Premier League transfer window grades – Which team did the best business?

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With the transfer window now shut, it’s time to look back on the summer of transfer activity and assess how each Premier League time fared.

Over $1.4 billion was spent this summer, as the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool splashed the cash, but did they improve their squads?

[RELATED: Latest transfer window news]

[RELATED: Every Deadline Day deal]

Below we have given each PL team a grade and broken down some of their key ins and outs during the summer.

Lets us know if you agree.

SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW 2014-15 – GRADES

Chelsea – A

No doubt that the big winners from this window have been Chelsea. Jose Mourinho has managed to get rid of David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku and Fernando Torres and replace them with Loic Remy, Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Cesc Fabregas… plus, he made a profit. Remarkable summer for the Stamford Bridge club.

Hull City – A-

Steve Bruce worked wonders in the final few days of the window. They signed Abel Hernandez from Palermo for a club record fee, grabbed Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez on loan, plus got Mohamed Diame from West Ham after offloading George Boyd. The Tigers spent the $20 million they got for Shane Long wisely. Great deals all round.

Southampton – B+

Southampton handled a mass exodus superbly and are arguably stronger than they were in May. Lallana, Shaw, Lambert, Chambers and Lovren left, but players like Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Fraser Forster have arrived to help Ronald Koeman build a new team. Deadline Day buys Toby Alderweireld and Sadio Mane were great pieces of business as the Saints looked well stocked and made a profit of over $50 million during the summer.

Liverpool – B+

Brendan Rodgers has spent over $200 million this summer, but he did rake in over $128 million for selling Luis Suarez. Lallana, Lambert, the main man Mario Balotelli, Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and others have arrived as Rodgers has brought in quantity. Liverpool look stronger across the board and with a European campaign coming up, the Reds will be better off for it.

Arsenal – B+

The Gunners bagged Danny Welbeck on Deadline Day and his capture was crucial. He will compliment Alexis Sanchez superbly and with Sanchez’s $65 million signing, Welbeck, Calum Chambers and Matheiu Debuchy, the Gunners did very well overall. However, Wenger probably should have brought in a striker of Falcao or Edinson Cavani’s caliber. That said, big, big money has been spent.

Manchester United – B+

The Red Devils left it late but have brought in six new players over the summer. Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao have arrived. The latter will be influential, as Falcao’s goals could be the differnce. Louis van Gaal has also got rid of plenty of veterans such as Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, as the squad looks a lot younger and fresher. Work to do defensively but the summer moves has seen over $200 million spent at Old Trafford. LVG’s revolution is well underway but they missed out on Mats Hummels and Arturo Vidal.

Everton – B

Roberto Martinez spent his entire loot on Romelu Lukaku this summer and it could come back to haunt him. Look, Everton got Gareth Barry in and locked down Lukaku, but elsewhere they have only signed Mohamed Besic and Samuel Eto’o. More defensive players were needed.

Queens Park Rangers – B 

Harry Redknapp, of course, wheeled and dealed on deadline day. He lives for it. QPR brought in Sandro from Tottenham and Niko Kranjcar on loan from Dynamo Kiev. After signing two Chilean internationals on loan, Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas, plus the likes of Leroy Fer, Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch, Rangers are a lot stronger.

Crystal Palace – C+

On Deadline Day, Palace moved to sign James McArthur for a club record fee of $13 million. They also added young defender Zeki Fryers from Tottenham, plus former star Wilfried Zaha via a loan deal late in the window. New boss Neil Warnock has a solid core of players to build from in South London.

Aston Villa – C+

A few seasoned pros arrived at Villa in what has been a quiet yet steady summer. Roy Keane arrived as assistant boss, while Alan Hutton, Charles N’Zogbia and Darren Bent all come back into the fold after falling out with manager Paul Lambert. Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho, Carlos Sanchez and Joe Cole all arrived, plus they held onto Ron Vlaar. Not bad at all for Villa.

Swansea City – C

Garry Monk had an uneventful Deadline Day and that was just the way he likes it. Wilfried Bony had been the subject of plenty of inquiries but the Swans held onto him, plus added the likes of Federico Fernandez, Jefferson Montero and, most importantly, Gylfi Sigurdsson. He has been a revelation on his return to South Wales from Tottenham and the Swans are in fine shape.

Sunderland – C

Gus Poyet has done okay this summer with Jack Rodwell the main signing, but you do wonder if Sunderland have enough strength to stay away from a relegation battle. Ricky Alvarez has arrived from Inter Milan on loan and the Argentine winger could be a star for the Black Cats. He needs to be.

Manchester City – C

Man City have spent the summer signing their experienced players to new deals. They have also added a few new players with young defender Eliaquim Mangala arriving from FC Porto for $54 million, plus midfielder Fernando also arriving from Porto. They let Alvaro Negredo leave on Deadline Day. Will Manuel Pellegrini rue that decision?

Newcastle United – C

An okay window for the Magpies. They failed to bring in a new top class striker, which is a real worry for Alan Pardew’s men. They signed Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere but you do wonder where the goals will come from after losing Loic Remy.

Tottenham Hotspur – C

Mauricio Pochettino has added Federico Fazio, Benjamin Stambouli, American defender DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Dier but all four are solid defensive players. Spurs were looking to add a pacey wideman and couldn’t get a deal for Jay Rodriguez done on Deadline Day. They will be okay, that’s for sure, but Spurs fans were hoping for a lot more.

West Bromwich Albion – C-

Alan Irvine brought in 11 new players at West Brom, but the new manager has a lot of unknown quantities. Nigerian international Brown Ideye looks a real handful but plenty of other signings have yet to shine. Let’s see how this plays out but the Baggies should have signed some more experienced faces.

Leicester City – C-

Esteban Cambiasso, Leonardo Ullo and Marc Albrighton were the big arrivals as Nigel Pearson decided to stick with the core squad he had in place from their Championship success. You have to think the newly-promoted squad didn’t bring in enough players. Will it cost them dear?

Burnley – C-

Sean Dyche found it hard to sign players on a shoestring budge at Turf Moor. George Boyd arrived on Deadline Day for $5 million, but plenty more players arrived looking for a second chance in the PL. A mixture of youngsters and veterans came in, with Matt Taylor, Steven Reid and Michael Kightly arriving. Not a great window.

Stoke City – D-

The Potters are going to be okay, but only Oussama Assaidi came in on loan from Liverpool on Deadline Day. Mark Hughes’ men finished ninth last season and you would have hoped to see big money spent by Stoke’s board. Bojan arrived from Barcelona and Diouf looks like a gem up top, but they didn’t add the quality we would have expected.

West Ham United – D-

Sam Allardyce is under pressure and the Hammers’ moves this summer leave a little to be desired. Alex Song coming in on loan from Barcelona is a good deal but I’m not convinced Enner Valencia can score the goals they need up top. West Ham’s squad looks weaker than last season. The January window will be vital for the East London club.

Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

MLS Playoffs Preview: 1st round kicks off on Saturday

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After a two-week break, MLS is back, and with some outstanding matchups as the first round of the playoffs kicks off on Saturday.

Here’s a closer look at Saturday’s matchups in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


2. Atlanta United v. 7. New England Revolution — Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Atlanta United begins its title defense against the most successful coach in MLS history, Bruce Arena.

Atlanta United heads into the match at home a bit shorthanded. Miles Robinson suffered a left hamstring strain while on international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team, leaving veteran centerback Michael Parkhurst to start alongside Leandro Gonzalez Pires. There’s also some questions over whether Ezequiel Barco and Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez will start together in midfield.

All that being said, Atlanta is still one of the best teams in MLS and as long as they have Josef Martinez, they’ll be a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Revs have been a revelation since Bruce Arena took over in May, and no one knows the MLS playoffs more than he. Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou have been terrific this summer for the Revs while the defense, anchored by centerbacks Andrew Farrell and Michael Mancienne and 25-year-old goalkeeper Matt Turner have kept opponents off the board.

Atlanta certainly has the edge here, especially at home, but never count out a Bruce Arena team.

2. Seattle Sounders v. 7. FC Dallas — Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Unlike in previous years, the Seattle Sounders never needed to make a patented late-season push to make it into the playoffs. This time, the Sounders were solid throughout, especially thanks to a start that included five wins in six games. With Jordan Morris in peak form and Roman Torres and Kim Kee-Hee patrolling the middle of the backline, Seattle sure looks like an MLS Cup contender. Of course, they’d have to get past LAFC first, no small task.

For FC Dallas, in a way, they’re just happy to be here. It seems like forever, but was less than a year ago when club legend Oscar Pareja left for the Club Tijuana manager spot. In his place was local soccer legend and former FC Dallas academy director Luchi Gonzalez, and with a mostly young squad of players, Gonzalez has proven he could guide them to the playoffs. It doesn’t hurt though that one of the few veterans, Zdenek “Cobra” Ondrášek, has been on fire the last two months and just scored for the Czech Republic against England. The Sounders should take care of business at home, but Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal can create something out of nothing and could make Saturday’s match interesting/

4. Toronto FC v. 5. DC United — Saturday, 6 p.m. ET

With the regular season concluded and the start of single-elimination matches, we’re on the verge of saying goodbye to Wayne Rooney at any moment, and it could come as early as Saturday.

Thanks to a win and some other favorable results, Toronto FC jumped up in the standings and earned a home playoff match. It doesn’t hurt that it’s been very solid to close out the season, going unbeaten in its last 10 matches – though to be fair, that span only included four wins. Worryingly for TFC is that striker Jozy Altidore didn’t practice on Thursday after missing the international break with yet another muscle injury. However, his Canadian international teammates Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser, and Richie Laryea are returning to the club side on a high after beating the U.S.

For D.C. it’s been an up and down last few weeks. They picked up huge wins over Portland and Seattle in the final two months of the season, only to settle for scoreless draws against the porous New York Red Bulls and abject horror show in FC Cincinnati. As always, there will be plenty of pressure on Rooney to produce some magic, and his side will need it if they want to keep their season alive. Toronto, playing at home, has the edge here.

3. Real Salt Lake v. 6. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 10 p.m. ET

Mike Petke was fired by Real Salt Lake in mid-August after serving a two-week suspension for berating the referee – and saying some unacceptable terms – after a Leagues Cup game in July. In his place, interim coach Freddy Juarez has done quite well with the squad, winning seven games in the final three months of the season to cruise into a top-three place and earn a home game in the playoffs.

Former Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender Nedum Onuoha has been a rock at the back alongside youngster Justin Glad, and RSL may have the most underrated attack in the league. Albert Rusnak, Damir Kreilach and Jefferson Savarino have all been brilliant at points this season. If the trio put it together, RSL could be a dark horse for the title.

The Timbers beat expectations a year ago as Giovanni Savarese led his team to another final – his fourth straight final as a coach. It will be an incredible achievement if they make it this time around. Portland has elite offensive capabilities when everyone is firing on all cylanders. Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, and even Dairon Asprilla can create moments of magic, while Jeremy Ebobisse has had a breakout season with 11 goals, though he’s missed a few he’ll want back. The issue is the team defensively, and they’ll have to be on their game to slow to RSL’s front three on the road.

Of course, the Timbers did win both matchups against RSL this season, so even on the road, they should be confident they can get it done again.

Spanish FA once again opposes La Liga match in U.S.

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For the second consecutive season, La Liga and Relevant Sports have proposed a league match to take place this winter in the U.S.

And once again, the La Liga proposal doesn’t have the support of its national soccer federation.

[READ: La Liga wants to move Villarreal-Atletico Madrid to Miami]

Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), told reporters on Thursday that it would oppose the match taking place outside of Spain’s borders, keeping a consistent line in the sand on how far globalization can go in soccer.

“It would disrupt the competition,” Rubiales said, via AS. “To play a game in Miami, La Liga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.”

The five bodies Rubiales referred to are the RFEF, FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer and MLS.

Last time around, Relevant Sports and La Liga announced a long-term, lucrative marketing contract to expand the brand’s footprint in the Americas, and soon after, petitioned to move Girona’s home game against Barcelona to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of Relevant Sports owner Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins.

Ultimately, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Relevant Sports were unable to get permission from the RFEF or FIFA to hold the event outside Spain and it went off as expected in Girona. At the time, Spain’s player’s union and fans groups opposed the move. Tebas has filed a lawsuit in Spain to try to force the RFEF to approve their request, but it seems unlikely to be awarded and it surely doesn’t provide any good will between the two parties.

There’s been plenty of talk about bringing league games abroad before, but it has just been talk so far. The Premier League considered adding an extra game to the season to be played all over the world, but never went through with creating plans for matches.

Associations – not leagues, to be clear – have brought things like Super Cups abroad. For example, the RFEF moved the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangiers, Morocco, while the France Football Federation has brought its national Super Cup match to both the U.S. and Montreal, Canada in recent years. However, the argument in favor of bringing those games abroad is they’re basically meaningless. Meanwhile, one result in a league season could – in theory – determine whether a team is relegated or not, especially if the margin is three points or less.

We could see another legal fight on our hands, so watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.

Rodgers excuses Maddison’s behavior after England departure

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Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured last week watching the England match at the Czech Republic from a casino.

Despite the negative attention from Maddison’s decision to watch the game at that venue, he has the backing of his club manager, Brendan Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away,” Rodgers said, via the Guardian. “He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Considering all that went on during England’s international break, from the poor performance in Prague to the horrible racism endured in Bulgaria, this is a bit of a silly scandal. To be honest, as long as Maddison is taking care of his body and himself, why does it matter if he was at a casino, or a pub, or anywhere?

However, there’s no denying that the optics look bad. Folks didn’t know that he arrived to England camp with the flu, or a flu-like illness at least, and the England medical staff are right to send him away to make sure no one else gets sick. He may have been feeling better by Friday and wanted to get out of the house. I think we’ve all been there after being sick for a few days.

The most important lesson for Maddison is to learn that his actions, out of context, can be misunderstood. In terms of soccer, after Ross Barkley’s performance for England, Maddison will have to prove in his club form that he should still have a place in the England team for the near future. There’s only two more international dates left before the 2020 Euros, so time is running out for Maddison to make an impact to Southgate.