by David Sweeney

Six Super Summer Signings

Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid – Manchester City £38m)
Sergio Aguero has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. The Argentinian forward made an immediate impact in his 30 minute debut against Swansea City, scoring two and assisting one. It was a sign of things to come as Aguero continues to amaze on a weekly basis. He is the complete striker who can score 30 yard screamers just as easily as he can 2 yard tap ins. His lightening speed make him almost unplayable and with David Silva providing the inch perfect ammunition defences across Europe should be quaking in the boots at the prospect of playing Manchester City.
Aguero is worth every penny of the £38 million invested in him and frighteningly will get even better as he adapts to life in the Premier League.

Demba Ba (West Ham – Newcastle free)
After being the shining light in a sinking ship at West Ham last season it came as no surprise that Demba Ba was snapped up by Newcastle United. The big striker was able to sign for the Magpies on a free after West Ham’s inevitable relegation and has bagged himself 8 goals in 10 games so far this season, including TWO hat tricks.
Ba has the happy knack of being in the right place at the right time in front of goal and as long as his teammates keep providing the service, Demba will continue to bang in the goals.

Yohan Cabaye (Lille – Newcastle £4.3m)
Nicknamed ‘the dreamboat’ by the Geordie nation in reference to his silky smooth skills and his chiselled good looks Yohan Cabaye has been a revelation since he made the move to ‘the sports direct arena’ (haha!) in June. Brought in to replace the midfield void left by the departing duo Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton, whom many thought replacing would be a tough task, Cabaye formed an instant rapport with Cheikh Tiote and the pair are arguably the best midfielder pairing in Premier League this season. With Newcastle in nosebleed territory, currently sitting 3rd in the table, one of the main contributing factors has been Cabaye who brings a much needed touch of class to Alan Pardew’s workmanlike outfit. His outstanding finish in the 1-0 victory over Wigan typifies this point. Cabaye stands out head and shoulders above the rest of Newcastle’s squad in terms of quality and to stand any chance of continuing their breathtaking start to the season they must keep the Frenchman free from injury and firing on all cylinders. Along with Scott Parker he must be considered the bargain buy of the summer and great credit must be given to Alan Pardew for snapping him up.

With Ireland’s qualification to Euro 2012 Pilkington must fancy his chances of a call up.

Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield – Norwich £2m)
Eyebrows were raised when Paul Lambert shelled out £2 million on Anthony Pilkington, an unproven winger who had never played at a higher level than League One. Not only that he had been out injured for 6 months with a broken leg. Despite this Lambert’s gamble on the Blackburn born wideman has thus far paid off as Pilkington’s whole-hearted displays have correctly earnt him many plaudits as well as rocketing his new club to 9th place in the league, not only that, he is currently the Canaries leading goalscorer.
With Ireland’s qualification to Euro 2012 Pilkington must fancy his chances of a call up and in the form he is in there is no reason why he cannot make an impact on the biggest European International stage at all.

Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City – QPR undisclosed)
During his second spell at Manchester City Shaun Wright-Phillips cut an isolated figure most weekends, sat on the substitutes bench most matches if he was lucky and a sad shadow of his former self if he did get onto the field.
Characterised for his weaving, lung busting runs forward Phillips’ ability was never in question. It was obvious he needed regular football in order to rediscover the form he showed during his first spell at City, his summer move to QPR has thus far given him what has eluded him since his initial move away from Manchester City, games. Knowing he is going to be one of the first names on the teamsheet has given ‘Shauny Wright’ his confidence back and Rangers are reaping the benefits of this in abundance.
This transfer was a great move for all parties and Shaun was always going to be a great buy for whichever club took a punt on him. QPR did and the Rangers fans will be lucky enough to see Wright-Phillips continue to improve with each week the passes as he recaptures his sharpness.

Michel Vorm (Utrecht – Swansea £1.5m)
Holland’s No 2 goalkeeper has been a huge hit since making his summer move to Swansea City. The ’diving Swan’ has put in several man of the match displays, single handedly winning City crucial points in the battle to maintain their Premier League status. His heroics in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool were astounding. With Vorm between the sticks it gives Swansea a greater chance of survival. In my opinion he will be a Premier League player next season regardless of whether or not the Swans survive. Great shot stopper, great buy.

Scott Parker (West Ham – Spurs £5m)
England international Scott Parker has settled right into the heart of Tottenham’s midfield and has been a steadying influence, playing with a certain calmness and assuredness which makes it seem as though he’s been at his new club for years.
It is no coincidence that that Spurs sharp upturn in form has coincided with the arrival of Parker who has proved himself to be the ideal foil for Luka Modric, allowing the Croatian playmaker to maraud forward safe in the knowledge that his new teammate is covering the midfield positions.
Wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp has again proved he has the midas touch when it comes to bargain buys with the steal of Parker for a mere £5 million.

Other candidates

Honourable mentions to firstly Danny Graham who is surprising me at Swansea, I didn’t think he possessed the necessary pace or ability to bang in goals at the top level however he is doing and I hope he continues to prove me wrong. Secondly Kevin Nolan at West Ham who was reunited with his old Bolton gaffer Big Sam Alladyce after he dropped down a level to help the Irons gain promotion. Nolan was a real coup as he is essentially a premier league player plying his trade in the Championship. His goals, work ethic and tenacity are a key reason why his club sit 2nd place in the table and in my opinion will get be promoted come May.

Danny Graham. Surprising people at the Liberty.


Six Shocking Summer Signings

David De Gea (Atletico Madrid – Man Utd £17.8m)
David de Gea, while raw, has the potential to be a great keeper that could occupy the number one jersey at Old Trafford for the next 15 years. However his performances since joining United have not filled anybody with confidence that he can step into the very big gloves left by Edwin Van Der Sar.
No matter how much the media or blinkered United fans try and defend their dodgy keeper, De Gea’s flaws are there for all to see even prompting some clubs to adopt a shoot on sight policy when facing the shaky Spaniard.
On one hand it could be argued that he’s a decent goalkeeper who needs time to settle into the Premier League, and that the price tag and extra pressure of playing for the champions of England makes this even tougher. On the other it could also be said that Anders Lindegaard is probably the better goalkeeper at the moment and De Gea is only keeping his place because he cost above £17m.
De Gea’s distribution is supposed to be top notch but he kicks the ball out of play more often than he passes to a team mate. He has a small frame that does not sufficiently fill the goal (see Manchester City’s final two goals in the 6-1 win at Old Trafford.) But more than anything his confidence is shot which is not good for a goalkeeper. especially one so young.
Time will tell whether De Gea will prove to be another Taibi or whether he will finally fill the gloves vacated by Schmeichel all those years ago. For now the signs are not good and De Gea has a lot to work on if he wants to hold onto the number one jersey past Christmas alone.

Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing (Sunderland and Aston Villa – Liverpool £36m)

Liverpool picked up from where they left off in terms of dramatically overspending on overrated English players when they somehow managed to spend £36 million for the glamorous duo Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.

Henderson has failed to make an impact on Merseyside, even receiving criticism from some quarters of the Liverpool support. Also Liverpool paid more for Stewart Downing than United did for Ashley Young despite Young clearly being a better player for both club and country this season.

Even the most ardent of Kopites cannot seriously think either Henderson or Downing can fire the Reds to the league title they so crave and therefore the money spent on this average pair must be considered to be poorly spent.

Connor Wickham (Ipswich – Sunderland)
Connor Wickham’s choice to move to the Stadium of Light over  Anfield in the summer was the cause of much suprise across the country. Not only because he chose Sunderland over Liverpool but also £8million is a lot to spend on a player who does not have any Premier League experience under his belt, especially since he is only 18 years old.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce intended to adopt a protectionary policy, sparingly using the talented Wickham however it’s unfortunate for both Wickham and Bruce that Asamoah Gyan left for the UAE, as if Sunderland had 4 strikers, Wickham could have been used sensibly and blooded in with a mind to improving over the next 18 months. Unfortunately the club are fairly reliant on him given the lack of avaliable striking options and because of that they need young Wickham to be the finished article now.

Whilst Wickhams potential is not under question, with only 3 starts since his summer move the money invested in him would have been better spent elsewhere. Sunderland are not club that can gamble on youth and they would have been better off buying a proven player that would have guaranteed them solid performances.

Bryan Ruiz (FC Twente – Fulham £10.6m)
Bryan Ruiz arrived at Craven Cottage with a big price tag on his head and so far has failed to justify it. Admittedly he did show his class with his delightful dinked effort against Everton during the Cottagers 3-1 home defeat to Everton but in the main has failed to make an impact.

His Premier League career got off to a slow start as he was hauled off at half-time on his debut at home to Blackburn. Things didn’t get any better for Ruiz as he missed the all important penalty which saw Fulham go out of the Carling Cup to 10-man Chelsea.

Manager Martin Jol took a big risk in signing Ruiz for that sum of money but the likeable Dutchman has backed his buy to come good, he better hope he does soon or the Costa Rican international could follow the same path of another terrible South American imported from the Eredivisie, a certain Mr Afonso Alves.

Kieron Dyer (West Ham – QPR free)

Kieron Dyer, footballs forgotten man. His move to Loftus Road in the summer was met by a wave of optimism around West London more in hope than expectation that he could recapture the form he showed in his youth using his lightening speed to terrorize defences across the country. However an all to familiar story unfolded just 7 minutes into his league debut for Rangers as he was stretchered off during his brief  31st appearance in four years as a result of a litany of injuries. Dyer is scheduled to return in the new year however it surely won’t be long until he is back on the treatment table.
Rangers boss Neil Warnock claimed that signing Dyer was ‘a gamble worth taking.’ However in my opinion it wasn’t. Dyers wage could have been better utilized by signing a younger less injury prone player with a point to prove. Big wage, big waste. Bad Signing.

You can follow David on Twitter @sweeneymcfc

The Curse Of Kieron Dyer