JUN 01] THE STUART LINNELL
Stand By For The Summer Sales
As I write this, part of the
Holyhead Road in Coventry is flooded with more torrential
downpours forecast, the England cricketers are being written off
as no-hopers and Coventry Cityís captain is linked to a move
to Aston Villa. Itís summer!
Hadji could well be the first departure from Highfield Road as
the close-season sales begin, with a move to Villa keeping him
in the Premiership and offering City the intriguing prospect of
a swap deal involving pacy striker Julian Joachim.
The former Leicester front man
has never really settled in all his time at Villa Park and
another move across the Midlands might well suit him (indeed,
knowing how these deals can suddenly click into place, this
transaction may even be completed by the time you read this
Another move that would surprise
no one will almost certainly see Magnus Hedman leave the Sky
Blues. Despite all the speculation that Magnus is heading for
Italy or Spain, I expect that he, too, will stay in the
Premiership with West Ham his most likely new home.
Hammers former manager Harry
Redknapp rated Magnus highly and his enthusiasm for the big Ďkeeper
is shared by his successor Glen Roeder. West Ham have not really
had a settled favourite in their No 1 shirt for some years now,
and Magnus might just be what theyíre looking for.
And then thereís John Hartson.
The Welsh international joined Coventry last season partly
because he wanted to return to the Premiership and because he
and Gordon Strachan believed that big John would help us stay
there. We all know that it didnít quite work out that way, and
Hartson and his agent are thought to have been casting around to
see what options might be available. At the same time, John has
said publicly that he is very happy at Coventry and that he canít
praise Strachan highly enough.
However, on the last Gary Newbon
phone-in radio show of last season, on the nationwide talkSPORT
radio station, a caller said that when signing autographs in
Cardiff before playing there for Wales Hartson had told fans
that he would be joining Leicester City.
So, where does that leave
Coventry and Gordon Strachan? Remember, Coventry were prepared
to enter in an unusual match-by-match transfer deal to rescue
Hartson from Wimbledon because of medical doubts about his
fitness. I wonder whether any other club would do the same. That
said, why do we keep hearing that Noel Whelan is returning to
Highfield Road from Middlesbrough?
If that is true, consider the
options Gordon Strachan would have up front with Hartson,
Whelan, Joachim if he comes, Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd, Ysreal
Zuniga and John Aloisi all available. There are one or two
others Iíve left out. Nice to have competition for places, but
when the club is having to restructure its finances after
relegation, I somehow canít quite believe that weíll go into
next season with all those names on board.
But then, thatís the fun of the
summer sales. We can all play guessing games and offer opinions
about who we should sign and who we should sell, and somewhere
along the line we usually get a surprise.
One thing we do know. Gordon
Strachan will have what is effectively a new name in his defence.
Tomas Gustafsson, after two seasons of injury turmoil, is fit
and planning to re-launch his hardly-started Coventry City
career in August.
I, for one, look forward to
seeing him contribute to a season already capturing the
imagination of the City fans, if the early demand for season
tickets is anything to go by. And itís not that far away. The
players report back on 1 July, the season starts on 11 August.
Just enough time to enjoy summer, with a paddle on the Holyhead