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Usher: A tribute to Daniel Agger

Liverpool about an hour ago
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Sep 3, 2007

Looking through the closed window

Arsenal

In: Eduardo da Silva (Dinamo Zagreb), Bakary Sagna (Auxerre), Lassana Diarra (Chelsea), Lukasz Fabianski (Legia Warsaw), Havard Nordtveit (Haugesund)
Out: Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Jose Antonio Reyes (Atletico Madrid), Freddie Ljungberg (West Ham), Jeremie Aliadiere (Middlesbrough), Fabrice Muamba (Birmingham), Johan Djourou (Birmingham, loan), Arturo Lupoli (Fiorentina), Mart Poom (Watford)

Verdict: Short-term pain, long-term gain? Thierry Henry's departure was always going to be traumatic and it is unrealistic to expect anyone to replicate the impact of arguably the Premier League's greatest player.

But Arsene Wenger is in the black this summer and has a younger squad. Their encouraging start suggests Wenger could be an unlikely winner from the window.

Aston Villa

In: Nigel Reo-Coker (West Ham), Curtis Davies (West Brom), Zat Knight (Fulham), Marlon Harewood (West Ham), Scott Carson (Liverpool, loan)
Out: Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham), Gavin McCann (Bolton), Jlloyd Samuel (Bolton), Aaron Hughes (Fulham), Lee Hendrie (Sheffield United), Steven Davis (Fulham), Chris Sutton (retired), Mark Delaney (retired), Eric Djemba-Djemba (released)

Verdict: Had Martin O'Neill wrapped himself in a Union Jack, the message would have been more clear: Brits are best.

But while they - Curtis Davies in particular - can appear over-priced, the initial outings of Scott Carson, Zat Knight and Nigel Reo-Coker suggests O'Neill's old-fashioned formula of getting the best out of players who seemed to have lost their way is reaping a reward.

Birmingham City

In: Garry O'Connor (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fabrice Muamba (Arsenal), Johan Djourou (Arsenal, loan), Olivier Kapo (Juventus), Daniel de Ridder (Celta Vigo), Stuart Parnaby (Middlesbrough), Liam Ridgewell (Aston Villa), Franck Queudrue (Fulham), Rafael Schmidt (Lille, loan), Richard Kingson (Antalyspor), Wilson Palacious (loan)
Out: Stephen Clemence (Leicester), Bruno N'Gotty (Leicester), DJ Campbell (Leicester), Julian Gray (Coventry)

Verdict: An eclectic and unlikely mix, whose eventual success will be determined by whether Birmingham can reach 40 points. Steve Bruce has a radically different squad and no section of his promotion-winning team has survived intact.

Bruce has added to his stable of strikers and Olivier Kapo enjoyed an excellent debut, but perhaps his best additions - Fabrice Muamba and Johan Djourou - are the products of his relationship with Arsene Wenger.

Blackburn Rovers

In: Roque Santa Cruz (Bayern Munich), Maceo Rigters (NAC Breda), Gunnar Nielsen (Frem Copenhagen)
Out: Francis Jeffers (Sheffield Wednesday), Michael Gray (Wolves), Andy Todd (Derby), Paul Gallagher (Preston, loan)

Verdict: East Lancashire must have been exempt from the inflation that applied throughout the rest of the Premier League. How else to account for the low price of such an accomplished striker as Roque Santa Cruz?

Blackburn are in the ranks of the lowest spenders, but it represents a successful summer with all their coveted players - Benni McCarthy, Morten Gamst Pedersen et al - still at Ewood Park.

Bolton Wanderers

In: Heidar Helguson (Fulham), Gavin McCann (Aston Villa), Jlloyd Samuel (Aston Villa), Gerald Cid (Bordeaux), Zoltan Hursanyi (Senec), Daniel Braaten (Rosenborg), Andy O'Brien (Portsmouth), Mikel Alonzo (Real Sociedad, loan), Danny Guthrie (Liverpool, loan), Christian Wilhelmsson (Nantes, loan)
Out: Tal Ben Haim (Chelsea), Abdoulaye Faye (Newcastle), Quinton Fortune (released), David Thompson (released), Henrik Pedersen (Hull)

Verdict: Sammy Lee's odd fondness for Aston Villa reserves is the stand-out feature of a host of cheap signings.

Whether Bolton couldn't or wouldn't make a major signing is another matter but, though Mikel Alonso appears almost as talented as brother Xabi, Bolton's real triumphs in the transfer window were keeping hold of Nicolas Anelka, El-Hadji Diouf and Jussi Jaaskelainen. They may not for much longer.

Chelsea

In: Florent Malouda (Lyon), Juliano Belletti (Barcelona), Alex (PSV Eindhoven), Tal Ben Haim (Bolton), Steve Sidwell (Reading), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich)
Out: Arjen Robben (Real Madrid), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Lassana Diarra (Arsenal), Geremi (Newcastle), Khalid Boulahrouz (Sevilla, loan), Jimmy Smith (Norwich, loan), Michael Mancienne (QPR, loan), Ben Sahar (QPR, loan), Nuno Morais (Apoel Nicosia), Juan Sebastian Veron (released)

Verdict: It was perhaps the most unlikely scenario of the transfer window, but Chelsea made a profit. Ever contrary, Jose Mourinho is in the black for once. Whether it amounts to a net gain on last season is another matter.

Florent Malouda looks an excellent acquisition, but Arjen Robben's unpredictability will be missed. Most of the other recruits are reserves, even if Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim add much-needed strength in depth.

Derby County

In: Robert Earnshaw (Norwich), Claude Davis (Sheffield United), Kenny Miller (Celtic), Andy Todd (Blackburn), Andy Griffin (Portsmouth), Eddie Lewis (Leeds), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg), Lewis Price (Ipswich), Tyrone Mears (West Ham), Ben Hinchcliffe (Portsmouth)
Out: Lee Camp (QPR), Seth Johnson (released), Paul Peschisolido (Luton), Morten Bisgaard (released), Ryan Smith (Millwall), Richard Jackson (Luton), Paul Boertien (Walsall)

Verdict: Oh dear. Quality was required and quantity was acquired. The majority of Billy Davies' arrivals have either suffered relegation or been found wanting personally in the top flight (in some cases, both) and, in Andy Todd and Andy Griffin in particular, there is a crippling lack of pace and only Tyrone Mears has impressed thus far.

If, in time, the two biggest buys, Claude Davis and Robert Earnshaw may prove the best, major targets such as Kenwyne Jones and David Nugent eluded Davies.

Everton

In: Aiyegbeni Yakubu (Middlesbrough), Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United), Leighton Baines (Wigan), Tim Howard (Manchester United), Thomas Gravesend (Celtic, loan), Stefan Wessels (Koln), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Swindon), Steven Pienaar (Borussia Dortmund, loan)
Out: James Beattie (Sheffield United), Gary Naysmith (Sheffield United), Richard Wright (West Ham), Alessandro Pistone (released)

Verdict: A summer of two halves at Goodison Park, with the cautious acquisitions of Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka followed by attempts at wanton spending in the last week.

But with Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Thomas Gravesen in place, David Moyes has much the strongest squad in his five years at Everton. There's no doubt they rank among the winners in the window.

Fulham

In: Diomansy Kamara (West Brom), David Healy (Leeds), Lee Cook (QPR), Hameur Bouazza (Watford), Seol Ki-Hyeon (Reading), Steven Davis (Aston Villa), Aaron Hughes (Aston Villa), Chris Baird (Southampton), Dejan Stefanovic (Portsmouth), Paul Konchesky (West Ham), Kasey Keller (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adrian Leijer (Melbourne Victory), Shefki Kuqi (Crystal Palace, loan), Danny Murphy (Tottenham, loan)
Out: Zat Knight (Aston Villa), Franck Queudrue (Birmingham), Liam Rosenior (Reading), Pape Bouba Diop (Portsmouth), Heidar Helguson (Bolton), Michael Brown (Wigan), Tomasz Radzinski (released), Mark Pembridge (released), Mark Crossley (Oldham), Gabriel Zakuani (Stoke), Bjorn Runstrom (Kaiserslautern, loan)

Verdict: Their proximity to the Thames must have helped ship in and out players, such has been the volume of transport required at Craven Cottage this summer.

It can only be concluded that Lawrie Sanchez did not rate the squad he inherited. Fifteen arrivals later, he has his own players. Steven Davis and David Healy, in particular, have started well, but some will wonder if £25 million could have been spent better.

Liverpool

In: Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid), Ryan Babel (Ajax), Yossi Benayoun (West Ham), Andriy Voronin (Bayer Leverkusen), Lucas Leiva (Gremio), Sebastian Leto (Atletico Lanus), Krisztian Nemeth (MTK Hungaria), Andras Simon (MTK Hungaria), Nikolay Mihaylov (Levski Sofia), Charles Idantje (Lens)
Out: Luis Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Craig Bellamy (West Ham), Djibril Cisse (Marseille), Boudewijn Zenden (Marseille), Scott Carson (Aston Villa, loan), Florent Sinama-Pongolle (Recreativo Huelva), Jerzy Dudek (Real Madrid), Robbie Fowler (Cardiff), Gabriel Paletta (Boca Juniors), Danny Guthrie (Bolton, loan)

Verdict: Having broken the club transfer record, there was an inevitability that the success - or otherwise - of Rafael Benitez's spending spree would be determined by Fernando Torres.

Given his outstanding first month, not to mention Andriy Voronin's impact as the free half of a costly partnership or Ryan Babel's fine goal against Derby, it looks like Benitez's best business in his time at Anfield has been conducted this summer. The league table certainly suggests so.

Manchester City

In: Rolando Bianchi (Reggina), Valeri Bojinov (Fiorentina), Elano (Shakhtar Donetsk), Martin Petrov (Atletico Madrid), Geovanni (Cruzeiro), Gelson Fernandez (Sion), Javier Garrido (Real Sociedad), Vedran Corluka (Dinamo Zagreb)
Out: Sylvain Distin (Portsmouth), Trevor Sinclair (Cardiff), Joey Barton (Newcastle), Nicky Weaver (Charlton), Stephen Jordan (Burnley), Hatem Trabelsi (released), Ismael Miller (West Brom, loan), Bernardo Corradi (Parma, loan), Danny Mills (Charlton, loan), Paul Dickov (Crystal Palace, loan)

Verdict: Sven-Goran Eriksson's video all-stars are experiencing their first setback after a heady few weeks at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Nevertheless, their immediate impact helped restore Eriksson's reputation as well as instilling excitement at a club whose squad, two months ago, were relegation fodder. If Rolando Bianchi will be judged on his eventual goal return, Elano and Martin Petrov are likely to be hailed as successful signings.

Manchester United

In: Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Carlos Tevez (West Ham), Nani (Sporting Lisbon), Anderson (Porto), Tomasz Kuszczak (West Brom)
Out: Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid), Alan Smith (Newcastle), Kieran Richardson (Sunderland), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (retired)

Verdict: Never mind the goals, feel the flair. There remains an obvious vacancy for a No. 9 - especially when Louis Saha is unfit - but adding Anderson, Nani and Carlos Tevez was an attacking statement of intent from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Owen Hargreaves has made a solid start, but the other three newcomers, while bought for the long term, need to display they have the goals to accompany their tricks.

Middlesbrough

In: Mido (Tottenham), Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid), Luke Young (Charlton), Gary O'Neil (Portsmouth), Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal), Tuncay Sanli (Fenerbahce), Mohamed Shawki (Al Ahly)
Out: Aiyegbeni Yakubu (Everton), Mark Viduka (Newcastle), James Morrison (West Brom), Abel Xavier (LA Galaxy), Stuart Parnaby (Birmingham), Jason Euell (Southampton)

Verdict: Gareth Southgate has exchanged temperamental strikers and, while Yakubu's departure is not mourned on Teesside, Mido's first two goals were timely, not least because Tuncay Sanli and Jeremie Aliadiere, the other attacking arrivals, look less prolific.

If Jonathan Woodgate and Luke Young complete a solid defence, it was hard to disagree with Sir Alex Ferguson when he said Middlesbrough bought Mido to try and stay in the Premier League.

Newcastle United

In: Joey Barton (Manchester City), Geremi (Chelsea), Mark Viduka (Middlesbrough), Alan Smith (Manchester United), Claudio Cacapa (Lyon), David Rozehnal (Paris SG), Jose Enrique (Villarreal), Abdoulaye Faye (Bolton), Habib Beye (Marseille)
Out: Scott Parker (West Ham), Kieron Dyer (West Ham), Nolberto Solano (West Ham), Albert Luque (Ajax), Titus Bramble (Wigan), Antoine Sibierski (Wigan), Craig Moore (Queensland Roar), Olivier Bernard (released), Paul Huntington (Leeds)

Verdict: Distil the qualities associated with Sam Allardyce's sides - height, physical power, competitiveness - and the characteristically cosmopolitan collective now on Tyneside certainly offer that.

That there are five defenders among them shows Allardyce's priorities, while Alan Smith and Mark Viduka have toughened Newcastle up at the other end. Bringing in £6 million for Kieron Dyer was another achievement in the window.

Portsmouth

In: David Nugent (Preston), Sulley Muntari (Udinese), John Utaka (Rennes), Sylvain Distin (Manchester City), Hermann Hreidarsson (Charlton), Glen Johnson (Chelsea), Pape Bouba Diop (Fulham), Martin Cranie (Southampton), Arnold Mvuemba (Rennes)
Out: Gary O'Neil (Middlesbrough), Dejan Stefanovic (Fulham), Andy O'Brien (Bolton), Lomana LuaLua (Olympiakos), Andy Griffin (Derby), Andy Cole (Sunderland), Svetoslav Todorov (Charlton)

Verdict: As Harry Redknapp experiences cold turkey in the next four months, he can at least reflect on an excellent summer of wheeler-dealing.

Of his major recruits, only David Nugent did not deliver in the first few fixtures with John Utaka, even at £7 million, looking a bargain. Sylvain Distin may be the best free transfer of the summer and, if Redknapp can restore the imposing Pape Bouba Diop to his imposing best, Portsmouth may not miss Gary O'Neil.

Reading

In: Emerse Fae (Nantes), Kalifa Cisse (Boavista), Liam Rosenior (Fulham)
Out: Steve Sidwell (Chelsea), Seol Ki-Hyeon (Fulham), Greg Halford (Sunderland)

Verdict: The softly-softly approach has paid dividends for Steve Coppell before, but it is tougher than ever.

While it is admirable that Reading don't live beyond their means, Kalifa Cisse and Emerse Fae are yet to show they can replace Steve Sidwell. At least Nicky Shorey stayed.

Sunderland

In: Craig Gordon (Hearts), Kieran Richardson (Manchester United), Michael Chopra (Cardiff), Kenwyne Jones (Southampton), Danny Higginbotham (Stoke), Greg Halford (Reading), Paul McShane (West Brom), Russell Anderson (Aberdeen), Dickson Etuhu (Norwich), Ian Harte (Levante), Andy Cole (Portsmouth), Roy O'Donovan (Cork)
Out: Stephen Elliott (Wolves), Tommy Miller (Ipswich), Arnau Riera (Falkirk, loan), Clive Clarke (Leicester, loan), Marton Fulop (Leicester, loan), Kenny Cunningham (released), Stern John (Southampton)

Verdict: It is tempting to suggest that it is rare that so much is spent on players with so little Premier League pedigree, though Manchester City spent more.

The difference is that Sven-Goran Eriksson bought abroad and Roy Keane largely in Scotland and the lower leagues, displaying a willingness to inflate prices to baffling levels.

The impressive Craig Gordon looks an excellent recruit, but Kieran Richardson, Kenywne Jones and co have to win over the sceptical.

Tottenham Hotspur

In: Darren Bent (Charlton), Gareth Bale (Southampton), Younes Kaboul (Auxerre), Kevin-Prince Boating (Hertha Berlin), Adel Taarabt (Lens)
Out: Mido (Middlesbrough), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria), Danny Murphy (Fulham, loan), Mark Yeates (Colchester)

Verdict: Don't blame Martin Jol. If, as is widely thought, Damien Comolli has a greater say in signings, perhaps he can account for a £40 million outlay that has involved a single first-choice player, the excellent Gareth Bale, arriving.

But with the obvious lack of a left winger, the Welshman has been pressed into service there, rather than in a defence that could benefit from his presence, not to mention more solidity from Younes Kaboul. And for £16.5 million, Darren Bent, fine player though he is, was surely unnecessary.

West Ham United

In: Scott Parker (Newcastle), Kieron Dyer (Newcastle), Nolberto Solano (Newcastle), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Freddie Ljungberg (Arsenal), Richard Wright (Everton), Julien Faubert (Bordeaux), Henri Camara (Wigan, loan)
Out: Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa), Marlon Harewood (Aston Villa), Paul Konchesky (Fulham), Tyrone Mears (Derby), Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool), Roy Carroll (Rangers), Teddy Sheringham (Colchester), Shaun Newton (Leicester)

Verdict: Alan Curbishley has acquired a surfeit of right-sided midfielders though, with Julien Faubert injured and a certain predictability about seeing Kieron Dyer and Freddie Ljungberg sidelined, that could account for the arrival of Nolberto Solano.

Dyer and Craig Bellamy, who rivals Scott Parker for the tag of the best buy, complete the Newcastle reunion, though it is the presence of a Bad Boys Inc reunion at Upton Park that intrigues more.

Wigan Athletic

In: Jason Koumas (West Brom), Antoine Sibierski (Newcastle), Titus Bramble (Newcastle), Marcus Bent (Charlton, loan), Mario Melchiot (Rennes), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg), Michael Brown (Fulham), Carlo Nash (Preston)
Out: Leighton Baines (Everton), Henri Camara (West Ham, loan), Arjan de Zeeuw (Coventry), David Unsworth (Burnley), Matt Jackson (Watford), John Filan (retired), Lee McCulloch (Rangers), Andreas Johansson (Aalborg), Andy Webster (Rangers, loan)

Verdict: Chris Hutchings' penchant for other clubs' rejects appears odd, Antoine Sibierski's excellent start notwithstanding.

Only Jason Koumas commanded a major fee and, while Wigan have exceeded expectations thus far, it may become apparent why many of their additions are their rivals' cast-offs.


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