After a quick start to transfer window, with Liverpool and Manchester United making the big moves, things have settled down into a predictable pattern in England – Tevez wanting away, rumours of Drogba going every which way, and Adebayor annoying yet somebody else – or simply not being good enough. Stoke City have had a relatively quiet summer thus far, with their only signing being Jonathon Woodgate on a pay as you play deal from Tottenham, while releasing 3 players on frees – Faye, Sonko and Gudjohnsen.
Stoke City have been linked to many players over the past few months. A deal for Carlton Cole is seemingly dead in the water, and while many fringe players have been linked away, Stoke seem to have built a steady Premier League squad. There have been two stories which haven’t seemed to go away regarding Stoke – the signings of two of relegated Birmingham’s shining lights, Scott Dann and Cameron Jerome. A third rumour which has emerged is that Manchester United’s Republic of Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson could be a potential signing. Let’s take a look at what they bring to the picnic…
Jerome made 34 appearances last season, starting 30 games and coming off the bench in 4. And for a striker who is worth £5million, how many goals did he score? That’s right 15… no, 3. 6 less than Stokes top scorer, and 3 less than Robert Huth. He did however, create 6 assists and create a further 17 chances for his team mates, which is only 2 assists less than Etherington and 1 less than Pennent. If Ricardo Fuller were to leave, as has been heavily hinted, Jerome would be the ideal replacement, as he has, in the past, shown himself to be a very competent striker.
Wait. Dann only played 20 games last season? And everyone thinks he is the better half of the partnership with Johnson? Anyway, he scored twice last season, with one assist from the 3 goal scoring opportunities he created. Not bad for a central defender. He completed 73% of his passes, and only picked up four yellow cards for the season – whilst Huth picked up 7, although from 15 more games. Huth also scored more, and had more assists, with more clean sheets. Dann conceded 23 goals in his 20 games, whilst Huth conceded 43 in his 35. Both made 2 last man tackles, and both proved their defensive competencies while provoking 17 offsides.
The nearly man of Old Trafford, Gibson made 12 appearances last season, split equally between starts and off the bench. With a highly impressive 84% pass completion rate, and a less than impressive 1 assist, he has proven that he can be a steady EPL player. No goals from 19 shots for the Irishman however, with Stokes central midfield stalwart Dean Whitehead managing 2. Whitehead also managed an assist in his 37 appearances, but had a worse pass completion rate, with 74%. In terms of possession duels, Gibson lost 58% of his, while Whitehead also had a similarly poor number, losing in 54% of his duels.
3 potential targets, 3 potential squad players? If Fuller goes, Jerome would be a decent replacement yes, but would he be first choice ahead of Jones – not by that stats anyway. Would Dann be first choice ahead of Huth or Shawcross? Not by my reckoning. And Gibson? If he’s barely good enough for the padded seats at Old Trafford, why would a team with asperations want to take him on? All in all, Stoke need to look elsewhere to strengthen their squad. Thankfully, Davis/Jelavic/Whittikar/McGregor/Naismith are all tied up at Ibrox. Phew.
But for now, I’m off to Aberdeen v’s Villarreal for Darren Mackie’s testimonial, relishing the chance to see Rossi, Nilmar et al strut their stuff. It’ll be a fun game, and is in no way related to this blog – which after 3 in 3 days, is a welcome break.