What a summer we have had – apart from the weather! All the excitement of May at Wembley followed by the Euros and then the Olympics at what is likely to be our home in the future (even played Bubbles in the opening ceremony!) while the added excitement of the Olympic sailing in my home town.
But what was happening at our beloved football club? Who were we linked with or should I say who were we not linked with?! Back where we belong for 2012/2013 in the Premier League and we are buying every man and his dog on a daily basis with weeks of signing nobody being the reality.
ANDY CARROLL: What was all that about? At best we may have got a season loan out of him with the support from his best mate Kevin Nolan but he was never going to sign for us and who could blame him. Personally, I am surprised he doesn’t get given a chance at Liverpool but we are not in the position to really compete to sign players of this quality or value. If we really have that much money would we want to risk it all on one player when our squad could be improved dramatically. More concerning was how much time and energy did we waste over this.
CARLOS TEVEZ: I know that he has said that one day he would love to come back and play for us but do we really think he meant it. Di Canio saying he wants to return is one thing but Tevez who played half a season for us and with most top European sides willing to sign him for £20m plus then it was never going to happen. Or am I just so cynical?
JAMES COLLINS: Pleased to see his return although there doesn’t seem to be many tears shed at Villa Park (it will be interesting to see what reception Villa give him). What you get from Collins is 100% which goes a long way with the Upton Park faithful. What you don’t get is pace along with the turning circle of a tractor. He is a threat at the back post from corners although no more than Tomkins and only one of them can do it.
MOHAMED DIAME: The best signing we have made so far. Looked strong for Senegal at the Olympics and the best player of his type since the sadly missed Marc Vivien Foe. He breaks play up very much like Foe did but his distribution of the ball is much better.
JUSSI JAASKELAINEN: Good shop stopper in the way Green was and see it as a like for like swap. He wasn’t Bolton’s number 1 for most of last season and they went down. I maybe one of the few who is not sorry to see Green go, especially as he chose QPR rather than take
an improved pay offer and not getting much more from them. Hardly ambitious to go for a club with a small ground, poor away following and little chance of ever being a bigger club than West Ham. I hear fans saying how he gave us an extra year in the Championship to get us up. Well we are up so why not stay? West Ham fans supported him while everyone hung him out to dry after the World Cup. Gave us another year – more like ran his contract out. I would never boo him but neither will I cheer his name again.
MODIBO MAIGA: To be honest I still know little about him. Some have said he looks very light weight but after the Braga game I hear he looked lively, skilful and full of running. Guess we will see.
ALOU DIARRA: I think his experience will be vital. He knows Diame, Demel and Maiga so should settle quickly and needs to. Is he too similar to Diame though? Only time will tell.
So to the team then. What formation will Sam play? Who knows!
DEFENCE: Great to have Tomkins back from his Team GB debacle. I am sure we wished he had the full pre- season with the squad. Demel can be superb or shocking and feel we need a better right back than this. Collins; I am sure will be first team so where does that leave Winston Reid I think he had a great season last year but it is a big jump to this level and was found wanting last time. Could be used at right back. Joey O’Brien can also be used in this way and glad to see him recalled to Ireland’s squad. McCartney is great for us and very much an unsung hero and glad he has resigned. Potts is certainly one for the future but maybe too soon. Think we need strengthening.
MIDFIELD: Competition looks good with Diame and Diarra. Collison had a great last third of last season and looks the player he used to be again. Noble will always give everything and has great vision but lack of pace costs him. Great delivery at corners to Tomkins (or Collins) and superb penalties but please leave free kicks to someone else. Nolan has to prove he still has the engine at this level and needs to keep his mouth shut with the refs. O’Neil I see as useful cover. Matty Taylor should now be able to get forward more to whip those crosses in. Let him have the free kicks. Maynard could be pulled back into midfield although I would prefer this not to be the case.
STRIKERS: Maiga has to show us what he is about. Ricardo Vaz Te needs to show he can do it at this level and work harder for the team. Sam Baldock, will he stay or go? Will Sam give him a chance? I think Nicky Maynard has a special quality but hasn’t been given much chance to show it. He will need a run of games but certainly has a natural ability and can go on to be a great player for us. Finally, Carton Cole. Never prolific but certainly gives his all including a pay cut to stay at the club last year (are you reading Greeno?). His hold up play and flick ons should help the others to score the goals that we will need for sure but worry where his head is at. With all the Carroll/Tevez speculation who can blame him for thinking he maybe surplus to requirements. I hope not.