Filed: Wednesday, 9th November 2016
By: Paul Walker
Are we all ready? Surely we can’t wait… just around the corner is another trip to the twice-a-year, David Sullivan transfer theme park.
Round and round we go. Let’s listen and watch the little fat man turning cartwheels. Let’s wait in line for the roundabout going nowhere and the carousel ride that makes you feel sick. There’s even a dodgy bird in a tent telling fortunes and flogging dreams. Along with bags of popcorn. And then the climax of a helter-skelter ride at the last minute to make sure we get Mido over the finish line.
Yes, can’t wait, can we? It’s already started with a list of half-decent players we are chasing, the French legend we may sell and the list of abject failures we are trying to knock-out to anyone who will slash our wage bill.
And guess what Mr. Sullivan? Did you realise that every goal your ducking and diving has acquired has cost the club a cool half-a-million quid!?
A lot of money, yes. And I am sure you will cry foul as a few facts are twirled to get to that astonishing figure. I’ve been a little unkind too by tying together signings when we were skint, trying to avoid administration, and then when we had a bob or two and pitched for the moon.
One minute you are telling us we will sign a £30/40/50million striker, then your son chips in by reminding us we are £100milion in debt (to you, not the banks) and for people to realise how tough it is out there.
So there is no giving you the benefit of the doubt these days, I think you have lost that option as we survey the current antipathy towards a board who are becoming the most disliked, by many, our great club can remember - even rivalling the amazingly-inept PR of the great Bond Scheme era.
How do I get to this figure? Well, every transfer window since Sullivan and his mates arrived has seen us being promised the great goal-scoring hero, the one striker who will make all the difference. We have heard it all over and over again, and then we end up with the likes of Mido, Mladen Petric, Nene or Zaza.
Intrigued by wondering where all the money goes, I set about surveying the strikers and support strikers that Sullivan’s wheeling and dealing has brought to the club. From Benni McCarthy to Andre Ayew, Wellington Paulista to Madibo Maiga. With Brian Montenegro and Jonathan Calleri along the way.
So since Sullivan’s gang of three took over in January 2010, they have signed around 32 strikers of vastly-differing ability. There have been 11 loans and eight frees in that collection.
Now I haven’t included on my list the kids that have arrived very much for the future, like Frank Nouble and Sean Maguire, but I have included Ashley Fletcher, who was clearly bought for the present and who has done okay leading the line when asked this season.
In all I reckon that those 32 have cost the club nearly £80million, and that does not include the loan fees (Zaza and Calleri have cost us about £7million in such pay-outs, it is believed).
Now that list of 32 have played 667 games between them and scored 146 goals. Yes there may be the odd player I have missed, and some of the fees may be a little out, but not much - so stay with me on this, because I am trying to make a general point about Sullivan’s transfer dealings.
The loan players have managed 12 goals in 94 games between them while the frees have come up with 11 games and 24 goals. The purchased players have seen the bulk of the goals being netted by Andy Carroll (23), Ricardo Vaz Te (19), Freddie Piquonne (11), Michail Antonio (15) and Diafra Sakho (19).
A further 15 never troubled the scorers, and so far that includes Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri, Andre Ayew, Toni Martinez and Ashley Fletcher, of those most recent through the door.
So, those 146 goals, if you divide that figure into £80million, is about, roughly, half a million a pop. My maths was never the best, but I doubt that makes very good reading for our defacto director of football!
Of course, he has Tony Henry by his side these days. Exactly who is responsible for the previous transfer window activity that has proved to be a near disaster is open to debate. I noticed that towards the end of the summer, when the big names were dropping like flies, it was sort of leaked that all the players we were going for were Slaven Bilic’s choices.
I do find that hard to believe, knowing Sullivan’s track record. Here is the guy who told folk that he knew more about transfers than any manager. Yeah, right. I cannot believe, for example, that Bilic had even heard of Fletcher and,say, Sam Byram. So let's stop trying to spread the blame to the manager (although he has to answer for the shocking failure of Gokhan Tore and Simone Zaza, surely).
And what about Henry? He's the Sullivan sidekick it is alleged Sam Allardyce would not even let into the training ground, and who was on gardening leave at Sunderland after being given the elbow by Everton when Roberto Martinez arrived.
Tony Henry (Pic: Express Newspapers)
Henry’s exact involvement interests me. I am old enough to have seen him play for Manchester City under the late, great Malcolm Allison. Henry became e bit infamous there when Allison allowed Granada TV access to produce a documentary back in the day when that just didn’t happen.
Amusingly, Allison was heard screaming: “Tony Henry, Tony Henry, Tony Henry” from the touchline when his midfielder was not doing something properly. Henry must have got fed-up with folk in Manchester shouting that at him out in the street!
He then ended up working for Paul Stretford, the controversial agent of Wayne Rooney, who had more than a little bother in court over the case, you may remember. Henry, while working for Stretford, was assigned to show Jorge Mendes the ropes of the English transfer system, and an agreement was reached over various cuts of deals that took place.
That was OK until Mendes started, allegedly, doing stuff behind peoples’ backs and that all ended very messily in a Portuguese court. Mendes is now one of the world‘s top agents looking after Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, to name just a few. If Sullivan expected Henry to have an “in” with Mendes, I sense he has been disappointed.
And frankly, we all are with the level of transfer business done for strikers over the years by Sullivan, even though he has clearly tried very hard. My view has been voiced before; I believe owners and directors should not be involved in transfers and player selection, clubs should employ directors of football--just like Liverpool have done for Jurgen Klopp recently--and let football people make the decisions.
Of course Sullivan won’t do that. It#s far too expensive when he can do the job himself. But he is still telling us he is chasing that elusive striker, now needed more than ever with the ongoing problems with Carroll, Sakho and Zaza. We will watch with interest as the transfer month arrives…anyone for the ride of death at Sullivan’s theme park?
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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