It’s guest blog time again and a familiar voice. MFW regular, Alex Bain is back to give us his thoughts on what, in hindsight, went right and wrong in the summer transfer window…
I have never been or attempted to be a scribe, as those who have read my previous attempts at putting my opinions down will attest to. But what I have tried is to be honest and I hope others can at least understand my points of view on a club I have followed since the days of the late Ron Ashman.
Everyone has a view on the club’s current league position and the malaise that’s affecting the team’s confidence. What follows are my personal thoughts on, possibly, what went wrong in the summer. Daniel Farke has already said that City are still paying for past mistakes, so the next question is, did a few of those get compounded in the last window?
Let’s start with the ins…
1) Ralf Fahrmann, from Shalke 04, arrived at a rumoured cost of €2m plus his wages and subsidised accommodation due to it being a loan and not a permanent deal. So far, he has made little impact on the team. His agent has been quoted as saying that if they knew then what they know now this loan wouldn’t have happened. So was he promised the no 1 slot? Even with his past reputation, was he ever going to dislodge Tim Krul?
2) Patrick Roberts arrived from Man City at a rumoured cost of £1m plus his wages and (again) subsidised accommodation. It was the only loan in from the UK and so far, again, he has made little impact on the team, We have heard he isn’t ready for first-team selection. His highly-regarded two-year loan at Celtic and his less successful loan in Spain didn’t give us too much of a clue of what to expect but we all thought he would build up to full game-time from the bench. So, is it attitude, injuries, fitness or adaptability to fit into the system that’s holding him back?
3) Ibrahim Amadou’s loan from Sevilla was rumoured to have cost €6m plus wages and subsidised accommodation. This loan fee would presumably be taken off his €15m valuation if City make it a permanent deal, so we would have to cough up another €9m. So far, after a delayed start to his Norwich career, he is proving to be a good addition to the squad. Playing out of his preferred defensive midfield position, he has made a couple of costly errors but is still learning about life in the Premier League and so far has proved he can succeed. His parent club are short defensively and may be looking at using him as a centre-back if he returns next season.
4) Josip Drmic, a free signing from Borussia Monchengladbach, arrived after an injury-hit season and has not played much. In his previous couple of seasons, he was a top scorer in the Bundesliga. So, still high hopes from him.
1) Sean Raggett was loaned to Portsmouth. He is out of contract next June and his one-year year extension was triggered last summer. Since signing he has also been loaned back to Lincoln and Rotherham. These clubs have stressed what a good centre-back and he continues to get good reviews from Portsmouth, so why there has been no chance at City? We will probably never know. But why buy a player that doesn’t suit your system or can’t adapt to the style of play?
2) Rocky Bushiri – a centre-back who was purchased and then immediately loaned to Blackpool. Another one who is getting game time to adapt to English football and is also a major part of the Belgium U23 set up at just 19-years-old.
3) Marcel Franke – after a poor start he was shipped back on loan to Germany where he proved he can play at centre-back. Shortly after returning last summer he was quoted as saying that he wanted to prove his worth to City supporters but was never given the chance as he was sold to Hamburg.
Conclusions on the above…
Fahrmann was a strange signing and there were other keepers City could have signed as free transfer with Premier League experience. The high loan fee could have been used to help recruit cover where most required.
Roberts, again, is another signing I am not sure of. We have a few players similar to him and with him not getting a chance to prove himself, supporters like myself are wondering whether this is another loan fee that could have been used to recruit cover elsewhere.
There’s not too much to say about Amadou other than so far so good.
Raggett, Franke and Bushiri all left prior to the Timm Klose’s injury and just maybe the decisions were made in haste or for financial reasons. But either of the first two would arguably have given us a bit more strength in defence.
The art of putting things right after they have happened is annoying, but we all do it… on this site and elsewhere (I am one). But anyway…
Personally, I would have been keen to bolster the defence either with a free signing or keeping either Raggett or Franke. Four centre-backs and a defensive midfielder would have seemed enough cover but once Klose was injured for the season action was needed. It was, of course, compounded by Christoph Zimmermann getting injured.
So, given we have our mainstay defensive duo out for the first half of the season, surely bells or klaxons must have been going off in the outer reaches at Colney? Or did they but were just ignored for financial reasons?
We all knew City would be short of funds last summer but spending unnecessary sums on two loan players seems a big error… in hindsight.
Foretelling problems that may occur and being a step ahead of them is a key element to any Premier League survival campaign, but for this, there is an even greater need for having sizeable sums available. I won’t hold my breath, however (at 69-years-of-age every one of them is a luxury).
How can City cobble together funds to buy the required strength to keep us in this league? If indeed that is the answer.
The millions the club receives for being in the Premier League are drip-fed over the course of the season, so with no billionaire backers, City had to wait till the first tranche to arrive. Maybe we can recruit what’s needed in January. Maybe.
The biggest problem I can see is that many supporters are counting on Zimmermann being our salvation but that is way off the mark, in my opinion. It will, of course, be good to have him back but he will not cure all the defensive ills that have beset the club and he too will need a helping hand.
Another who a lot will be expected from is Grant Hanley but both he and Zimmermann have to get match fit and then stay injury-free, as players returning from long lay-offs can easily pick up minor injuries. They need to be brought back with care.
In the long term, it would be nice to prolong and prosper in the Premier League but there are 19 other clubs wanting the same. Seventeen will succeed and most have vast financial resources and billionaire owners. The few that don’t have been more careful with their money over years of minor success in the league.
City need to emulate the latter and hope, at some point, to attract an investor. The longer we can continue in this league the more likely is that the club could attract investment and then look at ground expansion while enjoying a staple diet at the Premier League table of plenty.
As I said earlier, Farke was quoted as saying that past errors hindered City in the summer transfer window but who will take responsibility for errors made in that window? And can that all be changed with a big dose of foresight leading up to the next window in eight weeks time?
Onwards and forever forward for this great club.