The summer window closed amid of a flurry of transfer activity. The loudest move was undoubtedly AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao transferring to Manchester United.
But the summer period was dotted with some other spectacular big-name moves: Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to Real Madrid, Angel Di Maria to Manchester United and Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
In all, Premier League clubs alone spent £835 million during the most recent transfer window.
After scoring seven times in his first four Premier League matches, Diego Costa’s £32m transfer from Atletico Madrid to Chelsea has many football experts solidifying Jose Mourinho’s side as the clear favorite to lift the domestic trophy at the conclusion of the season. The London club were already being touted as title contenders. But Costa’s arrival and the ease which he has settled into his new surroundings has been immediate and emphatic.
With that said, Aston Villa may have quietly trumped all of their English and European compatriots with the club’s summer dealings – and the Villans only spent £6m on player transfers.
That’s because Villa’s biggest summer move wasn’t a player acquisition, it was manager Paul Lambert’s decision to ask Republic of Ireland assistant and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane to join his coaching staff.
Prior to the start of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign, Lambert and West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce were the English bookies’ favorites to be first league bosses “sacked”.
There was some concern by hiring Keane – a former manager with Sunderland and Ipswich Town – that Lambert had in essence hired his own replacement.
But what was considered to be a career gamble by Lambert (according to some experts) has turned out to be an early season success for Aston Villa and its third-year manager. The impact of Keane’s arrival at the Birmingham club has been immediate and noticeable.
The former Republic of Ireland international and Manchester United captain is well-known for his fierce competitiveness and no-nonsense attitude on-and-off the pitch. Keane was never one to shy away from a hard tackle, or to take on an opposing club’s player (see: Alf-Inge Haland, Alan Shearer and Patrick Vieira).
Despite his frame (5’10”), Roy Keane was one of the most menacing figures in all of European football during his playing career. The Irishman was widely respected for his leadership and ability to galvanize a squad during his playing career. He also never backed down from a confrontation – whether it was with an opponent, a teammate or his own manager.