European football’s silly season began on Sunday, when the transfer window opened and the leagues finally recognized long-negotiated deals. But there is still a lot of jockeying to come. Rumours will fly, agents will promise that their clients are going to the biggest clubs, while the clubs deny everything.
It’s also the time when the newly-relegated sides struggle to keep their lineups together. They all make the same noises about not letting players leave. But money talks… and clubs don’t relish the reduced revenues that come with their lowered status.
Here then is a look at who could be on the market from the three clubs who fell through the Prem’s trapdoor.
Let’s face it: it only took Venky’s 18 months to sink the Good Ship Blackburn. Buying a team and then watching it do the drop is bad enough. But doing it while watching your litigious ex-manager go the other way has got to, well, burn. Meanwhile the owners are sticking with the guy who some say pushed the other guy out the door.
Meanwhile, the exodus has started as several players have left on a Bosman. The two most prominent players are Yakubu and Junior Hoilett. The Nigerian overcame everyone’s expectations (including mine) to score 18 goals for Rovers. Meanwhile, Hoilett has yet to find a home, but that should be rectified shortly. Other players that could get scooped up by top clubs include defenders Martin Olsson, Stephen N’Zonzi and Gaël Givet, as well as midfielder Mauro Formica. But sub-par performances from Scott Dann and Paul Robinson mean they shouldn’t expect to get picked up by a top-flight club.
Bolton was another team where their management change wasn’t necessarily for the better. Owen Coyle left newly-promoted Burnley in January 2010 to take the reins at Bolton. He’ll now have to face the fans he left behind… likely with a different squad than the one that dropped in May. Long-time keeper Jussi Jääskeläinen will fill in the gap left by Robert Green at West Ham. Mark Davies was Bolton’s best player last season… and there are rumours that Liverpool have been sniffing him out. Martin Petrov could get picked up by a Premier League minnow, and Stuart Holden may feel he needs a bigger stage to figure in Jürgen Klinsmann’s Team USA plans.
Tyrone Mears is too good for the Championship, but after spending last season mending a broken leg, he may feel the need to repay the club. Both he and Chris Eagles may be reluctant to leave the man that plucked them from Burnley, especially with former teammate Joe McKee set to play alongside Eagles.
Wolves have been quiet so far this summer, but don’t expect that to last long. Steven Fletcher scored 30% of the club’s league goals last season, and the word is that Sunderland is tracking him, especially since no one exactly lit up the scoreboard for the Black Cats last season. Fletcher would be a great target man for Stéphane Sessègnon and Sebastian Larsson at the Stadium of Light.
After spending five years as a loyal servant, Matt Jarvis deserves a chance to jump back into the Premier League. Ditto Kevin Doyle… although his performance for Ireland at the Euros may not help. That may also apply to another Irishman (there are seven in the Wolverhampton side), Stephen Hunt. But the left-winger always seems to show up in a lower-table side mere weeks after his former team suffers relegation (Reading to Hull to Wolves).