Simple question: what's the better way to do your Christmas shopping?
1. Carefully map out a plan to make your purchases online and at the malls, big boxes and what have you at your own leisure?
2. Camp out on "Black Friday" in front of your local Best Buy to save 17 percent on Dre Beats headphones?
3. Wait to the last second, fight off Arnold Schwarzenegger, and hopefully get something so your dopey kid isn't in tears come the morning of Dec. 25?
Option No. 1 seems the smartest, correct, or at least the most prudent.
Shouldn't the same logic apply to running a big-time European soccer club? Every year we get the same nonsense at this time. Clubs have all summer -- June, July and parts of August to assemble a club, make deals and plan out the new year, yet many wait until the last second to make moves. Maybe it's brinkmanship, maybe it's poor planning, or most likely it's a lot of panic.
So before deviling into all the moves that went down today at the 11th hour, it's worth pointing out that clubs like Everton deserve a bit of credit for having the foresight to make it's major moves (selling Rodwell, retaining Jagielka/Heitinga/Baines, and adding Kevin Mirillas) without a proverbial gun to their heads. Begrudingly, I'll credit Chelsea, too, for grabbing Eden Hazard, Mirko Marin, Oscar, etc. before the last minute -- granted it's much easier when you have an open checkbook to make these moves.
Let's not worry about this. Let's talk TRANSFER MAAAAAADNESSSSSSSS (ohhhhhhh yeaaaaaaah)
ITEM NO. 1 -- CLINT DEMPSEY SAGA OVER
Since this is an American blog, let's talk about the 'best' American in Europe at the moment.
Whoever advised Dempsey deserves to be docked some pay, even as he landed at Tottenham on a three-year deal. Dempsey, this summer at 29, with a year left on his deal, had no leverage at Fulham, who was happy to play hardball with him.
Better yet, what did Dempsey want? The Champions League? A "Big" club? Who knows, he never exactly said so.
We all knew six months ago that Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea probably wouldn't want Dempsey. Arsenal might have, but Arsene Wenger isn't buying guys that old. It left Dempsey with few options to move to a 'big club' if he wanted to remain in England.
Spurs are a step up from Fulham, but not a huge step up. Hell, his ceiling this year is a place in the Europa League -- something Fulham is more than familiar with.
Still, for Spurs its a good move since Daniel Levy was able to sit back and watch as Liverpool got cheap and swoop in for a $9.5 bid, plus a three-year contract is good business -- Dempsey will score goals and provide a consistent finisher for Gareth Bale's service from the left since his trademark is making late darts into the box. Spurs, unless they're on song via the counter attack, have had major trouble scoring goals. Dempsey is a pure finisher in the box, so that's a big plus for the club.
Hard to see Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Glyfi Sigurdsson all on the field at once, but it gives Andre Villas-Boas lots of options, though not a like-for-like swap with Luka Modric, but the club is going to be playing a different style than it has in the past.. The trio are those combo position guys, not quite forwards, not quite midfielders, but all very useful and provide a lot more for 90 minutes than the departed Rafael van der Vaart could anymore.
Tottenham didn't get Joao Moutinho (as of yet), but did get Lyon and France No. 1 Hugo Lloris, again for a reasonable fee of around $15 million plus add-ons and future sales and a bunch of stuff nobody knows about. Spurs might have four veteran keepers now on the rolls at White Hart Lane (Fridel, Cudinici and Gomes) but this a great move.
a) Lloris is much more mobile than Friedel, who's pinned to his line via his old-age. AVB wants to play a high-defensive line, meaning the goalie is going to have to be able to deal with more 1-v-1 breaks.
b) Lloris is coming to a new league and a different language, but Younes Kaboul, William Gallas and Benoit Asso-Ekotto are all Francophones. Presumably Belgian Jan Vertonghen knows some French, too.
c) Lloris and AVB will have a lot of fun together giving each other fashion advice. Scarves ahoy!
Not quite a slam-dunk for Spurs, still a solid end of the day scenario. Moutinho, if added, changes it though.
Dembele might be the best pickup since he adds some much-needed strength and toughness across the field and makes the team less reliant on the moody Emmanuel Adebayor up top.
For Dempsey? It's a moderate step up, which could pay off if Tottenham finish in the top four this year. Probably not what he envisioned a couple months ago, but that's leverage and waiting until the last moment. Good move for Spurs since they didn't pay all that much and beat Liverpool to the punch. All-in-all does next to nothing to help the U.S. National Team (though some other moves might).
It leaves Fulham without any Americans on the roles. Fortunately they added Dmitar Berbatov who looked absolutely thrilled to be at Craven Cottage. Worth the gamble if you're Martin Jol, so long as Fulham expect him to doing else but score goals. Seriously. Nothing. Else.
ITEM NO. 2 -- BURN, YANKEES, BURN
So ... yeah ... Liverpool.
This is going to be a tough one to swallow. The powers that be at Anfield let Andy Carroll go to West Ham. Dirk Kuyt and Maxi left earlier. Then they let a few million bucks kibosh the Dempsey deal. Who is going to score this season is ... ?
Two things are clear here, the first the club is going to pay for the massive outlays Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comoli made for Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and even Paul Konchesky. FSG made a splash when they bought the club and then ... don't want to say they've fiddled, but they might have bought a bow and or a tuning fork.
Secondly, in order for Liverpool to have any success this term Luis Suarez and the woodwork are going to have to breakup. My suggestion is Suarez sends the post an emotion-less text message on a Sunday afternoon, blind-siding the post and telling them that their love affair is over for no reason other than a whim, but that's just me.
Overall the Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Nuri Sahin loan moves are good, but probably not enough to keep the club in contention for the Champions League, unless the wheels completely fall off for Arsenal.
Anyways, get your pink Liverpool hats and join the club's Pininterest page.
ITEM NO. 3 -- QPR WTF
Mark Hughes must have whispered the sweetest of sweet nothings into QPR chairman Tony Fernandes ear, because he let the Welshman go wild, transfer market style. (Fortunately neither side had to take tops off for the cameras to allow this to happen.)
Hughes brought in former Inter keeper Julio Cesar, albeit on a free to compete with Robert Green ... also added this summer on a free. There's also Esteban Granero from Real Madrid and Stephane M'Bia from Marseille (au revoir Joey Barton, please don't murder any Arabs in Algiers.) All-and-all, the club made 12 signings.
There's so much turnover at the club, how Hughes puts together a cohesive unit is going to be fun, well, sort of fun to watch.
In short since nobody reading this much cares about QPR, Hughes spent and spent and wheeled and dealed to essentially replicate something out of the mold of 2004 Blackburn Rovers. Suppose building a team that can finish ninth isn't the worse thing in the world.
ITEM NO. 4 -- CITY RUMBLES, KIND OF
Roberto Mancini didn't stand pat at the transfer deadline day, with the day's most notable move -- sending Nigel de Jong to AC Milan, meaning the Italians have a leg-breaker on the books to replace Mark van Bommel. Brilliant.
Adding Scott Sinclair as a surplus winger is the kind of luxury move a club with City's money can do, same with grabbing Maicon from Inter for a bargain basement price. Mancini also dumped Roque Santa Cruz on Malaga and previously got rid of Adebayor to move out some of the deadweight.
City grabbed Javi Garcia from Benfica, which should be the best move (and most expensive) of the day if you're an enlightened soccer fan since a) he's Spanish and b) previously played in Portugal, aka a tactics blogger's cream dream. Garcia does have a solid mustache and a blood-and-guts reputations, which bodes well for the EPL.
City also added THE NEXT VIDIC in Serbian Matija Nastasic from Fiorentia. So obviously that's a huge move.
Not a ton of headline grabbing moves, but a group that solidifies what Mancini wants to do at the club. Again, he'll have plenty of flexibility to go between different lineups for the league and Europe, but still has to hope neither Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli flake out, so long as Kun Aguero is on the shelf with his knee injury.
It's 6:47 on Friday of Labor Day Weekend, I realize few people are going to get this far reading this so ...
* Actually like Charlie Adam to Stoke, might have even mentioned it last year as a good move for a club like that to make. Don't laugh. With Adam, American Maurice Edu and Blackburn's Steven N'Zoni now in the midfield, Tony Pulis can get away from the grim and limited leg-breakers in the midfield like Rory Delap, Dean Whitehead and Glen Whelan. The question is if getting away from Stoke's, direct, bread-and-butter play hurts them in the long term. Adam is a grim, pasty Scot but he is creative and should be an immediate boon via his set piece delivery.
* Swansea swapping Sinclair and getting Pablo Hernandez, still making a profit is a nice bit of business. Love what the Swans are doing. Nobody will talk about this one, but a good move for the long term. Amazing how many bargains there are in Spain and how willing the non-Real Madrid and Barcas are willing to sell.
* Sky Sports made Aston Villa signing Christian Benteke from the Belgium league as a big deal. He's a big guy at 6-foot-3, but has bounced around a couple clubs and apparently has legal troubles back home. High risk, high reward for Villa and if you're them, you might as well try to hit for a home run. Belgians are so hot right now, so credit Villa for joining the lowlands party.
* No surprise Chelsea would loan Michael Essien out with its midfield depth. Going to Real Madrid is a shocker. If he can stay healthy it's a great last-second move for Jose Mourinho.
* Not a surprise both Arsenal and Manchester United were quiet today. Both clubs seem less than settled as the season has begun, albeit in two matches.
* U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu goes to Malaga, where he and Marin Demichellis can form the slowest, most immobile center back pairing in quite some time.
* Onyewu's longtime partner in the center of the U.S. defense, Carlos Bocanegra went from fourth-division Scottish club Rangers to second division Spanish club Racing Santander. Make of that what you will.
* A single tear trickled down my face when I saw Spurs sold Gio dos Santos to Mallorca.
* Stoke fans on Sky Sports ... well ... you just had to see them.
* Here's a list of all the EPL moves. Enjoy.