The year 2010 saw the bargain buy Javier Hernandez set the season alight at Manchester United with a price that proved that quality need not cost what City are paying.
However 2011 saw the opposite for some with Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam proving that Liverpool have no idea about value, and with Manchester City farming out Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Wayne Bridge on huge wages because they bought badly and can’t keep perspective.
This season the team of bargains was Newcastle United. Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba all exceeded expectations at a total transfer fee of £12m for 3 players! Incredible.
Add the performances of Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa to that trio and you have a great attacking force that many, including us,found it hard to resist. Not since Kevin Keegan have the Toon played with such freedom and passion. I Luv It!
The other signing of the season was Fernando Torres, or the new Michael Owen as I call him. A shadow of his former self he scored that one goal against Barcelona that broke their hearts and repaid half the £50m in a stroke, just as Owen did when he scored against City in that 4-3 win at Old Trafford. Otherwise he is a fading force and like Owen will be remembered as a waste of money when Chelsea offload him in the summer.
Other players with interesting seasons were Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, the two stars at Spurs who are either brilliant or awful. Modric is brilliant more often than Bale but Bale is more brilliant when he is brilliant which is 5 times a season! Neither are good enough in my view for a 60 game a season performance and yet the big Clubs will pick them off now Spurs are in the Europa League.
At Arsenal Robin van Persie gets the plaudits but for me Alex Song was their star, often dragging them back from the brink with box to box performances that are reminiscent of Patrick Vieria. He is their best midfielder, and would be a perfect United player, a sort of Michael Carrick/Anderson mix with the bite of Roy Keane in the tackle.
I’d seriously consider Fulham’s Moussa Dembele, Tiote, Song and Cabaye for United ahead of Eden Hazard and Modric. But none will be bargain buys again!
At Everton they found Nikica Jelavic who looks a great signing, the return of Tim Cahill added something and they ruined our season in 7 minutes. David Moyes has to be the next manager at United, surely. He is another Ferguson if ever there was one, and given our capital investment for players we need someone to unearth gems while the Glazers siphon off interest to service their loans.
Our team had a good points haul with a poor team that started so well. The injuries to Nemanja Vidic, Tom Cleverley, Anderson and Danny Welbeck disrupted the team, as did the form of Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney.
What caused Hernandez to disappear, for Park Ji-Sung to vanish only to embarrass himself against City and for Nani, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young to miss so many games at vital times? We suffered from that.
But David De Gea emerged as a serious keeper, Antonio Valencia was excellent, Paul Scholes did enough to justify 20 games a season against the weaker teams, Young won an Oscar, Rafael showed he isn’t the answer and Phil Jones proved he isn’t Duncan Edwards but more like Eddie the Eagle Edwards with his pathetic dives.
Time will show we need 2 fullbacks and 3 midfielders. This is vital for next season and Leighton Baines and Kyle Walker are the men for the job, with the midfield I stated earlier.
At £150m we might just get all five of them! I doubt we will do so for much less.
City will try and keep their team together but I doubt Carlos Tevez will stay, Mario Balotelli will leave too and their lamppost isn’t good enough so they must strengthen up front.
We can win the league next year but my blogs always end the same with a plea to the owners to loosen the purse strings and invest in the team. We can’t keep producing miracles from old players and next season we will fade if we don’t invest.
Come on Malcolm, get yer chequebook out!!
By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve