5 Utterly Uninspiring Transfers

Pumped about Lukaku? Frothing at the chops at the prospect of Bernie Silva at City? Vomiting with excitement when you picture Mo Salah in a red shirt? You and me both brother.

Every ying must have its yang though, we've picked out five of them most unispiring moves thus far and explain why they're so goddamn 'meh'.

Darren Fletcher to Stoke (Free)


Reasons To Be Less Than Enthused…


Stoke under Mark Hughes are a difficult thing to get your melon around.


Despite spending decent money on superior players to those that defined the Tony Pulis era and playing demonstrably better football, they’re still somehow duller than the following brain-meltingly tedious things:


  • Michael Owen’s darkest sexual fantasy.
  • Contrived conversations instigated by your parents about the numerous benefits of setting up a pension.
  • The Cumberland Pencil Museum.
  • The thundering bells in the audience on Question Time who tee up their self-aggrandising questions with a ‘political funny’ that absolutely no one asked for.


They've scored just 41 goals in both the two previous seasons, a tally that was the 2nd worst of any team outside the bottom three last year.


Hughes’ heavy going 4-2-3-1 has been partly to blame, whilst a central midfield dominated by names such as Geoff Cameron, Glenn Whelan, Joe Allen and Chaz Adam hasn’t helped the jogo bonito flow free.


So far this summer, the club have taken steps to plan for a future without 33-year-old Whelan by snaffling another 33-year-old Celt with a real knack for ‘quietly screening’ the back four at ever decreasing speeds.


Pure footballing porridge.

Whilst there will be Potters out there who point with some pride to the possibility of fielding the stodgiest central midfield world football has ever seen - Adam, Whelan and Fletch - others will tear their hair out at the lack of ambition as the criminally underused Giannelli Imbula gets shunted ever further down the pecking order.


With Marko Arnautovic shuffling towards the exit, Mame Diouf simply not very good, whilst Saido Berahino continues to do his best impression of all Apple chargers – expensive and embarrassingly unreliable – major surgery looks needed in attack. Whilst there’s obviously plenty of time left in the window, it’s a blessed weight off my mind to know Hughes has got the DMC position well and truly stocked, however.


Jon Walters to Burnley (£3M)


Reasons To Be Less Than Enthused…


Continuing the theme above, Burnley were even more goal shy than Stoke last term, netting a measly 39 times.


Now, before I get too pissy about things, credit where credit’s due. Burnley have at least signed a striker to address their net-dodging tendencies. Unfortunately, they’ve snaffled one who, when you take away penalties, averages an awe-inspiring 4.5 goals per season in the top flight. Last season he was comfortably outscored by the likes of Gareth McAuley and Gary Cahill. Without wishing to overly mean to the old boy, it’s not as if he’s ever been useful in front of goal – 8 remains his best-ever tally for a top-flight season.


So, what does he bring? In years gone by you’d have said ‘pace, strength, stamina and a great attitude’. But with Walters turning 34 in September, spending £3M of a famously tight budget on ‘a great attitude’ to chug about upfront seems a little short sighted.


If Burnley are to kick on this term and aim for a mid-table finish they need to source superior quality in numbers, especially in attack. Whilst I’d have probably said fair dinkum to this deal a year ago, 12 months on it reeks of a stagnation the Clarets can ill afford.


Tom Cleverley to Watford (£8M)


Reasons To Be Less Than Enthused…


Whilst announced back in March, during an initial loan, he makes the list as his actual transfer only went through on July 1st. Back then, it OK business for a lad who clearly has a personal affinity for the club and kick-started his return on loan with back to back assists.


Cue a five-year contract before the midfielder’s form promptly dropped off a cliff for the final two months of the season. To be fair, pretty much everyone at Vicarage Road turned up in flip flops from March onwards as the club lost 6 of their last 7 games, but it’s still not a good look.


What should be concerning is the spate of drubbings the Hornets received during that run-in. There were plenty of things rotten at the club by the end of Mazarri’s reign but Cleverly looked painfully average, even whilst operating at the heart of a central midfield three, his preferred role, as Watford shipped an absolute job lot of goals.


28 years old by the time the new season starts, his tally of Premier League goals/assists is up there your very first Facebook status, the hamster scene in American Psycho and every single Toby Young hot-take in the frightful reading stakes. He has just 11 of each.


Cut the man and he bleeds beige.


It’s remarkable to think that he’s a Premier League winner and was installed as Roy Hodgson’s preferred England No.10 following Euro 2012. Once seen as Man United’s great home-grown hope to replace Scholes, Clevz has developed into a Poundland Fabregas. In 2017, he represents perfectly England’s inability to drive the tactical zeitgeist anymore, a man whose only X-factor is neatly churning the ball around the centre circle, 3 years after tiki-taka was read its last rites at the 2014 World Cup.


Pablo Zabaleta to West Ham (Free)


Reasons To Be Less Than Enthused…


Ah, West Ham, when are you going to learn? Whilst not quite in the Alvaro Arbeloa category of knackered full backs, I can’t help but feel 32-year old Zabaleta owes his agent a big fat pat on the back – two years on 90k a week, making him one of the very top earners at the club.


Whilst a fine defender and a simply lovely chap to boot, I can't help but feel the effects of the Argentine’s hard wearing playing style have started telling in recent months.


Whilst defenders playing under Pep Guardiola are always going to have their work cut out, it’s worth noting that Pab Zab started a number of Man City’s worst defensive displays last year: 3-3 draw at Celtic, 2-0 defeat at Spurs, 4-0 shellacking at Barcelona, 4-2 drubbing at Leicester and their catastrophic 4-0 pumping at Goodison Park.

TFW West Ham fail to spot you got dropped for Jesus Navas at the end of last season.


Will he be a disaster? Far from it. Is he another prime example of West Ham paying over the odds (in wages at least) for a visibly declining force who provides no long-term solution and fancies living in London? You bet.


Wayne Rooney to Everton (Free)


Reasons To Be Less Than Enthused...


Fair play to Everton’s PR team, they’ve done a sensational job of wrestling the narrative away from ‘aspirational club inexplicably re-sign busted flush’ to ‘boy wonder returns triumphantly home’.


The problem is, and I say this as one of this decade’s pre-eminent Rooney apologists, he’s just not very good anymore. Whilst the attempts of some to whitewash the sensational achievements of his 20s stink to high heaven, our Wayne’s been a glaring liability for at least a year now.


The ambition and short fuse remain but the legs are long gone, and, puzzlingly, seem to have taken his technique with them. First touches are a lottery, his ability to deliver laser-guided cross fields into the front row gets better and better, whilst goals are as common as nuanced thoughts tumbling out of Jamie Redknapp’s cake hole. Remarkably, nostalgia has won the day.


Adding to the madness is the fact the Toffees already own an ‘enigmatic’ forward with a penchant for taking 27 touches when two would have done, optimistic shies at goal and tactical discipline issues.


Ronny Koeman’s known as one of the most ruthless operators around, whilst competition for forward places at Goodison has gone through the roof with this summer’s transfer splurge. I wonder how long it is before Rooney’s presence on the bench and his wages, which are thought to be at least twice those of anyone at the club bar Morgan Schniederlin & Davey Klaasen, become the great elephant in the room again?

Pete Starr

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