Steal of the day on TDD was undoubtedly how Swansea managed to get Bayern to loan them a player. Well done Paul Clement. But the "How the F*ckDid They Manage That?" award this summer still has to go to United for convincing us to sell them Matic. The prize for reckless spending in the pursuit of greatness goes to PSG, naturally, but the trophy (let's hope it is the only one) for "You May Have Done Better Than Us But I'm Sure You Will Still Fail" goes to Pep, because I like being right. Though they are of course the lesser of all other evils.
The Window: Which has been the subject of so much rage, desperation and angst, not to mention a frantic licking from Harry F*cking Kane in the last two months is shut. Finally.
Waaaaah. We didn't get everything we wanted. Sigh. Nobody did.
This isn't Football Manager. There are more factors in play besides your club deciding they want someone and offering their club an amount that they would happily take. These are human beings and as much as you want them to sign for us, it's a highly intricate piece of work with motivations and influences you haven't got the first clue about unless you are in the room. Most significantly, you have to factor in the (often verminous) agents with the ear of the player whose priority motivation in some cases is often to line their own pockets (viz. Pogba to Juve and back again)
So. Chequebook Pulis said that he wanted four top quality players. He got three expensive ones, one of whom I'm dubious about being that high on quality. And he'll get a few weeks out of the now unknown entity in post-injury Zlatan. But they got their business done early. And look more settled for it. Well for that and the easy fixture run. For me, as much as it makes me sick in my mouth, they look like early front runners. Good job they're not sanctimonious entitled gits about it, isn't it.
City failed in their own way too - to get Sanchez in the end. Still they have been winners over the summer in all but this, but with great spending comes great responsibility, or whatever it was that some bloke said. Absolutely nowhere for Pep to hide this season, winning the league the bare minimum. And a great big dent in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Anything else is failure. And I don't think he will win the league. Because to win the Premiership you have to be able to get your players to defend. And he hasn't so far. His A game is still trying to outscore the opposition by seven goals and this is naive. Even if they did buy every fullback in Europe with a pulse that was going. So far this has not improved either Pep's hairline or their defensive ability. Huzzah.
Arsenal failed with their number one target, Lemar. They were prepared to obliterate their transfer record for him. Which is new. Even after Giroud tried to stuff him in his beard and abduct him from international duty he still wasn't interested. And they have a dressing room with a star man in it who doesn't want to be there. And a manager nobody respects anymore. And they've had a stinker of a start and a f*cking rotten conclusion to the window which has probably left Lacazette sobbing over a fancy bottle of wine on noticing he is surrounded by people stampeding for the exit. All except for Wilshere, who is clinging to the physio table and refusing to let go as they try and drag him out. Someone broke into their club shop and the standing joke is that when the police arrived they found 17,000 season tickets left on the doormat. Knobhead, my one Gooner friend gave me the following appraisal: "It's not the lack of signings, it's the lack of the one major transfer that we all wanted; a new manager. But, at least we aren't pinning our hopes on Danny fucking Drinkwater! Xx." Touché knobhead, touché. As a last laugh, they told Sky, with a straight face, that they were entirely happy with their transfer doings this summer. ATV should be a cracker this season.
The Scouse didn't get Van Dijk, which is the player they needed more than anything. For this alone they have had an average summer by my estimation. When they didn't get him and ended up with egg on their dirty faces at the beginning of the window they should have had a plan B, a plan C, a plan D and then finally a parachute for Klippity Klopp. Because despite the fact that they have Boring James Milner and f*cking Moreno the Clown in defence (not to mention two goalkeepers with less hand/eye coordination than a blindfolded Liver bird with one wing) they have not strengthened this area. So it matters little how many people are fighting for positions further forward. I'm not even talking about getting goals past their main rivals without reply. I'm talking about not being able to fathom a way around massive donkeys like Stoke or Real Pulis. There is no contingency and as far as I am concerned you just tackle a game with them as you did last season. Shut them out for as long as possible and wait for them to run out of ideas and make an inevitable cock up at the back.
Sp*ds haven't set the world alight either. Just their own town.
But more importantly than any of them, how did we do in the end?
We’ve replaced Ivanovic - Rudiger
We've replaced Matic - Bakayoko
We've replaced Mikel - Drinkwater
We’ve replaced Costa - Morata
We’ve brought youth through to replace JT - Christensen
We’ve replaced Begovic - Caballero - for free.
We’ve replaced Oscar with a different kind of player more suited to reinforcing our new system - Zappacosta.
Yes. Woe is us. What a crisis. I've read a stat I'm too lazy to check that says we've spent c.£180m. We haven't disclosed a lot of info so it's not an exact science.
If you are a Chelsea fan, and I'd have told you in May that "by August Alvaro Morata will be a Chelsea player," and you say you would not have wet your pants in excitement. You lie.
Likewise, if you don't at least appreciate the potential of Rudiger, a beast who has defended in Italy, where it is an art-form, or Bakayoko, who was a significant part of Monaco's stunning season last time out, then nobody can help you. These three were our big signings. And I am happy with them.
If you want to complain about bringing Christensen through (remember we've bought a Rudi too) instead of trying to buy the likes of Van Dijk, then I don't want to hear another word out of you about loaning kids out or not giving youth a chance. Ever. Chelsea have been true to their word with this particular kid. This season he would get to stay and fight for a place after a two year spell in Germany. The coolness of his performance against both Burnley after coming on and at Wembley has already vindicated this for me. I wouldn't put him ahead of Cahill, but many would and I wouldn't mock them. It's not a stupid debate by any means.
I far more appreciate a scout that can ferret out talent that can then come and stun us all than I do a club that works out a deal to spend £100m plus on someone who's already "arrived." I couldn't do it, and God knows City have been proof of late that buying the shiniest players at a massive cost and throwing them into one dressing room doesn't automatically equate to a winning team. Unlike all of the nappysh*tters ™ the scouts don't base their entire assessment of a player on FIFA 17. George Michael turned out to be a gem after they all soiled themselves about signing a former Bolton player so let's wait and see, eh? Because Zappacosta is arguably more established than George was when we brought him in and look at how well he has done. I am quite excited to see what Conte gets out of him. We badly needed reinforcements for this area. Deal well done.
Drinkwater isn't shiny enough? We didn't buy him because he is a world beater, we bought him because midfielders left and only Bakayoko had come in. He has a proven partnership with Kante. We now don't have to consider playing Fabregas in a holding position when we are facing strong teams. It's more options, and more depth.
This assessment is by no means supposed to be a blanket defence of the board. There are things about this window that have either frustrated me or made me want to repeatedly slap resident pantomime villain Michael Emenalo's silly grinning face with a wet kipper.
What hasn't gone right?
We wanted another striker. Some wise person pointed out the probable reason we didn't get Llorente was because a club came in after our discussions, which including booking a medical, and offered him a two year deal. We don't offer more than one year if they're over thirty. I do wonder what Antonio makes of this policy. Seeing as he is Italian and they play till their 70 over there. Possibly didn't make a difference. As at some stage the player agreed to whatever terms he was offered. Not signing a striker means Michy has to step up. He did it at West Brom. Now we want consistency. He has had time to acclimatise to life at Cobham, he absolutely has to step up regularly now as a reliable number two behind Morata.
As for Diego, though this is Chelsea and anything could happen, his being on the squad list, simple HR manoeuvring if you ask me. If this supposed law suit appears we can argue he was given the chance to play. Had he left South America.
We needed more cover at wingback. Oxlade-Chamberlain appears to be under the illusion that a move to Liverpool means he can play in the centre of midfield. Bear in mind he never broke into the Arsenal team until he went wide. Whatever, he wants he wants, and it isn't what we wanted. A lot of Scouse fans and even pundits, Carragher is one, are baffled by this concept of him at CM. My attitude is much the same about anyone umming and aahing about whether they can be bothered to pull on a Chelsea shit. F*ck 'em. , At the time I was p*ssed; but we did get the Zappacosta deal through. But they wanted two. This means that Kenedy is going to have to do his bit, at least until January. He was good enough for Newcastle to be bugging us about a loan deal, so lower end of the Premier League? We can hope that at the very least this means he will be a competent deputy for George Michael in any domestic Cup/Champions League dead rubber action. Just pray that our bouffant little free kick superstar doesn't get injured until we can revisit this in the January window.
Stats - We have already established that we have made good the losses from the first team since last summer. Well, to the extent at least that we have no need to be stamping our feet and whining like little b*tch babies facing the end of the world.
Last season we had 23 players leave either permanently or on loan. This summer 43. From JT at the top down to teenagers you have never heard of. But who out of these loan deals would you actually have wanted to see in the first team if the occasion demanded it. Let's just stick a pin in the list in a few places.
Zouma. Had all of last season to stake a claim and couldn't manage it after long term injury. He needs to get his career back on track and play regular football. With Christensen being given his chance and Rudiger coming in, there are not enough opportunities for him at Chelsea this season. Ruben. There's an argument for saying we should have loaned him out earlier. I had kind of come to conclusion by the end of last season that he needed to get out and see some of the world. He is one of the best prospects we have but he needs to play. In retrospect, could we have used him with our subsequent lack of numbers? Keeping him would certainly have been in our best interests, but not his. The same goes for Tammy Abraham. Swansea is the best possible place for because he has made a textbook progression through the leagues and impressed every club he has been at. Bristol City to Chelsea is too much in one hit for a kid unless you are going to suddenly chuck him in at the deep end like Harry F*cking Kane at Sp*ra and play him every week. That happened because the Sp*ds had no other option. With Morata and Michy to think of, barring biblical scale, unfortunate events, this scenario is not likely to emerge to Chelsea this season. Boga. This one irritated me a lot. But I suppose in his position he just won't play enough either. I was really impressed with him though, and had a sulk. At random for the lesser knowns, The Red Swarm made a huge deal out of Jameson because they were starved of newsworthy chat on TDD. He is highly regarded by us apparently. If he was that highly regarded, we wouldn't be letting him go on a permanent deal. Secondly, if he was the next John Terry, Pulis would have given him more than a one year contract in the West Brom development squad.
Lukaku - I fully concur with the club decision not to offer Willian or Fabregas in part exchange as Everton wanted, (source: Blue Squirrel) or, in that instance to pay £85m all in for him. I will lose literally not one second of sleep over this. I want to watch a player like Morata (and not just because he's hot) more than I want to watch us hoofing it up to a lump of a centre forward. I said dozens of times, too often he's behind the game. It's either because he is lazy, which you could kick out of him, or it's because he cant read the play quickly enough. For me £85m is too much to spend when you don't know the answer. And we got, in my opinion, the better all round footballer of the two.
Ake and Chalobah. This grieves me. But we're back to the human element here aren't we? They've been out on their loans, they've been back and they've decided that they would rather not play for the champions every now and again, and play every week instead. They've not gone to rivals - you could argue that being at the level required to start for Watford and Bournemouth means that they weren't good enough. Some have. Here's a stat for you from BlueSquirrel. Of every 200 players that Chelsea invest time and money in from the bottom up, so U7s or whatever and onwards, they hope one will be a JT. So if you're expecting a clump of them to filter through a la United and the class of '92, your expectations are far higher than the club. This isn't the way football works anymore. Either way, we couldn't hold them hostage. I wish them all the best, and I wish they hadn't chosen to leave, but they want something different from their careers right now than what we can offer them. If you're not compatible there is no point making the player and club suffer. I am sincerely hopeful though that we have managed to get buy back clauses in their deals, so that if they reach another level we have first refusal, without being robbed.
I don’t much care that Matic wanted to leave, but I resent that we sold him to United, even if the player did want it as his first choice. Tough. If he has to go somewhere else for a year, and we have the take less money, then he can get picked up by Chequebook Pulis so be it, not our problem. And he’d be a year older. He's started well for them, but they have yet to see the erratic form or dopey mistakes that are as much a part of his game as the excellent performances. Still, it irks me and this could well bite us in the a*se.
As for Barkley, in my own opinion no club should be signing seriously crocked players, and no seriously crocked players should be moving until they are fit again. Surely you want continuity of treatment? Surely you don't want to be starting a new life at the other end of the country when your primary focus should be getting back into a football pitch? Regardless, he was a dope to let the deal get as far down the line as possible before running away. There will be a bun fight for his signature now. Seeing as it's Sp*rs I'm prepared to use my fingernails of Chelsea need me.
I think if this window has shown us anything, it is the difficulty of trying to build a competitive squad at the bottom end, either in recruiting. quality players to not be your first choice when they are fully aware that they could go elsewhere and play every week, or managing the players of a certain lever you already have in both their best interests and yours as a business. You’ve also got to factor in that we put ourselves in a dumba*se position where we needed specifically homegrown players coming in which put us in an even tougher predicament. That nobody was monitoring this baffles me.
Praise Baby Jesus this madness is at an end, till January at least. We have the players we have, now let's just play football. I don't consider us necessarily weaker than twelve months ago, but certainly at least two of our main rivals are stronger. On paper. Let's not forget that this is the Premier League, which week in, week out is as mad as a box of frogs on acid.
On reflection we haven’t has the perfect transfer window. But we haven’t had one that warrants nonsense hysteria either. Whenever you feel your blood pressure rising take a deep breath and repeat these words after me:
"We're not Arsenal."
*Photo of new signings with the fan punching bag is from the Chelsea website