• A Great Summer Leads to Clean Sheets

    Have we ever known a summer like it? It seems like the sunshine has gone on for ever. Barbeques every weekend, tanned little kids running round like they’ve just come off the plane from Menorca and, in the fields of Mid Sussex that I regularly stare at from a stationary train, the harvest has started and there are bales sitting around everywhere a month early. Booze sales have gone through the roof (or they would have if we’d not run out of CO2) and beach café owners everywhere are rubbing their hands with joy.

    Then there was the World Cup. When bitter Jocks like Graeme Souness have to piss in your chips you know it’s been great. We were predicted an orgy of violence from trained, martial arts inspired, right wing gangs and England going out in the second round. We got a classic, trouble free tournament with some incredible games, a semi-final (and agonisingly close in that) and a Golden Boot winner. Souness’s main gripe seemed to be that we’d not been that creative because we’d scored most of our goals from set pieces. Do those not count anymore then? I wish that rule had been in force in the season we missed out so closely on promotion to Middlesboro, given we conceded a number of important goals in exactly that manner.

    Then there’s been NSC and here, something normally completely standard has been missing. Yes, we’ve had a good old fashioned binfest and the usual political arguments raging, the running thread (the best on the board IMO) has carried on, well, running and the Infinite Jukebox continues to be infinite. But we have entirely missed out on the traditional battle between the lickers and the wetters.

    You know how it goes. We get to mid July – about the time I’m writing this – and WE HAVE NOT SIGNED ENOUGH PLAYERS AND WE ARE GOING DOWN. Or THE CLUB KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND THE TARGETS WILL COME. Binfest begets binfest and the two sides are as polarised as the Brexit thread.

    The truth, as ever, is often somewhere in the middle.

    But not this close season. If the window SLAMMED shut tomorrow we will have done excellent business and our biggest problem would be the number of wage earners forced to kick their heels. The club has done its business early. We’ve sadly said goodbye to four absolute legends. Uwe, Connor, Steve and Liam, we will miss you and I thank you for your efforts from the bottom of my heart. Rarely could you conjure up four guys who more embody the “together” spirit that got us up.

    In have come *takes deep breath* Balogun, Andone, Bernado, Steele, Button, Bissouma and Tau.

    Steele and Button might sound like a 1960s firm of solicitors that is really a front for a detective agency but they come in as valuable back up to Maty Ryan who will be needed by Australia for Asia Cup duties. I can’t see either displacing the diminutive (sorry I had to do that, I mean EXCELLENT) Aussie who had an absolute blinder of a season last time out after a shaky start, but the fact that we paid a reported £4 million for a back up keeper says a lot about both our ambition and how nutso the transfer market is.

    Often you don’t know much about the people we bring in unless you’re an absolute football obsessive. It varies of course. Many of us will have seen Button but not many will have heard of Bissouma. But, in general we can make some fairly left field signings.

    So it was fortunate we got the Balogun deal over the line before the World Cup as we were all then free to watch our new player look extremely decent at the back for Nigeria. He certainly seemed to be in the right place at the right time and can pass the ball comfortably. When you think how good Dunk and Duffy were as a pair last season and then look at that you know Hughton’s “nice” selection problems are going to start at the back. Meanwhile Andone was a long time target and Deportivo’s bad luck in going down was our good luck in snaring a deal early doors. The YouTube highlights have been around for a while now, along with the Spanish highlights on Sky.

    Of the others I know not much at all but we have another two internationals (and one of them is going straight out on loan) and a player who appears to be the ultimate utility player and has played at the very highest level in Germany. And, let’s face it, Pascal and Uwe weren’t too shabby were they? The former is still probably our second best value signing, pound for pound, in our history, after Peter Ward.

    So why the absence of bile from Camp Wetter this close season? And, for that matter, the absence of smug from Team Licker?

    A shortened window has helped. I have said over and over that the window should end as soon as the season started and finally the powers that be listened to me. But, with many top players away in Russia the window was constrained on the other side too. For once we found ourselves in exactly the right place, not competing for the stars of the tournament for silly money but not so far down the chain we were waiting for the market to cascade. We were able to quickly do business under the radar. Secondly we already had some irons in the fire. Andone was on the second Depor went down and it looked to me like we had Balogun lined up nice and early too. After that the pieces have fallen in place just in time.

    I do mean just in time. This morning I awoke and opened the BBC site to see the headline “Everton Close In on £50 Million Richarlison”. FIFTY MILLION QUID? Are you having a giraffe? This is a guy who barely lit a candle let alone lit up the Premier League. It makes Pascal Gross worth about a £100 mill. Point being that this transfer might just signify the start of silly money season. And we’re all but done with buying and just about to start selling……..

    With the new players bedding in to team Hughton and team Brighton nice and early we’ll hopefully be organised from the off, and, with the defence strengthened, we’ll hopefully keep a few more clean sheets. At home in particular that should lead to three points. And, maybe for the first window ever, we’ll have something in common with NSC’s eternal worriers.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Article - A Great Summer Leads to Clean Sheets started by Guinness Boy View original post
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