Monday, 1 February 2010

Window Watch

Five little words were all it took, five little words to stifle the whispers and the complaints, to lace that fatalism with a flicker of optimism. Five words that David Sullivan uttered like some spell, immediately changing the mood. "John Hartson and Paul Kitson." Few were impressed this week when West Ham admitted they were chasing Benni McCarthy and Eidur Gudjohnsen, writes Sid Lowe in this morning's Guardian. The club's new owner could understand why. But, he insisted, desperate times call for desperate measures. "In the long term, we'll build up the team with young players but we're looking at the very short term: we're looking at survival." If that didn't convince, what he said next did. "And if you recall, Harry Redknapp needed strikers and went for John Hartson and Paul Kitson."

Recall? How could they forget? Hartson and Kitson. Hallowed be thy names. It is almost as if they were one being. Hartson and Kitson, Kitson and Hartson. Resurgence. Hope. Survival. Gudjohnsen and McCarthy aren't all that, but maybe they can be our Hartson and Kitson – a byword for a successful rescue mission. When it comes to emergency solutions, to footballing Red Adairs - to being precisely what you're looking for in a mid-season signing - few fit the bill like the pair who arrived at West Ham in January 1997 thinks Lowe.

Hartson cost £3.3m, a Hammers record; Kitson, £1.2m. What looked like madness was money well spent. It was late February and West Ham were bottom, having picked up a solitary point in six matches since Christmas. They were going down. But Hartson and Kitson made their debuts against Spurs and both scored in a 4-3 win. Chelsea were defeated 3-2. And on the final day of the season, they slaughtered Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 to complete an implausible survival. Kitson got a hat-trick; Hartson got two. It could hardly be any other way, notes Lowe, they had scored 12 in the last 13 games. "Without them, we would certainly have gone down," insisted Redknapp. What came next didn't matter. They had done exactly what they'd been asked to do: save their side, put out the fire. As Lowe concludes, no wonder Sullivan was so ready to invoke their names this week. A cunning plan with just one, teensy flaw: West Ham didn't get Gudjohnsen after all...

But we could still get McDonald or Keane or Ilan or Mido or Bentley or Maoulida or Menseguez or A.N.Other before the quietest transfer window in memory finally slams shut at 5pm today. So pity the breathless presenters of Sky Sports News, writes the Independent's Glenn Moore, as they sit below the countdown clock, trying to inject drama into the most inconsequential transfer window in history. Last week the hours of fevered speculation produced the rags-to-riches story of Chris Smalling, Robinho's return home and, er, that's about it. Even the nation's most excitable rolling news service could not describe the transfers of Craig Gardner and Leon Cort as big-name moves. But there is still one more day, and plenty of managers are still searching for the player they have told their reluctant chairman will be the "final piece in the jigsaw". What, asks Moore, apart from David Craig standing outside some windswept ground in the north-east, can we expect before the window closes at 5pm?

Well, West Ham hope to sign Brazilian striker Ilan for a nominal fee from St Etienne today and have enquired about a loan deal for Tottenham's Robbie Keane, reports the Mail. The Hammers have also finalised the £2.2million signing of Benni McCarthy from Blackburn. A swoop for either Keane or Ilan would provide welcome relief for Gianfranco Zola's side, who have missed out on forwards Eidur Gudjohnsen and Victor Moses in the last week. Also, Sunderland’s deal for Manchester City’s Benjani has stalled over personal terms and West Ham, Blackburn and Turkish club Galatasaray are all supposedly monitoring events.

The Times agree about Ilan, the Brazilian who left Saint-Étienne last month. They also throw Frédéric Piquionne, who is on loan at Portsmouth from Lyons, and Daniele Cacia, of Reggina into the mix as potential late targets. The Guardian are another to carry the Ilan rumour and they insist Robbie Keane will move to West Ham if the Irons consent to pay a £1m loan fee. Other names out of left field include former Blackburn striker Shabani Nonda, who has been freed by Galatasaray, and Marc Janko from Red Bull Salzburg.

The Mirror are the paper to go hardest on the Keane story. Alan Nixon confirms Tottenham want a 'stunning' £1 million loan fee for their skipper Robbie Keane and have told the Hammers that they will also have to pay the Republic of Ireland striker's £70,000-a-week wages in full for the rest of the season to have him. Hammers supremo David Sullivan would prefer to have him on loan with a view to a full-time deal, but was quoted those sky-high figures yesterday. According to Nixon Spurs would be willing to let Keane go to their capital rivals - a club they do not see eye-to-eye with on transfers - but they want a total of around £3 million for the rental agreement. Sullivan is said to be considering his options and he may yet come up with the cash. What is clear is that the 'Keane option' is alive and is stopping Roman Pavlyuchenko from going out of White Hart Lane. Spurs will call a halt to the possible move for their captain if the Russian goes.

That said, David Sullivan has revealed to ESPNsoccernet how he has declined to sign one top striker for £105,000-a-week, and is negotiating a beat the deadline deal for another top name for... £1,000-a-week. The jazz magnate has confessed he couldn't afford the former salary to bring Robbie Keane to East London from North London, (although he did reportedly offer something similar to Ruud Van Nistelrooy) but he is desperately trying to capture Mido for one of the lowest salaries of any Premier League star. "We simply can't afford Robbie Keane," Sullivan is quoted as saying. "Of course, we'd have liked him, who wouldn't? But it would have worked out at £105,000-a-week for the rest of this season, as well as a transfer fee. We simply cannot afford it. Then we have Mido. It would be one of the most amazing deals of all time. He doesn't want to be known as a 'has been' of English football, so he willing to come here to play for a nominal fee, just £1,000-a-week. He is a rich boy, even though he is still only 26, and he told us he doesn't need the money, but he wants to prove something in English football. He is a Middlesborough player who is on loan back in his home country Egypt, but he desperate to show people here what he can do. "We are hoping to clinch this deal today."

This morning's Telegraph states West Ham could bolster their defence on deadline day with the signing of Alan Hutton on loan from Tottenham, although all indications are that he is on his way to Sunderland. The Independent also have the Hutton story- it really is a non-starter- and state there are several Premier League teams looking at Egypt striker Mohamed Gedo. French newspaper L'Equipe reckons Portsmouth and West Ham are battling to sign PSG's ex-Chelsea hitman Mateja Kezman. The 30-year-old Serbian striker spent the second half of 2009 on loan at Zenit St Petersburg and has not played for PSG since August. Kezman is contracted to PSG until the end of next season but the Ligue 1 club are eager to offload him from the wage bill and he could leave the club by the end of the day.

Finally, Sam Allardyce has fired a parting shot at Benni McCarthy by claiming West Ham are signing a jaded has-been who will not last the distance. The South African, 32, has been putting the finishing touches to his £2.25million move to West Ham over the weekend, having agreed a £50,000-a-week deal for 2½ years. Rovers boss Allardyce, who claimed the player 'had his head turned' during the transfer, told Hammers fans to enjoy it while it lasts. "McCarthy is a hugely talented player who can play his best football in the final third," he said. "He's not getting any younger, so when you're not getting any younger the legs are not quite as good. But the talent is still there, so if you can get other players around him to do the workload then he'll get you chances and score you goals. He's generally the best he is when he first goes to any new club. When he came to Blackburn he scored 23 goals in his first year and hasn't quite replicated that since." So no whip-round or leaving card for McCarthy, then.

For what it is worth, the statistics do support Allardyce’s claim. In his first season at Celta Vigo McCarthy scored eight league goals but managed only two in the next three seasons. In a loan spell at Porto he got 12 in 11 games, and followed that by repaying a permanent move with 19 goals, but added only 14 in the next two seasons. And since he scored 24 in the 2006-07 campaign, he has managed just 28 in 2½ seasons. Yet desperate times call for desperate measures. Like the signings of Kitson and Hartson before him, the short term aim of survival is the immutable law that governs McCarthy's arrival. Putting out fires is what he does. As Red Adair was fond of saying: "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

*Check back here later as this post will be constantly updated with any relevant breaking transfer news/rumours/bullshit...

  • "Deadline day news to warm your heart - the half-time Hammerettes are being linked with a return to West Ham. An actual fact."- BBC
  • "Currently working on the West Ham website, been asked to format the headline 'Beattie Ful'. James is on his way."- BBC
  • Ilan in a meeting now with Gold & Sullivan- Sky
  • Benjani looks like he could be on his way to Blackburn to replace West Ham-bound Benni McCarthy- Sun
  • "Scott Loach's best mate Lee here, sitting next to Scott and his agent on the way to London for talks. Spurs have offered £2m, Watford want nearer to £3m. However they not the only London club interested..."- BBC
  • Robbie Keane is at Tottenham's training ground today, so rumours that he is moving on seem wide of the mark- Sun/Guardian
  • Interesting report coming in from France, where it is claimed Portsmouth are trying to bring Mateja Kezman back to the Premier League from PSG- Sun
  • Mido is now at Upton Park- WHO
  • "West Ham sources say no truth in Beattie. I understand McCarthy will complete today. Ilan remains v.possible. Mido possible."- Twitter
  • Ilan having a medical- TalkSport
  • Benni McCarthy officially signs- Various
  • Ilan on the verge of signing- Sky
  • West Ham United and Portsmouth have made late contact with Paris St Germain striker Mateja Kezman. Any move would come late on transfer deadline day but the 30-year-old would bring experience of England's top flight- Sky
  • Pictures of Ilan with Gianfranco Zola on Sky Sports News
  • West Ham in talks with Mido- Sky
  • Daniel Cousin anyone?- WHO
  • Bobby Zamora "seen at Upton Park"- TalkSport
  • Keiran Richardson a possibility?- Sun
  • West Ham in late bid to sign Nedum Onuoha- Mail
  • Behrami wanted the move to Palermo and agreed terms, but West Ham wanted money for him and the Italians were offering only a loan with a view to buy- KUMB
  • Mido signs four month loan deal in order to "prove a point".

1 comment:

TBI said...

Blimey I've never known us so busy in the transfer window. Normally such a let down but this more then makes up for it!


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari