As the transfer market begins to pick up some pace we are starting to see the first signs of the players that the three newly promoted clubs believe will save them from a return to The Championship. It is clear to all that Hull, Stoke and West Brom can’t spend any where near the amounts of cash the majority of the Premier League sides can. As such the sides that stay up are usually the ones who make some shrewd purchases during the transfer window. This normally means feeding off the scrapes of what the big boys have thrown away. This article will look at the players who have shown their clubs they still have something to offer by saving their news sides. However for every up must come a down and we will look at those buys which looked good on paper but turned out to be terrible on the pitch for clubs who eventually lost their Premier League status.
Obviously these are the players whom I can think of off the top of my head and I am sure that there will be those of you out there who can name a lot more.
Brad Friedel: Liverpool signed the American goalkeeper for £1m from Columbus Crew. After making just 30 appearances in three years with the Reds Friedel was released and signed by Blackburn, who were then still in Division One (now the Championship). After helping Rovers secure promotion back to the Premier League Friedel had an outstanding season with the side, helping them to a secure position in the league whilst winning the League Cup against Tottenham. Friedel has since gone on to become an icon at Ewood Park as he looks forward to his ninth season with the club.
Kieran Richardson: The man who saved West Brom, at least for one season, joined the Baggies on loan half way through the season when West Brom found themselves in a dire position. However 3 goals from 12 appearances helped inspire the Baggies to escape the drop, despite going into the last day of the season routed to the bottom of the league. He scored one of the two goals in West Brom’s 2-0 victory over Portsmouth to save the club from returning straight back to Division One. His performances earned Richardson a call-up to the England side for their tour of America where he scored both of England’s goals against the USA. Richardson declined the opportunity to have another loan spell at the Hawthorns the following season in a bid to fight for his place in the Manchester United squad but has since moved to Sunderland where he has helped them to avoid the drop, although not in such an impressive manner as he did at West Brom. See what the odds are on the Baggies surviving here
Matthew Upson: The English centre back could never really get a break in the Arsenal side with Tony Adams and Martin Keown in front of him and as such spent a lot of his time out on loan with the likes of Crystal Palace and Reading. In 2003 Steve Bruce decided that he would bring in a centre back to shore up his Birmingham City defence. Birmingham were in the midst of a relegation battle in their first season in the Premier League and the signing of Upson from Arsenal helped guide the Blues to a safe position in the top flight. Upson stayed on for a further four years in which time he helped to establish Birmingham as a Premier League club, at least for a short time. The Blues were eventually relegated with Upson missing the last four months of the season a big factor in Birmingham’s demise. Check out Birmingham’s odds of bouncing back here
Alan Stubbs: Might be considered an odd choice and many of you may wonder why I have chosen the central defender. Looking back on his career he was a successful Everton player who was looked upon by Toffee’s fans as a no nonsense defender who suited the club. However there are a couple of blotches of his copybook, for example in 2005 he moved to then newly promoted Sunderland. At the Stadium of Light Stubbs made a handful of appearances for the Black Cats as they became the worst club to ever completed in the Premier League with Stubbs managing to concede 20 goals in his 10 league games. That was until Derby came along last season who you will remember one just once as they took Sunderland’s crown much to the delight of their fans. Now this may have slipped under you radar during the January transfer window but Rams manager Paul Jewell brought in Stubbs to help his sides leaky defence. No body expected Stubbs to perform miracles and keep Derby in the Premier League but he seemed to hinder the side even further as they failed to win a single game and managed to lose 6-1 at Chelsea and 6-2 to Arsenal, the only thing saving him from conceding more was an injury he picked up during the second half of the season. So here is reminder to newly promoted clubs, don’t buy Stubbs if you want to stay in the Premier League.
Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink: The Dutch forward with a rocket shot may be a hero at Chelsea and may even have created some fond memories for Middlesbrough fans. However at Charlton Hasselbaink will only bring back bitter memories for Addicks fans having spent one year the club in which time the south London club were relegated to the Championship. In his time at Charlton Hasselbaink made only a handful of appearances and didn’t bring the kind of fire power the Addicks fans might have expected when he completed his move to the club. He will have disappointed as many Charlton fans as he did thrill Chelsea fans, although at that time in his career it was clear that Hasselbaink was approaching the end of his time as a Premier League player.
Martin Dahlin: Some of you may not remember the Swedish forward but for Blackburn fans he will probably still cast nightmares over his time with the club. Having arrived from Roma in 1997 for £2.5m Dahlin was expected to help propel Rovers to a title challenge with the Lancashire side having slipped off the pace in recent years following their Premier League title success in 1995. It was still at the time when Rovers had Jack Walkers money and looked to have done well investing in Dahlin who was a decent international striker at the time. The hope was that Dahlin would link up with Chris Sutton much like Alan Shearer had done when he was at the club. Instead Dahlin spent the majority of his time in the treatment room, managing just 27 appearances in his two years at Ewood Park. In 1998-99 Blackburn found themselves involved in a relegation battle, where was Dahlin? He had got himself injured in September and missed the rest of the season. Rovers were relegated and Dahlin left on a free.So the lesson of this tale seems to be do not waste your money on past it players who can’t offer you anything, or those that are likely to break down with injury after three weeks. Sadly Hull have already gone against me on that front as they look to bring in George Boateng. On the plus side the signing of Geovanni from Manchester City is definitely a step in the right direction and I applaud them as I do West Brom after they brought in Gianni Zuiverloon. Over the coming weeks it will be interesting to see who the promoted sides place their faith in, whether they go with experience or youth I fear that Hull and Stoke are doomed.