Tag Archives: Arouna Koné

Asset strippers

24 May

The final day of the football season often gives way to mawkish sentiment.  Emotions get the better of grown men typically predisposed to clinical decision-making.  Such saccharine behaviour is not tolerated at Too Good towers. Only this lunchtime, the dinner lady was fired because the pineapple rings on the gammon were sliced too generously.  All good businesses need to be run on a budget.  Football teams are no different.

For similar reasons of thrift I used to spend this time of year pondering who Manchester City might be able to pinch from teams that had been relegated.  Inevitably, there will be players who feel that a season in the N-Power Championship is beneath them.  When times were hard at Maine Road, I would be like a vulture circling a dying corpse, trying to tempt these want-away prima donnas to the blue three-quarters of Manchester.

I would sit impatiently, as if at a funeral.  Not there to mourn the passing, but anxiously waiting to whisper in the ear of a Steed Malbranque or a Zoltan Gera. “Deepest sympathies to hear you’re off to the Championship, Mick.  Listen, any chance I can have a quick word with Julio Arca?”

Crisis spells opportunity. And there are no morals during the transfer window.  Like the Cleggs and the Camerons of this world, I was prepared to hop into bed with anyone if the price was right. Let’s do a grubby deal.  Now where’s Muzzy Izzet?

It works both ways, naturally.  I could sense mid-table mouths’ watering the year City went down with Georgi Kinkladze in our midst.  The queue for the magical Georgian was long and by no means orderly.  In the end, loyalty got the better of Kinky and he stuck around for another year before heading to Ajax.  A few years later, he was involved again in an even less successful relegation battle at Derby.  Alas, Kinkladze had had a few battles with the dinner table before arriving at Pride Park.  By the time Derby were consigned to the Championship, the only mouth watering was his own.

So what’s in this year’s bargain basement bin? Who will cost Championship pennies rather than Premiership pounds? You’ll get a better price for clothing scrunched together on the rails rather than beautifully presented on a mannequin.

If you’re looking for players to stave off the threat of relegation, look no further than the DW Stadium.  The Latics are so used to elaborate escapes they have a defender named Alcaraz.  I wouldn’t sign him though; Wigan’s principle deficiencies this year have been defensive.  Some of their more forward players, though, are well worth a punt.  Arouna Koné’s the obvious one.  A one-in-three goal scorer for a team down at the bottom is a fantastic return.  He will be keen to continue proving he can cut it in one of Europe’s top leagues after a disappointing spell at Sevilla.

I’ve also been extremely impressed with the performances of James McCarthy this season.  A 22, he can expect to have a long career at the top level ahead of him.  If you fancy a bit more of a gamble, how about Callum McManaman? McManaman provides genuine sparkle from the wing and proved, some might say unnecessarily, that he can do it against the very best with his Man of the Match performance in the FA Cup final.  Another 22 year old, McManaman has time (and a healthy sell-on value) on his side.

I would be amazed if Christopher Samba fancies another season with the swivel-eyed loons at Loftus Road.  However, with transfer fees already totalling £25m in aggregate over his career, signing Mount Christopher will likely require a hefty slice of your hard-earned/ill-gotten.  Adel Taraabt is unlikely to come cheap either but is surely too good to be showcasing his dribbling abilities outside of the top flight.  It remains to be seen whether Taraabt’s famed inability to track back will include finding a route back to the Premiership by the start of next season.

I’m struggling to think of any Reading players. Not to buy, you understand.  I’m actually struggling to think of any Reading players.  If ever there is evidence that a team has outperformed just in getting to the top division, it’s that nobody wants any of your players when you go back down.  Good news for the Nigel Adkins rebuilding effort.  There is an outside chance someone will make a tentative enquiry of Pavel Pogrebnyak, I suppose.  However, I am prepared to engage in a small wager with any reader that there will be no Reading players lacing up top-flight boots come August.

There is one obvious problem with dipping into the relegation well.  These players have a proven track record of dragging teams down a division.  For every Ashley Young you’ve rescued from the morass, there’s a Hermann Hreidarsson just dying to add your beloved team to his relegation collection.  If you celebrate mediocrity, the mediocre is surely what you will end up with.  And the final league table, like Shakira’s hips, don’t lie.  But keep looking.  Keep your eyes peeled.  For there be nuggets of gold in those troubled waters…


Any idea who this is? It’s the Reading captain and he played every single league game for them last year.