The end of the season gave the players a well deserved break after a great season, and a chance for them to take it easy, however I had a busy schedule already lined up. My plans for the summer where to improve the squad, and lower the average of the squad, both of which would help with us now competing in Europe as well as domestically. With this in mind, the following players were released from their contract, Kieron Dyer, Sean Davis, Ibrahima Sonko, Jon Stead, Jonathan Walters, Pim Balkestein, Damien Duff, Andrea Parola
and Tamas Priskin,
at a cost of £3.5m. With the World Cup taking place in Germany, myself, Assistant Manager Gerry Harrison and Chief Scout Graeme Ferguson booked tickets to the tournament to take it in and identify some possible transfer targets. We came away from the finals with a shortlist of players we were interested in for the coming season. It was the hosts Germany who won the World Cup, defeating Spain 1-0 in the final thanks to a goal from Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker.
In total a further 8 players left, with a couple of surprises that I'll come to. Defenders Jonas Troest -
£1.3m to Ankaragugu, Glenn Loovens
- £900k to Southampton, Bernard Mendy
- £375k to Burnley, Carl Dickinson
- £190k to Sunderland and Kevin Long
- £65k to AFC Wimbeldon all moved on, with none of them 1st choice. Xabi Prieto
started well at the club but started to under perform and lost his place towards the end of the season, and I didn't hesitate when Real Madrid offered £3.7m for him. Fellow midfielder Wayne Routledge
was unhappy with his lack of opportunities at the club, and he joined Huddersfield for £525k. Now for the 2 big shocks. First of all William Gallas
, who despite being a colossus in defence last season, was not offered a new deal due to his age, and has since retired. The biggest bombshell though was that of the £10m deal that took Romelu Lukaku
to Derby County. His goals had been instrumental in our Premiership and Championship title wins, but he had begun to upset the squad and made no secret of his desire to leave. With all the sales, TV Revenue, Season ticket sales and prize money from last season, I had quite a war chest to spend!
Lukaku leaves the club in a £10m deal
With Vito Mannone leaving the club to join Wolves for £4.3m, I needed a new keeper. A series of bids for Akinfeev, Joe Hart, Steve Mandanda, Mauel Neuer and Rob Bergkamp (Van der Sar's regen) were all rebuffed, but we finally got our man when the deal for Joe Lewis
to join Man City fell through, and we were acted quickly to bring another one of my former players to the club. Quite a few defenders left in the summer, which left me pretty light at the back. First to arrive at the club was Sevilla defender Federico Julian Fazio
for £1.5m, and the following day, Czech and HSV full back Marek Suchy
finalised a £6m deal. Congolese defender Christopher Samba
had found limited opportunities at Man City since joining from Fulham for £1.9m, and I showed no hesitation in snapping him up for £3m. Another centre back in the shape of towering centre back Salvador Alonso
joined from Getafe for £850k and was definitely one for the future. I'm still on the lookout for another centre back.
Midfield saw 4 new faces arrive at the club, and most noticeably they were all under the age of 30. Jack Wilshere
played 25 times for Arsenal the season before last, but didn't make a single appearance last season, and was eager for first team action. The tricky midfielder has decent pace, a good eye for a pass or cross, and is a magnificent dead ball specalist, and will be a good option either on the left or in the centre, and was a steal at just £2.2m. He was joined by fellow Arsenal player Theo Walcott,
who was a little more pricier at £3.7m, but the England player offers fantastic pace and skill, and can also play a number of positions but will most likely start on the right wing. Backing up Walcott on the right wing is David Bentley
who arrived from Spurs in a £1m deal, and also brings great trickery on the ball as well as a wealth of experience for the younger members of the squad, having made over 300 career appearances. The last midfielder to join was Spanish u21 central midfielder Alberto Vallejo
, who is still only 19 but already has the making of a great box-to-box midfielder and arrives for a bargin £200k from W.B.A
Finally up front, with Lukaku gone and an ageing Diego Forlan I had to bring in a couple new faces. Edison Cavani
joined his fellow countryman Forlan at the club for £2m, and will fight it out with him for the second striker role. With Lukaku gone I needed someone in the same mould as the Belgian striker who could get us a number of goals. For a number of months I'd been watching Standard Liege striker Dieumerci Mbokani
, who had scored 143 goals in 261 games in the Belgian league and he came in for a hefty looking £8m price tag, but one I think he can justify, as on the surface he looks a better player than Lukaku, and at 28 right at his peak.
With all them changes the squad now had an average age of 25.86, a good few years younger than last season, as well as a much stronger squad that will hopefully see us do well this season.