It’s early July, the high of the end of last season has all but worn off, and the pre-season fixtures have not yet kicked in, so naturally, year after year we turn to transfer news for our football fix. As Stoke fans, year after year at this time we ask “why haven’t we signed anybody yet?” ,wearing down the F5 buttons on our keyboards repeatedly refreshing the page on any source of transfer news, and this summer has been no exception. While we should enjoy the rumours, and bask in he sense of accomplishment that comes with being linked with players of the calibre that we are, having come so far in a few short years, we should not despair at the lack of concrete activity. We’d all love to see a flurry of big name, big money players arriving at the Britannia Stadium as soon as the window opens, but let’s be realistic, we have to bide our time, and it’s not time for concern just yet.
Last summer, just four major transfers concerning players coming into Premier League clubs were completed in the month of June. This year the figure was slightly greater, but this can be put down to the skewed top end of the market that has resulted from the merry-go-round of top players this summer, sparked by Manchester City’s ascent to riches. The only other clubs making waves in the transfer market are those at the bottom of the table, who know a large amount squad building has to be done, and feel they have little time to lose in getting in players if they are to stand a chance of beating the drop. It is telling that newly promoted Wolves and Birmingham have already brought in six and five players already, many of them unproven in the Premier League or English football altogether. We should see it as a positive that we don’t have to rush into signing players, safe in the knowledge that our current squad is good enough to compete well, while we take the measured approach to signing players that Tony Pulis favours, waiting for the right players to become available.
To rush into signings, or feel pressured to make them purely for the sake of making them, is possibly the worst thing club’s management can do in a transfer window. Think back to this time last year, we were desperate for a signing, the club eventually made one, Dave Kitson. Shortly into his time at Stoke it was easy to see that he was not the right player to take us forward. In short, he was a waste of an awful lot of money. If we’d taken a little more time to fully analyse the implications of signing Kitson, perhaps we would have avoided the train wreck his Stoke career has been. Much of the same can be said about Michael Tonge. He was signed on transfer deadline day last August after me missed out on number one target Joe Ledley. After missing out on Ledley we felt that we had to bring in someone, so turned to the next best available option, who has hardly “rocked the City” in his first year with Stoke. It’s important for us to take time over signings, ensuring that what we’re getting is what we need and for the right price. Given the choice of three or four good signings who will significantly strengthen our team made towards the end of the window, or ten made in haste who may have little effect, we’d of course take the prior every time.
We only have to look back at previous years to see that the best signings are worth waiting for. Last summer Abdoulaye Faye joined on the day before the season began, the year before that Ryan Shawcross signed just two days before the big kick-off, while in 2006 Ricardo Fuller joined on transfer deadline day itself. I have every faith in Tony Pulis that he can keep up this trend and bring in the players that will really make a difference as we get closer to that first game, at home to Burnley on August 15th. As yet, we have nothing to worry about. Let’s give it two weeks, if nothing’s happened by then, then let’s panic.
by Alec Vjestica