Sharp played in forty five of Scunnys forty six League Games, hitting the net on thirty occasions. GJís saying all the right things about the representative team, but if weíd swapped Sharp for any of our forwards, I believe that weíd have been ten points clear by Christmas and promoted by the beginning of March.
For those reasons, I predict another two to four players will follow the seven players already released, out of Ashton Gate making nine to eleven in total.
In will come two strikers for sure, perhaps three if a striker or two leave. A wide left midfielder and, possibly another central midfielder, also left sided.
I agree wholeheartedly with GJ and all those who donít want to throw the baby out with the bath water by signing a new team and the players who come in MUST be automatic first team choices when FIT & ON FORM.
They must fit in to the ďmentalityĒ as GJ likes to call it and one thing the absence of our players in the League One select XI proves is that we are, for the first time in a fair while a TEAM.
Depending at what stage of their development GJ sees them, Myrie Williams, Wilson, Artus & Plummer will go out on loans to further their experience of League/First Team football, always assuming Plummer signs and thatís not a done deal.
So thatís four to six in.
Given the ability of our squad, I donít see many players being able to strengthen it overall without a significant transfer or signing on fee, for a Bosman.
Potential League One Targets such as:
Cohen & Davies
In League Two
Walker-Not good enough
McCleod-Turned down £1m already, could be promoted, have a new stadium and MK Dons pay very well. Add to this that they have to give 30% of the profit to Derby if they sell.
League One players wonít come cheap and probably wonít come at all if their clubs win the play offs and join us in The Championship.
Players from Premier Clubs such as Chris Eagles who played for Sheff Weds last season are likely targets. I donít know if players like Rossi at Man Utd, Bentdner of Arsenal or Jeremy Aliadiere would consider a season long loan but at least we can enquire and all they can do is say no!!
The years when Premiership clubs (then Division One), let their older players finish their careers at Ashton Gate are gone and, in fairness, the players probably wouldnít consider it. I remember Joe Jordanís City debut like it was yesterday and talking to David Moyes post match hearing him enthuse about it like a fan. Brilliant, happy days.
We probably couldnít afford the likes of multi-millionaires like Robbie Fowler or Teddy Sheringham and would GJís highly valued dressing room harmony and team spirit be threatened by the arrival of such senior players??
In all fairness, theyíll probably want Premiership status, coaching opportunities or theyíll pack in and lie on a beach somewhere (have they got beaches in Toxteth?), counting the dosh and good luck to them.
Ipswich & Wolves brought in players from League Two & Non League to good effect, as did Peterboro. Will that door open?
If I had to guess and, for the purposes of this missive I will, I reckon weíll go for players that GJ sees as being on the up and with a point to prove:
Chris Cohen as opposed to George Cohen, if you like!
Heíll look at the better players in League One that donít go up through the play offs:
Holt & Tyson-Forest
Cohen & Davies-Yeovil
Hoolahan-Blackpool (Loan from Scotland)
I canít see SL splashing out £2m on Sharp for example, but I can see three or four £500k signings.
I am sure that SL would prefer Bosmans so players like:
Come into the equation and we know Holt, Pospisil & Best were either bid for or watched.
Players that have fallen into League One like Healy at Leeds shouldn't be discounted although, if I had to bet and look at Budgets,my money would be on Healy moving to Fulham under Sanchez.
Freddie Eastwood has always impressed me and did OK in a relegated team last season.Could Colchester fend off City interest in Iwulemo? The stick that Cureton got in the past on the basis of unfounder rumours probably precludes him from even thinking about coming here.
Oh and did I mention that we are in THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
I may have once or twice, but I think I got away with it.
The views expressed in this 'Soapbox' section are those of the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bristol City Supporters Trust>