Is Harewood Really So Bad?
It's been a funny old day.
One moment I'm sat peacefully at work, occasionally sneaking a glance at NewsNow when no-one's looking, reading the same old rumours from TribalFootball recycled and re-quoted across hundreds of sites, wondering when the hell we're going to see a rumour with a glimmer of truth in it.
I go home for lunch early, have a sandwich or two, finally manage to exorcise the ghost of Saturday nights' mixed grill kebab (much to my relief), drop down at my desk, hit my favourite Internet Explorer bookmark...
...and my blood turns cold.
Three words scream and bounce around inside my skull, I'm in a state of shock, oblivious to the world around me.. a client calls, trying desperately to give me his credit card details and all I can think is:
'MARLON F'N HAREWOOD??'
...but as the afternoon progresses, somewhere in between reading rants and raves and abuse and grown men attempting to make a former Marine cry, I start to think to myself..
'Is this really such a bad move?'
And for all the negativity I'm reading, and my own personal dislike of the player - I've never been a Harewood fan, nothing to do with the lad himself, more due to the fact that he hasn't stopped scoring against us since West Ham arrived in the Premiership - I can see all kinds of logic in his signing.
I remember him bulldozing his way through Villa's defence not once, not twice but three times in a recent match at Villa Park. He could have scored more.
I check Wikipedia, to see he has a career record of roughly one goal every three appearances (104 goals in 341 appearances) . Not bad, not brilliant, but not bad. For reference, Craig Bellamy, who is a year older and the player the Hammers have signed for twice Harewood's reported fee, has approximately one in four (94 goals in 373 appearances). Darren Bent has one goal every 2 1/2 games (78 in 190).
I remind myself that at the moment, Carew is the only one of our forward line who has a real physical presence, and that should we lose him through suspension or injury, we've got no real options to replace him.
I realise that Michael Chopra, a player who struggled in the Premiership with Newcastle, had one good season in the Championship, has recently changed clubs for £5million, Nugent, untried at Premiership level, for £6million and everyones favourite golfer, Craig Bellamy, for £7.5million. Darren Bent, a player who was relegated with his club, for £16.5 million. Hell, Kieran Richardson has just moved for £5.5million. In a world of ludicrous figures like these, I start to think what a bargain the reported £3.7 million could be.
I wonder how many goals each of these players is going to net this coming season, and whether when all is said and done there really is over £11million pounds worth of difference between them. And the more I think about it, the more of the reaction I read on the forums starts to sicken me.
Even if we were in a position to do so, even if we had the carrot of European football to dangle in front of prospective signings, not every player we sign would be a world beater.
This is a player who can come in for a realistic fee and do a solid job for us at a time when we need bodies in the squad. I don't remember Doug Ellis being barracked into hiding when we signed Julian Joachim. He never played every game, never set the world on fire, but gave us options and scored some important goals.
Harewood could quite easily do a similar job. I see him as direct competition and cover for Carew - however the pair of them played together could wreak havoc on a tiring defence, and give us another option. And his arrival's not likely to put Moore or Gabby's noses out of joint, either.
I'm not going to try and persuade you that Harewood's arrival would be a coup, that it would be a fantastic signing, or that he can be the man to fire us into Europe. Nor am I going to comment any further on the player until I've seen a: if he signs and b: how well he does. What I will say is that anyone who was thinking we are going to go out and splash £10 million each on players to replace those who have left, or who thinks that without European football we can attract players WORTH that kind of money - is deluding themselves.
Harewood would be a solid signing. Not awe-inspiring, not gasp-inducing, not bums-on-seats megastar, but ham and cheese, work hard, run all day, knock you over solid. And at for that type of player, for £3.7million, is the kind of reaction - no, scratch that, backlash - we've seen today really justified?
So I'm not particularly pleased to see him in talks with the Villa, I'm not overly annoyed either. I'm willing to give him a chance to win me over, and I'll support him while he tries to take that chance. Can't you?
Just as an addition, Neil Baker posted these facts in the forum:
From 05/06 season:
Shots on target/goals (excl. pens)
1 Henry (Arsenal) 58/20
2 van Nistelrooy (Man Utd) 64/19
3 Bent (Charlton) 40/14
4 Rooney (Man Utd) 72/14
5 Bellamy (Blackburn) 32/12
6 Harewood (West Ham) 32/12
7 Keane (Tottenham) 37/12
8 Drogba (Chelsea) 34/11
9 Lampard (Chelsea) 62/11
10 Crespo (Chelsea) 27/10
11 Mido (Tottenham) 27/10
12 Yakubu (Middlesbrough) 35/10
13 Pedersen (Blackburn) 17/9
14 Giannakopoulos (Bolton) 20/9
15 Camara (Wigan Athletic) 27/9
16 John (Fulham) 28/9
17 Cole (Man City) 30/9
18 Nolan (Bolton) 31/9
19 McBride (Fulham) 37/9
20 Moore (Aston Villa) 15
21 Hasselbaink (Middlesbrough) 22/8
22 Beattie (Everton) 28/8
23 Ronaldo (Man Utd) 41/8
24 Defoe (Tottenham) 44/8
25 Owen (Newcastle) 13/7
26 Viduka (Middlesbrough) 22/7
27 Roberts (Wigan Athletic) 25/
28 Luis Garcia (Liverpool) 29/7
29 Vassell (Man City) 29/7
30 Baros (Aston Villa) 33/7
31 LuaLua (Portsmouth) 40/7