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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: Swansea City to Wolverhampton

Roy Hodgson does his best George Bailey impression: “Well, I don’t have your trophy. It’s at Roman’s house… and Alex’s house… and Roberto’s house…”

Part Four takes us to a team that squandered their European dreams, another side that dropped like a stone, a third that pulled away from the edge of the precipice, and then two more that found the soft, creamy middle of the table.  Let’s have a look at their best, shall we?

The Dutchman did his part…

SWANSEA CITY
Michel Vorm (NED) – The first Welsh team in Premier League history was the mirror image of its fellow Championship graduate, Norwich.  Just like the East Anglians, the Swans’ gaffer opted for a wide-open system that had trouble on the counter.  Good thing Swansea had Michel Vorm.  The Dutchman faced a barrage of shots, but his save percentage remained in the top flight’s top five.  That’s why he will compete for the honour of being the Oranje ‘s No. 2 in the Ukraine this summer.

Ade wants to stay

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Emmanuel Adebayor (TOT) – I know that many Spurs fans — along with several neutral observers — will take issue with this pick. Why not Gareth Bale, or Luka Modric?  But the stats are pretty clear: more goals, more assists in the league, more possession, more clear chances on goal.  Sure the big man up front was a bit of lazy git at times, and Tottenham fans are worried that they have another Berbatov on their hands.  But the Togolese striker was lethal for the Lilywhites and, more importantly, he wants to stay.  The same might not be said for his teammates in midfield.

The Baggies’ Foster child…

WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Ben Foster (ENG) – Beware when your best player is a keeper.  WBA finished a positively decent 10th place under a positively decent manager, Uncle Woy.  Peter Odemwingie had a decent season with 10 goals in the league.  The Baggies were 12th in scoring, 14th in defence.  Foster was decent in the middle of the goalkeeper pack when it came to saves and goals against.  All of this bodes well for England, doesn’t it?… Doesn’t it?!?

NOT Gary Caldwell…

WIGAN ATHLETIC
Gary Caldwell (SCO) – Hey Wigan! Come here, you! No, go away! No, come here! No, go away! The Latics channeled the ghost of Alexei Sayle by dallying with relegation for the entire season (Editor’s Note: Alexei Sayle is not dead).  Wigan were bottom of the table as late as St. Patrick’s Day, so it was apropos that a former shamrock-wearing defender led the charge to safety.   Gary Caldwell’s team posted a record of eight wins and only two losses in their last nine matches, while only letting in seven goals.  That’s as many as the eventual champions, Manchester City.  (Ed. Note: Caldwell didna kill his brother — and former Wigan teammate — Stephen.  He’s at Birmingham City… )

Wolves say they won’t let Fletcher go…

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Steven Fletcher (SCO) – One of the only above-average players on a very sub-par squad, Fletcher had more goals than Frank Lampard, Rafael van der Vaart, Chicharito and Gareth Bale.  ‘Nuff said…

Brent Lanthier

Up Next: Season’s Starting XI and ATR’s PoY!

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Love for Sale: Burnley

We now know who will join Portsmouth in relegation. Hull City’s loss to Sunderland and Burnley’s drubbing by Liverpool — combined with West Ham’s dramatic 3-2 win over Wigan — means that Hull and Burnley are done.

Burnley

They were the Little Team That Could. Burnley finished sixth in the Championship last year and then dispatched both Reading and Sheffield United to win promotion.  They started their Premier League season in style — beating three-time defending champions Manchester United in a famous win at Turf Moor.  But they only won once after October and then their manager jumped ship to Bolton.  Burnley’s Premiership experiment was over.  But the following players showed their mettle and should get snapped up by other outfits.

Steven Fletcher: Burnley broke their transfer record when they paid Hibs 3 million pounds for this Scotland international. Fletcher led the team in goals and has already been linked to former Scotland manager Alex McLeish at Birmingham — and to his old boss, Owen Coyle, at Bolton.

Graham Alexander: Another Englishman-turned-Jock, Alexander spent 16 years in the lower leagues before getting promoted with Burnley. A former right-back turned defensive midfielder, Alexander scored seven goals this year — although to be fair, four were penalties. Burnley’s Ironman could get find life at another Prem outfit, if only to bring some experience to the bootroom.

Wade Elliott: Burnley’s reigning player of the year, Elliott is a speedy winger who can do wonderful things with his right foot (see here and here).  He gets stuck in, gives his team some width and can create goalscoring opportunities. In fact, this writer thinks Don Fabio would be better off with Elliott in South Africa than a three-initialed dunce who can’t see over the counter at the hotel.

Tyrone Mears: Sometimes good players have bad karma.  This is the second time Mears’ team has gotten relegated: he was a member of that dreadful Derby County team in 2008. And although he’s English, he mistakenly thought his family was from Jamaica. He ended up playing one for the Reggae Boyz — making him uneligible for the Three Lions — until the right back found out his family came from Sierra Leone.  Too bad — because deputies for the oft-injured Glen Johnson are far and few between.  Mears was a bright spot on the Premier League’s most porous defence and he should get another crack at top-flight football.

Chris Eagles: He’s been called the next David Beckham and was a United player for eight years before joining the Clarets. Eagles wasn’t a regular starter this season. But at 24 years old, he’s still attracting interest from some of the bigger clubs.  The best days may still be yet to come for this attacking midfielder.

Brian Jensen: This old Dane surprised many observers early on, providing heroics for the aforementioned victory over United — as well as helping those fantasy league owners who bought Jensen on the cheap. “The Beast” was a perpetual second-stringer for years and only got a regular gig after joining Burnley. He is their longest-serving player but could be pried away by a team who needs a quality keeper aka Wolves, Wigan or even Sunderland.

David Nugent: Actually, Nugent is not a Burnley player. He belongs to Portsmouth but they need to sell, sell, sell to pay Her Majesty’s government. Nugent was famously capped for England as a Preston North End player, scoring a 90th minute goal against Andorra. He is a boyhood Evertonian — and the Toffees could use another striker to take the pressure off the perpetually-injured Louis Saha.

Final look: Hull City

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