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Rovers and Wanderers: Who Will Likely Leave the Relegated Clubs

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.

Hoilett hasn’t said which club — or country — he will play for…

Blackburn Rovers
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 reluctant to let go of Davies

Bolton Wanderers
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.

“Now a show of hands please. Who wants to leave the club?…”

Wolverhampton Wanderers
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).

Brent Lanthier

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Best of the Prem: Burnley to Hull City

Brent Lanthier

Don’t get yer knickers in a bunch, we’ve got more World Cup coverage coming! But you should probably keep the Premier League in the back of your mind, since the backroom machinations are still ongoing. Several clubs can’t wait for the tournament to end to start their wheeling and dealing.

Burnley: Wade Elliott (ENG)
Burnley’s Player of the Year, At The Rails has already sung the praises of Wade Elliott. He created width down the right while adding some grit to the Clarets: he led the team in both fouls and yellow cards. A team leader on last season’s version of Blackpool.

Future: While Burnley descends back into the Championship, Elliott will likely remain behind with one of the Prem’s lesser lights. Reports say his former boss Owen Coyle will offer Burnley 750,000 pounds to bring the winger to Bolton.

World Cup-bound? No, but at least it would have been nice to see him get a taste. Alas, playing on a relegation-bound club shut him out of Don Fabio’s plans immediately.

Chelsea: Frank Lampard (ENG)
This is going to bring the wrath of my fellow ATR writers: Fat Frank should have been the league’s Player of the Year.  After a shaky start, he was the real leader of Chelsea when Captain Schtupping was busy…. um, getting busy. The axis around which the entire team rotates, Lampard had 22 goals (as a central midfielder!) and led the league with 14 assists. Rooney had a stunning season but Frank was the complete player.

Future: Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London, SW6 1HS.

World Cup-bound? Yes but where to play him? And who with? Barry or Gerrard?

Everton: Leighton Baines (ENG)
Last Monday’s performance notwithstanding, Baines was a model of consistency this season.  He started more games than any other Everton player and proved to be a force on the left side, defending and attacking with equal measure.  He also led in time of possession for the Toffees.

Future: A Scouser who grew up in Wigan’s system, he seems to finally be home.  Let’s hope his England experience will leave him with something to prove next season.

 World Cup-bound? No.  Apparently Baines is painfully shy… and now the whole world knows. Ugh.

Fulham: Mark Schwarzer (AUS)
The Cottagers allowed one more goal than Manchester City this season, and Schwarzer was a big part of that. The big Aussie faced a barrage of shots this season in the League, not to mention the club’s improbable run to the Europa Cup final. In fact, the last two seasons have been improbable for tiny Fulham. Guess when Schwarzer showed up?

Future: Schwarzer has one more year on his contract. But there are rumours Arsene Wenger wants to bring him to the Emirates… because Almunia is sh!te.

World Cup-bound? Yes. Pim Verbeek has built his team around Schwarzer and a strong back-four.  Many a punter has picked the Socceroos as their dark horse this tournament.

Hull City: Stephen Hunt (IRE)
Is he a bad luck charm or is he just unlucky? Hunt has been relegated from the Premier League twice… but it’s not been his fault.  The Irishman led the Tigers in scoring, even though he was injured for the last two months of the season. An intense midfielder, he was voted Player of the Year by the Hull faithful.

Future: Hull will be selling and he doesn’t appear to want to go back anyway.

World Cup-bound? Ask Thierry Henry.

Up Next: Liverpool to Stoke City

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Love for Sale: Hull City

This is the final installment of our look at the three relegated Premier League teams.  While Burnley was prudent with its books this year, the other two — Hull City and Portsmouth — are in deep financial trouble. Now the League is set to ratify a rule that would force teams to pay for players 12 months after the transfer window opens.  That could bring more administration for those clubs who gamble their fortunes away.

Hull City

Many punters think Hull’s relegation came a year too late.  Phil Brown managed to save his team from the drop in 2009, after Newcastle and Middlesbrough both broke Northeastern hearts by losing on the last day of the season. Now some Hull players are openly blaming their plight on the departed manager’s infamous on-field, half-time rant.

But with a wage bill that was eighth in the league this season, this team was expected to do better.  There are rumours of administration.  And the Telegraph has reported the Tigers will slash 22 million pounds from their 38 million-pound payroll.  The following players might be on the block, come the window.

Stephen Hunt: Even if Hull weren’t relegated, this Irish international would likely have ended up in another club.  There were rumours Hull rejected bids for Hunt in January.  Although this is his second relegation — he did the drop with Reading two years ago — it’s definitely not his fault (unless you count getting injured, resulting in Hull losing their best player by far).  He runs, he led the team in scoring and he is a haaard man… just ask Petr Cech.

Andy Dawson: A left-back who helped the Tigers through three promotions, Dawson was a model of consistency on a team that was consistently bad.  Although manager Iain Dowie doesn’t believe the player will bring in big cash for Hull, Dawson did a good job of marking wingers this season. He is also good at freekicks and is a bit of a pain in the ass, leading the team in yellow cards.

Jimmy Bullard: The painter-turned-footballer, Jimmy Bullard could be the hardest working man in England… when he plays. Bullard infamously damaged his knee after signing with Fulham, forcing him to the sidelines for 18 months.  Then after signing with Hull in January 2009, he tore his ACL 37 minutes into his first game.  Some point to his transfer fee of 5 million pounds as an example of Hull’s bad business. But Bullard is industrious and he’s capped for England so surely he can still find a home in the Prem.

Geovanni: This winger is a legend at his old club, Benfica.  Geovanni should have been the pride of Blue Manchester as well, scoring a goal that knocked United out of the Champions League in 2006, and then scoring on his debut for City. But he fell out of favour with Mark Hughes and ended up in Hull, earning 25-thousand-quid-a week in the process. The rumours are that he is sick of England and could end up at Olympiakos.  But one thing’s for sure: he’s gone, baby, gone.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink: A jersey maker’s nightmare, the veteran striker was signed last summer after he was released by Celtic.  The Dutchman’s best days may be behind him, but the 6′ 3″ forward could serve as a Peter Crouch-type second target.  Vennegoor has been linked with Wolverhampton since January and not just because he really, really likes the colour orange.

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