• We need to talk about Stephen

    One of the most bizarre Albion transfer dealings has now played out in full with the news that Stephen Ward has joined Premier League new boys Burnley, signing in a three-year deal from Wolves.

    As recently as Thursday, Ward looked all set to return to the South Coast and make permanent the loan move of last term where he was an effective part of Albion’s rearguard.

    The lure of Premier League football can not be underestimated. Given the choice, every player wants to be scrutinised by Lineker et al on Match of the Day rather than Manish and Steve Claridge in the later supporting bill. Ward confirmed this himself upon concluding the switch to Turf Moor yesterday.

    “I don’t think I could have picked a better place than Turf Moor and obviously to come to the Premier League is a massive pull as well.

    “Once you get a taste of it you want as much Premier League football as you can.

    “Burnley have done superbly well to get promoted and hopefully I can play some part in us having a successful year.”

    Albion fans have expressed dismay and, in some cases, anger, that the Irishman did not make permanent the loan move that saw him an integral part of the Championship’s second meanest defence in the last campaign. It is a curious coincidence that it was Burnley themselves who were even more miserly over 46 games.

    There seems to be some belief that the Albion procrastinated through the Summer, which allowed Burnley to nip in and steal Ward from under the very noses of Tony Bloom and David Burke. This is a convenient version of events for those who currently seek to lambast Burke for every supposed mis-step the Albion have made in the Summer transfer market. They should note, however, that Burnley were also known to be tracking Ward back in May.

    Despite their new found riches Burnley, like the Albion, have been spending carefully. It’s a sign of a well-run club that value is extracted from every transfer, both in and out, and a ‘splash the cash’ mentality is not permitted to develop.

    Albion were not allowed to speak to Ward and his representatives until this week when a deal was agreed with Wolves - that’s simply the way it works. The club worked quickly and personal terms were soon resolved. It was only at this time that Wolves themselves, and not Ward, told the Albion that Burnley were also in negotiations for his signature.

    As soon as Burnley agreed terms with the Midlands club, it quickly became a case of Premier League v Championship, and the Football League’s top division rarely wins out.

    It was always likely that as soon as the Albion and Wolves struck a deal that Burnley, or another club, would have attempted to lure Ward away.

    Fan frustration is understandable, but it’s a feature of modern football that squad assembly and fine-tuning carries on for most clubs right up until the end of August, when the season is already well under way. Ward himself only arrived at Brighton in time for the fourth game of last season, and in both recent play-off seasons the Amex has seen new arrivals well after the Championship’s opening day.

    Most Albion fans would like to see Ward lining up for the Albion at St Andrews today, the ground where he made his Brighton debut, but it’s not to be. There are still two weeks of the transfer window ahead, and it’s certain to be frenetic. When the calendar turns to September it will be the right time to fully judge how successful, or otherwise, the club have been in assembling a squad to challenge for a top six spot for a third consecutive season.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. maynardsg's Avatar
      maynardsg -
      Lost Wardy for £3k a week..hope there's a better plan!
    1. iamjon's Avatar
      iamjon -
      Lost Wardy for £3k a week..hope there's a better plan!
      Did you actually read the article you just commented on?
    1. Green Cross Code Man's Avatar
      Green Cross Code Man -
      Good article. We never had a chance. I thought Ward's comment regarding Burnley was pretty weird though. 'I couldn't have picked a better place.... etc'. In due respect in football terms Burnley obviously can't compete with even middle ranking premier league teams let alone the big boys and as for the place itself the least said the better.
    1. KZNSeagull's Avatar
      KZNSeagull -
      Thanks for setting the record straight.
    1. hans kraay fan club's Avatar
      hans kraay fan club -
      Quote Originally Posted by KZNSeagull View Post
      Thanks for setting the record straight.

      (Burke OUT, etc)
    1. Screaming J's Avatar
      Screaming J -
      The moral of this story is if we are in competition with a Premier club or one with parachute payments, we're ****ed. I know that's obvious but such is the difference in resources available, almost anybody decent we are interested in is also going to be of interest to theseclubs. They hoover up available players at this time of year which means that we either have to wait until Sep for their cast offs, get people in from abroad that aren't on others radar screens (Ulloa, Toko) , or young players they've decided are never going to make their 25s and are willing to let go now. I know its shit but this is the reality and we are going to have to get used to it until we grow more of our own.
    1. Biscuit's Avatar
      Biscuit -
      What's the noise?

      Ah, the old familiar wurrr'ing of the propaganda machine spluttering into life.

      We missed out on Ward, we move on. I presume we had a second, third or even fourth choice LB being pursued incase a PL club did come sniffing?

      Oh well, I await further 'fine tuning'.
    1. LamieRobertson's Avatar
      LamieRobertson -
      WA gave a hint of this on saturday
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