Michael Bailey: ‘Any business tends to be exciting business’ – here’s to deadline day one of the summer
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A summer of hard work – often judged against a few hours of mayhem. And this window, we get to do it twice. MICHAEL BAILEY assesses the picture at Norwich City and across the EFL Championship.
Football isn’t great at trying something new, which could make the next few hours – and indeed the rest of August – quite the spectacle.
In the Premier League’s understandable pursuit of integrity – not something I’d always feel comfortable writing – the idea all clubs’ squads should be sorted ahead of the opening weekend is a virtuous plan.
The spill into the EFL of course, rarely delivers the desired consequences – which is exactly where we are right now.
Today is the summer transfer window deadline day. After 5pm, no EFL or top-flight clubs can make permanent signings from anywhere. EFL clubs therefore can’t sell their top talent to the Premier League either.
That’s why it is all eyes on the top table and those who recently fell off – especially a club like Saturday’s visitors West Brom, who will be desperate to hang on to the likes of Matt Phillips and Craig Dawson just a little longer.
For some, Deadline Day One will be almost irrelevant – and yes, you can safely stow Norwich City away under that category.
City’s big sales to Premier League clubs were done weeks ago, their desire to do any more permanent incomings probably ended with Tim Krul and other outgoings will most likely head outside England – those clubs can sign players from all English clubs until the usual 11pm closure come August 31.
Of course there are loan deals to be done too, and EFL clubs can also make those signings until the last moments of August. You can see how this is all as clear as mud.
Nottingham Forest have arguably been as eye-catching as anyone this window, appearing to like the look of how Wolves went about things last season – and getting on the phone to Jorge Mendes at the earliest opportunity to repeat the trick.
Their opening exchanges could be teething troubles, or evidence that football is rarely so logical.
Swansea have drifted under the radar, perhaps given Graham Potter’s profile – but some canny recruitment alongside an encouraging opening win at Sheffield United could mean their prospects look rosier than the two they fell out of the top-flight with.
Contrast those who can stick the kettle on – or at least exude a bit of calm – with the clubs frantically trying to get business done, and the result is stark.
Indeed, you get the feeling the prospect of finishing off any incomplete permanent business with various loan arrangements does not appeal to most of the Championship.
Ipswich have been among those busy to the last, securing Paul Hurst’s reunions with Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan while losing Martyn Waghorn in the process. The Tractor Boys’ own fortunes this season won’t be far from Norfolk thoughts as usual.
Tony Pulis’ brave assessment after Saturday’s draw at Millwall that his group wasn’t good enough for promotion no doubt had political connotations. It also delivered Jordan Hugill from West Ham – which surely changed Tony’s tune.
Bristol City have broken up a fair bit of what was looking a decent squad to build on, while the EFL’s financial fair play rules have made this summer a misery for QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham and quite possibly more – it’s a shame the league is not more transparent about who is struggling.
Rangers’ only signing of the summer remains Tony Leistner – remember him? – while the Owls have a big, fat zero against their list of arrivals.
Aston Villa’s world now revolves around the future of Jack Grealish. One look at the quality Villa would still have after his exit, and they could yet get away with their reckless gamble.
Some things won’t do City a favour – like Dwight Gayle’s Baggies arrival in time for the weekend; he made his debut at the City Ground on Tuesday. But some have: like Omar Bogle’s loan arrival at Birmingham yesterday.
I’m a big fan of the mantra that you can never have enough strikers – but Derby are clearly trying to push me. Should Nakhi Wells join Jack Marriott and Waghorn through the door, you imagine one or two they had already must be moved on.
Extrapolate some indifferent early viewings from Rotherham, Hull and Sheffield United, and there could yet be a little more panic in the system before the close of play.
Of course, in effect this is still football’s summer – a curious situation where any business tends to be exciting business.
In reality, it’s how that all looks a few months down the line that is the crucial bit, which means clubs will get a second bite of the cherry come the end of the month.
Which means the good news is this summer, we can all do it again – without the Premier League vultures – before September.
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