Notts County Transfer Window Roundup: Good Enough For Promotion?

With the first Summer transfer window under the belt of Owner Alan Hardy and Manager Kevin Nolan at Notts County Football Club, we look back at the signings made and positions addressed in this off season.

Notts finished another disappointing season down in 16th position in League 2 at the end of the 2016/2017 season, after being saved from the serious threat of relegation by the takeover of the club by Hardy and the subsequent managerial appointment of Nolan in January 2017. The ex-Newcastle man turned the Magpies’ fortunes around and went on to win 10 of the remaining 21 games, drawing another 4, and securing Notts’ position in the football league for another year. However, it was clear to everyone associated with the club that signings were needed, and positions needed to be strengthened to ensure that Notts are heading in the right direction and can go along with Alan Hardy’s plan of being in the Championship within 5 years.

The first two signings addressed what was arguably the biggest issue for Notts last season, and the few seasons previous. Lewis Alessandra was brought in from Hartlepool United for an undisclosed fee, and Terry Hawkridge was signed on a free transfer from FA Cup quarter finalists and newly promoted Lincoln City. These two signings meant that Notts had signed two out-and-out wingers to create chances and register goals and assists, and contribute to a greater threat than has been present in the past.

Another massive issue with Notts County’s squad in 2016/2017 was the amount of goals conceded. Notts let in 76 goals last season, and had the second leakiest defence behind relegated Leyton Orient. Everybody was well aware that this was unacceptable, including Nolan, who moved to sign a new left back and centre back to try and solidify Notts’ weak back four. Dan Jones and then Shaun Brisley were signed on free transfers from Chesterfield and Carlisle United respectively to shore up the defence. Brisley is a combative centre back who is an imposing figure in both boxes, with Jones being extremely effective in dead-ball situations as well as completing marauding runs up and down the left flank.

It’s not often that a team in League 2 can announce the signing of a current international footballer, but Notts did just that with the signing of Liam Walker. Albeit being a member of the Gibraltarian National team, it was considered an astute signing by the Magpies, obtaining the creative central midfielder from Europa FC on a free transfer, who had just won the Gibraltarian First Division and reached the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Notts have turned to the other side of the River Trent for some loan signings this Summer too. It must be said that Nottingham Forest have some great young talent in their ranks that need game time, and it’s about time that Notts tapped into that potential and took those players on loan, benefitting both Nottingham clubs. This season, those players came in the shape of Jorge Grant and Ryan Yates, both on season long loans. This saw the return of Jorge Grant, who was one of Nolan’s deadline day signings in the January transfer window. Grant proved a massive hit with the Notts County faithful and management alike, scoring 6 goals in 17 games in the second half of the 2016/2017 season. He has returned to Notts for the full season this time around, despite having offers from League One and the Scottish Premiership, and fans are hoping for him to make the same impact this season too. Yates came in as a relative unknown, but has shown his quality straight away and is proving a fan favourite already with his no nonsense tackling and ability to dictate the play in the centre of the park.

Moves were also made for players who would not yet be ready to play first team football, but would benefit from being at the club and could be brought into the team from next season. Names included Pierce Bird (Centre Back from Dunkirk FC), Elliot Hodge (Winger from Lincoln City), Callum Saunders (Striker from Crewe Alexandra), Ross Fitzsimons (Goalkeeper from Chelmsford City) and arguably most surprising and random of signings; Branislav Pindroch, a Slovakian Goalkeeper from MFK Karvina in the Czech Republic.

County finished their business by signing experienced right back Nicky Hunt, who played under Nolan at Leyton Orient, and will mainly be used as cover and protection for first choice right back Matt Tootle.

Nine players were released by Notts County at the end of last season, and with thirteen players brought in, it seems to be agreed by the whole fanbase that Notts have definitely strengthened over this off season. However some are not satisfied with the business and feel like another centre back and another striker should have been brought in, whether on a loan or a permanent signing. Nolan and Hardy have made it clear that only the right type of players will be brought in to the team, and they are only interested in signing players who will improve the team. Nolan also wanted a streamlined squad, and this could be beneficial with squad harmony and chemistry being built up over the season, or it could also be devastating if the squad is decimated by injuries.

Overall I believe Notts had a good transfer window, it definitely could have been better but the management and owner did a good job considering it was their first full transfer window together. But is it good enough for promotion?

Since Hardy bought the club and Nolan came in as manager, Notts County had been in the top 3 in-form teams in the League, and so off that basis alone Notts look strong enough to at least be in contention of being a promotion chasing team, and maybe looking a bit further up the table towards the automatic promotion spots if the season goes well for them. Whilst saying this, there is a lot of competition for the top 7 spots in League 2 this season, especially with teams like Luton Town and Mansfield Town spending big money to try and get out of the basement of the football league, as well as big teams being relegated from League One who will look to bounce back at the first attempt. Teams like Swindon Town and Coventry City immediately spring to mind.

Will Notts County finally improve their fortunes and finish in the play-offs this year? Only time will tell, but let me know in the comments section who you think will make it out of League Two come May 2018.

Manchester United transfer window roundup

Manchester United have made the perfect start to the Premier League season as they have a 100% winning record. This is largely down to the team ethic and how quickly the new signings have settled in. 

Over the summer Jose Mourinho made it clear that he would like to bring in 3/4 new players, and that number was hit as he completed the signings of Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and he also bought Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the club.

Below I analyse each of the new signings the club have made.

Victor Lindelof – Despite been given his opportunities throughout pre-season, Lindelof rarely looked comfortable and it was apparent that its going to take him some time to gel with his new teammates.

For the opening game of the season Jose Mourinho went with the pairing of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones in the defence. This selection choice has proved to be a success as United have kept 3 straight clean sheets, and has kept Lindelof out of the starting eleven.

It is still very early days for Lindelof at Old Trafford and he cannot be judged just on pre-season performances, but he is going to have to take his chance when given it if he is to be a regular starter in the defence.

Romelu Lukaku – The £75m transfer for the Belgian striker was welcomed by many supporters. Having been left with only Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as attacking options, it was a position that Mourinho had to add a quality player to and in Lukaku he has got that.

Lukaku has hit the ground running early as he has found the back of the net 3 times in 3 Premier League games, making himself an instant fans favourite. If he carries on his goal scoring form he certainly could be the difference between the ‘Red Devils’ winning the league title and not.

Nemanja Matic – Another signing of proven Premier League quality, as Matic joined United from Chelsea for £50m. Many fans were pleasantly surprised that Antonio Conte had sanctioned the move of the Serbian midfielder, after the ‘Red Devils’ took Romelu Lukaku from under the noses of the London outfit and the fact that United are title rivals to Chelsea.

The defensive midfield position was another position that needed an extra body, as Michael Carrick isn’t able to play week in week out anymore. Matic, like Lukaku has made a terrific start to his United career, picking up man of the match in the first game against West Ham and looking so comfortable in the other two games, has seen him become a vital part of the team already.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Ending United’s top goal scorer last season with 28 goals before his campaign was cut short due to a cruciate ligament injury, it is clear to see why Jose Mourinho has bought the Swedish striker back.

Every club Ibrahimovic has played for he has scored goals, and even though he has had a lay off with his injury I have no doubt that he will come back into the team this season and play his part in helping Manchester United compete in every trophy they compete in.

Manchester United fans are you happy with the signings your club made this summer? Let us know in the comments section below…

 

 

Everton striker is in bother over drink driving

Just when things started to be looking up for Wayne Rooney after rediscovering his form at his boyhood club Everton his world has been dashed from his own stupidity.

Rooney, 31, was arrested shortly after 02:00 BST after officers stopped a black VW Beetle on Altrincham Road, Wilmslow. Rooney was breathalysed and his reading came in over the limit which lead to his arrest. A source told Metro that he was three times over the limit.

A story like this can do real damage to both Rooney’s image and his endorsements as companies like Nike will be questioning whether Rooney is a responsible professional that they want to be associated with.

The question has to be asked as to why Wayne Rooney who is on a number wage reported to be over 150,000 pounds a week without his endorsement money would take the risk to drive when he has consumed alcohol, why not just get a taxi?

Drink driving is a touchy subject within the country at the moment considering in 2015 the total number of casualties of all types in drink drive accidents was 8,210.

Unfortunately for Wayne Rooney, being such a high profile celebrity and with the fact that the government is coming down hard on drake driving he may be made to be an example and could receive the toughest punishment possible which would be a hefty fine and a driving ban.

Rooney has been released on bail and is due to appear at Stockport Magistrates’ Court on 18/9/2017.

Tell us what you think of Rooney’s actions and what punishment you would like the former England captain to face in the comments section below.

 

Did Birmingham make the signing of the summer?

With all the money that was spent during the summer transfer window, its clear to see that fees for players is continuing to rise year on year. 

Last year we saw Manchester United sign Paul Pogba for a fee believed to be in the region of £89m, and this summer that was blown out of the water by Paris St Germain, who completed the signing of Neymar from Barcelona for €222m.

With big money been spent by Premier League clubs its driving the price of players in the lower leagues up, but on deadline day Birmingham City made a quality signing and a such a good price, as they completed the signing of Jota from Brentford for a fee believed to be in excess of £6m.

Jota – The Spanish midfielder can play on either wing or just behind the striker, offering versatility in his game.

Last season for Brentford he managed to score 12 goals in the Championship and also provide 5 assists for his teammates, and has carried that form into this season where he already has 3 assists in just 4 games. From these statistics it shows that Jota will certainly contribute to the team, and at a fee of just over £6m he could be well be bargain of the summer.

Birmingham City fans are you pleased with the Jota signing? Do you believe you have got yourselves a bargain? Let us know in the comments below…

Have Wolves left themselves short?

Its fair to say that the Wolves owners have backed manager Nuno Espirito Santo in this summers transfer window, after they sanctioned the signing of Ruben Neves, Roderick Miranda and Barry Douglas to name a few, and on deadline day the club were linked PSV Eindhoven striker Jurgen Locadia.

Late on in the day though, PSV pulled the plug on the deal after deciding they didn’t want to sell him, which leaves Wolves with just two strikers in Leo Bonatini and Bright Enobakhare.

Whilst everybody connected with Wolves will be disappointed not have landed Locadia due to no fault of their own, you have to ask the question why leave it so late on in the window to sign a new striker?

The club also let strikers Joe Mason and Nouha Dicko leave Molineux this window, and despite starting the Championship season strong, if Leo Bonatini or Bright Enobakhare get injured then it leaves them short on numbers up top which in the long run could ultimately cost them going up this season.

Wolves fans are you happy with the transfer window your club has had? Do you agree you are short of bodies up front? Let us know in the comments below…

THE FANS PLATFORM

%d bloggers like this: