Date:Monday April 20 2009
As this surprisingly successful season draws to a close, the Cottagers find themselves in position to finish as high as 7th or potentially tumble down the table to 11th or 12th. We`ll see how it plays out, but suffice to say it`s been a much more enjoyable experience for all concerned.
I think most of us would agree that the primary reason for the turnaround is Roy Hodgson, himself, and the players he`s brought into the team since last January. Hangeland for £2.5m and Schwarzer on a free transfer were both bargains, and their contributions to our success are virtually indisputable. Our largest expenditures were for our forward line. Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora were brought in for fees that could hardly be described as inexpensive. Johnson came over from Everton for a fee thought to be around £10m. Zamora came over in a package deal with John Pantsil for £6.3m. It`s been suggested that Pantsil`s transfer was £1.4m of the total, which would set Zamora`s cost at £4.9m. We`ll call it £5m for the sake of argument. Based on their performance, were their
transfers worth the money?
According to the Premier League website, Johnson has contributed 7 goals and 3 assists in the league this term. Zamora has weighed in with a disappointing 2 goals, but a very satisfying 6 assists. Additionally, Johnson knocked-in 3 goals and, Zamora 2 goals and 2 assists in cup competitions.
I`m a little disappointed with Johnson, especially considering how much he cost. To be fair, he had injury problems at the beginning of the season and has had some bad luck with the woodwork, but I really thought his goal tally would be higher at this point - at least double-digits in the league. That hasn`t happened and with only five matches remaining, it looks a difficult feat to reach the 10-goal plateau. Still, Johnson has given us an attacking threat that we`ve missed the past few seasons. His mere presence on the pitch and the required attention of our opponent`s defenders helps create chances for our other players. I won`t say that he was worth the money, but I`m glad we have him.
Zamora has endured endless criticism from our fans about his goal tally this season - myself included. However, the more I watch, the more I`m impressed with his work rate; in particular his ability to hold the ball, dispossess defenders and set up his teammates for scoring chances. Now, it must be said that he has squandered a number of gilt-edged chances - one or two can only be described as 'sitters.` That fact can`t be ignored. It`s hard to say that he was worth the money, but he`s performed well enough to stay in the squad, and I certainly prefer him to Kamara or Nevland. However, I do think that we need to pick up another forward this summer.
In fairness to both players, we don`t play an unbridled, attacking style. There`s much more emphasis on possession and defense, so it`s not fair to expect the same numbers that other forwards in the league contribute. Ultimately, individual success means nothing if the team is not performing well. In this regard, it`s hard to argue against the combined £15m for the two. Both need to improve, but I wouldn't be disappointed to see them leading the line next season.
Date:Monday April 20 2009
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