In our previous article, we detailed what ten of the Premier League clubs need to do in the January transfer window. In part two, we look at the other ten. So here goes, from Man Utd to West Ham, this is what needs to be done in the next month:
David Moyes’ first transfer window as Man Utd manager was an unmitigated disaster, and failure to improve upon it this January could quite genuinely be fatal to the Scot’s chances of retaining the hotseat at Old Trafford.
We’ve talked a lot about Man Utd here on Commentary Box Sports, but nevertheless, let’s just briefly detail where they are lacking. With Rafael injured, the Red Devils have no convincing alternative at right-back, and the men who have been utilised in that position instead have been largely ineffective; in the case of Antonio Valencia, actively detrimental to the United cause. United also have troubles on the other side of the back four, with Patrice Evra well below his best in recent weeks. There are also issues at centre back too, with the powers of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand waning significantly.
Although the defence is an issue, midfield is the bigger problem, and this is the void that Moyes actively tried to plug in the summer. Sadly for United, Marouane Fellaini has failed to fire so far, and with Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick providing a rather uninspiring central midfield partnership, United are in dire need of a midfielder who can make things happen in the middle of the park. Juan Mata has shown some unrest in London, and Moyes would be crazy not to look into bringing the Spanish Star north to Old Trafford, even if it mean losing Wayne Rooney in the process.
The lack of midfield creativity is perhaps the most pressing issue for United, but almost equally pressing is the feeling that the league champions are no longer capable of attracting the crème de la crème of world football. Fellaini only arrived after United failed in the pursuit of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alacantara, and so far it seems that Moyes doesn’t quite have the pulling power that his predecessor had.
United clearly need to strengthen for the good of their push for Champions League qualification, but it could be argued that by making a big statement this January, United could demonstrate that they are still a big player in the transfer market. With Wayne Rooney stalling on a new deal and only 18 months to go on his contract, the striker must be convinced that staying at Old Trafford is worth his while. Buying a couple of players of similar quality to the Croxteth-born striker would be a good way to start.
The football world launched into paroxysms of laughter when it was announced that ex-manager Joe Kinnear would return to the club as director of football, but really, Kinnear has so far been a thoroughly decent appointment. Responsible for bringing Loic Remy to the club, Kinnear’s work has helped to bring goals back to St James Park, and it will be interesting to see if the Irishman has any other transfers up his sleeve this January.
The Magpies have played well above expectations this season, which would suggest that not too much will happen this January, but it would be wise for Kinnear and Pardew to invest in some cover; perhaps another winger and a striker to support the excellent work done by Remy.
To be blunt, Norwich have been poor this season, and it is somewhat surprising that the Canaries have made it to January with Chris Hughton still employed by the club. Some work in January is imperative if the Norfolk club are to maintain their status as a Premier League team.
Only three clubs have scored less than the Canaries, pointing forward to a significant lack of firepower in the final third. Something must be done to bring more goals to the side, but with three strikers already employed by the club, a new forward is unlikely. With that in mind, Hughton may look to improve his side’s creativity with a new midfielder.
As well as their poor scoring record, Norwich have the second worst defensive record in the division, and if they continue to concede this number of goals they will be playing Championship football next season. Given that they don’t have huge resources, a loan deal is far more likely than any blockbusting transfers; and they’d do well to have a look at some of the squad players of the teams in the top ten.
Southampton have been one of the Premier League’s surprise packages so far this season, but have quickly descended the table in recent weeks. The Saints should survive comfortably, and a top ten finish would be a laudable achievement after last season’s final position of 14th.
Mauricio Pochettino has intimated that he doesn’t have much planned for January, but one thing’s for sure, there will be a number of clubs with designs on his left-back Luke Shaw. With Everton unlikely to sell Leighton Baines for anything other than a very large transfer fee, Shaw may well be a more attractive prospect for the big clubs, with Man Utd definitely in the market for a new left-back; but Pochettino will be keen to keep hold of Shaw, at least until the summer. Aside from these preventative measures, Saints may well look to add some depth to their squad; but probably no one who will replace the current first team regulars.
Stoke’s major problem has been goals, and chairman Peter Coates was quite clear in December when he said that there would be money available for Mark Hughes to spend on a striker in January.
The question will be whether Hughes can attract a striker of sufficient quality. The Welshman has done a decent job at trying to introduce a more attractive brand of football at the Britannia Stadium, but nevertheless, The Potters are still one of the less fashionable clubs in the division. West Brom’s Shane Long has been one name mentioned, but given his relatively meagre goals tally in his time at the Hawthorns, a big money move for Long would be something of a risk.
It has not been a good season for Sunderland. The Black Cats started abysmally, with Paolo di Canio sacked after a players revolt. Gus Poyet was the man who replaced di Canio, and although they have improved under his stewardship, they still remain rooted to the foot of the table.
It will be interesting to see the approach of Sunderland chairman Ellis Short this month; as Short sanctioned a significant amount of investment in the summer, and is likely to be reticent to invest heavily again; especially if Sunderland’s chances of remaining in the division are limited.
Nevertheless, it would seem likely that there will be some money available to Poyet, who desperately needs more goals from his team if they are to stay up. None of his strikers have really fired yet, and this may well be an area he looks to strengthen over the next few weeks.
Given their success last season, it has to be said that Swansea have underachieved so far this term. After their League Cup win last season, their form tailed off rapidly, and they have been similarly underwhelming so far this term. Unless the team is rejuvenated in some way, there is an outside chance that the Swans could be pulled into the relegation dogfight, and with that in mind, it is crucial that Michael Laudrup dips into the transfer market this month.
Swansea’s task has been made that much more difficult by their Europa League commitments, and Laudrup should add to the squad to make sure that he has cover for both tournaments. Their current concession rate of 1.4 goals a game is not much worse than their overall record for last season, but they are conceding more; and unless they find a way to make themselves more impenetrable, they will enjoy a non descript season at best.
The good news for Swans fans is that Laudrup is aware of the need to bring in more players, and it seems likely that they will bring in at least one midfielder and one defender by the end of the window.
Spurs have had a very odd season so far, with Andre Villas-Boas sacked in December after a few disappointing results, despite being in a respectable position in the league. The club’s technical director Tim Sherwood has been given the manager’s job, and so far his tenure is proving to be a success, with a more expansive and attacking game in operation.
Whether Tottenham will spend any money this January remains to be seen. It is traditional that a new manager is given funds to put their own mark on the club during their first window; but given the outlay in the summer it seems unlikely that too much money will be available to Sherwood.
Nevertheless, Spurs could do with strengthening both full back positions, and – with Sherwood preferring to employ two frontmen – possibly bringing in another striker.
West Ham United
After keeping the Hammers up last year, Sam Allardyce was probably hoping for a simpler season this time around, but things haven’t quite gone to plan, with the claret and blues second bottom at the halfway stage.
With Andy Carroll yet to kick a ball this season, West Ham have desperately struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, and it appears that Allardyce is keen to strengthen his forward options. A move for Inter Milan striker Diego Milito has been mooted, but it remains to be seen whether the Argentine is keen on a move to East London.
If the Hammers can get Carroll fit, they may not need to do any business this January, but whatever they do, they need goals fast if they are to remain a Premier League club next season.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom have been disappointing so far this year, and after finished eighth last season, their level of underachievement has been disappointing for their fans.
The Baggies poor form culminated in manager Steve Clarke being placed on gardening leave in December, and they are yet to appoint a new manager. If they are to do any business in January, West Brom must bring in a manager soon, and with Malky Mackay out of a job; there’s a possibility that the ex-Cardiff boss could be heading to the Hawthorns.
It’s difficulty to see precisely where West Brom need to improve, but they could definitely do with more strength in depth as they look to distance themselves from the relegation dogfight.