Who bought well and who has gambled this summer?

It was the transfer window of Bebe, Bramble and Bellamy for free, while City spent big - again


Best buy: Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)

In 2003, when Chelsea dazzled the transfer market by spending £100m in a single summer, Sir Alex Ferguson went out and bought Cristiano Ronaldo for a modest £12m. Seven years later, as his noisy neighbours blot out the sun with their spending, the United manager acquired a little-known Mexican striker, whose father and grandfather had both played international football – Ferguson, as a horse-racing man, appreciates pedigree. Hernandez shone at the World Cup and has displayed a touching combination of humility and enthusiasm at United.

Bravest buy: Titus Bramble (Sunderland)

Bramble is a nice guy and a fine defender but, as Steve Bruce kept wearily pointing out during their time at Wigan, every error he makes invariably seems to lead to a goal that is replayed over and over again for the amusement of Alan Hansen on Match of the Day. He was also a prominent member of the young Newcastle side Sir Bobby Robson built; so for both player and manager this was the summer's ballsiest piece of business.

Biggest risk: Bebe (Manchester United)

On the face of it, to pay £7.4m for a 20-year-old who has yet to kick a ball in the Portuguese top flight, whom you have never seen play even on video and who was not fit enough for reserve football is a real punt by Ferguson. However, he comes on the recommendation of Carlos Queiroz, who was right about Nani and very right about Ronaldo. We probably won't know the answer for another three years.

Best value: Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City)

Seeing him return to his native city put you in mind of Kevin Keegan signing for Newcastle as a player in 1982. It had a touch of romance to it – not a noun you would ordinarily associate with Bellamy – while the fact that Manchester City are paying most of his wages made this an exceptional deal for Cardiff. Keegan took two years to see Newcastle promoted; Bellamy will hope to return to the Premier League in half that time.

Most surprising signing: Joe Cole (Liverpool)

As wedded to London as Tower Bridge, it seemed inevitable he would turn up at Arsenal. Instead, Cole arrived at Anfield, energising the opening days of Roy Hodgson's regime with his enthusiasm, although getting himself sent off and missing a penalty in his first few games for Liverpool was not how he imagined it. Crystal Palace signing a 37-year-old Edgar Davids just after coming out of administration seemed crazy. Employing him as a left-back in the 3-0 defeat at Scunthorpe at the weekend represents a form of madness.

Least surprising signing: James Milner (Manchester City)

Were you amazed to see James Milner in a City shirt? Neither was Martin O'Neill.

Best overall business: Birmingham City

Unaccustomed as Birmingham are to public spending, Alex McLeish has invested the first slice of Carson Yeung's transfer budget pretty well. Few imagined Alexander Hleb would ever don a Birmingham shirt while Sir Alex Ferguson rates Ben Foster the best English goalkeeper in the Premier League. The giant Serb striker Nikola Zigic and the Spartak Moscow captain, Martin Jiranek, complete a powerful-looking roster.

Worst overall business: Aston Villa

Having lost Martin O'Neill and James Milner, the two men who were most central to their recent success, it has not been a good summer at Villa Park with only Stephen Ireland to show for it. At another home of claret and blue, the failure of any one of the six men signed by new manager Avram Grant to make the starting line-up at Old Trafford on Saturday is, to put it mildly, slightly worrying for West Ham's future.

Who could have done more?

A whole summer and Harry Redknapp has signed three players. Strike a light, how long before he's down to the bare bones? More seriously, you wonder about their nearest and not so dearest in north London, who have made it clear all summer that they need a keeper, thus unsettling Manuel Almunia, but then failed to sign either Mark Schwarzer or Shay Given.

Who has done too much?

Leeds have signed an entire team but they have been overshadowed by another club's acquisitions – they play in blue, are owned by a sheikh and are going to take over the world. Apparently.

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