No-one with more than a fleeting interest in football could have missed the news of the sixteen month incoming transfer embargo handed to Chelsea by FIFA as punishment for their irregular dealings this week. It’s not clear how well the title favourites will respond their newfound impotency in the transfer market; their squad, though ageing, may well be strong enough to succeed without further strengthening, but it got me thinking, where would Stoke be without all the players we’ve signed in the last sixteen months?
Carlo Nash – Wigan to Stoke – Loan – 4/3/2008
The veteran ‘keeper was brought in as we looked to close out promotion to the Premier League. Steve Simonsen was faltering, having conceded three at QPR the day before, so some stability and leadership from the back were badly needed. That’s exactly what we got, as Nash kept goal superbly until the end of the season, keeping four clean sheets and helping us over the finish line. It’s hard to say if we’d have still gone up without him, but his penalty save to earn us a point a Watford was a huge moment in our season, and he was certainly an excellent signing.
Jay Bothroyd – Wolves to Stoke – Loan – 14/3/2008
Bothroyd was brought in by Tony Pulis to give our strikeforce extra firepower in the final weeks of the season, but he did very little of major consequence.
Stephen Pearson – Derby to Stoke – Loan – 28/3/2008
A lot like Bothroyd, the winger made little impact at Stoke, though his assist for Richard Cresswell’s goal at Sheffield Wednesday did help us to a crucial point.
Shola Ameobi – Newcastle to Stoke – Loan – 28/3/2008
Ameobi, a well-known Premier League striker, was a very exciting addition at the time, and many expected that he would find the goals at Championship level to fire us to the top. That wasn’t the case, he struggled and few were saddened when we decided not to take up our option to sign him permanently in the summer.
Dave Kitson – Reading to Stoke – £5.5 million – 18/7/2008
Until a month or so ago, any Stoke fan would have described Kitson as a truly dreadful signing. He seemed to make very little effort as he failed to score a single goal in his first season at the Britannia Stadium, but this season he’s come back a changed player, with a new attitude and two winning goals already to his name. He now looks a very useful player to have around.
Seyi Olofinjana – Wolves to Stoke – £3 million – 28/7/2008
The Nigerian midfielder struggled to hold down a place in the Stoke side and has sine moved on to Hull. Though hardly a player to be remembered, he did provide one fantastic moment, netting the winning goal against Arsenal in November 2008.
Thomas Sorensen – Unattached to Stoke – Free Transfer – 30/7/2008
The Danish ‘keeper has proved a superb signing for Stoke, establishing himself as number one and earning us numerous points on our way to Premier League survival in his debut season. Some might call him the best piece of business ever done by Tony Pulis, though Abdoulaye Faye might have something to say about that.
Amdy Faye – Charlton to Stoke – £1 million – 15/8/2008
The veteran midfielder was signed by Pulis to add some steel to our side, and has proved a useful squad member since. Though his Stoke career has been blighted by injury, he has been solid and reliable, that is to say, doing his job, whenever he has played.
Abdoulaye Faye – Newcastle to Stoke – £2.25 million – 15/8/2008
The fifteenth of August could well be made into a public holiday in the Stoke-on-Trent area, and can be pinpointed as the exact moment when the troubles of Newcastle United started. The Senegalese stalwart Faye has become a true hero to Stoke fans, and with his strength, skill and clear passion is a joy to watch week in week out. It’s no exaggeration to say that without him, we’d probably have gone down last season, he’s just that good, and all for the price of one tenth of Joleon Lescott.
Andrew Davies – Southampton to Stoke – £1.3 million – 19/8/2008
Davies is yet to make an impact for Stoke, largely because he has been unable to get himself fully fit. As a result he is a player well down our defensive pecking order, though still just 24, he may prove a good player to have in the future.
Ibrahima Sonko – Reading to Stoke – £2 million – 29/8/2008
Sonko, awesome in the air but awful on the floor, proved a reasonable back-up player last season, but as a result of new defensive signings, has been allowed to join Olofinjana at Hull on loan and won’t be hugely missed.
Danny Higginbotham – Sunderland to Stoke – £2.5 million – 1/9/2008
Our former captain rejoined the club on transfer deadline day last summer, and has proved a shrewd acquisition, becoming a solid, regular starter.
Tom Soares – Crystal Palace to Stoke – £1.25 million – 1/9/2008
Soares, seen by many as a deadline day panic buy, enjoyed a blistering debut for Stoke, winning two penalties in our victory over Tottenham, but he has since been poor. The future still looks bright for him though.
Michael Tonge – Sheffield United to Stoke – £2 million – 1/9/2008
If there’s a hint of a panic buy to Soares, there’s no doubt about it with Tonge. Brought in when we failed to sign Joe Ledley, he’s barely played and looks unlikely to do so much in the near future, which is a shame, as he has showed occasional flashes of class.
Matthew Etherington – West Ham to Stoke – £2 million – 8/1/2009
Etherington has become a first team regular for us, and in these times of bloated transfer fees, seems a very good piece of business.
James Beattie – Sheffield United to Stoke – £3 million – 12/1/2009
Beattie was arguably the best signing made by any Premier League club in January. He came into a side low on confidence and scored five times in his first seven games, as well as two more before the end of the season. Without his goals we’d have been a definite four points worse off, but in reality, his overall contribution and the way he revitalised the camp were worth far more.
Henri Camara – Wigan to Stoke – Loan – 2/2/2009
The nippy Senegalese striker struggled to make an impression for Stoke, appearing in just four games. He was certainly not one of Pulis’s inspired loan signings.
Stephen Kelly – Birmingham to Stoke – Loan – 4/2/2009
A lot like Camara, Kelly did little right at Stoke. He did little wrong though, and was a useful player to have in the squad as we closed out survival.
Ben Marshall – Crewe to Stoke – TBC – 8/7/2009
Marshall is a young winger, who after a superb pre-season has been playing at Northampton on loan, where he has made a big impression. He is a hugely exciting prospect for the future.
Matthew Lund – Crewe to Stoke – TBC – 8/7/2009
Lund joined Stoke in identical circumstances to Marshall, by approaching then Stoke academy coach and former Crewe manager, now mercenary sell-out, Steve Holland, about a move. He’s yet to impress in the way Marshall has done, but is also tipped for a fine future.
Dean Whitehead – Sunderland to Stoke – £3 million – 24/7/2009
Centre midfielder Whitehead was our first major signing of the summer of 2009. With five years of Premier League experience with the Black Cats, he’s been a good player to have at the club, and looks set to feature regularly this season.
Robert Huth – Middlesbrough to Stoke – £5 million – 27/8/2009
German international defender Huth is a signing that shows our ambition. He’s a solid and very highly-rated yound player, and will provide cover for Ryan Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye, a fact that illustrates very well how far we have come as a club in recent years.
Tuncay – Middlesbrough to Stoke – £5 million – 28/8/2009
For years we have been promised signing that will “rock the city” and in Tuncay we finally have one. An attacking player of true excellence, he already looks well on his way to becoming the hero of this generation of Stoke fans. To attract someone of his quality to Stoke is a real coup for the club.
Diego Arismendi – Club Nacional to Stoke – £2.6 million – 31/8/2009
I thought I’d never see the day when Stoke would splash out millions of pounds on an unproven South American “wonderkid”. I was wrong. That day was the 31st of August, and may well go down as a significant one in Stoke City history, as the signing of Arismendi heralds our arrival on the world stage.
Danny Collins – Sunderland to Stoke – £2.75 million – 1/9/2009
Though not as exciting a signing as either of the two players above, the capture of versatile defender Collins on transfer deadline day was a shrewd and sensible one, as he looks like becoming an integral part of our defence.
Chelsea will have to go sixteen months without adding any new players to their squad. In that time we’ve signed 25. A mixture of experienced heads, clever loan signings, exciting youngsters and Turkish geniuses, with only a small number of exceptions, they’re all players who have, and will, take us forward. It’s true that Chelsea’s squad now is far stronger than ours was sixteen months ago, and with world class names in every position, they may well be able to brush off this handicap and continue to succeed, but still, I’d rather it was them than us.