Chris McQuade of EPLTalk posted his "Top 5 Transfer Flops of the Season, So Far" earlier this week, and one James Perch is listed at #5. I don't want to get into what McQuade's entire list should look like, but I disagree with Perch's inclusion.
I think the reason Perch was included is that his numbers simply don't look great. Much was made of the fact that he was forced to sit out after just 5 games due to discipline problems, and he had an own goal against The Potters of the "wrong place at the wrong time" variety, but we all know how those can be blown out of proportion. He has had a couple of games where he looked out of sorts - the Wigan match jumps to my mind immediately.
However, he has also been a solid replacement for Danny Simpson - a needed one. Can you imagine the back line without Perch? Simpson, Steven Taylor, and Sol Campbell have all gone down with injury. At times there has actually been competition for selection, but at other times there have been exactly 4 viable options at defense to choose from. I suppose you could argue that another transfer could have come in and done the job just as well or better, but for 1 million pounds, I don't see Perch as wasted money.
Offensively, the chemistry between Perch and Routledge (when he plays) has been critical in getting the ball down the right side of the pitch. The combination of playing a high defensive line and experimenting with different combinations of wingers on the right side could be the cause of Perch's defensive miscues - at times it looks as if he's unsure about how aggressive he's supposed to be. Does this make Perch a flop? Not in my mind.
In fact, I wouldn't even call Perch the biggest flop of the transfer window for Newcastle. That honor belongs to Sol Campbell, who couldn't see the field early because of match fitness and can't see the field now because of injuries. Sure, it's unfair to give him a grade that's anything but an incomplete, but how can you not be disappointed? Campbell was supposed to provide on the field veteran leadership, and has instead been an absentee. Perch is relatively young and has shown plenty of promise. To call him a flop when another defender from the same transfer window has had much less of an impact is simply unfair.