So the transfer window is now closed and after the international break, football will get underway in the Premier League from next weekend. After all the hustle and bustle of transfer deadline day, Premier League teams now have their squads finalised for the first four months of the season.
So with that in mind, what conclusions can we draw from all that happened over the last few weeks and months?
1. Louis van Gaal likes left backs
If you accept that Luke Shaw is a left back, Marcos Rojo is a left back and that Daley Blind made his name as a left back for Ajax and Holland, the Dutchman has now spent £56.8m on left sided defenders since joining the club on that trio. His total outlay on right sided defenders or central defenders? Zilch.
Even so that is still less than the £59.7m United paid Real Madrid for left winger Angel Di Maria, meaning that United could have over £116m worth of talent playing somewhere along the left of their team this season.
Assuming Daley Blind can play a more central role, that still leaves Rojo and Shaw fighting for one place in the team. I mean, Patrice Evra is a big name to replace, but that’s taking it a little too far in my opinion. Especially when it is the central and right side of defence which has been causing United untold problems in their poor start to the season.
Still it’s not all bad news, United have a back up for injury prone striker Robin Van Persie in injury prone striker Radamel Falcao. He’s a class act the Colombian and if he stays fit, he’s a great loan signing but another £40+ million on top to sign him permanently for a player aged 28 now, who will be 29 next year?
I must admit, I can see why van Gaal has signed quality players, but at the moment, he seems to have signed expensive pieces that just don’t seem to fit the puzzle.
Perhaps most amusingly of all, despite £56 million spent on left backs, I’m willing to bet Moreno at Liverpool and Cresswell at West Ham turn into the two of the best left backs in the Premier League this season at a combined cost of £14m.
2. You can’t believe a word that comes out of Arsenal
We’re all aware that often Arsene Wenger “did not see it” but Arsenal’s minister for misinformation was at it again on transfer deadline day.
When news that Arsenal were in for Danny Welbeck broke, a forthright statement came from the Emirates Stadium stating that categorically the club had not made a bid and that they were not interested in signing Welbeck.
It was clearly evident they were, so it was little surprise when just gone 11pm, there was the sight of Welbeck proudly displaying his no 23 Gooners shirt for all to see.
Why Arsenal persist in this is beyond me. Almost every player they sign they consistently deny they are interested in. I can understand it if there were lots of teams in for the player and they wanted to get the deal done in secret, but this was Danny Welbeck and he had a choice of Sunderland on loan or Arsenal.
I don’t think Arsenal needed to bluff a great deal to beat that hand being honest.
As it turns out, I think Welbeck is an outstanding signing for Arsenal, especially if Wenger plays him in his strongest position and not as a makeshift wideman. If they do, then they could have a Sturridge Mark II on their hands.
3. Jose Mourinho, Steve Bruce and Brendan Rodgers got the best of the summer deals
While Manchester City signed squad men to replace departing squad men and Manchester United snapped up left backs and anybody else with a telephone number price tag, a couple of teams did do well in the window.
Chelsea were shrewd as always under Jose Mourinho. It’s rare that Mourinho overpays for a player and his £62m combined fee for Diego Costa and Francesco Fabregas is just £2.5 more than United paid for Angel Di Maria. That is staggeringly good value for money.
At Anfield, Brendan Rodgers managed to get £75m from Barcelona for Luis Suarez. In ability terms alone, Suarez would be worth more, at least equal to the £90m Real stumped up for Gareth Bale, however given his ban and previous history, £75m was a great price.
Rodgers then invested the money wisely and although he may have overspent a tad on Lallana, Lovren and Markovic, he got superb value for Moreno (who already looks a class act at left back) and an unbelievable deal on Balotelli. £28m for the pair, that is less than one Luke Shaw or just under half a Di Maria.
A word also for Steve Bruce, the cherry-cheeked Hull City boss has had a superb summer, persuading Southampton to invest £12m of their vast reserves of cash on Shane Long and then landing £3m from Burnley for George Boyd. He spent a reported £17.85m more than that on a long list of players; Jake Livermore, Robert Snodgrass, Tom Ince, Andrew Robertson, Harry Maguire, Michael Dawson, Mohamed Diame and Abel Hernandez, as well as landing two very talented if erratic players on loan, Gaston Ramirez and Hatem Ben Arfa.
That’s a big improvement on the squad for last season for less than £18m spent. Very good business indeed.
4. It’s good to see some clubs not sacrificing their future for immediate short term gain
A few years ago, West Brom were criticised for adopting a model of refusing to overspend once they reached the Premier League. As a result, they spent a few years yo-yoing between the Premier League and Championship. However after gaining promotion in 2010, they have remained in the top flight and finished in the top half in two of those years.
Burnley seem to be adopting a similar approach with manager Sean Dyche having spent just £4.5m on two players Lukas Jutkiewicz (£1.5m) and George Boyd (£3m). Other players such as Matt Taylor, Marvin Sordell, Michael Kightly, Steven Ried and Stephen Ward all arrived on free deals.
Of course, Burnley may struggle with their squad and they are firm favourites for the drop, but it is the second time they have experienced the riches of the Premier League and due to their sound investment, relegation won’t threaten their existence, unlike the likes of Leeds United, Southampton and Portsmouth.
This isn’t a lack of ambition, but more a sense of perspective. It was always going to be a struggle for Burnley no matter who they signed, but by using their £50m windfall for promotion to the top flight wisely, they have secured the future of the club for the longer term.
That is good for Burnley, the Premier League and for English football in general.