The season has begun and we are on the board so to speak having secured victory in our opening fixture with Aston Villa. In the Premier League, possibly more than any other league in the world (in my opinion) there is no easy game however it is safe to say right now probably the hardest game of the season is next for us.
In a lot of ways travelling to Manchester City early in the season is a good thing. If you lose, it is early in the season and you have more than enough time to put the result to bed but also they are not yet in their frightening full flow. Which is especially scare as they opened their season winning 5-0.
I do not fear them though. I do not fear any team really, not anymore as I truly believe if we play as well as I know we can we can beat anyone in European football. I do of course realise that some teams deserve respect. Man City & Liverpool for sure domestically are two teams that are red hot right now. They have carried on where they left off last season and that is well ahead of the chasing pack BUT it is only one game and for us to show we want to be up with them this weekend is a perfect chance to show it.
Of course there is a very real reason why Man City might be just that little extra bit up for facing us this Saturday. I swear if VAR rules out a goal of theirs this weekend we might actually see Pep explode. As funny an image as that is I do honestly believe they will want to prove a point this coming week.
The point of my blog today however was not to talk the Man City game, just felt I should mention it as I do think following the Champions League game there last season it could be a spicy affair.
I actually wanted to write today about the closing of the transfer window before the season started.
Transfer deadline day was last Thursday, August the 8th at 5pm. Once that deadline passed teams in England could no longer sign players. There are various exceptions around loans and the lower leagues but I am focusing on the Premier League and that teams in the top flight cannot sign a player now BUT the windows in other top European leagues remain open. They will not close until the end of August meaning these clubs can still sign and even sign players from England.
I will admit, when I first hear about this change I was really pleased. There was nothing more annoying that starting a season with players futures up in the air, both incoming and outgoing. It felt like the opening couple of games were always a write off as you were never quite sure on the squad you had.
Managers voiced that including our manager Mauricio Pochettino however after a second summer of this change the Argentine and myself have changed our minds.
What has happened rather than certainty of your squad etc is that top European clubs wait to make moves for players towards the end of their windows not ours to apply the maximum amount of pressure. To get the best price. All is fair in love, war and football transfers and lets face it, if football transfers were a war we have a chairman who would be up on charges of war crimes! The guy is a menace to every club he has ever dealt with – just ask Fulham what he was like over Ryan Sessegnon.
Right now however, with our window closed the shoe is on the other foot as we wait knowing teams in Spain are going to make cut price offers for Eriksen and soon. Three teams in Spain, Barcelona, Atletico and Real Madrid have all shown an interest in the Dane at different teams over the past year. None made moves during the summer and with the player sitting on only one year of his contract it was clear why. The closer it gets to deadline day the price will come down.
However, not our deadline day… where we could have a replacement lined up… no, close to their deadline day where we will be left with an awful decision. Do we sell for what is on offer or do we keep him and hope he stays focused for one last season and lose him for free in a year.
As a business its an easy decision. You take what it on offer and work hard to line up a replacement for January, so yes we may be short for months of the season but we will get in someone for the second half of the season to give us a boost and other players can step up in the mean time.
However if you were making a purely footballing decision would it be the same? Eriksen proved his worth during his cameo from the bench on Saturday and I am sure will likely start against Manchester City this coming weekend. If he plays well again it will only increase that feeling of how much we need him now and going forward through this season.
Sadly, Eriksen is not the only player who we have this issue. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, arguably the greatest pairing since Run met DMC (Yeah I am old) are both also sitting on one year and both could be subject to offers soon. There are clubs in Germany, Spain, Italy and one club back in Amsterdam all looking for central defenders. World class, experienced central defenders who are both available for £25m or less. The club and me as a fan are bracing for bids for sure.
The last man I will mention who is also likely going to subject to a bid is Danny Rose. The England international was told by the club he could look to find a move this summer and so he stayed behind from the pre-season tour to try and do just that but as of right now he was unable to secure a new club. Rumours were on deadline day Watford made a move for him and before that we know that Newcastle came in only to be put off by his wage demands. To be fair if someone wanted me to move to Newcastle I would want a LOT of money too.
However one club who all summer have tracked him is PSG. The French club have on no less than six occasions said publicly he is a player they are interested in. So why no bid? Again, it comes back to the closure of the window. They know we want to sell, we went and made that public and so by leaving it as late as possible in the window they hope to secure the player for a low price.
Unlike his Danish and Belgian team mates however Danny is not in his final year of his current deal, he has two left. However with the club making it clear they want to sell it is obvious they will listen to offers. Ben Davies is nearly fully fit. KWP can cover at left back and of course new signing Ryan Sessegnon played two full seasons in the Championship with Fulham as a full back / wing back.
So in conclusion I believe the problems we all thought closing our window before the season starts would solve have in fact led to them becoming worse. Players and their agents know how to play this game, clubs in Europe know and soon we will get a true indication of how the club is going to be run going forward. Do we cash in on four first teamers? Do we cash in one or two… do we retain them all and take on that financial hit. We shall see.