Yet again the football equivalent of Christmas Eve swung into action yesterday as all across the country the carefully laid plans of managers and agents came to fruition, or alternatively every club in the land was plunged into panic as they realised that their shopping so far might not be enough to fulfill their ambitions for the year ahead. After a couple of fairly dull deadline days, yesterday was a little more interesting as everyone waited to see whether the Cole and Chimbonda sagas would end and all eyes were on Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd to see who won the race to sign the latest Argentinian wunder kinder.
As it happens the two longest running transfer stories waited until as late as possible to be completed, the Cole deal was completed on time but it took a couple of hours to finalise the ‘joint statement’ no doubt as Wenger and Mourinho wrangled over the order their names came in it. As for Chimbonda, a deal was brokered at lunchtime, but took until midnight to complete, amid, mischievous, rumours that the Frenchman had failed his medical.
That brings us nicely to proceedings at the JJB where Chimbonda wasn’t the only player to leave the fold. Kavanagh and Connolly had been linked with moves away all week and whilst the options of Stoke, Cardiff or Hibs were ones that could be turned down, I guess Roy Keane is still someone you don’t argue with, both players linking up with their old Ireland teammate’s Sunderland revolution. Indications are that money was made on the midfielder (a £500,000 deal) but lost on the Striker (£1.9 million).
Neither player looked set to be a regular this season, but Connolly’s departure in particular raised questions about the depth of the squad they left behind.
The first purchase of the day came as Latics landed Kevin Kilbane from Everton. There’s no doubt that the Irishman is Jewell’s sort of player, hard working and committed, but there are question marks over his ability. Ring any bells? The £2 million fee seems a lot but compare it to the money we got for Jimmy Bullard and we have money in the bank, and a squad player that gives the team two things that Fulham’s new cult hero didn’t, a left foot and the ability to cross a ball. The jury is out on whether this counts as a good signing, but a left sided player was on the shopping list and at least Jewell can tick that one off.
If we were short up front to start with, and as signs started to point to Connolly leaving there surely had to be a replacement on his way, didn’t there? Would it be Ellington? Or maybe Nugent? Rumours had us talking to Portsmouth about Todorov but no. Latics surprised everyone with a move for Bristol City’s young forward David Coterill. The words “Welsh Starlet” strike a note of fear in the hearts of long(ish) term Latics fans, and yet we’re here again, another £2 million chucked at a kid with less than 50 first team starts and only a handful of goals, at least he’s got a couple of international caps, eh?
To take the story on face value, Coterill is a player that Jewell has been watching for some time, and as he was about to sign for Norwich he felt obliged to step in. So not a note of panic then? The word from Bristol is that the youngster isn’t ready for top flight football but has enough promise to make something of himself in years to come. So where did that leave us? With just over an hour left Jewell’s squad was at least a striker light and all’s quiet on the Western front.
Then, as the clock ticked towards midnight, the last deal was done. It may not have been a permanent deal, nor the big name that many craved, but Todorov comes with a record that speaks for itself, if tainted by a poor injury record. Just as last season, the south coast is mourning the loss of a ‘hero’. Without a doubt, the final signing is the one that carries most promise, the Bulgarian is a player who has shown he can be effective at this level and whether from the bench or the starting line up offers us a different option in attack.
In all it was a mixed day for Latics. As all three signings came somewhat as a surprise you’d be excused for reading a note of panic in each of them. Would any of the signings have been made if the three players hadn’t left the club? I’ll let you decide. The one thing for certain is that none of them really tell us any more about our prospects for the season. I suppose the squad is stronger, bit of the new boys only Todorov looks to have what it takes to push for a first team place. So we’re back to sitting tight and holding on, at least until January, when we get to go through the whole thing again.
Oh, and the Argentinians? They signed for West Ham of course, no doubt they’re life long supporters of the club that won the world cup, and there’s nothing at all dodgy about the whole deal, honest.
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