The mid season window, is typically heralded by a cataclysmic level of hype that is churned up with its impending arrival, much like the clouds of mud stirred up in the water beneath a paddle steamer as it docks at a jetty. All noise and movement, heralding the arrival typically of some passengers and a few souls who prove useful in the long run.
Often it is the case that passengers do arrive in this opening, purely because of the rampant and depraved desperation that accompanies the transfer window, players that are just there for the ride in the end, which every manager wishes to avoid, at present there are high profile and big money signings who are passengers, and both are associated with the same transfer fee.
Clubs and managers are often having their last or first throw of the dice, so desperation can cloud their judgment and haunt them in hindsight . Generally signings are made in this window if a team needs help, has had injuries or is trying to push for a higher place in a competition or a longer run in a cup.
This seasons EPL window saw what was a fairly standard list of transfer dealings. The canny deal, the crazy deal, the despised deal and the nondescript dazzler. See if you can pick them throughout the following slideshow.
1. Daniel Sturridge
The top signing of the mid season window was undoubtedly Daniel Sturridge's loan move to Owen Coyles Bolton side, and subsequent goal scoring run. His goals have come along with various other threats posed over the course of the matches he has played. Against Everton, he was a fast, committed and threatening presence for the Everton back line to attempt to marshal. He managed to outfox them in the end, stealthily arriving at the far post to exquisitely dispatch the ball to the back of the net.
It is an amusing thing that with all the hype surrounding other multi-million pound transfers all of these, though there are other good stories in comparison with Sturridge's recent performances, they are seem merely average transitions, for a bigger contribution has not been made by a transferred player in the window gone.
The Chelsea player has shown the ability that had him rated so highly at Manchester City, which of course led to him moving to Chelsea. In a funny way Chelsea have discovered perhaps a future duo in the last few weeks who could effectively usher in a new period of strength. Sturridge has made everyone sit up and take notice again, sometimes players can't pull that off, he has, which shows he is a gifted individual and he has a lot of high quality football ahead of him potentially.
David Luis is mentioned later in this slideshow and it is not far fetched at the moment to think, that if form for these two Chelsea club mates is significant for a reasonable period of games, or displayed in important and crucial split second contributions to matches, then these two will be odds on to be team mates next season.
Owen Coyle has done an excellent piece of business with this transfer, and he himself has recently admitted that the more goals Sturridge scores, while good for Bolton, just puts him further out of Bolton's reach as a potential signing. With his parent club and its recent struggle for goals and subsequent signing of a new highly rated striker, while one was waiting in the reserves, who was loaned out, with out much fanfare, to a club considered to not be a threat to Chelsea. That striker Sturridge, has scored four goals in four games for the club he has joined, making him an instant hit and the "buy" of the transfer round so far, effectively re-energizing Bolton's season.
Sturridge said in an interview after the move that, “The manager wanted me to come here to play first-team football, and as soon as he said those words I was straight down the motorway. It was an easy decision for me because at Chelsea I wasn't playing regularly.”
You would think Carlo Ancelotti would be vaguely amused by Sturridge blazing form at this stage, especially with the crucial and calming win over United, but if certain strikers continue their current form, some one will look rather silly, though of course, you would think a player of the caliber of Fernando Torres will soon end his slump.
Sturridge has signaled his intent so far though, and would dearly love to carry on this form, with play that would cause Chelsea to bring him back into the picture as soon as they can, for the simple reason that they have an aging strike force, with Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. Of course, both are still playing well, Drogba perhaps not as you would expect, but he did have a bout of malaria to deal with earlier this season. They could have a few years to play a part yet, as certain veterans have at United. At this stage though, it seems fairly logical that Sturridge will return to Chelsea or be snapped up by some other club, Coyle of course, leading the charge.
2. David Luiz
This guy looks good, he has impressed in his opening spell with Chelsea, and looks to be an excellent acquisition for Ancelotti's Side. At twenty three Luiz seems an authoritative figure already purely through the ability he has displayed so far and its example to others. A player who can adequately provide an example of what they mean is always far more compelling than someone who cannot back up their spoken standards with their ability.
Luiz literally exploded onto the scene against Fulham displaying an almost swashbuckling style of defending. A highly skilled swashbuckling style that has been missing from the top flight in England and the world at large for many years. This sometimes cavalier approach did detract from his technically superior defending, there were some lapses where he lost the ball in dangerous places. He more than made up for that with his ability to contribute to the attack from his central defensive position.
There was a run at the by-line that led to a bicycle kick cross, only just headed over by Kalou. His passing was also imperious at times, as profound belief and ability combined to set up several dangerous moments for the Fulham rearguard, including an expertly judged long overhead through ball for Torres, that the Spaniard did not convert. He also got a shot away that missed the target and it looked as though he thought he should have scored.
Astoundingly good in the air, again technically excellent, with outstanding ability to flex the body, ensuring power and direction with his headers, all around the field. Right at the end he did of course concede a penalty, a rough edge on a potentially platinum find for Chelsea.
His game against the league leaders Manchester United was also tinged with incidents that seemed a little over enthusiastic rather than malicious. The goal he scored was ludicrously good. An almost flawless execution of the finish, flawless would be going too far.
He did perhaps ride his luck in the second tackle on Rooney, though really in the history of the game, there have been far worse incidents than that that have gone unpunished. Atkinson in one way was keeping the game flowing, after Luis upended Rooney when the United striker tried a one two that wasn't coming off, as Rooney would never have gotten the ball and did not look to have been badly hurt in the challenge. To send a player off at that stage would have gone down as an extremely strict decision and Atkinson was not willing to cross that line, at that stage in the match anyway.
In the aftermath, it did seem reasonable to let that incident slide, as Luiz had played exceptionally well and effectively assisted in the shut down of the United attack. This article will not mention the controversy surrounding this incident as it is focused on the fact that Chelsea have signed very well with their new center back. A truly gifted exponent of the game, a player who inspires memories of the great center backs of world football history, Franz Beckenbauer, or maybe Daniel Passarella.
Certainly looks as if it could be top transfer of the window at this early stage, though others have not quite fired yet, including our next South American arrival.
3. Luis Saurez
Luis Saurez made an immediate impression at Liverpool and that is something that is always celebrated by the Liverpool faithful. The most promising thing was that you could see what he was capable of at significant times in the match, where his skill and technical prowess enabled him to take a split second chance and create something dangerous. That his touch was off was no surprise as he had endured a lengthy lay off before he arrived at Liverpool due to a league disciplinary issue in the Netherlands.
On his debut he literally played himself in and luckily his teammates recognised they could trust him to give and receive the ball going forward at pace, and it actually sparked the team for the closing stages. He showed he was able to play one touch football that was extremely difficult to defend and even toyed with a handy roll back heel flick through ball, that was well placed, but just outdone from a defensive standpoint, a piece of defending that was of a high caliber, it needed to be as it was a magic trick.
It was after he had shown what seemed his full quota of talents, that he was able to demonstrate his excellent and incisively cutting running ability, spotting the pass as he ran and moving perfectly onto the ball as it rolls past the last defender, it was actually a reasonable finish, in terms of execution, just another excellent piece of defending that unfortunately for Stoke, went in Saurez and Liverpool's favor, the dream debut.
Since then he has continued to impress and easily looks to be one of the best transfers of the mid season window.
His lightness on the ball and pace off the mark coupled with superior control, could potentially, on what has been seen, give him an advantage over most defenders out there. There are those who may say, that it is too soon, but this article is based on performances since their transfer, and Saurez has easily been in the top three. He looks a quality signing and capable of potentially wonderful football, in the tradition of Liverpool attackers.
4. Darren Bent
Darren Bent's big money deal was hinted at in the press in the lead up to Bent's transfer from Sunderland to Aston Villa to those who might have been watching closely. The leaked opinion of chairman Niall Quinn saying in the past Sunderland had had a huge value offer for Kevin Phillips, but then Chairman Bob Murray, held onto the player for fear of angering the fans. Phillips was unable to single handedly save Sunderland and they ended up having to sell him on the cheap. Quinn said that he would definitely consider a large tabled offer for a player if one came along.
The transfer window trundled along like a early morning drunk coming out of the pub and ambled into view with all the hype of a binging media darling. There was all sorts of speculative talk but Bent was certainly not a name that was exciting the rumors. Then, bang, he was at Villa, for 24 million pounds.
There was much commotion and hand waving over what was considered an excessive transfer fee, though really, according to the market inflation, a player who has goals on their record and is scoring for his international team as well as showing good form for his club, is valued highly in the game, despite the media generated idea of the player.
Darren Bent is a goal scorer, and has continued to do so for his new employer, meshing in nicely with the side and making an instantaneous impact on the Gerard Houllier's Aston Villa outfit. His intelligent striking and goal poachers instinct coming in handy as always, as he chipped in mightily very early on in his new role as a Villa player, with a goal on debut against great pretenders Manchester City, who have spent all the money, but not quite provided the finished product.
Darren Bent so far has managed to make those who doubted his value tone down their talk as he has scored important goals and generally made a vital contribution to Villa's play, livening up the action their front-line is capable of. By simply making intelligent runs to receive and also to draw defenders and open up space, which Villa's wingers have gleefully exploited most recently, not to mention an almost uncanny ability to be there at some point for a rebound. Bent rounds out the list, for the moment, as others have not quite hit their straps like Fernando Torres at Chelsea, or in the case of Andy Carroll, even laced a boot with game day intent. The picture will change, as it always does, again in the coming weeks, and as always will prove a delightful interesting distraction from reality.