Bow put on a brave face when talking about our promotion rivals spending in the January transfer window, but if it didn’t only highlight the budgetary disparities between us and them, it also shone a massive spotlight on differing board ambitions.
None of the clubs at the top with us are loaded with money, yet Bow’s fellow managers and Steve Gallen equivalents were all allowed to haggle and barter in the window for the betterment of their squads and Sunderland, Portsmouth, Luton and Peterborough have all come out the other end with a deeper and, on paper at least, a stronger collection of players.
Doncaster, who have one of the lowest budgets in the league, were pretty inactive in January but importantly kept John Marquis despite interest from Sunderland, and a late bid from Swansea. In demand Alfie May also signed a contract extension.
Barnsley made a couple of strange moves, one of which was selling George Moncur to promotion rivals Luton. They also loaned Lloyd Isgrove to Portsmouth. Star midfielder Brad Potts was sold to Preston, and in another oddity signed young striker George Miller for £200,000 from Middlesbrough, but then sent the 20-year old back on loan to Bradford, where he’d been since August.
However the Tykes slapped a large fee on the head of top scorer Keiffer Moore to ward off predators and did sign Yeovil winger Jordan Green. They also made Fulham defender Cauley Woodrow, who once great things were expected, on a permanent. Why we rue the loss of Karlan Grant, Barnsley fans may wonder who will replace the assists and goals of Moncur and Potts.
Peterborough were big in the loan market adding defenders Ben White from Brighton, Josh Knight from Leicester, both of whom haven’t played much, if any, first team football. Posh did add the experience at the back of Sheffield United’s Karl Lafferty. Kyle Dempsey made the loan switch from Fleetwood and Darren Ferguson welcomed back to London Road Lee Tomlin, on loan from Cardiff.
Sunderland flexed their big club muscles and were after everybody in the final hours and days of the window. They strung along a lot of clubs and players, mostly strikers, but eventually got their target, League One goalscorer extraordinaire Will Grigg. But Wigan managed to wrestle a crazy £4m out of the Wearsiders.
Max Power moved in the same direction earlier in January, but already operating with a big squad, Jack Ross also added Celtic winger Lewis Morgan and young Spurs’ striker Kazaiah Sterling on loan. Ex-favourite Grant Leadbitter also came in late for an undisclosed fee. To Bowyer’s point Ross may find it hard to conjure squad harmony.
Owner Stewart Donald backed Ross though. Sunderland carry a large debt and sold about £30m worth of players during the summer, and are still loaded down with some outsized salaries. In fact the fee Bordeaux paid for Josh Maja mostly went back to them as Sunderland owed them money from the signing of Wahbi Khazri (yeah, me neither) when they were in the Premier League.
One of the players Sunderland were meant to be interested in was Ched Evans, however as the clock ran around to 11pm, it was Bolton who were ready to sign him, but that deal needed signed approval from Bolton, Evans’ parent club Sheffield United and his current club Fleetwood, in a turn of fate Fleetwood refused at that late hour and he of course played and scored against us on Saturday.
Meanwhile Bolton were willing to let Erhun Oztumer come to Charlton on loan if they got Evans. It was thought Oztumer may even have been in SE7 ready to sign, and that was the deal that fell through Bowyer talked about in his disappointment of a frustrating January window.
Portsmouth were very active in the loan market bringing in Omar Bogle, who already has a couple of goals, from Cardiff, James Vaughan from Wigan and wingers Viv Solomon-Otabor from Birmingham and Isgove. They do look a bit heavy in the loan stakes now. Defender Andy Cannon came for a fee from Rochdale, and looks an astute signing. Bryn Morris, part of Shrewsbury’s promotion push last season, was also brought in for an undisclosed amount. Andre Green went back to Aston Villa, but he didn’t make that bigger impact at Fratton Park.
Luton are flying and haven’t missed a beat since Nathan Jones left for Stoke. What do ambitious teams do? They add even better players to those they have already.
Forest recalled Jorge Grant, and sent him to Mansfield and youngster Akin Famewo made the jump to Norwich, but the Hatters signed five players in January and each one appears to add quality to their squad, but they will need to nurse both Alex Baptiste and George Thorne, both haven’t played this season so far. Thorne howver, who like Jonny Williams can play well above League One, but has struggled with injuries.
Other loanees were Jason Cummings from Forest, who had been at Rangers for the first half of the season and young Brighton striking prospect Aaron Connolly. George Moncur was a big coo though for Mick Hartford with Moncur marking his debut with the winning goal against Portsmouth last week.