Top 10 January 2016 Transfer Window Signings

10 – Anthony Knockaert (Standard Liege to Brighton)

Brighton had a fantastic start to the season but recently they have lost their form and are in a real battle to stay in the playoffs. They needed a spark and Knockaert could just make the difference come the end of the season.

Anthony Knockaert

9 – Steven Caulker (QPR to Liverpool)

This might seem a strange one but Caulker has a lot of potential and at the age of 24 he could go on to become one of England’s leading centre backs. He is better than what Liverpool have, if Klopp stops playing him upfront.

Steven Caulker

8 – Leroy Fer (QPR – Swansea)

Yet another QPR departure and with them getting relegated from the Premier League last year it would seem like they don’t have the quality but in Fer they had a midfielder that can really grab hold of a game which Swansea are in need of.

Leroy Fer

7 – Gianelli Imbula (Porto to Stoke City)

When he joined Stoke eyebrows were raised, especially when they broke their transfer record to bring him in. £18.3 million is a lot of money but Mark Hughes feels he needs more power in central midfield and is the replacement for Steven N’Zonzi.

Gianelli Imbula.jpg

6 – Steven Naismith (Everton to Norwich City)

He was not prolific for Everton but he can score goals when given the chance. He has got off to a decent start at Norwich and they certainly need more goals in their team if they want to stay in the top flight.

Steven Naismith

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Is this the end for Matthew Bates?

Matthew Bates may be the unluckiest player in football at the minute as he has suffered a cruciate ligament injury for the fifth time in his career.

Bates has struggled with injuries his whole career

The injury will keep the promising centre back on the sidelines for yet another six months and it will be very difficult for the player to keep up his own moral and spirits as he may not come back the player he has been this season.

The 25 year old has been at Middlesbrough his whole career so far but was linked with moves away last summer and Swansea in particular were very keen on giving him a chance in the Premier League. He had hoped that his form would propel Boro up the league table and challenge for promotion this season and play for his boyhood club again in the Premier League against the big teams like Manchester United and Arsenal.

He actually made his debut in the 2004-05 season and has only played 120 games for the club which is remarkable and shows just how much his injuries have slowed down his career. This season, it looked as though he had got over all of his problems as he had played more than ever before in a single season and was named new captain by manager Tony Mowbray who must have seen similarities in the way Bates plays and the way he was when he was a player for Boro. Even more worrying for the player is that his contract is up at the end of the season and his latest setback will keep him out until October so no other team will want to take a chance on him. He will have to hope that Boro will give him another opportunity to get fit or there is a chance that he may never get a chance in the professional game again.

Personally I hope he does because he has proven this season that he is at least good enough for the Championship and was looking very consistent as Boro pushed for a place in the playoff spots. Not only is it a bad thing for the player personally but for the club as well because they don’t have the biggest of squads anyway and would have needed all their players to be fit from now until the end of the season. They have recalled Stephen McManus from his loan spell at Bristol City but this will not fill the fans with confidence because he came with quite a good reputation from his time in Scotland but has not really delivered. However, if he does step up and has a good end to the season he could easily become a fans favourite and may be first choice at the start of next season which will then lead to the question, do we need Matthew Bates? Injuries are a cruel part of the game and it has ruined many players’ careers but to have the same sort of major injury five times has got to be hard for anyone but at least he knows he can come back, let’s just hope it is to a good standard.

A prayer for Fabrice Muamba

Bill Shankly once said ‘Football isn’t a matter of life and death, it is more important than that’ but right now football should mean nothing to any person after seeing what happened to Fabrice Muamba.

On the pitch we saw players demoralised, the tears were flowing from both sets of players and both sets of supporters with many of them including Rafael Van Der Vaart saying a quiet prayer. Everyone was very respectful and Howard Webb deserves some praise as he did not interfere with anything and didn’t even want to blow his whistle in case it distracted the medical team that were working on the young Bolton midfielder. Webb quietly spoke to all the players and both managers and made the obvious decision to abandon the game.

They were heartbreaking scenes even though anyone watching the TV coverage like myself did not see the actual moment when it happened. Afterwards, Kevin Keegan was clearly traumatised by the whole event as he was choked up and struggled to do his punditry work for ESPN. Just hearing people talk about the incident made people fear the worse and remember similar incidents over the years such as Marc Vivien Foe.

Football does not matter today and this will overshadow other players’ accomplishments today but who cares that Rickie Lambert scored a hatrick for Southampton or that Swansea beat Fulham comfortably, these events are massively insignificant. Just like if you are a Newcastle fan and are gutted that Sunderland are now close to getting to Wembley in the FA Cup, it literally does not matter what is going on anywhere else in the world of football, everyone should be thinking of the health of Muamba and not stupid petty rivalries.

The reaction of every footballer on Twitter has been very good as they have forgotten their allegiances and are just praying for Muamba like we all should be tonight.

Some people will argue there are more important things in this world and that people die every day all around the world but what they have to realise is that this young lad, he is only 23, was doing something he loved and was involved in the oldest cup competition in the world and would not have expected anything like this in a stadium full of people. He is a model professional and I will be hoping and praying that he pulls through even if he never kicks a football again I will be very happy and delighted because he always seemed like a good person and a good role model for young people. He has never really been in the papers for his personal life and when I wake up tomorrow I will be hoping that the football families’ prayers are answered and Fabrice Muamba is healthy and can enjoy more time with his family.

Praise for Sheffield Wednesday fans

The support of Sheffield Wednesday has never been in doubt but the Owls have probably even surpassed their own expectations by selling out a game in League 1. Yes it is the Steel City Derby but this is still an astonishing achievement as teams in the Championship and Premier League will be looking at Hillsborough in envy when the two sides take to the field, only wishing they had the same passionate support as the blue and white half of Sheffield.

What makes it even more remarkable is that the game has been sold out a whole month before the fixture is going to be played. League1 will never have seen a fixture like this and will probably never see it again. 12,500 seats were sold within three days of going on general sale which means that the fans know the importance of this game because it is not only a local derby but the two teams are currently level on points in the league and pushing for an automatic promotion place.

This is most certainly the most anticipated derby for a long time as both sides know that it could determine which division they are playing in next season. However, Wednesday need to make sure they keep up their good run at home as lately they have been beaten by Charlton and let a lead slip against Hartlepool, but other than these results their home form has been close to impeccable. Gary Megson though needs to keep his players minds focused because they have some crucial games coming up including games against promotion rivals MK Dons and Stevenage. Also they have a game against Chesterfield scheduled for the week before the big derby which will be their opponents biggest game of the season and therefore they will be up for it.

The January transfer window will be closed by the time the game comes around and the players that are brought in and sold could be vital in which team wins the game. With plenty of Blades players linked away from the club, such as Ched Evans and Stephen Quinn, the team could be substantially weakened for the rest of the season not just for the game against Wednesday.

Wednesday also seem to be linked with a few players and could be in need of a more creative midfielder with the latest being Ferrie Bodde. Who was very influential in getting Swansea promoted from this division but has suffered horribly with injuries in the last couple of years. The long running transfer saga of Ben Marshall needs to be sorted too as they either need to sign him or bring in someone to replace him as they look short on the wings. However, fortunately for the Owls it seems that Jermaine Johnson is beginning to find the kind of form which will frighten the life out of the Sheffield United defenders. With two wonder goals against Hartlepool and Scunthorpe he could be seen by many as the important player in the match. As all Wednesday fans know he can be infuriating with his sometimes poor final ball but they also know that he is one of the few players at the club to get them off their seat and when he gets the ball against United there is always an expectancy from the fans. Which could be crucial when the stadium is full and if Johnsons is flying the crowd will be too.

So back to the fans, this is a tremendous effort for a team that has struggled over recent years but the fans have stuck by the club and continue to support in huge numbers which makes Sheffield Wednesday still one of the biggest clubs in England. The players need to realise how lucky they are to play in front of this magnificent crowd and it is time for them to deliver.